Clothes steamers have fast become the go-to alternative to ironing. Shop owners and fashion experts were once the primary users of these handy machines that rid clothes of both wrinkles and germs, but steam cleaners are now more available and accessible. Adding a steam cleaner to your laundry tool kit can help you spend less time on maintaining your clothes, while also boosting their appearance and freshness.
Today’s machines are incredibly easy to operate: just fill the tank with water, plug in, and flip the switch. In seconds, you will hear a bubbling sound. This indicates that your steamer is hot enough to use. Steamers work best on fresh wrinkles, so be sure to lay out your clothes after washing them, preferably on a sturdy drying rack. Then, use one of these powerful units to eliminate wrinkles in minutes.
- BEST OVERALL: BIZOND Steamer for Clothes Travel and Home
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: OGHom Steamer for Clothes, Handheld
- BEST PROFESSIONAL GRADE: PurSteam Full Size Steamer
- BEST FOR TRAVEL: Homelle Travel Steamer for Clothes
- BEST DESIGN: Polardo Steamer for Clothes, Hand Held
- BEST FOR CHORES: PurSteam Garment Steamer, Heavy Duty
- BEST FOR DELICATES: BEAUTURAL Steamer with Pump Steam Technology
- BEST BRUSH STEAMER: Housmile Steamer for Clothes
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Clothes Steamer
With steamers, you won’t need to haul out an ironing board. Simply select the size, power type, and features that suit your lifestyle and laundry needs. Here are the most important things to look for when buying a clothes steamer.
Full-Size vs. Handheld
Today’s clothes steamers come in two basic types: full-size and handheld (sometimes referred to as travel-size). Both sizes heat up fast and produce continuous flows of hot steam. You’ll find that full-size steamers are quick and efficient for clothes as well as larger items including linens, tablecloths, and curtains. They are roughly the size of a small vacuum cleaner and come with a long extension hose and steam-producing head. Full-size steamer tanks are usually about half a gallon or more, which provides about an hour of continuous steam. One tip is to use distilled water in the tank, which prevents mineral buildup in your steamer over time.
Handheld steamers are smaller than an iron, and at less than a pound, easy to bring with you when you’re on the road. They heat up in about 30 seconds and produce about 15 minutes of continuous steam on a single tank. By far the most popular and easy to use choice are electric models that you simply plug in, no batteries required. A clothes steamer of any size can also double as a steam cleaner, removing germs, odors, and dust from all kinds of fabrics.
When it comes to steamers, look for models that can be used on a wide variety of fabrics, including delicates and natural fibers like silk, cotton, linen, and wool. Many travel steamers have basically two settings: on and off. This makes them incredibly easy to use: simply fill the tank, flip the switch, wait 30 seconds, and go.
Larger, at-home models may have more settings, allowing you to adjust the intensity level, from low to high. But don’t expect the range of fabric settings an iron has. Steamers are intended to be simple, and thanks to the nature of steam itself, they won’t harm most fabrics. To be safe, look for models that state they are compatible with a wide range of fabrics, including delicate and natural fibers like silk and wool.
Usability and Portability
One of the key qualities to look for in a steamer is a dripless design. Some handheld steamers can function at any angle—vertical or horizontal—without dripping water. Others can only be operated in an upright position. While these steamers still get the job done, they can be frustrating if you accidentally tilt your steamer and water dribbles out. That said, many upright-only steamers are also well-built and produce strong, wrinkle-busting steam, so don’t rule them out. Also be aware that if you fill your tank to the very top, the steamer head may spit water droplets onto your clothes initially.
Another feature of handheld steamers is their handle type. Some are designed with a single, built-in handle which stays cool to the touch. Others are handleless and fit snugly into the palm of your hand. Handleless steamers tend to be the smallest and lightest models available, so they’re best for slipping into your carry-on.
Our Top Picks
There are dozens of different steamers on the market. Most have similar features but stand out for various uses. Consider these highly rated steamers to choose one that works for you.
BIZOND designed its handheld steamer so it won’t spit or leak water no matter how you hold it. This feature protects your hands while also preventing puddles and spills that can ruin fabrics. The non-spitting, non-spilling design also lets you set the device down on any surface without causing water damage. It also contains a nanofilter that extends the steamer’s life by protecting the heating element from calcification and mineral deposits that develop from tap water.
This device heats up in just 25 seconds, so you can press your shirt, blouse, skirt, or slacks in record time. This steamer measures only 8.46 by 5.98 by 4.09 inches and weighs just 1.69 pounds. Sure, you can use it at home, but its petite size makes it ideal for travel.
The affordable OGHom Handheld Clothing Steamer doesn’t skimp on style or efficiency. The OGHom has a large-capacity 240 ml (8 oz.) water tank that heats up in less than two minutes and produces 15 minutes of continuous steam. It has a thermostat control system and overheating protection, so you needn’t worry about it damaging your clothes. This steamer is safe to use on everything from drapes to wedding dresses.
The heating panel is made from rust-resistant 304 stainless steel, giving it a longer lifespan. You can take this device from steaming clothes in your bedroom right into the closet, thanks to the extra-long 9-foot cord. This affordable steamer measures just 6.9 by 5.5 by 6.7 inches and weighs only 1.32 pounds, so it’s ideal for travel and easy to store at home, the office, in an RV, or even a dorm room.
You don’t need a clothing business to become a constant user of the PurSteam Full Size Steamer. This professional-quality device sanitizes and removes wrinkles from an array of fabrics and adds crisp creases to collars, sleeves, trousers, and pleats. The PurSteam safely produces up to 30 percent more steam flow than those of its competitors. Use the four-level steam adjustment controls in combination with its woven hose, deluxe clothes hanger, and fabric brush to efficiently steam items.
The PurSteam includes clips to hold children’s clothing, pillowcases, and other items in place, and a safety cap prevents you from opening the tank when it’s filled with hot water. The device measures 18.5 by 12.4 by 12.1 inches and weighs just 2.2 pounds, so it’s easy to carry and store.
Safety is often an afterthought when you’re on the go, which is why the Homelle Travel Steamer is a must-have for a frequent journeyer. You can use it at any angle, and it’s designed not to spill. Plus, it works fast. Just plug it in and 25 seconds later you have 12 minutes of continuous steam power. A cooling touch system prevents the handle from heating up, and the auto-off switch shuts the steamer down after two minutes of nonuse.
The Homelle is tough on wrinkles but gentle on fabrics and is safe for cotton, wool, polyester, silk, linen, and more. It measures just 8.3 by 5.7 by 4 inches and weighs just over a pound, so it’s small enough to take on all your travels.
The Polardo mini steamer is nothing if not elegant, with its curved body, black finish, and stainless steel head. But this handheld steamer is as much about function as it is about style. The design ensures it stays cool on the outside, so you can place it on any surface without fear of damage. You’ll find Polardo’s eight settings work on a range of fabrics, from heavy wool to delicate linen, satin, and lace.
The 360-degree anti-spill design allows you to steam evenly from any angle without drips or leaks. It heats up in less than 25 seconds, producing continuous steam for 10 minutes. It weighs just over 1 pound and measures 8.5 by 6.1 by 4.5 inches, making it worthy of a place in your suitcase and in your home.
If you want your steamer to move from your wardrobe into your linen closet and beyond, consider the PurSteam Professional. It has a 61-ounce water tank that produces 60 minutes of continuous steam. The four-level steam adjustment allows you to control high-pressured steam for optimal results specific to each fabric. It also includes safety features, including a burn prevention steam cap that prevents you from opening the water tank when there is hot steam or water inside.
The PurSteam, like many of its competitors, comes with a deluxe multifunctional hanger, fabric brush, pant press, and mini ironing board. Although it’s a workhorse, its 10.5 by 9.5 by 12-inch size makes it easy to store. This lightweight yet heavy-duty steamer takes on all the steaming chores around your home.
BEAUTURAL designed this steamer for all fabric, including cotton, wool, polyester, linen, sofas, and even toys, but it is a real standout on delicate fabrics such as silk and velvet. Thanks to pump steam technology, this steamer doesn’t leak, spit, or spill, even when you hold it horizontally. You can preheat the 260 ml (8.79 oz.) water tank in only 30 seconds, and it produces steam for 15 minutes. You can also use this device for dry ironing.
This steamer comes with three removable attachments, including a fabric brush, creaser, and lint brush. It measures just 6.03 by 4.33 by 10.71 inches and weighs just over 2 pounds. Safety features include an automatic shut-off if the steamer senses either overheating or eight minutes of inactivity.
The Housmile brush steamer does everything its competitors do, but faster. If you choose to use one of the two brushes included—one stiff and one soft—it will pull the fabric out as the device releases steam at a rate 10 times faster than comparable products. That allows the steamer, which measures 6.03 by 4.33 by 10.71 inches, to power through clothes, linens, delicates, and other fabrics in record time.
The Housmile is a lightweight 1.6 pounds and heats water in the 120 ml (4 oz.) water tank in less than 30 seconds. Once heated, the device provides 10 minutes of steam. You can also use this steamer just as you would a traditional steam iron. The auto-off feature detects temperatures above 266 degrees Fahrenheit and shuts down to protect you and your garments.
FAQs About Clothes Steamers
Join the wrinkle-free revolution. Get all your steamer-related questions answered here. While you won’t necessarily retire your iron, these water-powered, wrinkle-busting machines will definitely make laundry days easier and spruce up your wardrobe without much time or effort.
Q. Is steaming clothes better than ironing?
Sometimes. Steaming clothes can be quicker and easier than ironing (no board required). However, for thicker fabrics and more resistant wrinkles, ironing can still be more effective.
Q. How do you use a clothes steamer?
Simply plug in the clothes steamer, turn it on, and wait until steam is produced. Once steam is emitted, run your steamer in smooth motions up and down the garment at a close distance (several inches away) without actually touching the fabric with the steamer head. Depending on the size of the garment, as well as how deep the wrinkles are, steaming generally takes a couple of minutes per item.
Q. How long does it take for a clothes steamer to heat up?
A handheld clothes steamer should take about 30 seconds to heat up, while full-size models can take up to three minutes to fully heat up.
Q. How long does it take to steam a garment with a clothes steamer?
It depends on the garment. An adult-size shirt, for example, can be steamed in a minute or two.
Q. Can you steam clothes while wearing them?
No. Steam is very hot, so you’ll want to keep clothes on a hanger to prevent burns or scalding.
Q. Can you steam clothes instead of washing them?
No, but steam can refresh clothes as well as fight odors and bacteria.