A travel steamer is a compact version of the full-size machine many people (even professionals) keep in their laundry room. These hand-held devices house a small water tank that connects directly to the steam blower—no need for the hose or rod found on floor models. Simply fill with water, heat until steam starts to issue, and point at fabric to relax wrinkles. While most models require clothing to be hung vertically, some allow you to also de-wrinkle items that are lying flat.
Not only will this helpful gadget give rumpled clothing a fresh, neat look, steam also kills bacteria, sanitizes items, and eliminates odors. What’s more, travel steamers work fast, some models heating up in as little as 25 seconds.
So whether you need a crisp appearance on a business trip, want to look great on vacation, or hope to retire your iron at home, read on to learn what features to look for in a quality travel steamer. Ahead, you’ll also find out why the following products are considered among the best travel steamer options available.
- BEST OVERALL: MagicPro Portable Garment Steamer
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: PERFECTDAY Garment Steamer
- BEST LIGHTWEIGHT: Lemontec Portable Travel Garment Steamer
- BEST QUICK HEAT: PurSteam Handheld Steamer
- BEST MINI: OGHom Steamer
- MOST STYLISH: Uomeod Portable Steamer
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Travel Steamer
A travel steamer uses vapor spray to loosen wrinkles on all types of fabrics and delicate materials. It’s an excellent alternative to a clothes iron, the direct heat from which can cause wear and tear, as well as scorch if care is not taken. Not to mention that an iron is bulky, heavy—not conducive to tossing in a suitcase or overnight bag. A multitude of travel steamers are on the appliance market, so be sure to factor in the functionality and features you want when shopping.
Most of the best travel steamers are not much larger than a cell phone, ranging in size from approximately 6.3 to 12.8 inches in length, 5.5 to 7 inches in width, and 3 to 6.7 inches in height. This compact, portable design is easy to carry wherever you go and saves space in your luggage for other necessities.
Keep in mind that it’s not just the size of the unit but the capacity of the water tank that’s important. The more water the tank can hold, the longer the continuous duration of steam—and the more items you’ll be able to unwrinkle. If you need to steam a lot of clothing, opt for a larger tank.
Most travel steamers are made of plastic and have a rounded construction with attached handles at the upper part of the unit or at both the top and bottom. Some handles have hand grips to control slippage. Sleeker models, however, don’t have a molded handle. Instead, the neck of the steamer is held during use—a streamlined design that lets you steam a garment while it’s hanging up or lying flat.
Most models offer a clear view of the water level, with minimum and maximum lines. To safely operate a travel steamer, fill the water tank above the minimum line but not over the maximum level. Typically, most steamers have a wide, oval-shaped nozzle head with holes for releasing steam; some models have nozzles that jut out from base. Color options include basic black or white, but you can find more fashionable shades and finishes too.
The best travel steamers will refresh and unwrinkle fabric blends and weaves, and textiles including cotton, linen, nylon, polyester, satin, silk, velvet, and wool. They are suitable for use on suits, shirts, pants, dresses, skirts, ties, uniforms, and costumes, as well as such household items as bedsheets, tablecloths, napkins, curtains, upholstery, and cloth toys. According to the manufacturers of the best travel steamers, their products are safe to use even on clothing embellished with sequins, beads, and embroidery (but you should always read and follow the care instructions for your apparel).
Travel steamers have an attached power cord that plugs into an electrical outlet. A steamer’s power is based on the number of watts needed to run it. Wattage refers to the output of power produced by an appliance, and the best travel steamers are powered by 700 to 1,500 watts.
Voltage relates to the difference between two points on a circuit. In the United States, outlet voltage is between 110 to 120 volts. Many other countries around the world use 220 to 240 volts. If you are traveling internationally, you’ll need a converter to change the voltage and an adapter plug to guarantee compatibility with different outlets.
Travel steamers are simple to operate. Just fill the water tank, plug it in, and press the on button. While steamers don’t turn on automatically, there is an automatic safety feature that shuts off the steamer to prevent overheating if the water level gets too low. Some of the best travel steamers are ready to use in 25 to 70 seconds, while others take up to two minutes to produce steam. The average duration for continuous steam dispersion is between 10 to 15 minutes. Steam duration relies on the capacity of the water tank, which is typically 180 to 240 milliliters.
The best travel steamers are constructed from polycarbonate/acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (PC-ABS), a high-impact and flame-retardant plastic. Steamers also have built-in precautions to prevent a fire hazard from occurring. Dual safety protection systems automatically shut off the steamer when it becomes too hot or runs low on water. Additional safety features include heat-resistant nozzles and thermostat control.
Long power cords eliminate the need for adding an extension. Special designs provide accident protection against the leakage and spillage of boiling water. Certification by the Electrical Testing Laboratories (ELT) ensures that the product is compliant with North American safety standards.
Our Top Picks
To select the best travel steamer for you, consider size, design, safety, power, capacity, and maybe even color. The models below, all from reputable manufacturers, are compatible with most fabrics and are considered to be among the best on the market today.
The powerful MagicPro is a dependable steamer with an electronic pump that lets you unwrinkle garments whether hanging vertically or lying flat on a surface. Its unique leak-proof technology allows you to hold it without fear of spilling, spitting, and other accidents. The steamer heats up in as little as 25 seconds, and its 300-milliliter capacity tank allows for up to 15 minutes of continuous steam dispersion.
A handy 2-in-1 fabric and lint brush adds to the versatility of the steamer, which is suitable for such fabrics as cotton, silk, linen, wool, and velvet as well as blends and weaves. At 12 by 7 by 5 inches in size and weighing just over 3 pounds, it’s a bit larger and heftier than some other models, but its functionality and features may make it worth toting on your next trip.
Smoothing clothes and saving cash go together with the nicely priced Perfectday steamer. It reaches an efficient steaming temperature in about one minute, and has eight holes in the nozzle for rapid venting to tame the toughest wrinkles. The 100-milliliter water tank allows the steamer to operate for 10 minutes and a two-layer leak proof design prevents spilling. A bristled brush is a handy attachment that helps remove dust, dirt and debris from garments.
A dual safety system automatically shuts off the steamer should it get too hot or run out of water, and resets after cooling down and refilling. This steamer, suitable for use on most clothing and fabrics, is made from BPA-free plastic. The steamer measures approximately 7 by 6 by 4 inches and weighs a diminutive 1 pound, making it a lightweight traveling companion.
The compact Lemontec garment travel steamer’s small size (6 by 6 by 4 inches) and light weight (1.5 pounds) make it an excellent choice for a small suitcase or carry-on bag. But this mini has major features, too, including a well-designed nozzle that distributes steam to target stubborn creases. It’s ready to steam in 70 seconds, and a 180-milliliter water tank keeps it working for 9 minutes to smooth out a variety of fabrics, including cotton, wool, linen, satin, polyester, and nylon blends. Safety protection includes an automatic shut-off system to prevent overheating.
If you need to get rid of wrinkles in a hurry, consider this Pursteam model. Its InfaTherm heating system turns water into steam in 25 seconds, and despite a somewhat small water tank capacity of 130 milliliters, it works continuously for 10 minutes to rid creases from clothes, curtains, sheets, and other household items.
The steamer’s sturdy, flat base prevents the unit from tipping over or spilling. Automatic shut off stops the steamer from overheating when it runs out of water. Constructed of BPA-free acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (APS/PP) plastic, the steamer comes with a fairly lengthy 8-foot electrical cord, measures approximately 8 by 5 by 3 inches, and weighs in at 1.41 pounds.
At just 6 by 5 by 6 inches and weighing just 1.65 pounds, the OGHom may be the small wonder you’re looking for in a travel steamer. While it can take up to two minutes to heat up, it produces a mighty 15 minutes of steaming from its 240-milliliter water tank. It can smooth wrinkles out of all types of fabrics, and refresh items such as shirts, suits, gowns, and even plush toys.
For extra durability and to thwart oxidation, the steamer boasts a stainless steel heating panel. Safety measures include overheating protection and thermostat control.
For beauty and brawn, this Uomeod steamer has a sleek shape and rose-gold finish, plus heavy-duty performance features. It only takes 70 seconds to heat up, and the high capacity 240-milliliter water tank releases steam continuously for 15 minutes to rid wrinkles from many types of fabric.
Multi-use settings include a defrost function that can melt ice in a freezer and dry steaming, which removes wrinkles with heat free of water particles. A spiral nozzle design prevents boiling water from spitting out onto hands or garments. An automatic shut off safety protection system safeguards against overheating. This travel steamer measures approximately 9 by 6 by 4 inches and it weighs 1.65 pounds.
FAQs About Travel Steamers
If you want more info about steamer functionality or travel restrictions, read on for answers to frequently asked questions to help you select the best model.
Q. How do you use a travel steamer?
Fill the steamer with water below the maximum level, plug it in, and turn it on. Hold the steamer nozzle against the garment and move it up and down over the fabric. After steaming, let garments dry before wearing.
Q. Does a travel steamer remove stains?
Some garment steamers can remove stains from clothing. Pretreat garment with stain remover or white vinegar and then aim the steam at the stained area.
Q. Can you take a travel steamer on a plane?
You can bring a travel steamer on a plane if it’s compliant with the transportation security administration (TSA) rules. You can ask TSA about packing a steamer by contacting them through Facebook or Twitter with your question.