I've never felt the need for a steamer until I started buying more and more clothes online and at thrift stores (hello, recession!). While extremely convenient, e-commerce leaves a lot of fabrics creased from tight folds and packaging, and thrift store scores can be easy on the wallet, but may need some TLC when you get home. Taking new duds to the dry cleaners to be steamed can turn thrifty finds into regularly priced items, but how to house a steamer at your pad without making your home look like it belongs in the fashion district?
After doing a little online research on what's available in the steamer category, I found one company who has been pretty consistent in designing home appliances that don't quite look like they belong in an old Wal-Mart catalog -- no, not Dyson. Rowenta...For a few years now, Rowenta has taken dull product categories, like irons, steamers, and toasters, and made them sleek and easy to use. Their $180 Precision Valet Steamer is no exception.
One of my big tests when it comes to reviewing products is, can I get this thing to work without opening the instruction manual. A sign of good design is the ability to toss out the manual and get your new toy to work on your own. That was the case with the Precision Valet Steamer.
The steamer consists of 9 parts -- base, a pair of telescoping poles and integrated hanger that hold clothes while being steamed, steam hose, steam head, and two brushes and one lint pad. It literally took me two minutes to put together.I then filled up the water tank, pressed the giant power button you can press with your foot (while gynormous, it's still very subtle due to its subdued hues and icon), and a few minutes later steam started to pump out of the steam head. A control at the base lets you control the amount of steam that comes out. I then got to work steaming crinkled clothes and it was a breeze. As long as you keep the steam head vertical you get no drips on your clothes. The hose never gets hot, so you don't have to worry about scalding yourself while steaming, though obviously avoid touching the steam head when in use.
The 128-ounce water tank allows for 2.5 hours of continuous steam, and an extension rod for the steam hose lets you steam hard to reach places like the tops of drapes.
My favorite part, due to living in a small space, is how easy this thing is to store. Wheels at the bottom are designed so you can roll your steamer away like rolling luggage. Since the steamer is relatively light, it's really easy to lay it back and roll out of the way. You can slide down the telescoping poles to make the steamer even more compact when storing.