The Trendy Flat-Iron Brand I Loved in College Now Makes a Garment Steamer I Can’t Live Without

published Sep 20, 2021
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Credit: Walmart

The popular brand CHI has grown a loyal fan base over the years due to their high-quality hair tools and buzzworthy results, but few may know that the brand has expanded their line of products into the home space. It might seem strange to compare a flat iron to a garment steamer, since these tools have very different purposes, but with such a notable name behind it, I was expecting the CHI Handheld Garment Steamer to wow me when I was offered the chance to test it. The steamer uses the same technology as the company’s famous flat irons and promises power and precision. I tested it on three garments of different textures and thickness to see for myself how it well it worked.

My first test with the CHI garment steamer was on a brand-new linen dress that still had tons of creases it in from shipping. I hung the dress up on an over-the-door rack in the bathroom and was relieved to find that the cord on the steamer was long enough to reach across the room, since there was no outlet directly beside the door. I didn’t think to measure it beforehand, but the steamer has an impressive six-foot power cord, which provided plenty of room to move around as I steamed the dress — even with the distance from the outlet. 

Because the linen dress was my heaviest fabric of the three I tested, it took a few passes of the steamer to get the packing creases out, as expected. The other garments were a poly-cotton T-shirt and a lightweight woven cardigan, and the wrinkles came out of those in a blink! Though there was some water spray left on the garments from the streamer, they quickly dried by the time I needed to wear them (after the recommended 10 minutes post-steaming, of course). In fact, the T-shirt looked so good after I steamed it that I strongly considered changing into it after already being dressed for the day!

A key advantage to the CHI handheld steamer is its sleek, rod-like shape. To accommodate the water reservoir, many compact steamers take on a form similar to a hair dryer or kettle and are bulkier at the bottom. The CHI steamer is slim throughout, due to the water tank being built directly into its handle. As a result, it’s an ideal choice for a garment steamer you can take on the go. It even comes with a traveling pouch so you don’t have to strategically cram it in your suitcase. It’s only 10 inches long, so you can even toss it in a weekender or large purse and take it with you.

The steamer’s slim water reservoir doesn’t mean that it can’t steam for prolonged periods, though. What it lacks in size, it makes up for tremendously in the 30 seconds it takes to reheat. With such a short reheating time, refilling isn’t a hassle. Access to the water reservoir is on the back of the steamer and there’s a line to mark the max level so you don’t overfill it. The only time I experienced any “leaking” was when I double-checking the water level after filling it, and turned the steamer upright while the back was still open. 

Another huge advantage is that unless you’re using it in a location with hard water, you can simply use cold tap water to operate the steamer. If the water is hard where you are, it’s recommended that you cut it 50 percent with distilled water to prevent corrosion or other damage to the device. The one thing I wish the garment steamer had was a way to prop it up somehow when it’s not in use. The cord comes from the bottom so it can’t stand on its own, but I did find that if I angled it a certain way on its back, the plate faced away from my counter. 

As someone who is familiar with CHI flat irons and someone who happens to have multiple garment steamers on hand, this is definitely the one I’d recommend for those looking for a compact and portable tool that works well and works quickly. If I ever was in a rush and needed to steam clothing in a pinch, I have full confidence that this steamer would knock those out with time to spare. I was really surprised to see that CHI had crossed over into home products, but after seeing these results, I’m SO glad they did!