Organize & Clean

Everything You Need to Know About Steaming Your Clothes (Including Why It’s WAY Better Than Ironing)

updated Nov 1, 2022
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(Image credit: Jessica Isaac)

If you’re tired of dealing with wrinkly clothes and you either don’t have an iron or never use yours because doing so takes up too much space and effort, you might want to consider switching to a clothes steamer. Steaming is an effective way to get wrinkles out of almost any fabric—it requires less space to use a steamer (especially if you use a handheld steamer), and it takes less time and effort than ironing does.

Plus, there are plenty of other benefits—even health related!—to steaming that you can’t get from using an iron.

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Ready to get steamy? Here’s everything you need to know about garment steaming—from how and why it works to a few models top reviewed products to look into.

How Clothes Steamers Works

Have you ever heard (or maybe even tried this trick yourself) that if your clothes wrinkle while traveling, you can smooth them out by hanging them in the bathroom while you take a hot shower? Using a garment steamer is like a high-powered, much more effective version of that trick.

The only thing required to use a steamer is some water—just fill the tank with water, secure everything in place, plug the steamer in and allow it to heat up. Once heated, you simply run the steamer downwards over the garment (note: make sure it’s hanging) that you’re trying to de-wrinkle, pressing the trigger to release steam, and the steam will release the wrinkles, according to WikiHow. When you’re done, your clothes will feel a little damp, so let them dry before you put them on.

Why Steamers Are Better Than Irons

According to The Laundress, steaming your clothes not only gets out wrinkles but it also kills odor-causing bacteria, keeping clothes fresh in between washes—perfect for items that you can’t wash frequently (or at all) or are dry-clean only.

It also works on drapes, upholstery, mattresses, pillows, carpeting, and more, so you can get more use out of it than just smoothing out wrinkles in your clothes. Along with killing bacteria, steaming also removes allergens that attract dust mites—and since it steaming only uses water and no detergents or other chemicals, it won’t pollute the air.

Space is also a factor: when you’re ironing, you need an ironing board or another space where you can safely smooth your clothes. You can easily steam your clothes anywhere you can hang them, and all you need is your steamer.

When You Might Still Need an Iron

Steaming can’t get your clothes as crisp as an iron, so if you have items that you prefer pressed or with creases, you’ll need to keep your iron around.

Tips & Tricks for Successful Steaming

  • Ideal fabrics for steaming? Wool, wool blends, synthetic wool-like fabrics, cashmere, silk, silk blends, and other delicates.
  • Fabrics to avoid: suede, waxed jackets, and anything plastic—it might melt.
  • Steam any sort of lining first, and always steam items from top to bottom.
  • Don’t attempt to steam anything while you’re wearing it.
(Image credit: Amazon)

Top-Rated Steamers

Ready to get steaming? Here are some solidly reviewed steamers to consider:

Full-Size Steamers

Handheld Steamers