The $60 Cleaning Secret Weapon Staging Experts Swear By

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Credit: Lauren Kolyn

Home stagers are paid to make your home look stunning—and marketable. So it’s no wonder they’re chock full of tips on how to improve your space. The most powerful tips of all relate to a stager’s secret weapon: a handheld steamer. A durable model will cost a cool $60, but stagers say the results speak for themselves. 

“The investment of a steamer can greatly reduce the number of hours needed to make a house look picture perfect,” says Justin Riordan, founder of Pacific Northwest design agency Spade and Archer. Here are the ways they (and you) might use a steamer to improve the look of your home—even if you’re not putting your place on the market.

Use them on bedding

The folks at Olive + Opal Interiors, a home staging company based in St. Louis, Mo., use a steamer almost every day. They stage beds with a quilt, a duvet, four large pillows, a few smaller accent pillows, and blankets. Each piece of the puzzle is steamed for a freshly made bed look—one you can replicate when you open your home to guests. A word to the wise: keep your skin away from the hot steam to avoid burning yourself, and take care to hold the steamer upright, else it may not work effectively. 

Use it on fabric

You can use a steamer on any fabric that isn’t too delicate, from shower curtains to pillows, tablecloths, napkins, bed skirts, and slip-covered furniture.

“Bathrooms are high on the list for potential home buyers, and nothing photographs better than a pristine bathroom with perfectly folded white towels and a crisp white shower curtain,” explains Olive + Opal co-owner Anna Neal. A steamer removes any previous folding creases from towels and blankets for a smooth appearance. If you spot any pesky wrinkles as you survey your otherwise pristine home, a steamer will do the trick.

Use it on you

If you’ve just realized the outfit you wanted to wear for your big party has one-too-many wrinkles in it, a steamer can help get them out quickly. Riordan says he and his team use the steamer on themselves if their clothes are looking disheveled and they’re about to head to an important meeting. You get what you pay for, though—I bought an inexpensive steamer, and it wasn’t powerful enough for my clothes. Investing in quality is important here. 

Use it on your shower

Riordan explains that, when you need to, you can actually use a hand steamer on hard water stains on glass—like the ones you might find on your shower doors or windows. “It works like a charm!” he says. Steamers are practically magic when it comes to those last-minute imperfections.

In a pinch, try a spray bottle 

In case you’re out of time or your precious steamer is still in the mail, Heidi Wells, owner of Silk Purse Design Group, says that she doesn’t use hand steamers in the company’s warehouse—she favors larger Jiffy steamers. And instead of bringing a steamer to a site, she uses a mister, or a spray bottle filled with water, for quick fixes. A few sprays can gently dampen fabric, allowing wrinkles to be smoothed out as the material dries.

In all other cases, a steamer will work quickly and effectively. Whether you’re a perfectionist about your linens or want to get your house looking extra spiffy for guests, the possibilities for steaming wrinkles away are seemingly endless.