Garment Steamers

Garment steamers offer an alternative to flat or steam irons that use heat to remove wrinkles from clothing and household fabrics such as linens and drapes. Many natural fiber fabrics and delicate fabrics and household linens can be de-wrinkled by a steamer. Items that are dry clean only are generally a good candidate for the use of a steamer to remove wrinkles.

What is a garment steamer?

A garment steamer is a home appliance that de-wrinkles clothing and other fabrics, such as linens and tablecloths. The steamer includes a water tank to hold water, a heating element, a hose, and a nozzle or wand at the end of the hose to apply to the item. The use of steam is preferable for some fabrics because steam relaxes the fibers of the fabric rather than flattening them like a typical hot iron. Using a clothes steamer also removes the risk of scorching the fabric.

What are the different types of fabric steamers?

There are typically three categories of fabric steamers:

  • Standing steamer: This steamer offers a tall rack where the item can be hung and wanded from the top to the bottom.
  • Handheld steamer: This steamer is handheld and takes up less space than a standing steamer and can be used in a more targeted fashion on a hanging item.
  • Travel steamer: Ideal for business travelers, a travel steamer is compact for easy packing.
How does a garment steamer work?

Unlike flat ironing with a typical hot iron, which uses heat to flatten the fibers of the fabric and reduce wrinkles, a handheld steamer emits a mist of steam. The heat from it is strong enough to impact the molecular bonds within the fabric fibers, loosening those bonds. This results in an improvement of the smoothness and drape in the item as the fabric fibers relax. When using a fabric steamer, allow the water in the water tank to adequately heat up to the proper temperature, then gently wave the nozzle or wand slowly up and down over the garment until the wrinkles begin to release and disappear.

What kind of fabrics are good for steaming?

While there are some fabrics that should not be steamed, such as suede leather or garments with a waxy coating, most fabrics made from natural fibers are safe. These include:

  • Cotton
  • Linen
  • Silk
  • Wool
Can you clean clothes with a steamer?

Steam, due to its high heat, is an excellent method of cleaning; it can both sanitize fabric and break down the chemical bonds of tough stains on fabric. There are washing machines that offer a sanitizing cycle as an additional wash cycle option; however, steamers are manufactured for the purpose of smoothing the surfaces of garments and other fabrics, not for removing stains or for sanitizing.