Best Clothes Steamers of 2017

– Buyer's Guide

In this guide you’ll learn which are the four best fabric steamers right now. And, we’ll also review all of the components that make a standing garment steamer worthwhile, including size, tank capacity, start-up time, and whether it comes with a built-in hanging system.

4 reviews
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Best Clothes Steamer - Reviews

Jiffy J-2000

Best value: J-2000 Jiffy Garment Steamer Review

With a ¾ gallon water tank and 1 ½-hour steam time, the J-2000 Jiffy is ideal if you normally have a lot of clothes to steam, and you want those clothes to look really good. You can also use it for bedding, linens, curtains, and other fabrics. The wheels make it easy to take the steamer all around your house; they even swivel. If you need to reach up with the steamer for a certain steaming task, the hose is 5 ½ feet, which is more than long enough.

You want a steamer that lasts, especially if you’re going to be using it a lot. The housing is made from high-impact plastic, as is the steam head and handle, so it should last even with frequent use. What makes this such a great deal is the nearly commercial-grade quality of this steamer, but without the high-end price.

Features:

  • Heats up and is ready to steam in 2 minutes.
  • Has an automatic shut-off for when the water level in the tank is too low, protecting from overheating.
  • 1300-watt solid brass heating element for durability and fast heating.
  • No-drip check valve system, so there isn’t any leaking.
Rowenta IS6300

Also great: Rowenta IS6300 Master Valet Garment and Fabric Steamer Review

Rowenta is an extremely convenient and easy-to-use steamer, , which is why it takes second place as our runner-up. The steamer has a roll-and-press vertical support, which basically serves as an ironing board for the clothes you hang for steaming. This makes it a lot easier to get out deeper-set creases. You get about 1 hour of steam time with the 81-ounce tank, and with a whooping 1550-watts of power, the water in the tank is going to heat up fast, so you can start steaming and be done quickly.

When it’s time to put the steamer away, the telescopic pole pops down so it will fit in shorter cabinets. For a full-size garment steamer, that’s important, especially if you don’t have a ton of storage room available.

Features:

  • Includes a fabric brush, lint pad, and steam bonnet.
  • Has a stay-cool handle for comfortable, burn-free use.
  • Has garment clips and a hook for another hanger.
  • The tank fits right under most kitchen faucets, so you don’t have to pour water into a cup and then fill the tank that way.

Limitations:

  • Hose is about 4-feet, which is a little on the short side, making it awkward to steam curtains.
PureSteam XL

Budget choice: PureSteam XL High-Powered Standing Fabric Steamer Review

For our budget pick, we went with the PureSteam XL Fabric Steamer. It has 1500 watts, which is impressive for a cheap steamer, so you’re ready to steam in just 45 seconds. If you’re frequently in a rush and just want to quickly unwrinkle a shirt or blouse, that quick heating time will be essential. The telescopic pole can be adjusted according to your height, and the built-in hanger and clips make it easy to hold clothing in place.

If you have a few items that would really benefit from steaming (as opposed to ironing) and don’t plan on steaming for long sessions, the PureSteam XL would be a good pick for you, because it’s cheap and gets the job done.

Features:

  • Telescopic pole pops on and off for easy storage and reassembly.
  • Very easy to move around, thanks to the rolling casters.
  • Includes fabric brush attachments for more steaming chores, especially those that require pet-hair removal.
  • Has a 7-foot cord for convenience.
  • Lighweight at only 10 pounds.

Limitations:

  • There is no auto-shut off on this machine, which can be a problem if you forget to unplug the steamer and it burns dry.
Jiffy J-4000

Best-in-class: J-4000 Jiffy Garment Steamer Review

This is a commercial-grade clothes steamer, so you can expect very impressive features designed for professionals. The tank is huge and holds a gallon of water. There is also a sight gauge on the tank, so you can see the water level and how much sediment build-up there is. The J-4000 can steam for almost two hours, meaning you could steam your entire wardrobe. You’ll save tons of money by not taking everything to a store, but you’ll get the same quality results. It’s on the pricey side, but the J-4000 is built to last. Its outer housing is made from die-cast aluminum, while the internal steam chamber is stainless-steel.

If you have a lot of clothes and other fabrics that usually need to be professional-steamed to look their best, the J-4000 Pro-Line is a great option.

Features

  • Has a preheat setting that gets the tank ready – fill with water, turn on the preheat, and when the indicator light blinks, switch to steam.
  • The boiler tank is corrosion-proof, which adds to its durability.
  • Interchangeable steam heads, including an option for a 12-inch head for carpets.
  • 360-degree swivel casters for total, smooth mobility.

3. How garment steamers work

Most garment steamers work using a simple water-to-steam conversion system. When you place water into a steamer’s tank, the steamer uses a heating system to convert that water into steam. The steam travels through a hose and out of the face of the steamer, and you use that steam to smooth out wrinkles.

Why do you need a garment steamer?

Clothing steamers are most commonly used to smooth out wrinkled or crumpled clothing. They’re far easier to use than irons—particularly on thicker fabrics and clothing with many pleats and creases. However, standing garment steamers in particular are also versatile enough to help manage:

  • Long dresses, formal gowns, dress pants, and suits
  • Upkeep of curtains
  • Steaming of bedding, mattresses, and couches

Investing in a garment steamer to keep clothing and household items looking crisp and clean can save you from dry cleaning bills as high as $5 per item. If you can wash the item at home, investing in a steamer to provide that freshly-pressed look will save you money on clothing maintenance in the long-term.

4. Consider the power of the steamer

The more powerful your garment steamer (the more wattage it has) the more steam it will emit and the more efficiently it will remove wrinkles. Lower-wattage steamers (those under about 1,100 watts) will work fine for thinner fabrics and lightly wrinkled items. However, if you routinely need to steam business suits or denim pants, you’ll want a standing steamer powered by at least 1,200 watts.

Higher wattage equates to:

  1. Faster removal of wrinkles
  2. Quicker heating of water
  3. More effective removal of wrinkles
  4. The ability to handle a higher variety of fabrics

The wattage you need in a steamer will depend on which garments you’ll be steaming and how heavily wrinkled they’ll be. Generally:

  • 1,100 watts and under will cover you for thin fabrics and loosely wrinkled clothing (think t-shirts, bedding, and linen fabric).
  • 1,200 watts will meet the average person’s needs. This wattage gives you the flexibility to steam everything from curtains and bedding to pantsuits.
  • 1,300-1,500+ watts encompasses the upper end of power and is the ideal choice for people with a wide variety of steaming needs, with thick or heavily wrinkled fabrics, or who need a steamer that heats up quickly.

Remember that the more power you have, the quicker you’ll be able to remove wrinkles.

5. How long does it take to heat up?

Another important consideration as you browse for a standing steamer is how long it takes to heat up. In other words, you want to identify its start-up time, or the time it takes for water to boil in the steamer’s tank, so you can begin to clean your clothing.

Look for two minutes or less

Nearly all good fabric steamers have a start-up time of two minutes or less. However, some higher-end steamers offer a start-up time of 45 seconds or less. These steamers are ideal for those who need to steam on the go—like when your son’s shirt is wrinkled and he’s late for the bus—or for shoppers who like to steam on an as-needed basis. If you plan to steam your garments, bedding, or curtains in large batches, however, you can often save money by buying a steamer that takes longer to heat up.

6. Tank sizes determine steam time

The capacity of your standing steamer’s tank directly correlates to how long it can run continuously before you need to refill it. To find the size that fits your needs, think about how many garments you steam at one time. Check out the most common tank sizes below to find the one that suits your needs.

  • 10-12 ounces (0.3-0.35 liters) will allow you at least 10-15 minutes of continuous run time.
  • 30-40 ounces (0.9-1.2 liters) will keep your steamer running strong for at least 30-40 minutes.
  • An 80-ounce (2.4 liter) tank will last you an hour or more before it’s time to refill.

In essence, you can count on ten minutes or more of continuous run time for every ten ounces (0.3 liters) of tank capacity.

If you steam only a few items at a time, a smaller capacity tank will save you money without skimping on your needs. If you do the whole family’s steaming in one sitting, you’ll benefit from spending the extra money on a tank that can hold at least 40 ounces (1.2 liters).

7. Available features and accessories

Different steamers come with a wide array of convenience and safety features, and many also come with attachments that you can mix and match to fit your
needs.

Convenience features and accessories

  1. Steaming boards offer a surface against which you can press the fabric to make smoothing out your garments easier.
  2. Crease attachments come in handy for clothes that regularly need their creases sharpened.
  3. Lint removers help you remove lint and pet hair.
  4. Fabric brushes are sometimes included with your steamer as a pre-treatment option.
  5. Foot-operated on/off switches allow you to control your product’s power with the tap of your toe.

Safety features

  1. Auto shut-off features allow your steamer to turn off when its tank is empty.
  2. Stay-cool handles prevent you from burning your hands with prolonged use.

8. Storage options

Handheld steamers are compact, but they’re only ideal for light fabrics and small steaming projects (a few items). If you’re in the market for a standing steamer, you’ll want to find one that you have room to store. Consider space-saving features like:

  • Telescoping or collapsible handles: these allow you to store the steamer in places with less vertical space.
  • Collapsible hanger systems provide the convenience of a built-in hanger (no more steaming against doors and couches) but also provide the flexibility for compact storage.

Shoppers with ample storage space may be able to save money by forgoing space-conscious features.

9. Size of the steamer

Many of a standing steamer’s features come in different sizes. The hose length and unit height you need will depend on how you intend to use your new steamer.

Hose length

Choose a unit with a hose length greater than six feet if you plan to use the steamer on mattresses, couches, or curtains. That way, you won’t have to keep changing positions and taking down drapery to get the job done. The longer the hose, the easier your task will be.

If you plan to use your steamer solely for clothing, hose lengths around six feet will allow you to reach around the entirety of the garment with ease.

Regardless of how you’ll use your steamer, make sure to choose one with a flexible hose.

Adjustable hoses allow for even further versatility for those with varying steamer needs. When you need to reach ceiling-height curtains, the hose will expand; when you’re ready to put away your steamer, the hose can be “folded” away.

Height

The height of your steamer also helps determine how convenient (or awkward) your steaming experience is.

  • The taller the unit, the more versatile your steaming options.
  • Units with a base height of six feet or greater (or units with adjustable poles) are necessary for steaming longer items like gowns, pants, and full-length dresses.

10. Do you need a hanger system?

Many steamers come with a built-in hanger system. Some include hooks on which you can hang your own hangers, and others still include no hanging system at all.

Built-in hangers

Steamers with built-in hangers save users the hassle of using unsteady closet hangers to steam their clothes. They come in two varieties:

  • Rotating: These hanger systems allow you to spin the hanger around when you’re ready to steam the back of the garment—which means a quick spin will give you access to the back of the garment instead of having to remove and re-situate the hanger by hand.
  • Stationary: Like regular closet hangers, these hanger systems require you to either remove the garment from the hanger or turn the hanger around to steam the back of the garment. They are, however, typically more sturdy to compensate.

Hooks

Some steamers include hooks that you can use with the hangers you have at home. This requires a bit more work on your end but may allow you to save a few
dollars on the cost of the steamer.

11. Buying Tips

Not all standing steamers are created equal. We’ve put together a list of basic necessities, good-to-have perks, and great-to-have luxuries to help you pick the steamer that suits both your needs and your budget.

Must have features

  • You’ll need at least 1,000 watts of power to comfortably steam away mild wrinkles and manage thinner fabrics.
  • Look for steamers with two minutes or less of warm-up time to keep your steaming sessions efficient.
  • In a standing steamer, most users will need at least a 30-ounce tank.
  • At least a six-foot-long hose will be necessary for most basic steaming needs.

Good to have features

  • 1,200 watts of power will allow you to steam thicker fabrics.
  • Hoses greater than six feet long will allow you to reach curtains without taking them down.
  • Look for units with a height of six feet or greater to steam gowns, dresses, and pants on the steamer.
  • Built-in hangers turn your steamer into a one-stop shop.

Great to have features

  • 1,500 watts of power will allow you to steam any fabric with ease.
  • Collapsible hangers and handles allow you to store your steamer more easily.
  • Auto shut-off features are a trademark of a “smart” steamer.
  • Stay-cool handles keep your hands comfortable and safe from heat.
  • Accessories like lint-removers, fabric brushes, and crease attachments help you to keep your garments in top shape, but they can also be purchased separately.

Use your budget, your steamer sizing needs, and the type of fabrics you’ll be steaming to identify the ideal unit for your lifestyle and budget. The tips
in this article will help you identify your dream steamer and keep your fabrics crisp and odor-free.

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