Clothes Steamer Buying Guide

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Ironing can be a real bind! It takes up valuable time and you have to find space to store your cumbersome ironing board. But, what are the alternatives?

In this Clothes Steamer Buying Guide, we’ll help you:

  • Understand the differences between a Clothes Steamer and an Iron
  • Identify what to look out for in a Clothes Steamer
  • Identify 5 of the best Clothes Steamers available today
  • And, lots more…

The Best 5 Clothes Steamers

Conair Turbo ExtremeSteam Garment Steamer
Best Upright
  • Upright with multi-garment hanging system
  • Large 1.8 Litre water tank
  • Adjustable telescopic pole
Electrolux Portable Handheld Garment and Fabric Steamer
Best for home use
  • 18 minute steam time with 30 seconds reheat time
  • Long 3 metre power cord
  • 1500 Watts so plenty of steam power
J-2000 Jiffy Garment Steamer
Best for pros
  • Highly rated on Amazon
  • Comes with either a plastic or metal steam head
  • Very durable construction
Electrolux Compact Handheld Travel Garment and Fabric Steamer
Best for travel
Electrolux Compact Handheld Travel Garment and Fabric Steamer
  • Super small so perfect for travel
  • Pump stream technology for leak and spill free use
  • 10 minute steam time
Conair Hand Held Fabric Steamer
Best budget
Conair Hand Held Fabric Steamer
  • Dual-voltage for worldwide use
  • 10 minute steam time
  • Robust construction and materials

How do Clothes Steamers Work

You might or might not be aware that if your clothes get wrinkled on your travels, you can hang them in the bathroom while taking a shower and the wrinkles will be no more. Well, the principle of a Clothes Steamer is much the same - only quicker and more powerful!

Simply add water to the steamer, allow it to heat up and run the steamer over the garment in a downward motion with the steamer trigger pressed and the steam will release the wrinkles for a beautiful crease-free garment.

The Benefits of a Clothes Steamer

There are a number of benefits to using a clothes steamer, including

  • An effective and quick way to remove wrinkles
  • You can use a steamer on most types of fabrics and materials
  • Most clothes steamers are small and portable, so can easily travel with you
  • Whilst not a replacement for washing a clothes steamer will refresh your clothes

Are there Different Types of Clothes Steamer

There are two main types of clothes steamer with each type having a different use.

  • Upright Clothes Steamer. Often known as vertical clothes steamers, upright models are larger and more powerful than their portable counterparts. Built for steaming at scale, vertically oriented models often have built-in hangers, are height adjustable and have larger water tanks, making them perfect for professional laundries or retail stores. 
  • Handheld or Portable Clothes Steamer. The norm when it comes to domestic clothes steamers, these models are significantly lighter than upright versions and come with significantly smaller water tanks. This makes them easier to store and is great for travelling. Take a look at our guide to the best handheld clothes steamers.

What is the Difference Between a Clothes Steamer and an Iron

A clothes steamer offers a greater deal of flexibility when compared to an iron. They are portable - even the upright models can be moved - and can easily fit into a suitcase if need be, so are great travel companions.

They are great if you are short of time and don’t need an iron board to make your clothes wrinkle-free. They also offer the added benefit of giving your clothes a refresh - and killing certain bacteria - if they’ve been folded in a suitcase. 

But, if you’re looking for your clothes to be pristinely pressed, go for an iron. 

What Features to look out for in a Clothes Steamer

Size of the Water Tank

The size of the water will dictate how long the steam can be used without refilling. If you’re looking to steam a lot of clothes or upholstery in one go, you should choose a clothes steamer with a larger water tank. Ordinarily, upright clothes steamers have larger water tanks.

Steam Settings

Different types of fabrics will require different steam output and therefore different steam settings. For delicate fabrics such as silk that have a lower tolerance to temperature, a lower steam setting will be required.

Heating Time

In most cases, someone is looking for a quick fix to their wrinkle problem, so the time it takes to heat the device and for it to be ready to use, is very important. Most devices will heat up and be operational within a couple of minutes, but be sure to check before purchasing.


The device's weight will depend on whether it’s an upright or portable model. Upright models are, unsurprisingly, heavier than portable devices.

Also, remember to consider the size of the water tank as this will impact the weight when in use. 

Adjustable Height

This feature only relates to upright steamer models but is a very important consideration as it will directly impact how comfortable it is to use the device. An adjustable unit will allow you to steam a lot of garments in one session as it will simply be more comfortable.


Nearly all clothes steamers will come with some accessories, such as lint brushes, or trousers press attachments. Double-check which accessories are included prior to purchasing.

Power and Wattage

It’s a simple equation. The higher the wattage, the more powerful the steamer will be. In an ideal world, look for a clothes steamer with a minimum output of 1,500 watts.

Continuous Steam

Some clothes steamers require a trigger or button to be pressed or held in order for the steam unit to work. If you are looking to steam a number of garments in one go, a trigger might be uncomfortable, so check before committing to a purchase.

Fabric Types

Clothes steamers can be used on most fabrics, but double-check the instructions provided with the device beforehand. You shouldn’t use steam on suede, plastic-type materials or wax-based jackets.


If you’re looking to take a clothes steamer when you travel, make sure it’s lightweight and can fit comfortably into a bag or suitcase, remembering to include space for any accompanying accessories.

Hose length

For upright units the hose length will dictate how high you can steam. For long dresses, make sure you have a good, lengthy hose.

Power Cord Length

Again, this is more relevant for upright units. If you’re going to be steaming at scale, make sure you have a long enough cord, so that you won’t have to keep moving the unit of garments themselves.

Can I use a Clothes Steamer on Upholstery?

Yes, a clothes steamer works really well on upholstery and curtains. In fact, much like garments, upholstery can be reinvigorated by steam. Just be careful to check the suitable fabric types in the device instructions before steaming - some fabrics such as velvet or very heavy materials can react badly to steam.

And Finally…

We hope you’ve enjoyed our clothes, garment and upholstery steamer buying guide. For more fabric care content, take a look at some of our other guides:

The best fabric shavers for Cashmere

The best heated clothes airers

How to remove lint from washing machines

Our editors have independently selected and reviewed all of the products you see here. The reviews can contain links from affiliates, which means we may receive a small commission on editorially chosen products purchased through our links.