garment steamer frequently asked questionsFrom basic questions you may have like “What is a garment steamer” and “How do garment steamers work” to very specific brand related questions like “How to use Rowenta steamer” and “How to clean Jiffy steamer”, on this page, you will find answers to those questions and 20+ other frequently asked questions.

What Is a Garment Steamer?

A garment steamer, a cloth steamer, or simply a steamer is used for removing rumples from fabrics and garments using high steam temperature.

How Do Garment Steamers Work?

The water in the reservoir at the base heats up when the steamer is turned on. This creates steam that rises through the tube/hose.

Steam comes out of the tube through the nozzle. The user holds the nozzle, then directs the steam to the rumpled regions of the garment thus wrinkles are removed.

Be informed that the time required to completely remove rumples from clothes depend on the type of steamer, type of fabric, capacity of the water tank, and sometimes even the experience of the person doing the steaming tasks.

Unique Qualities of the Best Garment Steamers?

  • They are lightweight
  • Easy to maneuver
  • Have a long tall rod, which lengthens up to five feet above the base
  • Have a flexible rubber tube to carry steam from the bottom to the nozzle
  • Have water well at the bottom
  • Is well insulated against heating

Can a Garment Steamer Replace My Iron?

Garment steamers are fast when it comes to releasing wrinkles from garments. This has earned them a place among individuals and companies that deal with clothes and could as well be the reason it is often considered a substitute for iron.

However, you do want to keep your iron as safe as you do your steamer.

While your steamer will do a great job on suit jackets and trousers, for instance, when used on thicker clothes like the blanket or clothes coming straight out of the washer, clothes that might require some kind of pressure in addition to a full and powerful steam to get the creases out, well, not quite as much.

Do Garment Steamers Work Better Than Irons?

Garment steamers can’t be said to be better than irons in the real sense of it.

Many people, traditionally, use an iron to straighten crumpled garments or clothes.

The only problem with ironing is that it takes time and requires some skills.

A garment steamer, on the other hand, makes the process of de-wrinkling easier and quicker plus it requires zero skill.

Is a Steamer the same as an Iron?

A steamer releases a jet of steam at the clothing without contact with the fabric, while an iron uses the plate underneath to remove creases from clothes.

What Type of Clothing are Garment Steamers Most Suitable For?

  • Items made of delicate fabrics (silk, acetate, sports coat, wool, rayon, polyester, viscose/rayon)
  • Clothes that are hard to iron due to their design (lots of pieces and seams, or lots of pleats/layers/etc.)

Conditions for Steaming?

  • If you got clothes that don’t require heavy ironing
  • If you’re steaming items that are not spotlessly clean
  • If you are looking for an iron alternative, probably a unit that is not heavy to hold when used for a longer period of time
  • If you got wrinkled shirts that you’d like to temporarily “fix” until the next wash
  • When you haven’t got enough time to iron
  • In the morning when you pull out a shirt and want to wear it but it is a little too wrinkled from either washing or just being shoved into the closet or shelf

What is the Use of Garment Steamers?

Garment steamers actually have a lot of uses.

Besides de-wrinkling your clothing, they can also be used for beautifying the presentation of your upholstery and drapery.

In comparison to normal flat irons, garment steamers can be easily used on fabrics such as satin, silk, lace, and polyester, without having to worry about scorching them.

Top Considerations for Choosing the Best Garment Steamers

Garment steamers are very effective at removing wrinkles and odors from garments and upholstery. Because there are so many brands and models available, finding the right clothes steamer can be challenging. Consider the following when choosing a garment steamer.

  • Type and size of fabric: Consider the size and material of the textiles to be steamed. The smaller handheld steamers, maybe due to their limited water capacity, are unable to handle large items like curtains.

The ability of steamers to steam fabrics like cotton often depends on the width of the steam head, steam holes, steam holes arrangement, and of course the strength of the steam.

  • Budget: Before making any purchase, have a price range in mind. Very cheap garment steamers often turn out to be expensive plastic. Likewise, sometimes, expensive items turn out to be very cheap mistakes.

You want to choose a fabric steamer in the price range of low to mid-range since who knows…

In which case the decision to replace a non-performing steamer (or one that is not suitable for your needs) will be as easy as it gets.

If it helps, shortlist three fabric steamers in the same category (handheld, standing, or tabletop) and pick the one with the average price.

Bonus Tip: If you find a steamer that has served you well for at least three years and you have some cash to spare, consider getting another of that same model from the same brand. Over time items sell out and Manufacturers, in their attempts to improve on the previous models, often end up with terrific or terrible products.

  • Water capacity: Lots of refills within a session of steaming can be tiring and frustrating especially when the user is in a rush. The water capacity determines how long a fabric steamer would work before requiring refills.

Depending on your steaming tasks (lighter models with small water capacity are ideal for those who would not have lots of items to steam regularly while those who would have lots to steam should go for steamers with large water capacity), a clothes steamer with an average of the water capacity of top three steamers in its category, can be considered to have a decent water capacity.

To avoid running out of water unexpectedly which can cause overheating, a fabric steamer with a  transparent water tank is strongly recommended, as it adds another layer of safety to the unit since the water level is visible.

  • Hose and Cord Length: While a standing garment steamer has a hose, neither the tabletop fabric steamers or the handheld steamers have hoses (the handheld steamers has a “neck” though).

It goes with saying that hose length applies to standing garment steamers only and from our observation of people who are really enjoying their clothes steamers, 5 feet seems to be a nice length that lets them reach tall pieces of items like draperies and curtains.

For the cord length, let us say 7 feet. At this length, the user is able to maneuver and reach tough spots like cuffs, easily. Anything above 7 feet cord length could see the cord getting in the way of the user.

  • Heat-up Time and Steaming Duration: Most steamers heat up in two minutes or less and produce steam but how long the steam will last depends on the product and size of the water tank.

Handheld steamers produce steam that lasts for between 10-15 minutes while upright steamers produce steam that lasts for about 45-120 minutes.

  • Timer or Auto-off: Timer or auto-off system kicks into action when water level becomes minimal–a particularly helpful feature which prevents overheating. Besides saving power, the timer/auto-off feature as well enhances the durability of the steamer.

How to Get Optimum Results from your Steaming Tasks?

  • The easiest way to steam a garment is when it is left to hang. Standing garment steamers have hanging poles attached. If you are making use of a handheld garment steamer, however, your garment could be hanged and placed on a rod or doorknob.
  • Try running the steamer against your garments in a downward manner. You don’t need to press too hard, the steam will remove wrinkles on its own. If the fabric is super wrinkled, steaming should be done from inside the garment or underneath.
  • When steaming garments with trimmings, the steamer should be half an inch away in order not to damage the embellishments. Special care is also needed for silk or velvet fabrics.
  • There are fabrics that require way more (or less) steam power and pressure before they become smooth. Thick jeans will need more heat than a silk fabric. Using the highest heat for lighter fabrics might damage them.
  • If you intend steaming a shirt or two, there is no need to fill the water tank all the way up. It will be faster this way.

How to Maintain a Fabric Steamer?

  • Do not overfill the water tank: using too much water could lead to spitting, leakage or worse.
  • Ensure the water level does not get too low.
  • Ensure the water gets heated before you start steaming.
  • Keep the unit clean before and after use.
  • Do not allow the cord or the hose to get twisted.
  • Follow the manufacturer’s directions for storage

Which is the Best Clothes Steamer to Buy?

See our review of the best garment steamers in the market. These steamers don’t leak, are space efficient, plus they heat up real fast and give out full and powerful steam.

What are the Best Handheld/Travel Garment Steamers?

Travel garment steamers are smaller in size; this makes them flexible to carry around in an overnight bag or suitcase. It’s ideal for those folks who like traveling a lot and don’t like using the hotel iron.

Handheld steamers don’t have a tube, unlike the standing garment steamer, hence it releases steam directly via the nozzle.

It has a small water tank–you have to refill it frequently during the process of removing crumples.

For more information, see our detailed review of the best travel and handheld garment steamers.

Can I Use a Garment Steamer to Clean?

While not particularly made for cleaning (and it’s highly recommended you limit using it this way), garment steamers very well clean clothes.

You can use a garment steamer to refresh upholstery, freshen up your curtains, bedding, and furniture. The steam will help loosen mild dirt and dust, and give out a shiny finish with a brand new look!

How to Clean Clothes Steamer?

Did you just finish using your fabric steamer and are planning on storing it away for a long time or maybe you have been using it for say two to three months on end and you would like to keep it in a good working condition? Follow the four steps below to clean your clothes steamer:

Step 1: Turn off the unit (also unplug the power cord and wrap away if possible)

Step 2: Allow the machine to cool off for about 30 minutes to 1 hour

Step 3: Completely drain water residues lurking in removable parts (see product manual) of the steamer–steamer hose, water tank, and the container

Step 4: Replace the container

How to Know a Garment Steamer is Clean?

Having cleaned your steamer, fill the steam container back with distilled water and plug into a power source. A few minutes away your unit should have started emitting steam already.

Keep an eye on the steamer holes–if all holes are emitting full steam, that means your garment steamer is clean. Otherwise, carefully follow the instructions in “How to Clean a Clothes Steamer?” above

How to Decalcify Clothes Steamer?

Continuously supplying your fabric steamer with tap water, over time, could cause it to form some calcium residues (through a process known as calcification) that can cause your steamer to start malfunctioning.

Decalcification is the way to go.

To decalcify your clothes steamer;

Step 1: Pour one part vinegar into three part water (whether the steamer tank has been emptied or has water) and allow it to heat completely

Step 2: Empty the solution into a tub or a sink

Step 3: Fill the steamer tank with distilled water and allow to heat completely

Step 4: Empty all of that boiled water into a sink

Step 5: Refill the tank with distilled water, plug into a power source and start steaming!

How to Clean Rowenta Steamer?

Ideally, a user manual should accompany any of your Rowenta products. If otherwise–or perhaps you are on recommendation and would like to know how Rowenta products work before committing to purchase–the Rowenta user manual page is very helpful.

Besides this page furnishing you with information on the functionality of Rowenta products, it as well provide answers to technical questions like “how to clean Rowenta steamers,” “how to use Rowenta hand steamer,” how to use Rowenta Xcel steamer,” “Rowenta handheld steamer instructions,” “Rowenta precision valet steamer 1550w manual,” “How to clean Rowenta pro compact steamer,” etc.

How to Clean Jiffy Steamer?

J-1, J-2, J-3, J-200, J-2000, J-4000 and the ESTEAM are steamer models from Jiffy. To get detailed information on how to clean any of those Jiffy steamers, go to Jiffy’s Steamer Care and tap on any of the steamer models as applicable to you.

How to Troubleshoot a Garment Steamer?

  • If your unit is taking longer than the manufacturer’s suggested heat up time, for JIFFY products, you could use lukewarm water as recommended in the manual directions.
  • For issues relating to inconsistent steam flow, maybe you should take the hose and turn it upside down as if you were pouring the liquid out of it.
  • If your unit is sputtering, you might want to ensure there is no mineral build up in the water reservoir. If there are in fact some mineral build, follow the cleaning tips in the product’s instruction manual. Where such information is not available, add some portion of vinegar into the water in your water chamber and allow to heat up some five minutes. Empty the content of your water reservoir and refill with water. You should be fine now.
Yes, you may. The vapor produced by a dry-steam cleaner allows you to deodorize and sanitize your sofa without using chemicals. The high-temperature steam also loosens and dissolves dirt, while brightening the fabric’s colors.

Is Garment Steamer Better Than Iron?

You may have noticed that traditional types of flat iron tend to wrinkle your cloth linings as well as its lower layers. Usually, this occurs when you are trying to flatten your clothing’s upper layers. Meaning you can’t completely eliminate wrinkles on your entire clothing when you use the flat iron.

Garment steamers, on the other hand, do not have this issue.

A garment steamer offers convenience, is easy to use, is faster, and requires no skills to operate plus it is pain-free. And the handheld garment steamers particularly are lightweight and space efficient.

What Types of Garments Steamer are There?

There are two types of garment steamers. One can stand by itself while the other is handheld.

  • Handheld garment steamer: handheld fabric steamers are portable. They have smaller water tanks and take a little amount of time to heat up. Although they could prove very stressful when used for a large amount of clothing because the tank has to be constantly refilled.
  • Upright/standing garment steamer: these are ideal for both home and commercial purposes. They have the ability to conveniently handle large amounts of clothes within a short time. There is a high tendency of not refilling the water tank in between steaming.

Additional note 1. Upright garment steamers feel lighter to use due to their in-built hose. They have a garment clip and hanger system that enables you to hang clothes as you steam.

Benefits of a Garment Steamer?

  • It saves a lot of time. Ironing is time-consuming and stressful. You have to set up the ironing board, heat it up and find your way around tough areas like the collars and buttons.
  • Garment steamers unlike irons don’t damage the fragile fibers of textiles and provide garments with a smooth look without shortening their lifespan.
  • While iron can burn or melt fabric, a steamer cannot.
  • It leaves no residue or stains on fabrics.
  • Gentle on clothes
  • A garment steamer does not create creases
  • It’s quick and convenient

How to Choose a Garment Steamer?

With quite a lot of brands and models available, finding the perfect one for your needs can be challenging. The following should be considered in choosing a garment steamer.

  • Type of fabric. You have to consider how big your textiles are. Smaller handheld steamers, due to their limited water capacity cannot handle large items like curtains. The ability of steamers to steam fabrics like cotton depends on the width of the steam head, number of steam holes, how the holes are arranged, and how powerful they are.
  • Budget. Before making any purchase, it is essential to have a price range in mind. Cheap steamers are smaller and might not provide you with the kind of quality you are looking for. Also, the cheaper models usually have excessive water requirements and you might regularly have to fill the steamer with distilled water. If you’d be using a steamer more frequently and you want an excellent result, you should consider investing in the more pricey steamers. They are more durable and reliable.
  • Water capacity. The water capacity determines the extent to which the steamer could work before refilling. A lot of refills within a session of steaming can be tiring and annoying especially when you are in a rush. Based on your needs, you should consider a steamer with a water capacity that’ll not cause difficulties. A transparent water tank can be a good safety measure as the water level is visible.

Additional note 2. A lighter–probably a travel-size–steamer model with a small water capacity will be your ideal choice if you do not have lots of items to steam (or if you will not be steaming lots of items regularly). Think the heavy-duty–or full size–steamer models with larger water capacity if you will be steaming lots to items.

Tap water or distilled water could be used for steamers but distilled water is highly recommended.

  • The length of the hose. The standard length for a hose should not be less than 5 feet. Many steamers come with extendable hoses; a longer hose will provide a wide range of use and ease.
  • Power and speed. Most steamers take two minutes or lesser to heat up and produce steam but how long the steam will last depends on the product and size of the water tank. Handheld steamers produce steam that lasts for 10-15 minutes while upright steamers produce steam that lasts for about 45-90 minutes. The more the power, the more powerful the steam.
  • Timer or auto-off. You could be in a hurry one of those times that you forgot to engage the turnoff switch. This is where the auto-off feature comes in. It is highly recommended to go for a steamer with this feature. The steamer would go off after a certain time or when the water level becomes minimal. This does not only save power, but it also enhances the durability of your steamer.
  • Hanger. There are different models with a different style of hangers. The hanger is to ensure that the garments are well suspended for efficient steaming.
  • Portability. Portability does not only mean compactness but also the mobility of the steamer. There might be a need to move the steamer around the house for various purposes, steamers with wheels are ideal for those purposes. Most handheld steamers are easy to store and transport while the upright ones may not be ideal for small homes. The handle of the steamer should be easy to pull or push while in use.

How To Use a Garment Steamer To Steam Clothes?

Watch this video:

If you’d prefer to consume this information in texts, here:

  • A garment steamer could be a handheld or upright device. Cold water is to be poured into the water tank of the steamer. To avoid leakage, ensure all the parts of the steamer are properly closed.
  • Plug in the steamer; allow it to heat until the steam starts to form. Steamers usually heat up within two to three minutes. Ensure it steams well in order to get the desired results. This can be checked by pressing the button or pulling the trigger on the handle, depending on the brand. The same button is what will be used while steaming.
  • The easiest way to steam a garment is when it is left to hang. Some steamers usually have a hanging pole attached. Nevertheless, if you are making use of a handheld steamer, your garment could be hanged and placed on a rod or doorknob.
  • The steamer should be run against your garments in a downward manner. There is no need of pressing too hard, the steam will remove wrinkles on its own. If the fabric is too wrinkled, steaming should be done from inside the garment or underneath.
  • When steaming garments with trimmings, the steamer should be half an inch away in order not to damage the embellishments. Special care should be taken with silk or velvet fabrics.
  • Check the level of water in the tank after each item of clothing (if you re using a smaller unit).
  • Garments are usually damp after a fresh steaming or some small water spots could appear. These are quite normal, after steaming let the garment sit in the hanger to dry for some minutes before wearing it.

Additional note 3. Some fabrics require more steam power before they become smooth. Thick jeans will need more heat than a silk fabric. Using the high-heat steamers for lighter fabrics might damage them.

More so if you intend steaming a shirt or two, there is no need to fill the water tank all the way up. Things will be faster this way.

How Much is a Garment Steamer?

Steamers can range in price anywhere from $15 to $300+.

Steaming is an effective way to get wrinkles out of almost any fabric, taking less space (especially if it is a handheld steamer), time and effort than ironing.

Are Garment Steamers Worth It?

Whether it’s “worth it” or not is really up to you and your circumstances. How often would you be steaming? How many items from your closet are steam only, and how many are better with the traditional iron? Do you have somewhere to store the steamer?

Final Verdict

If you have other questions that were not covered in this post, feel free to shoot me an email at samuelolawale03(at)