Written By
Published Apr. 3, 2022

While most of us have an iron at home, clothes steamers are more typically found in a retail environment. There are many instances, however, when a steamer is a superior tool for removing wrinkles from clothing. Steamers are easier to use than irons, and they don’t require a bulky board. While delicate garments made from silk and polyester shouldn’t be ironed, they can be safely steamed. Apart from clothing, steamers can also be used to remove wrinkles from drapes and curtains without having to dismantle them. 

We’ll break down what to look for when shopping for the best clothes steamer for your home and discuss the key considerations to keep in mind as you shop. Keep reading for tips on choosing the best option, and explore our curated picks for the best steamers on the market.

How We Picked the Best Clothes Steamers

While it’s easy to assume that all garment steamers offer similar performance, a number of factors affect their functionality. Several years of experience covering home goods and small appliances as well as extensive product research went into choosing our final selection. We reviewed more than 25 clothing steamers and weighed a number of practical considerations before making our recommendations. 

Type: We opted to feature both handheld and standing steamers in order to provide a variety of options for shoppers.

Power capacity: A steamer’s performance is generally measured by its power capacity in watts. With one exception for our recommended travel steamer, all of our recommendations have power capacities of 1,000 watts or higher. 

Additional features: We gave priority to clothes steamers with added features and functionality — like multiple steam settings and hanging racks — to ensure our recommendations were as versatile as possible. 

The Best Clothes Steamers: Reviews and Recommendations

Best Overall: J-2000 Jiffy Garment Steamer 

Jiffy Steamer

Check Price

Why It Made The Cut: This steamer has an impressive power capacity and features a large water reservoir, providing users with a continuous steaming time of 1.5 hours. 

Specs:

  • Type: Standing
  • Power Capacity: 1,300 watts
  • Water Capacity: 96 ounces

Pros:

  • Large water reservoir
  • Quick heating time
  • Automatic shutoff
  • High power capacity

Cons:

  • Not ideal for small spaces

Standing floor steamers are ideal for professional use, but also make a smart addition to any household’s laundry room. With a power capacity of 1300 watts, this steamer emits a strong stream of steam and features a 5-foot hose, giving users plenty of flexibility while they work. 

The reservoir tank has a capacity of 96 ounces, providing users with 1.5 hours of continuous steaming time. For those who steam clothing daily, this means the tank only needs to be refilled once a week or less, streamlining the process. Despite its large water reservoir, this model heats up in under two minutes. 

The base is set on 360-degree swivel casters for optimal mobility, allowing users to move it as needed while the steamer is in use. As an added safety feature, this model features automatic shut-off when the water in the reservoir is depleted.

Best Value: Conair CompleteSteam Handheld Fabric Steamer

Conair

Check Price

Why It Made The Cut: Despite its small size and affordable price, this model from Conair performs nearly as well as pro-level standing steamers. 

Specs:

  • Type: Handheld
  • Power Capacity: 1,100 watts
  • Water Capacity: 4.9 ounces

Pros:

  • How power capacity 
  • Quick heating time
  • Compact size

Cons:

  • Short operating time

Many handheld steamers can’t compete with standing models when it comes to performance, but this option from Conair has an 1,100-watt power capacity, making it nearly as powerful as our top pick. It also heats up in just 60 seconds, so it’s a great choice for users who often steam clothing in a hurry before leaving the house. 

The one downside of a model like this one is the small water tank capacity. Since it only holds 4.9 ounces of water, it has a short operating time of just 10 minutes. This needn’t be a dealbreaker, however — 10 minutes is plenty of time to steam a couple of items each morning. The Conair’s compact size (measuring 5.25 by 6.75 by 10.25 inches) makes it easy to store under a sink or in a closet when it’s not in use, making it an excellent small-space solution.  

Best Standing: PurSteam Garment Steamer

PurSteam World’s Best Steamers

Check Price

Why It Made The Cut: This standing steamer is incredibly powerful, features a range of steam settings, and includes a number of useful add-ons. 

Specs:

  • Type: Standing
  • Power Capacity: 1500 watts
  • Water Capacity: 85 ounces

Pros:

  • Large water reservoir
  • Features four steam settings
  • High power capacity
  • Includes garment hanger

Cons:

  • Not ideal for small spaces

No need to alternate between an ironing board and a steamer — this standing model from PurSteam features four steaming settings, providing various options for different types of fabrics, including silk, wool, cotton and linen.

With a high power capacity of 1,500 watts and an 85-ounce water tank, users can expect 55 minutes of continuous steaming time after a quick heat-up time of just 45 seconds.  Additional features include a garment hanger as well as a fabric brush to help to eliminate lint. The height of the hanger can be adjusted to one of four pre-set heights using the two telescopic poles that make up the frame. Fabric clips, a pants press, and a collar board provide additional versatility, making this model a perfect stand-in for an iron. 

Best Handheld: Conair Turbo Extreme Steam Handheld Fabric Steamer

Conair

Check Price

Why It Made The Cut: Not only does this handheld model offer powerful steaming, but it can kill up to 99.9 percent of bacteria by using a high steam temperature.

Specs:

  • Type: Handheld
  • Power Capacity: 1,875 watts
  • Water Capacity: 7.3 ounces

Pros:

  • High power capacity
  • Features five power settings
  • Kills 99.9 percent of bacteria
  • Includes built-in creaser

Cons:

  • Low operating time

Many handheld clothing steamers offer inferior steaming power when compared with standing models, but this pick has an impressive power capacity of 1,850 watts. It features five power settings, so while it provides strong steaming power for heavier fabrics, gentler options are available for delicate materials like silk. This model operates at a high temperature and has been tested and proven to kill 99.9 percent of bacteria found on fabric. 

The 7.3-ounce water reservoir provides 20 minutes of continuous steaming time and takes just 40 seconds to heat up, making this a great option for those getting ready in a hurry. A built-in creaser helps to create crisp pleats and folds as desired and a 3-in-1 attachment helps to pull the fabric taut while you steam.

Best for Travel: TRAVEL SMART Conair Garment Steamer

TRAVEL SMART

Check Price

Why It Made The Cut: This ultra-compact model has a large enough water reservoir to operate for 10 minutes. 

Specs:

  • Type: Handheld
  • Power Capacity: 450 watts
  • Water Capacity: N/A

Pros:

  • Ultra-compact size
  • Suitable for travel
  • Fold-down handle

Cons:

  • Low power capacity

Many handheld steamers are marketed as being useful for travel, but most are too bulky to comfortably pack in a suitcase. This model, however, is ultra-compact, measuring just 4.5 by 4.5 by 9.5 inches. It’s small enough to bring to the office before a big meeting or to freshen up your clothes after the gym. A fold-down handle makes it easy and comfortable to use and a long power cord gives you room to maneuver. 

It’s designed with dual voltage, meaning it’s safe to use in electrical outlets around the world. The manufacturer doesn’t list the capacity of the water reservoir, but it does have a listed operating time of 10 minutes. One downside to this model is the power capacity. It only uses 450 watts of power, so it won’t perform as well as our other recommended picks when it comes to thick materials like cotton and linen. 

Things to Consider When Choosing a Clothes Steamer

With so many fabric steamers on the market, choosing the right one for your home requires careful consideration. Keep the following factors in mind while making your purchase.

Type

Garment steamers come in one of two styles: handheld and standing. Each offers its own advantages. 

  • Handheld steamers are ideal for those living in small spaces and people who only steam clothing infrequently. Some handheld steamers are ultra-compact and are designed to be used on the go or while traveling. Since handheld steamers have smaller water reservoirs, they heat up faster, letting you start steaming shortly after powering them on.  
  • Standing steamers — also known as floor steamers — feature large water reservoirs that allow users to steam for longer periods of time without refilling the tank. Generally speaking, they offer more powerful performance than their handheld counterparts. These professional-style machines are commonly used in retail stores to keep clothing looking its best. They’re convenient for those with large walk-in closets who steam clothing on a daily basis. 

Wattage

A clothes steamer’s power level is measured by wattage. Typically, power levels range between 500 and 1,500 watts. Steamers with a higher power level emit more steam, allowing users to remove wrinkles faster. It’s important to note that the highest possible wattage isn’t necessarily best for all garments — delicate fabrics require lower levels of steam. Some steamers offer multiple power settings so users can choose the power level that’s most appropriate for the material they’re working with. 

Additional Features

Garment steamers all share common functionality, but many come with desirable additional features. 

  • Built-in hangers are sometimes found on standing steamers and provide a convenient place for users to hang their garments while they steam them. 
  • Brush attachments allow for simultaneous lint removal. 
  • Crease clips allow users to create sharp pleats and creases as desired. 
  • Carrying cases are included with some portable models.

FAQs

Q: Can a steamer replace an iron?

If you already have an iron, a clothes steamer can be a useful addition to your garment care arsenal. The two tools, however, differ in their functionality. Ironing creates a pressed look and can make sharp creases in clothing, whereas steaming is best for removing wrinkles from thin fabrics.

Q: What type of clothing should you steam?

Generally speaking, thicker materials like cotton and linen should be ironed, while thinner, more delicate materials should be steamed. The most powerful steamers, however, can also tackle wrinkles in thick materials. Steam materials like silk, polyester, and wool as well as garments with embellishments like sequins that can’t be ironed. 

Q: How do you use a clothes steamer?

Start by filling the reservoir with water and then power the steamer on. Once it has heated up, hover the steamer over the fabric and work section by section to remove wrinkles. When using a clothing steamer, it’s best to hold it approximately 6 inches from the fabric to avoid potentially damaging the material. Be careful to prevent your skin from coming into contact with the steam as it is extremely hot and can cause burns.

Final Thoughts

Our recommendations cover a variety of types and styles of clothes steamers to best suit different needs. The J-2000 Jiffy Garment Steamer is our top pick because of its high performance and large water reservoir. Our recommended choice for those on a budget is the Conair CompleteSteam Handheld Fabric Steamer, which offers comparable performance at an affordable price.

MORE TO READ