What is the difference between an iron and clothes steamer?

Similar to an iron, water is placed in a capsule and heats up but where they differ is in the application and result – steamers don’t make direct contact with clothes, thus preserving high quality fabrics and achieving a crease-free look on even the most difficult-to-reach spots. As they work more quickly than irons, you’ll also save time and energy and their portability means you can take them anywhere.

Pro tips for a wrinkle-free wardrobe

1. After you have allowed your steamer to fully heat up, test it on a kitchen towel first to prevent any water sputtering all over your clothes. And always steam in a vertical position!

2. Be aware of the type of fabric you are working with. Silk should be steamed from the reverse side to avoid water streaks and velvet should never touch the face of the steamer.

3. Use distilled/deionized water to fill your clothes steamer. Hard water minerals found in tap water such as calcium and magnesium can clog clothes steamers and decrease their overall effectiveness. Distilled water is readily available from most grocery stores and cost about £1 for 2.5L.

4. Clean you clothes steamer with white distilled vinegar. Fill the tank with the vinegar (white distilled only), allow to heat completely then push all the steam out into your kitchen or bathroom sink. Repeat with distilled water to remove any trace of the vinegar and voilà, a good as new clothes steamer.

Here’s our pick of the best.

Fridja F10 Handheld Travel Clothes Steamer

If aesthetics are important to you it doesn’t get much cuter than the Fridja F10, which comes in black, white or pink. Taking only 45 seconds to heat up, it makes quick work of crumpled clothing – especially as the steam jet can be held down continuously for up to 14 minutes.

The handle is slim and the model is light, making it easy to manouver around garments and the chord stretches to almost two metres, which is great if your plug points are in awkward places. Add-ons such as the delicate fabric guard and collar press come in handy whilst the anti-calcium water tank gave us assurance that the product will is durable. Though one of the pricier products on the list, all these factors add up to make it a favourite.

£99.99 | Amazon | Buy it now

Beautural Clothing Steamer 

The 1200W of power provided by this steamer make it a power house at getting out tough creases and enables it to work continuously for up to 15 minutes. What’s more, it works on multiple fabrics including cotton, wool, silk, polyester, velvet and linen to name but a few. What we really love about this model, though, is its intuitive, simple design.

There’s an on/off button and trigger which can be manually activated or set on a lock (allowing a continual flow of steam) and it works both vertically and horizontally thanks to the small pump in the water tank. Aside from that, all you need to do is ensure the no-spill vessel is filled up. Added conveniences such as the 360 degree swivel chord and 35 second heating time make it a particularly user-friendly model.

£29.99 | Amazon | Buy it now

Pro Breeze Garment Steamer 

A truly multi-purpose item, the Pro Breeze Garment Steamer isn’t just good for clothes – it can be used on furniture, upholstery and, most importantly, bedding too (a dream if you love perfectly smooth bedsheets but can’t be bothered to iron them).

Looking a little like a watering can, it’s easy to grip although is a little on the heavier side. It comes with a safety auto-shut-off which disables the steamer if it overheats or runs out of water, bringing us peace of mind in those unpredictable moments such as when the phone rings, the doorbell goes or a child under our care starts climbing into the toilet (for example…). This one also works well on beaded and sequined garments – a god send if you’ve been wondering what to do with that crumpled ballgown that’s been sitting at the bottom of your wardrobe since last year’s Christmas party.

£24.99 | Amazon | Buy it now

Philips Styletouch Pure GC442 Compact Garment Steamer

Streamline and compact, the Philips Styletouch is a small enough model to pack into hand luggage or a suitcase without taking up too much weight and space.

It comes with three buttons that are easy enough to understand without even having to look at the instructions (although we’d always advise that you do) – there’s an on/off switch, a gauge to control the amount of steam that’s released and a button to release the steam.

The small brushes at the top are really handy for protecting your clothes as they create a helpful barrier and the detachable chord makes it much easier to fill up at the sink.  

£99.99 | Argos | Buy it now *On sale now

Vivreal Clothes Steamer 

This is a particularly budget friendly model and actually delivers a lot for its small price. It’ll be ready to go in 80 seconds and can continually steam for up to eight minutes, working on everything from wedding dresses and curtains to carpets.

With an easy to hold handle and thin nozzle, we found it worked particularly well on more delicate and intricately constructed items such as tops with ruffles and pleated skirts. It’s simple to use, too – the water container uses a simple cap, much like a kettle, forgoing the more fiddly screw tops on other varieties.

£21.99 | Amazon | Buy it now

Tefal DR8085 Handheld Garment Steamer

Looking more like a retro microphone than a clothes steamer, the Tefal DR8085 is one of the most aesthetically pleasing on the list.

Its steaming works well on some of the more crease-prone synthetic fabrics, creating a smooth finish quickly and thanks to its 45 second heat up time, you can have you don’t need to set aside much time to use it.

On the plus side, its chord is two metres long, allowing for greater flexibility when in use, but it is on the heavier side, so if you plan to steam multiple items in one go, you may want to choose a lighter option.

£39.58 | Amazon | Buy it now

Von Haus Handheld Garment Steamer

Cheap and cheerful, this is a great option to try before committing to buying a more expensive model and works well as a portable option for travelling, weighing in at just 640 grams when empty.

Heating up in 90 seconds, it can work continuously for up to six minutes and comes with a handy clear window to help you gauge how much water is left.

Though it doesn’t pack enough of a punch to completely decrease stubborn items such as cotton shirts, it works wonders on gauzy fabrics and more floaty pieces. 

£11.99 | Amazon | Buy it now


BOKEH 1200 Multi-Purpose Clothes Steamer and Travel Kettle 

Yep, you read that correctly – this one doubles up as a travel kettle, making it the ultimate travel companion. With a 450ml tank, it’ll work as a steamer for much longer periods than most and has enough capacity to make two cups of tea at once.

Heating up in just 35 seconds, the model is lightweight and can used with both hard and soft water. The four steam jets are small, helping it create high pressure for the more stubborn creases you’re tasked with removing. Nifty and compact, its ingenious design is something of a space – and life – saver whilst travelling.

£29.99 | Amazon | Buy it now

Efbe-Shott Hand Held Garment Steamer

With a special adaptor for creasing trousers, this one is a great option if you have to wear a suit for work and travel a lot. Its wide surface area gets the job done quickly and hold-down button is easy to manoeuvre. Weighing just 1kg, it’s light enough to pack into hand luggage and isn’t as awkward a shape as some of the other models, making it easier to slot in beside your other belongings.

£12.98 | Amazon | Buy it now

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