Garment steamer buying guide: How to find the best product for you

We'll help you compare garment steamers and find the best steamer for your clothes.

If you think ironing is a painful and time-consuming chore, you might want to consider buying a garment steamer. Garment steamers are designed to easily and gently remove the wrinkles from clothes and delicate fabrics.

The cost of a garment steamer ranges from $30 to $400 with models meant for use either at home or on the go.

So how do you choose a garment steamer and can you hang up your iron forever? Keep reading to find out.

Compare some of the best garment steamers

Data obtained November 2018. Prices are subject to change and should be used only as a general guide.
Name Product Average Price (AUD) Wattage Heat-up time Steam output (g/min) Water tank capacity (litres) Wheels Purchase today
Kambrook SwiftSteam KSS120GRN
Kambrook SwiftSteam KSS120GRN
$48
1,100
120 seconds
0.25
No
The Kambrook SwiftSteam KSS120GRN is handheld, has a detachable water tank and a 360-degree swivel cord for maneuverability.
Philips GC300
Philips GC300
$59
1,000
60 seconds
20
0.06
No
The Philips handheld GC300 is fitted with a two-metre cord for longer reach.
Tefal Access Steam DR8085
Tefal Access Steam DR8085
$79
1,500
45 seconds
22
0.2
No
The Tefal Access Steam DR8085 is handheld and comes with a steam cover for drips.
Philips EasyTouch GC518/20
Philips EasyTouch GC518/20
$129
1,600
60 seconds
32
1.6
No
The Philips EasyTouch GC518/20 has an adjustable pole and comes with a safety glove.
Tefal Instant Steam IT2110
Tefal Instant Steam IT2110
$129
1,500
60 seconds
30
1.8
Yes
The Tefal Instant Steam IT2110 has a hanger and can steam for 60 minutes before needing to be refilled.
Philips Steam&Go GC362/80
Philips Steam&Go GC362/80
$129
1,300
60 seconds
24
0.07
No
The Philips handheld Steam&Go GC362/80 comes with a brush accessory and heat resistant bag.
Sunbeam Butler Turbo SG3000
Sunbeam Butler Turbo SG3000
$154
2,000
40 seconds
40
3
Yes
Tefal Master Precision IT6540
Tefal Master Precision IT6540
$199
1,500
45 seconds
30
2.5
Yes
The Tefal Master Precision IT6540 has concentrated and diffused steam options and a 360-degree rotating hanger.
Tefal Expert Precision IT9500
Tefal Expert Precision IT9500
$228
1,800
45 seconds
35
3.2
Yes
The Tefal Expert Precision IT9500 has a vertical support system that allows you to steam one-handed.
Philips ComfortTouch GC557/30
Philips ComfortTouch GC557/30
$285
2,000
60 seconds
40
1.8
No
The Philips ComfortTouch GC557/30 offers five steam settings and a hanger that locks into place.

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What is a garment steamer?

A garment steamer is an appliance designed to remove the wrinkles from clothes, linen, soft furnishings and curtains. They work by heating water from a water tank to produce steam, then releasing that steam via a nozzle onto an item of clothing.

The heat from the steam removes the wrinkles and there's no need for you to apply any pressure to the item of clothing. All you have to do is hang the item up.

Why should I consider a garment steamer?

There are several key reasons why you might buy a steamer instead of an iron to rid your clothes of wrinkles:

If you're interested in the cleaning power of steam, you might like our steam mop buying guide

Why shouldn't I consider a garment steamer?

If you're looking for an appliance that can completely replace your iron, a garment steamer probably won't fit the bill. While they can be quite effective on dresses and suits, they often don't perform as well on fabrics like cotton, wool and denim. They also can't provide that crisp, pressed look that a thorough ironing can.

Additionally, handheld steamers usually max out at around 17 minutes of steam time, so anyone with a large pile of clothes in need of de-wrinkling will need to consider a more expensive standing steamer. Keep in mind, some steamers can leave material damp, so they may not be all that useful if you want to steam an outfit to wear straight away.

What types are available?

You have three main options available when buying a clothes steamer:

  • Standing (floor) steamers. Designed for home use and typically capable of taking on heavy-duty jobs, standing steamers are roughly similar to a vacuum cleaner in size and take up the most space. They have larger water tanks and offer longer steaming time (up to 90 minutes in some cases) than the other options, but they're the most expensive. Many models also have wheels, a built-in hanger and a number of other attachments.
  • Mid-size handheld steamers. More compact than standing steamers, these handheld devices are around the same size as a kettle or large hair dryer and are designed to be easy to use and manoeuvre. They still offer decent power but their smaller water tanks mean steam time is limited to a maximum of 15-17 minutes. You can travel with a mid-size steamer at a pinch, but they're not as portable as a dedicated travel steamer.
  • Travel steamers. Designed to be as compact and portable as possible, travel steamers can fit into your luggage when you're travelling for business or pleasure. While they're convenient, they don't have as much power as larger models and are typically limited to 10-12 minutes of steam time. This means they can steam only one or two items of clothing at a time.

Don't confuse garment steamers with steam station irons, which consist of a water tank and an iron that sits on top of it. Steam stations are bigger, bulkier and more effective than traditional steam irons, but they can cost anywhere from $250 up to more than $1,000.

How to compare garment steamers

Before buying a clothes steamer, take some time to think about how you plan to use your new appliance. What clothes and other items will you be steaming? Will you only be using it occasionally or every day? Do you want a steamer portable enough to take with you when you travel?

Answering these questions will give you a better idea of exactly what features you need. When comparing garment steamers, make sure to consider the following factors:

Which garment steamer is best for me?

The best garment steamer for you will depend on your budget and how you plan on using your steamer. For example, if you want a clothes steamer for use around the home, portability won't be as much of a concern as it will be for someone looking for a steamer they can use while traveling.

To help make the decision easier, we've compared the pros and cons of five popular steamers in the table below:

The goodThe bad
PurSteam Elite
  • Fast to heat up
  • Powerful
  • Hose can be awkward to manoeuvre
  • Not portable
Jiffy J-2000
  • 90 minutes of steam time
  • Large tank
  • Expensive
  • Not portable
Rowenta DR8080
  • Compact
  • Easy to use
  • Only 10 minutes of steam time
  • Some reports of water leaks/dripping
Epica 800 Watt
  • Easy to use
  • Lightweight and portable
  • Some problems with spillage
  • Not as powerful as some other models
Conair GS23 ExtremeSteam
  • Reasonably powerful
  • Dual heat settings
  • Not as portable as some other options
  • Some reliability issues

Garment steamers can be a very handy tool to have in your wardrobe.


 

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