How to Find the Right Garment Steamer for You

Wrinkles can be a royal pain. No, I’m not talking about the wrinkles on your face (although those are a pain, too). I’m talking about the wrinkles in your clothes.

Clothes dryers are beautiful things, but if you don’t pull out your favorite button-down shirt the moment it’s dry, you can expect some creases and a few wrinkles.

You could drag out the iron, wait for it to heat up and spend at least 15 minutes ironing your shirt. Or you can grab your lightweight garment steamer and steam away those wrinkles in just a few minutes.

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Garment steamers all do the same thing (and they’re very different from irons), but some are better than others in the performance department. Here’s what to look for when choosing a clothes steamer:

If You Travel A Lot

You’re always on the road. Whether it’s for business or pleasure, you still want to look your best. But packing a regular garment steamer isn’t exactly practical.

If you’re always on the go, here’s what to consider when choosing a steamer:

Portable (or Travel) Model

There are two main types of garment steamers: floor models and handheld models. Floor models are great because they’re powerful (and what the professionals use). But they’re also impossible to pack.

Compact, handheld steamers are the ideal choice for people who travel often. Because these are handheld models, they’re small and easy to pack.

Watch how easy it is to steam your clothes with a portable steamer:

Size and Weight

Portable clothes steamers are small and light, but how small and light? Check every product description to find out the dimensions and weight of the steamer.

If you prefer to pack light or won’t have a whole lot of room left in your suitcase, then you may need an exceptionally small steamer or one that’s extra-lightweight.

USA Today recommends choosing a steamer that feels light in your hands.

Water Capacity

How much water does the steamer hold? Water capacity is a very important consideration because the smaller the tank, the more often you’ll need to refill.

If you only have one or two smaller items that need to be steamed, this may not be an issue. But if you have a suit, dress or other larger items that need to be steamed, you may want to look for a model with a larger water tank.

Keep in mind that larger tanks usually equate to a larger overall steamer.

If You’ll Mostly be Using the Garment Steamer on Suits and Business Clothing

Maintaining a professional, clean image is essential in the business world. Showing up in a wrinkled suit won’t score you any brownie points with clients – or your boss.

Black Lapel says using a steamer is better than ironing because it also deodorizes your clothing.

When choosing a garment steamer for your suits and business clothing, keep the following things in mind:

Floor Model

Floor models are the best choice for professional business apparel because they’re powerful and allow you to steam quickly. .

Floor garment steamers have a pole, hose and a nozzle (or head) that shoots out the steam. Most models have wheels, which still makes them somewhat portable, and the hose is long enough to steam larger items without any additional work.

Marth Steward recommends choosing a floor model that’s:

  • Comfortable to hold
  • Light with a flexible hose
  • Non-wobbly with a sturdy pole

High Water Capacity

When choosing a steamer for your business clothing, make sure that the tank has a large water capacity. The higher the water capacity, the longer you can steam without having to refill, says Consumer Research.

Depending on the type of material and size, it may take a few passes to remove all of the wrinkles. If the steamer has a large enough tank, you can de-wrinkle your clothing without having to make several trips to the sink.

Heat-Up Time

A quick heat-up time is crucial if you typically steam your clothing in the morning before you leave for work. Some models heat up faster than others, so check the product description for the approximate heat-up time.

Automatic Shut-Off

An automatic shut-off feature offers an extra layer of safety for those times you might forget to turn off the steamer. If you have a habit of steaming before you run out the door in the morning, it’s very easy to forget to turn off the steamer.

Most newer models have an automatic shut-off feature that will turn off the steaming function after a set period of time.

If You’re Going to be Using the Steamer A Lot

Some of us need to use our garment steamers a lot. If you have two professionals in the home, or kids who wear uniforms (or both), you may use your steamer every day.

If your steamer is going to get heavy use, here are some things to keep in mind when choosing a model:

Quality and Durability

Quality and durability are always important, but they become even more important when you use an item every single day.

Choosing the highest quality steamer usually means paying a higher price, but it’s worth the cost to have a steamer that will give you years of use.


If you’re going to be using the steamer often, make sure it has wheels for easy portability around the home. Most models have wheels built-in, but double check to make sure the model you’re considering has them.