Best Clothes Steamer of 2018: Buyer’s Guide and Reviews
Right at the top of the gentleman’s (and lady’s) list of stuff to do in order to be, well, considered a gentleman (or lady) is always being presentable. And at the top of the list of things to do in order to appear to appear presentable is to always have well-pressed clothes. Being in the age of automation, wouldn’t it swell if we could just turn a switch on and have all our clothes well-done? Unluckily enough, there is no real automate solution to our little problem, so we have to accept the next best thing, which is the best clothes steamer.
Table of Contents
Traditional irons vs. steamers
The first thing you’re likely to ask yourself is what’s the real difference between traditional iron boxes and steamers? Both of them can remove wrinkles out of your clothes, but there are a few notable differences between the two.
Traditional Electric Irons
These are the most popular appliance used to remove wrinkles for clothing. Typically, you will need a large space for an iron board. Or if you prefer to compromise, a towel on the floor should do the job just fine. The obvious problem is that most people aren’t willing to compromise or just don’t have the kind of space needed for an iron board.
Steamers have been steadily gaining traction over the years, though some people still dismiss the idea of using steamers on clothes altogether. The main argument thrown around when attacking them is the common claim that steam can damage fabric, especially with sensitive clothing like men’s suits. However, steamers are still a popular alternative to conventional irons for various reasons, the most common of which is compactness.
Steamers don’t have to be used together with iron boards. This is a factor someone without a whole lot of space to sacrifice will likely appreciate. Additionally, they are much more efficient for jobs that involve large fabrics like drapes and tablecloths. Just consider having to spread out one of these on a table, versus putting them up and steaming them.
Utility aside, steamers shouldn’t be used on delicate fabrics such as satin and silk because they will damage them. However, since the hot plate doesn’t touch garments like traditional garments do, electric steamers also help the garment helps protect the shape of your clothes. This means saved costs and time in terms of visits to dry cleaners, which is a big plus in most people’s books. However, if you’re still hesitant about quality, you’re better off taking your clothes to a professional to deal with.
Types of steamers
Handheld vs. standing steamers
The first and most noticeable difference between the two types of steamers is that the standing models are larger and take up more vertical space and are more suited for dealing with high-volume steaming. Specifically speaking, if you have a lot of things that need ironing at one, this is the easiest way out. In this case, ‘high-volume’ would either refer to large quantities or heavier duty materials.
Handheld steamers are more convenient for people who travel often so you can iron out wrinkles no matter where you are. Due to their size, they can easily fit in suitcases and carried along virtually anywhere.
Factors to consider before getting a clothes steamer
Before you get a steamer, you’re going to want something that’s both effective and practical. So that it will fit into your potential use cases. Normally, the most difficult fabrics to remove wrinkles from are thick cotton, linens, and silk. Other common problems are time and materials you intend to use the steamer on.
As you might have guessed, this is the average amount of time it takes to steam a certain kind of fabric. More commonly, it’s thought of as the amount of time a gallon of water will last. This is coupled together with how the machine performs in the average time it takes to complete the job. If this is your primary concern, then the Jiffy – J-2000 is the device for you. It boasts an impressive 100 minutes for a ¾ gallon of water.
If you intend to use the steamer primarily on linen, you’re going to need something different over someone who prefers to use it on cotton. In this category is also the kind of clothing you’re going to use the steamer on. For instance, if you’re going to use it primarily on t-shirts, you’re definitely going to need something different from someone who is going to concentrate their efforts on curtains and drapes.
Of all the clothes steamers out there, there’s probably none that can oust the Jiffy – J-2000. In terms of steaming time, it comes first with an impressive 100 minutes, although it does require a tad more power than most other clothes steamers out there. Furthermore, it doesn’t seem to harm any fabrics, from silk to linen, all the while steaming even the heaviest of materials is pretty fast due to its high power intake and output. Setting it up is perhaps the easiest phase of them all, and if you do it right, you just might enjoy it.
Design-wise, the device does fall a bit short, as compared to some of the prettier-looking steamers like the URPOWER and the ESTEAM, but the minimalist style isn’t so bad once you’re used to it. The great thing about it is that it doesn’t need any sort of attachments to enhance its performance, and even as it is, it won’t suffer from the lack of them. Trouble comes when such extras have to be attached to see a maximum output, which may in turn either mean lower machine life.
If you feel like you do need attachments, though, it comes with a detailed handbook that helpfully lists out the plethora of them that are currently available – from power converters to create tools. The pole that connects to the base is very sturdy, standing at over five feet tall, making it one of the tallest machines in the market. This makes steaming even more convenient. All in all, the design is one built to last.
Another nice design piece is the water chamber, which has been made to be clear in order to let you see how much water is left in the steam cycle. It also comes with a handy carrying handle that makes moving it around much less awkward and all the more convenient than most competitors in the same price range (and even above).
In terms of performance, it should steam dress shirts in about four minutes, and silk, on the other hand, a single pass of the steamer to realise the absence of wrinkles. This is thanks to the steam head, which is unconventionally wide with six holes but manages to provide just the right quantity of power. Further attributed to this is its ability to handle even wool, and perhaps any kind of garment without much of a struggle. Along with this beautiful performance, it earns bonus points of comfort. The handle stays cool while heating, and moving the machine around is pretty easy, thanks to the four wheels at its base.
The price tag is a notch higher than the next best thing we can recommend to you, but when it comes to building quality and efficiency, the Jiffy is impossible to beat. If you don’t have any love for ironing but still have a lot of things that need wrinkling our, the Jiffy might be the best friend you’ve been waiting for all along. Of course, this is a standing clothes steamer, so hopefully, you didn’t intend to lug it around while you travel. It’s a model designed to be used from as stationary a position as possible, wheeling it around if need be. If you’re looking for something lighter with nearly the same efficiency, the next pick might be of interest to you.
If there were ever people who liked to see things run on incredible effectiveness and pack a punch at the same time, it was the engineers over at Jiffy. The Jiffy handheld steamer comes with nearly as much power as its larger cousin, the J-2000, but in a more compact unit.
Once again, this model comes with new, unconventional design features such as square steam head to give you ultimate precision when working over corners. To be more specific, this model succeeds greatly at straightening out wrinkly pockets, a feature that is terribly difficult with most steamers you’re going to come across. It even succeeds at steaming relatively larger loads like drapes and lighter materials like silk with ease, if done right, after just one pass. Thanks to this, it beats all small devices in our view since it’s packed with a lot of power.
Design-wise, you shouldn’t dismiss the ESTEAM for its bland appearance, where it may come out looking more like a coffee pot than anything you want near your clothes. Once you learn to overcome it (if it bothered you to begin with), you might actually grow fond of not having to worry about over-filling the water chamber. Just pour in water all the way up, which is nice and simple to remember. Along the same reins is the manufacturer’s choice of getting the device on.
Unlike literally every other model, this one goes straight to work once there’s power inside the machine. This adds some level of simplicity to the machine but sacrifices convenience. Even so, it’s a device that is definitely worth the few extra bucks.
If you want to turn the device off, you have to go through the process of either unplugging the device or turning the wall switch off – both pretty cumbersome in the grand scheme of things. If you’re one to look for positives, this is a good way to ensure the device doesn’t needlessly consume power and put you at the risk of fire if you accidentally leave the unit plugged in.
However, a regular user of the machine credits it for its reliable endurance. It should last you years of repetitive use thanks to its overall sturdy design. We’ve come across steamers that are more expensive than this but break down within a year of use. Granted, this model is slightly more expensive than your average steamer, but in the end, it will pay for itself.
This steamer is easy to move around since that’s what it was designed to do in the first place with no danger of leaking on your garments. 20 minutes may seem minute in the grand scale of what the Jiffy-J-2000 brings to the table, but it’s by far the best performer in its size group.
If you like doing a whole lot of touch-ups while you’re traveling, the ludicrously good steam time means you’ll have more time to concentrate on other aspects of your clothing in order to look perfect. The device takes a maximum of two minutes to heat up, and even once the water is bubbling inside the chamber, you don’t have to worry about a shaky container.
It weighs three pounds, which is pretty heavy for a clothes steamer, perhaps due to its larger body, but it makes up for lack of compactness with incredible build and quality. We’re sure this device will last you long and serve you effectively.
For travel needs, you’re going to want compact and quick, and that’s what the URPOWER delivers. At 1.2 pounds, it’s easy to tuck away inside a travel bag.
The URPOWER Garment Steamer heats up quickly, another bonus for when you’re on the go and need something steamed fast. The auto turn-off is a nice bonus too–if you’re rushed and it slips your mind to turn it off, this feature prevents overheating and causing a house fire (unfortunately, we know someone this has happened to).
The design is comfortable, and the twist off reservoir is easy to use. The water can be seen heating up right away in the small chamber. This unit takes one minute, 20 seconds to start producing steam, which is relatively quick compared to the competition.
It gives off some initial pops and creaks when first heating, but then simmers down. It required running over some garments twice to completely steam out all the wrinkles, but it did the job well.
Because the steamer is pretty small, the water chamber is also small, but it still gives you around nine minutes of steam, which isn’t too shabby. The URPOWER didn’t have as much power as other contenders, but it was enough to get your shirts done.
The Epica Handheld Garment Steamer comes onto the list as both the surprise pick and the cheapest pick with a considerable edge in performance over most competitors. At 20 dollars, this model packs unexpectedly powerful steaming capacity and a performance guarantee with a three-year warranty, just in case you were still harboring some doubts.
At its size, you can place this ultra-compact model into your suitcase easily if you intend to travel with it. As you might have expected, this model wasn’t meant for high volume or heavy duty garment steaming, but it will get you through the basic and typical touch-up needs. This limitation also gives it a nice advantage over the previously mentioned models because, despite the seemingly meager 13 minutes of steam time, it heats up pretty fast – in just 2 minutes.
In terms of design, it takes the crown for being aesthetically pleasing, and at the same time efficient. The steam head is really wide, which makes going over sections that much faster. However, this comes at the cost of precision. Shirt pockets, for instance, will need a little more care.
It does sputter once you plug it in, but also recovers pretty fast and should be ready to steam in a maximum of two minutes. The ten-foot cord is also a nice additional feature, which adds to the steamer’s maneuverability. Overall, it’s not as powerful as, say, the Jiffy models, so it couldn’t get to the top of the list, but at this pricing point, it’s a wonder it performs as well as it does.
The Rowenta 1S6200 is a pretty well-designed model and does the job just as well. If you’re not into the kind of minimalism Jiffy likes to go for, the extra attachments you can lump onto the Rowenta may come as a beautiful surprise. The only problem with this design choice is the more features, the more likely the build is going to break. In fact, it comes with three attachments – a crease attachment, lint pad, and fabric – with the option of adding more. Getting the machine out of the box is fairly difficult, but setting it up and using it is a breeze.
Sadly enough, the fabric brush doesn’t boast any noticeable difference from the usual method of using a regular steam head. As we mentioned before, the added features don’t really set it apart from your regular steamer. For instance, the crease tool was put in place to solve the conventional steamer’s biggest flaw: the inability to create creases. It does do what it promises, just not so well, since they are barely visible and not as well defined as you might get had you used an iron box.
The heat-up time isn’t so impressive, either, with an average of 80 seconds. The manufacturers claim it should be able to reach a boiling point in sixty seconds, but that’s still a far cry from the 20-second mark set by previously mentioned competitors. The flow of steam from the device isn’t as steady and even as the precedent set by our top three picks, either. A cotton shirt should take anywhere between four and five minutes to straighten out in about two passes of the steamer. It does heat up to noticeably hot temperatures, but thankfully never go so high as it’s impossible to use.
It also comes with a suitcase inspired ’tilt and roll’ feature is also hailed as a major breakthrough that should make moving around together with it pretty easy. However, the reality is a bit more dull, since it’s more awkward to get used to than advertised. Yet another bonus feature, though, is the power switch which essentially turns the whole thing into a giant foot-operated machine. Just step on it to activate the steamer. All in all, this is an excellent pick and will get the job done, but it doesn’t really stand out.
The PureSteam XL and the next pick, the Steamfast, are similar in lots of ways – right from design to how much power they pack. In fact, they are so similar that they performed similarly, except for maybe a thing or two that sort of make the PureSteam the better pick of the two. For one, it’s the prettier and more compact of the two, the latter of which makes it heat up faster than the Steamfast (ironically).
In terms of the aforementioned design, the PureSteam comes with a pretty long but inflexible tube, which make it difficult to move around initially. However, once the steam heats up the tube, it should be easier to bend, and the mesh that covers the outside of the hose should be perfect for insulating the device against the heat on the inside.
From experience, this device heats up in just under sixty seconds, which, once again, is a far cry from the manufacturer-advertised 45 seconds. However, 40 minutes of steam time isn’t too bad, considering the pace set by the Rowenta. Of course, the Jiffy plays a whole other ball game, but this is also reflected in the pricing. Similarly, the PureSteam doesn’t perform so mind-blowingly performance-wise. It takes about five to six minutes to iron a cotton shirt, which is significantly less powerful than its competitors. If that stands, and assuming you don’t use a linearly disproportionate amount of water than the average person per shirt, you could get about eight shirts done.
Impressively enough, it works well on both light fabrics like silk and heavier ones like wool. There is an incredible difference in the amount of time it takes to complete either one of them, but the difference is definitely there. Our advice would be to use this model for lighter fabrics since the ones on the heavier end of the spectrum will require a lot more work to achieve the same results.
If the PureSteam doesn’t impress you, the Steamfast may be a welcome escape from the sci-fi-like feel. They are pretty similar to each other, down to the fact that they both clock in at 1500 watts. This model should also give you about 40 minutes of steam time and perform almost as similarly. The same inflexible tube makes this model hard to move around, and even the headrests are the same.
However, the Steamfast SF-407 doesn’t come with a hanger attachment, which is a completely overlookable factor, though, since the pole is just the same make as the PureSteam, which makes it great for placing hangers. A welcome relief is the fact that the water tank is clear with indents that make it easy to carry it. It’s not as handy as with the higher-end models, but it’s something that’s pretty nice to see down here.
The heat-up time is an average of 60 seconds, and, thanks to the relatively appreciable power output, each shirt requires just one pass and some touch-ups at hard-to-reach areas like the collar and pockets. As such, materials like silk should be pretty easy to run over, which is also in part thanks to the fairly large head. The fact that it’s able to do all this without feeling imbalanced and unfriendly is some pretty impressive engineering and design work.
When the steamer’s tank empties to about three-quarters empty, it starts to make a loud gurgling noise. This doesn’t get in the way of the steamer’s performance but is pretty inconvenient if you like your appliances quiet. Despite the name, the Steamfast doesn’t totally live up to expectations. It is still a solid pick, especially considering the price, but it just isn’t all the way up there.
The Shark Press and Refresh were meant to come out as a revolutionary product. Something to make all other steamers rethink their whole models. In some ways, it manages to achieve this, but for the most part, it feels pretty clunky, quirky and generally incomplete. Perhaps the next model will come out more wholesome than this, but for the most part, it’s terribly imperfect. The iron bar and the press pad were especially innovative but at the end of the day, the implementation wasn’t as great as it probably was on paper
The Shark Press comes with a vertical press pad that should, according to the box, be easy to set up on any door. On paper, this is a bandwagon nearly everyone who knows their stuff would jump aboard. However, in practice, it ends up more of a hassle than it is advantageous.
However, on the bright side, it comes with a bonnet you can place over the iron’s head. This will prevent yourself from getting burnt. It does take a little bit of fiddling around with if the steam bonnet is removed. If you’re curious about the mechanism of the press pads, they use adjustable handle straps that loop around the edges of your door, or at least, some doors. It doesn’t work so well on every door, since it will end up grazing the top part of the frame when open. It may also not create enough space for which the loop straps are supposed to fit around.
In terms of performance, it gives a measly 25 minutes of steam time. Very likely due to the press trigger that lets you choose whether you want to steam or not. It also takes three whooping minutes to heat up. The longest so far on the list. And even worse, you won’t know it’s heated up unless you press the handle.
However, unlike virtually any steamer you’ll come across, this one can create sharp creases. Plus it has enough power to smooth out shirts with ease. The one thing you should totally be on the lookout for is the wrinkle remover. It acts as an iron bar and gets very very hot. Be careful you don’t touch it because you will burn your hands.
It will take a little bit of getting used to. But once you do get used to it, you may find that this device is excellent. If you never stick around long enough to form a solid opinion, you’ll have thrown away a solid opportunity to test out what the future will likely be molded from. This is mostly due to the vertical press pad and the whole ‘lean against the door’ feature.
If you’re one that sees value in added content and components, this would be just the pick for you. The overall performance it brings to the table isn’t impressive enough. In the end, it’s pretty average but a worthwhile choice if you’re willing to look past the poor implementation of what would have otherwise been excellent features to have on a clothes steamer.
In the same league as the Shark Press, the PurSteam Fabric Streamer is pretty decent. But doesn’t have anything about it to set it apart from the pack. The build is worthing saying a mean thing or two about. Because it gets shaky and cracks once in a while. But it can get the wrinkles out of your clothes, and that’s about it. You aren’t in any immediate danger using it without them. But if you prefer to be safe rather than sorry, they are a wonderful thing to have included.
Once again, the heating chamber is clear so you can know when it needs refilling. Or alternatively, you can observe it see when it starts bubbling. That should take about two minutes to happen, which is pretty slow in the grand scheme of things. What’s worse, once it does get to a usable temperature with a steady flow of steam. The device trembles to the points it’s almost impossible to use. It should calm down after about a minute of being on, but the noises likely won’t stop.
While using the device, the steam head may dribble a small amount of water from the holes at first. But this should subside once the job is finish. The performance isn’t all that, either, with an average of eight minutes to full steam one shirt. Similarly, it gives a steam time of ten minutes per fill.
The PurSteam should be able to perform well even with relatively heavy fabrics like drapes. But if you’re planning on using it on wool, that wouldn’t be such a great idea. This steamer is perfect for users who need one or two touch-ups on their dress or blouse.
However, for literally anyone else, the low steam power and steam time are incredible turn-offs. There are better builds at similar pricing you can potentially explore.
Last on the list is the most beautiful clothes steamer we’ve come across so far, the Conair ExtremeSteam. Remember those fine folk a few thousand years ago who said you shouldn’t judge something based on its looks? This would be the perfect time to follow the advice of those decent people. The ExtremeSteam is a parody of itself with everything from low power to incredible ineffectiveness.
It does look pretty great, that much we can commend it for. Especially being reminiscent of something pulled out of a Star Trek Enterprise. Just the same, it’s pretty large and bulky – not something you can carry around on any on your travels. Once again to its credit, it comes with a fabric brush, creaser, and soft cushion brush. Despite all this, you will likely spend more time being frustrated by the Conair ExtremeSteam than you actually will ironing out your clothes. In our view, this isn’t something that’s worth the dosh.
First of all, the water reservoir on this unit is pretty small. As a result, it’s pretty difficult to get filled. Once you do manage to fill it and plug it in, it will take about minutes to heat up. However, it will buzz so loudly and incessantly you may make the incorrect assumption that it’s broken.
A few minutes in, the buzzing will be slightly less noticeable. But the steam will dribble out of the front together with droplets of water.
However, even in all this bad light, at least they were considerate enough to add the option of continuous steaming or push-to-release and high and low heat settings.
The bad news is that the low setting is barely usable. The high heat setting is almost just as bad. Although it eventually does iron out wrinkles, the amount of work you have to put in is too high.
The head attachments don’t even make the situation any better, as one might intuitively expect. Having them just means you will need more power and steam. The ExtemeSteam isn’t impressive in anything other than the fact that it looks pretty cool. So it’s not something we would recommend.
The bottom line
At the end of the day, Jiffy comes out on top because of their remarkable steamer performance. The J-2000 is nearly impossible to match if you’re willing to sacrifice a little more money. The Jiffy ESTEAM performs just as well. But in a more compact unit and triumphs over everything else in the handheld class. When it comes to clothes steamers, Jiffy is arguably the best brand you will ever come across. They may not do much for most people in terms of design. But when it comes to performance, durability and build quality, they are virtually unrivaled. In general, regardless of what you decide to get, the job should be as good as done. This is with the exception of anything from Conair and Shark for now. Since it looks like they hit a bumpy road in the design and roll-out process.
You will need to decide what you’re going to want from either standing or handheld steamers beforehand, though. Standing models are perfect if you have lots of clothes to rummage through and work on. While handheld steamers are better for people constantly on the move but always want to look neat and well groomed. If you find ironing tiresome, steaming may come as an entertaining alternative you may never turn back from. It may seem unorthodox at first. But in the end, you’ll do the job faster and finish the day.