When browsing around for the best clothes steamer on the market, it’s important to know what you’re looking for and why. Upon first glance, most garment steamers might all look similar — their price and design being the only discernible differences — but when you get right down to it, there’s a lot that goes into making versatile and effective steaming machines that are both affordable and easy to use.
The following is a guide to help you find the best clothes steamer for you and your home.
Why Own A Clothes Steamer?
Nearly everyone owns an iron. So why own a garment steamer? Irons are great if you’re looking to spruce up a few button-ups or de-wrinkle your slacks, but what happens when your curtains crumple? Or when those delicate dresses start to look old and worn? Or when your couch starts to stink like yesterday’s potato chips? Do you think the almighty iron is versatile enough to keep those items feeling crisp, smelling clean and looking new?
If you’re looking to save money at the dry cleaners, and you don’t enjoy the arduous task of folding and unfolding an ironing table every time you need to de-crease an outfit, you might want to think about buying a steamer. Not only are they great at de-wrinkling just about anything in your life, but they kill bedbugs, dust mites and all those other microscopic creepy crawlies that you can’t see lurking about.
What Makes a Great Garment Steamer?
To find the best clothes steamer for you, you should start by asking yourself a few pertinent questions. What will I be steaming? (Drapes? T-shirts? Suits? Coats? Furniture?) How often will I be using it? How much time do I have? How much money am I willing to spend?
All the best clothes steamers come in an array of shapes and sizes, with a multitude of different features and specifications, all at a rather reasonable price range.
Keeping that in mind, the following is a list of parts, options and accessories often seen on your typical common-use clothes steamer and what you might expect from each one.
This is where the magic happens. If you’re looking for mobility, you might want to check the wheels. Some come with casters. Some don’t. Some are awkwardly shaped, while others are a bit sleeker in design. It’s also ideal to check for its durability — a sturdier base typically translates to a longer lifespan — as well as the convenience of the on/off switch — some can be flipped with a flick of the ankle instead of the wrist.
The very best clothes steamers come in a wide range of wattages, from 1300-watts to 1600 and beyond. A higher wattage often means a higher-velocity of steam, a quicker start-up time and a lengthier steam time, all of which are important in regards to the product’s overall potential.
The tank also helps determine the length of steam time. Small tanks equal short steam time, which means you’ll be filling and refilling the steamer far too often to make it useful. Compare the ounces, or the gallons, depending on the product. Also, make sure that the tank is easily refillable. (Can it be removed? If so, is there a handle?) Some come with a no-drip check valve system for added cleanliness — so you don’t have to steam the carpets when you’re done.
Detachable. Fully adjustable. These are the words that you should be hunting for. You wouldn’t want to buy a steamer whose pole isn’t convertible. For space and functionality, it’s vital that the steamer’s pole have the ability to rise and fall, attach and detach, as necessary.
What you’re looking for here is length and flexibility. You want a wide range of motion. You don’t want it to kink, nor do you want it to react clumsily when you’re steaming the wrinkles out of the curtains or deodorizing the furniture. It’s also important to note that, as far as safety hazards are concerned, some are insulated and/or made of a certain material to keep it cool during the steaming process.
A typical steamer head is T-shaped and around 6-inches wide, a design built for both form and functionality. Some are made of metal. Some are made of plastic. Some claim to be “cool to the touch.” Either way, you want a good safe head with a strong neck that’s easy to use.
Certain models come with a few bonuses. Lint brushes and bristle brushes are nice if there’s hair, lint, string or other such unwanted adornments on your fabrics, or even when those fabrics are thick and difficult. A good hanger makes it easy when steaming heavier garments — especially if it collapses and can be stored with the product. And it’s always nice when the steamer’s cord has its own housing unit, along with storage space for other essentials.
There’s a lot to consider when purchasing the best clothes steamer for you and yours. You’ll want to consider the time — how long it takes for the steamer to start up and how long it can steam for — which takes into account the wattage and the tank size. You’ll want to think about space, which means looking at the adjustability of the pole and the hose, as well as its overall size. You’ll want to consider its functionality; is it easy to use? And, most notably, you’ll want to understand its overall effectiveness, which takes into account all six of the aforementioned items — The Base, The Wattage, The Tank, The Pole, The Hose and The Accessories. All of which may or may not add up to a fully-functioning, easy-to-use, at-home appliance.
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