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Garment Steamer Buying Guide UK 

By  Carol

Garment Steamers Explained for First Time Buyers

Clothes Steamer - Hand held Steamer

Garment steamers are becoming a very popular method, for quickly removing stubborn wrinkles from all types of clothing. They are also really popular for using on upholstery, various types of bedding, tablecloths, dresses and suits.

It is worth pointing out that these are referred to by different names. These include clothes steamers, handheld garment steamers, vertical steamers and professional garment steamers. Some buyers also refer to these as travel steamers.

These different names can be confusing but in reality there are just two types of garment steamer:

  1. Handheld Garment Steamers
  2. Professional Garment Steamers also known as vertical steamers

Handheld Garment Steamers

They can be used in the home, and most are compact enough to be able to travel with you. For many users of these garment steamers, they have all but replaced the need to ever lift an iron again. They can be used on all types of material as well ranging from cotton, wool, polyester, nylon, linen and even with beads, embroidery and sequins.

These handheld garment steamers range in price from as little as £12 and go all the way up to £75. That is a very wide range of price points, with the average price sitting at around £35-40 for a good quality handheld garment steamer that is also suitable for travel.

Professional Garment Steamers

The professional garment steamers are sometimes referred to as heavy duty clothes/garment steamers. These are much larger with large water tanks that sit on the floor, have different levels of steam and come with a variety of accessories for different types of steaming. Usually they will have some type of hanger attachment for doing dresses and suits.

These professional garment steamers are much more expensive. They range in price from £60 and go all the way up to £550. again that is a wide variation in pricing, and the average price for a good quality one will be around £100.

Main Benefits of Garment Steamers

All garment steamers can remove creases and also deodourise and refresh most fabrics. They are much safer and less harsh on clothing and fabrics when compared to steam irons. Dry cleaners will use steam rather than irons as it is much safer for clothes and fabrics.

All types of garment steamers work on the simple principle of heating up water and producing steam. This steam is then forced out under pressure through holes. Some steamers may also have a hot plate or iron as an attachment.

Super Easy to Use

No household appliance is easier to use than a garment steamer. You fill it up with water, plug it in, switch it on and get steam after a couple of minutes. The steam takes care of the wrinkles, but also does a deep clean to remove the most common household germs and bacteria.

Different Types of Garment & Clothes Steamers

We have shown below the two different types of garment steamer so as they are easy to identify. On the left is the handheld version which is the most popular choice in the UK. On the right is the professional steamer which is a lot more expensive.

best garment steamer

Portable Garment Steamers

home use clothes steamer

Professional Home Hanger Steamers

How do you choose a Garment Steamer

The first choice that you have to make will be do you want to buy a handheld garment steamer or a professional garment steamer?

In most cases a handheld garment steamer will suit the vast majority of buyers. Professional steamers are better suited for those with large laundry requirements. Those are mainly for B&Bs, Guest houses and for people with large families. For everyone else the cheaper handheld steamer will do the job.

The amount you are able to spend is the key decision here. Handheld ones are much cheaper than professional ones. Professional steamers offer you more choice in terms of variable steam options, much larger water tanks which mean they don't need to be filled as often, and overall they are just more powerful and faster than a handheld version.

Other Choices to Consider

Ideally you want a steamer that does not drip water. You also want one that heats up quickly, produces the right amount of constant steam, has the right size of water tank and an automatic cut-off feature for safety. The good news is that there are really not a lot of features to think about. We shall cover those below in the next section.

Which Brand is best for a handheld garment steamer?

All of the familiar household brands make a handheld garment steamer and these include Philips, Morphy Richards, Tefal, Swan etc. The best selling brands however are Beautural and Homeasy. The reason these two brands are more popular is really based on price.

Which Brand is best for a professional garment steamer?

The brands who make professional garment steamers are Fridja, Kotlie, Morphy Ricahrds, Propress, Tefal, Ticwell, and Quest. The best selling band for professional steamers is the tefal brand who have a few models at various price points.

Check Reviews and Guarantees

We always advise our readers to do two things, check reviews carefully and also check the guarantee carefully. Most handheld garment steamers have a 1 year guarantee and most professional ones will either have a 1 or 2 year guarantee. This will vary from manufacturer to manufacturer.

In terms of reviews, we specialise in reading and understanding these and we then gather up all of the information and summarise it. We know most buyers don't have the time to do this. However, it is always worth checking 2 or 3 popular products and reading what buyers say about them.

What should you look for when buying a Handheld Garment Steamer

The good news is that, in terms of features, there is not a great deal to consider. If you have decided that a handheld garment steamer is the right steamer for your needs, then just below we have explained the important features to consider.

Cheap models vs Pump Driven Models

You will find a number of very cheap handheld garment steamers on the UK market. They may look like a great bargain but we would advise caution before buying one. The cheaper models are little more than a small kettle which boils water, turns it into steam and pushes that out through nozzles. These are prone to spitting water out and can be quite volatile, especially as they age.

A better, and slightly more expensive option, is a pump driven handheld garment steamer. These have a pump built into them which does a much better job of controlling the steam. These also come with an ironing plate which is a much better solution for cotton and linen. For delicate fabrics the iron plate can be covered with a fabric guard so as they are not in contact with a hot plate.

Heat Up Time

When you get your handheld steamer, it should arrive in a box with an electrical lead and a 3 pin UK plug. You fill the water tank to the MAX level and switch it on. Usually a red light appears and will turn green when the steamer is ready to produce steam. The time this light takes to go from red to green is known as the heat up time.

On every handheld steamer you will see something like 1800W. This refers to 1800 Watts which is a measurement of energy. The larger this number is the faster it will heat up is a good rule of thumb. So a 1500W steamer will take slightly longer to heat up that an 1800W steamer, assuming the water tank is the same size.

The average heat up time is about 2 minutes. It is something that you should be aware of, but in real life, stick with the bigger this is the better in terms of heat up time and steam output.

Water Tank Size

This is usually measured in millilitres (mls). It is simply the amount of water that the tank inside your steamer will hold. The size of this can vary a lot. The average size for these handheld garment steamers is 200ml. That is enough for about 15 minutes of steam before it runs out. At that point you will have to fill the tank again and allow it to heat up.

Some steamers have small tanks around 130ml and some have larger tanks up to 280 ml. The 200-220 ml size appears to be the most popular. If for example you were steaming a set of curtains, you would need around 200ml for each curtain. So for both curtains you would need 2 fills of the tank. If you had a smaller tank you would need more fills.

Weight

A typical handheld garment steamer weighs around 1 Kg or just under (2lbs). That is about the weight of a bag of sugar and is the weight without the water being added. It is worth considering this as initially this doesn't seem to be that heavy. However if you are holding that in one hand, moving it around, and raising it above your head, it can get heavy enough on your arms.

When water is added to the steamer it will also add weight. 1 ml of water weighs 1 gram. So with a 200ml water tank you have also added another 0.2 Kg of weight to the steamer and made it slightly heavier. Just be aware that this can cause arm fatigue which is why some buyers prefer a smaller water tank size.

No Drips

Heat, water and steam can often mean drips. Think about a steam iron and you will know exactly what we mean. Most handheld steamers can be used both horizontally and vertically. In either position it should not drip. Just imagine steaming a dress for a formal and a huge water drip appeared!

The biggest culprit for this happening is not allowing the steamer to get hot enough. Water turns to steam at 100 degrees Celsius and it takes time to heat up. Always makes sure that there is enough steam by testing it on a tea towel. We have also included some important tips and advice on maintaining your steamer at the bottom of this page.

Using it for Travel

Many people buy these for travel purposes. They are very useful for that if you want to look your best when you are on holiday. Some people will take a travel iron, but these are small, take a long time to heat up and do a poor job. A handheld clothes steamer is a lighter and more effective option.

For travel you want to buy one that has dual voltage so it can be used abroad. There should be the option for it to be used in the UK (230/240Volts) and also in countries where a 110V supply is used. You also want the steamer to be light as that helps a lot with your luggage allowance.

A smaller water tank s probably best as this will also help with the weight. Some type of travel pouch is also very useful to keep it protected and hold all the smaller parts.

Mitten/Heat Resistant Glove

Some manufacturers include a heat resistant glove with their steamer. Please be aware that some do not. Steam is very hot and it is easy to get a steam burn when using one of these. We would always recommend using one of these with your steamer. You can buy these separately but the better manufacturers will include these for your safety.

Accessories

The number of accessories that you get will vary from the manufacturer and model you pick. These usually include some types of brushes such as fabric brushes, upholstery brushes etc. You may also get a travel bag which is usually some type of soft drawstring bag. Some will provide a silicon pad that you can iron on. Some will have a beaker which can be used to fill the water tank. Some have a small plastic guide that you can use to hold the material in place when you are pushing it against it with the steamer head.

When buying one of these you should consider accessories as an added value. The mitten, a beaker and a pouch should really be as standard but we found that is not always the case.

Electricity Cost

Electricity is charged in units where one Kilowatt hour (kWh) equals 1 unit of electricity. At the moment 1 unit of electricity has an average cost of 28p. That will vary depending on energy costs at any given time and also the tariff that you are on. To explain the running costs we have used an average unit cost of 28p.

So an electrical appliance that uses 1000W of energy for one hour is 1 unit of electricity at 28p.

Let's assume you were using a 1500W handheld steamer then the costs would be as follows:

  • 15 minutes of use - 10.5p
  • 30 minutes of use - 21p
  • 45  minutes of use - 31.5p
  • 60 minutes of use - 42p

Let's assume you were using an 1800W handheld steamer then the costs would be as follows:

  • 15 minutes of use - 12.6p
  • 30 minutes of use - 25.2p
  • 45  minutes of use - 37.8p
  • 60 minutes of use - 50.4p

Initially this may not sound like a lot of money. if for example you used your 1800W steamer for one hour a week for a year then your electricity cost would be £26.20 for the year. When added to your electricity costs, it all adds up. Handheld garment steamers are however much cheaper to run than a steam iron. Most steam irons use around 2400-3100W of energy so a lot more expensive to run than a steamer.

What should you look for when buying a Professional Garment Steamer

With a professional garment steamer, the bottom line is that you are spending a lot more money. That alone mans you should give it a lot more consideration. If you have decided that a professional garment steamer is the right steamer for your needs, then just below we have explained the important features to consider.

Heat Up Time

When you get your handheld steamer, it should arrive in a box with an electrical lead and a 3 pin UK plug. You fill the water tank to the MAX level and switch it on. Usually a red light appears and will turn green when the steamer is ready to produce steam. The time this light takes to go from red to green is known as the heat up time.

On every professional steamer you will see something like 1600W. This refers to 1600 Watts which is a measurement of energy. The larger this number is the faster it will heat up is a good rule of thumb. So a 1500W steamer will take slightly longer to heat up that an 1800W steamer, assuming the water tank is the same size.

The average heat up time is about 25 seconds so much faster than a handheld steamer.

Water Tank Size

With professional steamers this is usually measured in litres as the tanks are much larger than handheld steamers which are measured in millilitres (mls). It is simply the amount of water that the tank inside your professional steamer will hold. The size of this can vary a lot. The average size of a water tank for a professional garment steamer is 2.4 litres. That is enough for about 90 minutes of steam before it runs out. At that point you will have to fill the tank again and allow it to heat up.

Tank sizes vary depending on the manufacturer and model. The tank sits on the floor and will have wheels so as you can easily move it around.

Weight

A typical professional garment steamer weighs around 5 Kg or just under (11lbs). As mentioned above, the water tank sits on the floor so you don't really have to consider weight other than when you are finished using it and have to store it away. As these are on wheels it does make life a great deal easier.

No of Steam Levels

The better types of professional steamer will give you a range of steam settings. The reason you need these is that different fabrics require a different amount and pressure of steam

Mitten/Heat Resistant Glove

Some manufacturers include a heat resistant glove with their steamer. Please be aware that some do not. Steam is very hot and it is easy to get a steam burn when using one of these. We would always recommend using one of these with your steamer. You can buy these separately but the better manufacturers will include these for your safety.

Accessories

The number of accessories that you get will vary from the manufacturer and model you pick. These usually include some types of brushes such as fabric brushes, upholstery brushes etc. You may also get a travel bag which is usually some type of soft drawstring bag. Some will provide a silicon pad that you can iron on. Some will have a beaker which can be used to fill the water tank. Some have a small plastic guide that you can use to hold the material in place when you are pushing it against it with the steamer head.

When buying one of these you should consider accessories as an added value. The mitten, a beaker and a pouch should really be as standard but we found that is not always the case.

Electricity Cost

Electricity is charged in units where one Kilowatt hour (kWh) equals 1 unit of electricity. At the moment 1 unit of electricity has an average cost of 28p. That will vary depending on energy costs at any given time and also the tariff that you are on. To explain the running costs we have used an average unit cost of 28p.

So an electrical appliance that uses 1000W of energy for one hour is 1 unit of electricity at 28p.

Let's assume you were using a 1500W handheld steamer then the costs would be as follows:

  • 15 minutes of use - 10.5p
  • 30 minutes of use - 21p
  • 45  minutes of use - 31.5p
  • 60 minutes of use - 42p

Let's assume you were using an 1800W handheld steamer then the costs would be as follows:

  • 15 minutes of use - 12.6p
  • 30 minutes of use - 25.2p
  • 45  minutes of use - 37.8p
  • 60 minutes of use - 50.4p

Initially this may not sound like a lot of money. if for example you used your 1800W steamer for one hour a week for a year then your electricity cost would be £26.20 for the year. When added to your electricity costs, it all adds up. Handheld garment steamers are however much cheaper to run than a steam iron. Most steam irons use around 2400-3100W of energy so a lot more expensive to run than a steamer.

How To Use A Garment Steamer

If you have never used a clothes or garment steamer before, then like most things in life, there is a right way and a wrong way of doing this. Below we have included a 4 minute video, that shows you the right way. It is worth 4 minutes of your time to find out how to steam properly, and get fast and effective results.

Steaming Shirts, Dresses and Suits

Option 1 is to get out your steam iron, work out the material you are ironing, figure out the right setting on your iron and then carefully get to work ironing and making sure that you don't burn, singe or ruin anything.

Option 2 - Hang the item on a clothes hanger, switch on your garment steamer, and apply steam to the hanging item and watch the wrinkles disappear.

Seeing is believing right...check out the video below:

Most people will buy the cheaper portable or travel garment steamer. This is because when we travel, we still want to look our best, and don't normally have the luxury of bringing our own iron with us. Aside from that, the last thing you want to do on a business trip or a holiday, is to have to stand and iron clothes.

These provide a great and useful alternative, and work really well and are easy to use.

The larger home upright versions we would recommend to anyone, especially for suits and/or dresses. These can quickly remove wrinkles and keep clothes looking new and also feeling fresh.

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  1. Hi,

    This is Maggie,sale clothes steamer in amazon UK.
    Here is the product: https://amzn.to/2WcrZ5E
    Do you think it is possible for us to cooperate? For example, we could provide free sample, and you try and review it at your blog?
    We could also provide exclusive voucher for your readers.

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    Best regards
    Maggie

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