Clothes and garment steamers are marketed as a quick fix for creases when you haven’t got time for regular ironing.
What’s more, manufacturers claim they are a good alternative to expensive dry-cleaning for delicate clothes. But, with prices matching or exceeding those of an ordinary steam iron, are they worth buying? And are they actually any good at getting clothes crease free?
We wanted to find out, so we rounded up widely available and bestselling UK models, and tried them out on a variety of clothes and fabrics to see how easy they were to use, and whether they were effective at banishing creases.
We tried six clothes and garment steamers in total. Three were handheld garment steamers, designed to be light and portable for either quick touch-ups or taking on your travels. We also tried out two upright steamers, which have a large base with a water tank inside and a telescopic pole for hanging clothes up while steaming.
We also put an all-in-one iron and garment steamer through its paces - the Tefal IXEO QT1020.
The models we tried were from the major iron brands who have launched garment steamers in the UK: Philips and Tefal. We also tried out the Pro Breeze fabric steamer, an Amazon bestseller.
We challenged each garment steamer to smooth out creases from a light viscose blouse and a heavier cotton shirt. We looked at how effective each steamer was at removing creases, how damp the clothing was afterwards and how easy it was to use the product. This included how simple it was to set up, whether it felt light in the hand and how easy it was to fill and empty. We also looked out for any niggles, such as an extra small water tank, excessive noise or spitting water.
Find out which garment steamers were our favourites in the table below.
First look verdict: The Tefal IXEO QT1020 is an all-in-one iron and garment steamer that comes with its own built-in ironing board. It's fairly pricey, compared with an iron or steamer, but is it worth it for the extra convenience? or to see what we thought after trying it out.
First look verdict: The Tefal IS13361 Instant Compact is an expensive upright garment steamer with an XL steam head and generous water tank for 30 minutes of non-stop ironing. Is it any good at removing stubborn creases though? or to see what we thought.
First look verdict: The Tefal IS8360 Instant Control is the cheaper sibling of the IS13361 Instant Compact and comes with four steam settings to help you tackle creases. But is it easy to use, and will it really help you blast through your laundry pile at speed? or to see what we thought.
First look verdict: You can steam both horizontally and vertically with this Philips – a feature not all garment steamers offer. But you could buy a Best Buy steam iron for the same price, or even a steam generator – the most powerful irons around. Is the price tag justified? or to see what we thought.
First look verdict: The Pro Breeze is the cheapest garment steamer we first looked – but cheap doesn’t necessarily mean nasty. It has a large water tank that’s easy to see into (so you always know how much you have left) and an auto shut-off safety feature. Will this cheap little steamer beat more expensive models to the top spot? or to see what we thought.
First look verdict: You can hang this Tefal over the back of a chair rather than storing it away in a cupboard if you want to, thanks to its unusual shape. And you don’t need to keep pressing the steam button as it steams continuously. But how well does it do its basic job of getting rid of creases? or to see what we thought.
Some were better than others, but overall we found these garment steamers disappointing. Given how handy they’re supposed to be, we found them a bit of a hassle to use. Most were heavy, required constant pressing on the steam trigger to work, and couldn’t even get one garment wrinkle-free without the steam tank needing topping up. It’s difficult to finesse edges, collars and between buttons either like you can with a really good steam iron.
And if you’re planning to whip out your garment steamer quickly to neaten up an outfit before heading out, then watch out: they generally leave clothes too damp to wear straight away. That’s particularly the case with upright steamers, as they pump out more steam.
Getting out your ironing board is unlikely to be more hassle, especially if you have a brilliant iron.
If you do buy a garment steamer, the following tips will help you to get the best out of it:
Ultimately, we think you’re better off with a good iron. Plenty of modern irons offer vertical steam, which allows you to steam garments while hanging up, so can offer a similar type of quick touch-up if you’re in a hurry. But for the best results, we recommend you get out the ironing board.