Garment steamers compared
We tried out some popular garment steamers on a variety of clothes to see how easy they were to use and whether they were effective at banishing creases. Get the Which? verdict on garment steamers with our first look video and reviews below.
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.
Garment steamer first look reviews
We tried six 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.
Get our full first look verdict for each garment steamer, and find out which were our favourites, in the table below.
Garment steamers: our verdict
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. Check our round-up of the best steam irons to find one that will make ironing quick and easy.
For our lightest and most user-friendly options, try our pick of the best easy to use steam irons.
Top tips for using garment steamers
If you do buy a garment steamer, the following tips will help you to get the best out of it:
- Make sure you have extra water to hand in a jug (if you’re using a handheld steamer), as you’ll need to keep topping up regularly. A full tank usually isn’t enough to get one garment crease-free.
- Pull the garment downwards as you’re ironing, to give yourself a taut, flat surface to work against. But take care not to steam your fingers.
- Make sure children and pets keep their distance, as some of the garment steamers we’ve tried spit water during use.
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.
Head to our steam iron reviews to find the best iron for your budget.