There are dozens of fabric steamers out there – all claiming to offer the best results in decreasing clothes and making them smell fresh.
But which products go beyond making gimmicky promises about potential results, and actually make garments look professional?
Like most other items available on the marketplace, you need to carefully consider what you actually want a fabric steamer in your home to achieve.
Overall, these are great products to invest in – and they’ll save countless hours compared to constantly slaving over an iron.
Are you looking for a machine that’s portable, making it suitable for business travel? Do you need a fabric steamer which boasts plenty of power, meaning you’ll be able to get your whole family’s clothes ready to wear in a matter of minutes? Or is it a matter of safety first, where concerns about reducing the fire hazard of fabric steamers are at the forefront of your mind?
Overall, these are great products to invest in – and they’ll save countless hours compared to constantly slaving over an iron. With the right product, it’s possible to wave goodbye to your dry cleaners – as your most expensive coats, prized table linen and difficult to clean curtains can all be given the steaming treatment.
It’s been proven that steamers can elongate the life of your beloved garments – even if you aren’t too gifted in the housekeeping department. This can make them an essential purchase if you have a surly teenager heading off to college soon.
And you won’t even need a science degree in order to get the fabric steamer ready once it’s out of the box. All it takes is a nearby socket, and a tap to fill up the water reservoir, before you’ll be able to stem away with glee. There are some features which are worth reading up on in the instruction manual – and we’ll come to that a little later.
So: it’s time to breathe new life into your mattresses, and cut down on the cost of a car valet by treating your seats yourself.
Here, we’re going to look at the five must-have traits of a fabric steamer that should be factored into an informed purchasing decision.
Fabric Steamer Selection Criteria
This should be at the forefront of your mind when you’re purchasing a fabric steamer. When combined, all of the gadgets and gizmos found within the home can leave you with an astronomically high electricity bill at the end of the month – and ideally, any new appliances you buy shouldn’t be too expensive to run on a regular basis.
You shouldn’t be put off buying a fabric steamer for fear of the energy costs.
There are a few features installed within market-leading fabric steamers to ensure your use of electricity is kept to a minimum.
For example, some models include a trigger – opting you to enjoy intermittent bursts of steam instead of a continual flow. We couldn’t completely determine how much savings this would bring to the typical household on an annual basis.
You shouldn’t be put off buying a fabric steamer for fear of the energy costs, however. Remember: the odds are that you’ll only be using them for 10 to 15 minutes at a time – often because that’s the maximum amount of time that a steamer can function for on one full tank of water.
One good indicator of how energy intensive a fabric steamer will be is the levels of wattage the system provides. This can vary anywhere from 650W to 1500W and beyond.
From here, you’ll be able to use an energy calculator online, which will give you the facts on how much it’ll cost to run this on an hourly basis. It’s highly unlikely that this expense will be more than the price of a dry cleaning service.
Still unsatisfied? Then you might be better off going for a handheld fabric steamer. They’re small, yet mighty – offering about 10 minutes’ worth of continual use before they need to power off. Some also include dual heat settings – accommodating the ideal temperatures for different types of garment. Continually using the lowest option, which is primarily designed for silk and polyester, will prevent a shock bill.
Unlike other appliances, it’s crucial that you unplug a fabric steamer once you’re done. That’s because otherwise, the machine may continue to run, and this can cause a serious fire risk.
As you’ll know if you were listening in science lessons as a kid, fabric steamers work by heating up water from your tap to high temperatures – producing steam which comes out of a nozzle at the top. For those of you who are rather impatient, the length of time it takes for the fabric steamer to become operational will be a big deal.
To help out, most fabric steamers do come with a simple light to indicate whether or not the appliance is ready to use.
Some of the more high-end models can be ready to use in just 30 seconds – but this often depends on the size of the water reservoir. On the other end, you could be waiting for about two minutes. To help out, most fabric steamers do come with a simple light to indicate whether or not the appliance is ready to use.
The next thing on your checklist should be how long the steamer can be used for before it’s time to remove the water reservoir, refill it, and heat it up again.
With the more industrial appliances available on the market – often for commercial use – you can enjoy more than an hour of continual use. This makes it ideal when you’re about to embark on a daring spring clean of the house.
With fabric steamers that go the distance, and offer a prolonged period of non-stop usage, it’s highly likely that they’ll be rather heavy and different to carry.
That is why the water tank might come on wheels, with the steam coming through a hosepipe that can be adjusted according to your height, and where the garment is. The length of the cord which connects your steamer to a plug will also be a consideration; otherwise your freedom of movement will be extremely curtailed!
Regardless of the other features which support the heating functionality, steamers are fantastic products which can often get revved up to go faster than a kettle.
Just be sure to use tap water that isn’t too hard and full of chemicals wherever possible. This can cause limescale to clog up the reservoir, which will ultimately slow down the heating time.
Next, let’s take a look at how much water can be stored within the fabric steamer during a single use. As you would expect, this will determine how long the appliance can be used for on a continuous basis.
This really does vary between portable and at-home appliances. A handheld, compact model can only accommodate around 7 oz. (roughly 200ml) of tap water at any one time.
If you fill it beyond the brink, it’s highly likely that you’ll end up with unsightly water stains on your clothes.
And, if you fill it beyond the brink, it’s highly likely that you’ll end up with unsightly water stains on your clothes, as the steamer will begin to spit. This should be avoided at all costs, as it can also affect the end results of the treatment.
Let’s contrast that with some of the bigger models out there – the big beasts, if you will. They can hold anywhere between 40 oz. and 96 oz. – which is a gargantuan amount of water. Sure, they might take a touch longer to heat up, but you can be guaranteed of a resilient machine with durable parts that’ll go the distance.
Another big difference between appliances is whether or not the water reservoir is detachable, or whether you take the whole unit to the tap.
Of course, with the latter, it’s a good idea to err on the side of caution when you’re refilling. The last thing you want is to douse the plug, which will go into the mains, with water. Removable tanks are available with steamers great and small.
Also staying on the theme of water, you’ll want to make sure that these appliances give you some sort of indication about how much liquid is left before you’ll run out of steam. This might be in the form of a transparent line, with markings to indicate the water you have left.
This, when combined with a feature that automatically deactivates the machine – cutting the power to the steamer – when the water has been depleted, prevents the appliance from overheating, sending the repugnant smell of burning plastic ruminating through your household.
The manufacturer of your fabric steamer should be able to guarantee that you’ll be completely delighted with the product. It’s frustrating and inconvenient when an appliance that you’ve spent your hard-earned cash on packs in unexpectedly.
That’s why all leading brands offer a warranty of some kind – giving you some protection if the product doesn’t adhere to your expectations.
All you’ll need to do is make sure that you have the original documentation to prove that you bought the fabric steamer.
All you’ll need to do is make sure that you have the original documentation to prove that you bought the fabric steamer – as the date on the receipt will determine whether you’re eligible for a replacement or new parts.
A lot of the time, you’ll be given a “limited warranty” – the full parameters of which will be laid out in the instruction manual, where the actual documentation can be found. The period this will last for does vary – anywhere from six months to three years. It all depends on how confident they are with their workmanship.
The most common exclusions are for the cord which connects your steamer to the mains. Generally, all other parts which prove faulty will be replaced within the period. However, engineers will often inspect the machine to see whether there’s been any negligence or your part – or if you haven’t followed the instructions for cleaning it.
To try and lower the chances that you’ll actually need to call upon the warranty in the near future, try to read impartial reviews from customers who have owned the fabric steamer in question for a number of years. Oftentimes, you’ll find shoppers who are delighted with the choice that they made – as it still runs, good as new, after many, many years.
Indeed, even if your fabric steamer packs in outside of the warranty period, it can be quite easy to fix.
You might just need to get a new water reservoir or a hosepipe that’s compatible with the model you own – and these are available at a fraction of the cost for a new steamer.
As you would expect, this mainly applies for steamers which consist of big water reservoirs which are based on wheels. To add to the design, the manufacturer will often ensure the casters are suitable for use on all manner of surfaces – including tiles, laminate flooring, and carpets.
Another feature that comes in useful is foot pedals. When you’re using the system, you ideally want both of your hands controlling the nozzle, and guiding the steam up and down your garments in a slow, sweeping motion. Pedals ensure you can increase or reduce the steam wherever necessary, or cut the power off entirely.
Overall, fabric steamers have improved their design considerably over recent years. Now, hoses are made of more resilient materials – and this ensures that the steam doesn’t lose any temperature as it makes its way from the reservoir. Even better, the thickness of the plastic will ensure that the handle stays cool.
Overall, fabric steamers have improved their design considerably over recent years.
Many hoses are also incredibly flexible, making it easier to bend behind curtains and steam treat drapes. With some of the smaller pipes available on the market, this can be near impossible – even if you’re able to adjust the telescopic pole to the tallest height possible.
All of these characteristics are crucial. But it’s also nice when the manufacturers think about the user experience, and make sure that the steamer is easy to assemble once it’s shipped to your address.
If you have a big commercial fabric steamer on order, the last thing you want is to spend countless hours trying to figure out how to put it together. That’s why many companies now pledge that their packaging will be “frustration free” – and that gets points from us.
So there you have it: energy consumption, heating time, water capacity, warranty duration and foot pedals are five of the characteristics that you’ll want to keep an eager eye out for as you complete your purchase.
By thinking carefully about the right product for you, it'll be full steam ahead in no time![reviews cat=”2″]