How to Steam Clothes: Steaming vs Ironing

Updated on November 7, 2019
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Katy has an open-minded but practical approach to style. She shares all the details about making fashion work for you.

I hate ironing. My clothes would be a wrinkled mess without a good steamer. It can keep your outfits looking polished. Find out how to use and care for a garment steamer.

Still not ready to give up your iron? Learn about the benefits of using a steamer for your clothes.

How to use a clothes steamer
How to use a clothes steamer

How to Steam Clothes

Steaming clothes is a simple process:

  1. Plug in your handheld or stand-up steamer.
  2. Hang the garment, ideally so it hangs freely. Use shower rod or hook
  3. Start at the top of the garment and work downwards.
  4. Hover the steamer directly over the fabric and move it slowly downwards.
  5. Continue downward motions across the garment until all wrinkles are gone.
  6. You may need to return to trouble spots and hold the steamer there for a longer duration.

A good clothes steamer can refresh most garments in just a few minutes. I have a Secura Handheld Garment Steamer that is still powerful enough to finish an outfit in 5 minutes.

Steamer Tip

Always blow a few puffs of steam before starting on a garment!

How to Use a Clothes Steamer

Most clothes steamers are easy to prep for steaming. Read the instructions for your steamer because some have unique steps. Usually, using a clothes steam requires these steps:

  1. Fill the steamer with water. Be sure to not fill over the Max Fill line.
  2. Attach any attachments now, like pet hair or lint removers.
  3. Find a stable surface for the steamer, whether its a handheld or a vertical steamer.
  4. Plug in steamer and allow it to heat up. Some steamers blow steam during the heat up process, this in normal.
  5. Once ready, pick up the handheld part of the steamer and push the button to blow steam. This clears any rusty water that may have accumulated.
  6. You're ready to steam your clothes.

I always do a couple of test steams with a steamer before applying it to the garment. Even higher quality steamers can accumulate some rust or clogs. These will end up on your clothes if you go straight to the garment.

Steaming Clothes vs Ironing

If you're used to ironing, then steaming clothes almost seems like cheating. Is there a difference between a garment steamer vs a conventional iron? For creases in pants or shirts, a conventional iron is the only way to go. But other than that, a steamer can accomplish everything an iron can do.

Is Ironing or Steaming Better?

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Why Steaming Is Better Than Ironing

Aside from creases, a garment steamer works better than iron in almost every case. The convenience and usability of a steamer are really hard to beat.

Setup Is Easy and Portable

Ironing requires getting out a bulky board. That's reason enough for me to avoid doing it. But a steamer just needs the garment hanging up somewhere, and you're good to go.

Gentle on Clothing

It's really hard to damage your clothes with a steamer. With an iron, I'm never sure if I'm applying heat for too long, or if I have it turned up too high.
Steamers also let you care for more fabrics. I know I really shouldn't iron my wool and silk shirts, but they get wrinkles from the washer. I tried drying them flat and drying them on a rack or hanger. But the wrinkles ruin an otherwise polished outfit. My steamer to the rescue!

Pet Hair and Lint Removal

With the right attachment, you can remove pet hair while steaming. In my household, this is essential since dog hair and wrinkles plague all our clothes.

The lint remover attachment has to be cleaned regularly. But this has saved me on disposable lint rollers!

Steam t-shirts to make a simple outfit look polished!
Steam t-shirts to make a simple outfit look polished! | Source

Garment Steaming Tricks

Once a good clothes steamer has become part of your clothing regimen, check out some of these tricks to make steaming even more effective.

Set Up a Dedicated "Steaming Station"

You might want to set up a dedicated steaming area in your house. This makes the steaming process easier and faster. You also have an area to safely store your steamer.

I have an area next to my dresser I use for steaming. It's nothing fancy: an outlet, a hanger for clothes, and space on the dresser to store the steamer. I can steam my outfit the night before and leave it hanging for the morning. More commonly, I'm lazy and leave it to the morning but can get through my outfit and my husband's shirt in a few minutes.

Start With Drying

The easiest wrinkles to steam out are the ones that are never there to begin with! Steaming is much easier when it's just for touch ups. Steaming a whole garment that is totally wrinkled from the dryer takes a while.

Learn about how to properly dry each type of garment you wear. Hint: it's probably not in a machine! Following the proper drying process will leave you with less serious wrinkles, and your clothes will last longer.

Most of my shirts tops get hung up to dry, and everything spends the end of its drying time on a hanger. This is what makes my steaming time so short: the garments just need touch ups to look polished!

© 2018 Katy Medium

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