garment steamer
Check out upright and handheld clothes steamers in our list, for a quick alternative to steam irons. Image Credit: Unsplash/charlesdeluvio

Have you ever struggled to iron a silk or a chiffon blouse? It’s always a game of finding the right temperature for the press – neither too cold nor too hot. This is why the iron is best reserved for tougher stuff, like jeans, while garment experts always resort to a clothes steamer for delicates. These gadgets puff out hot steam to produce wrinkle-free results, without making any direct contact with the fabric. They’re quick, efficient and virtually ‘burnproof’. A garment steamer might just be the laundry tool you’re missing.

Is it better to iron or steam your clothes?

Both methods work well. Choosing to either iron or steam will ultimately depend on the type of fabric. Over at Rayan Laundry in Dubai, owner Ahmed Rayan opts for steaming woollen pieces, suit jackets, coats and other delicates. Add to that silk and lace dresses, as well.

“If you’ve brought home a professional unit, then you can expect it to cause no burns. Home steamers will usually run on three to four bars of pressure – in our laundry, we use a commercial unit with eight to nine bars – so there’s little to no risk of fabric damage,” said Rayan, who’s been running his laundry for over 10 years.

While steamers do flatten out creases, they deliver a soft, rounded finish. A cotton dress shirt that’s in need of a crisp, polished look would certainly benefit from direct heat applied by an iron press. The same applies to cotton bed sheets, black-out curtains and heavy jeans. For busy individuals, though, clothes steamers still work brilliantly to save the day, adds Rayan.

Which garment steamer is the best for me?

garment steamer
While a clothes steamer might not replace the press of an iron for some, it works quickly to rid most fabrics of creases. Pick from a handheld or upright unit depending on your wardrobe. Image Credit: Pexels/Skylar Kang

In your search, you’ll come across two types of steamers: upright steamers that are fixed to a clothes stand and handheld units with built-in water tanks.

Rewynd Apparel, an online premiere thrift store based out of Dubai, started off with a handheld steamer for their vintage pieces, but soon switched to an upright unit by Philips. “When you’re dealing with clothes of a higher value, you don’t want to burn anything, therefore, vintage clothing never goes near an iron. Steaming is also less time-consuming for us – every single fabric, from silk and denim to cotton and linen, is steamed,” said Sarah Mourad, the co-founder of Rewynd Apparel.

Over time, the handheld unit turned out to be too cumbersome for the store. If you expect you’ll be steaming a high volume of clothing, opt for an upright garment steamer. More suitable for fewer articles, the handheld steamer even makes for a convenient travel companion.

Based on expert recommendations and user reviews, find the best solution for your delicate items below. Take advantage of Amazon’s Appliance Carnival sale, and save more when you order with Prime to get free, one-day delivery.

1. Best Overall: Philips Garment Steamer

Pros

  • Descaling function
  • Safe even on delicates, like cashmere and silk
  • Comes with a protective glove
  • Steam is hot enough to eliminate odours and bacteria

Cons

  • Doesn't come with its own hanger

Complete, with a hanger hook and a heatproof glove, this Philips 1.4-litre steamer is an all-in-one solution for daily unwrinkling. Mourad says her unit takes “less than a minute to heat up” and doesn’t accumulate white calcium deposits too often. Steam your silk and cashmere worry-free, with this model – you can even select the intensity level depending on the thickness of the fabric for extra precaution. There’s a descaling function that prolongs the life of your steamer, if used regularly. Plus, the integrated hanger hook and adjustable pole make your task much easier.

2. Best Versatile Steamer: Panasonic Garment Steamer, 2400W

Pros

  • Two-in-one functionality – irons and steams
  • Large water capacity
  • Steams at a pressure of 4.8 bars
  • Seven steam levels
  • Steam is hot enough to eliminate odours and bacteria

Cons

  • Expensive

At a premium price, you can get a heavy-duty steamer that operates on powerful twin boilers. The Panasonic garment steamer has a 1.6-litre water tank that heats up in one minute and steams at a pressure of 4.8 bars. With this unit, you’re getting not only a hanger but an ironing board that can be flattened 180-degree for a press. The steamer head transforms into a lightweight iron with its ceramic soleplate, ideal for that crisp finish in shirts and trousers. Switch between seven steam levels to cater to thin and thick fabrics, including the abaya and kandura. Reviewers comment on its strong steam flow and compact size, despite carrying an ironing board. This is a good option for families who want a dedicated steamer for the house.

Bonus: Buy with 0% instalments and pay Dh76.39 for 12 months with select banks.

Warranty: The manufacturer offers a one-year warranty. Amazon offers a one-year extended warranty for Dh57 and two years for Dh81.

3. Best for One: Tefal DT8150 Access Steam+ Handheld Garment/Clothes Steamer

Pros

  • Heats water in 40 seconds
  • Portable unit
  • Comes with five accessories, including a pleats attachment and a travel bag
  • Steam is hot enough to eliminate odours and bacteria

Cons

  • Small water tank
  • Heavy for travelling

A handheld steamer means you’ll have to refill more often, but that’s just part and parcel of its travel-friendly form factor. Our Tefal pick, a brand recommendation by Rayan, takes only 40 seconds to heat up its 200ml water reservoir. The head is fitted with a 140°C heated soleplate to reduce the chances of dripping. Lock down the trigger for continuous steam and run through your delicates for up to nine minutes with one refill. Its accompanying accessories strike a solid deal, too. There’s a crease head attachment for creating trouser pleats, a fabric brush for steaming thicker materials, a steam bonnet to disperse the hot air for delicate clothes, a door hook for hanging, and a travel bag to fit it all in. Tried-and-tested reviews say that the Tefal steamer works best on blazers, dresses, jackets, linen and silk, but do point out that it packs heavy.

Warranty: Amazon offers a one-year extended warranty for Dh23 and two years for Dh33.

4. Best Value: Kenwood Garment Steamer, 1500W

Pros

  • Easy to move on wheels
  • Large tank capacity gives 50 minutes of use
  • Comes with clothes hanger, pant press and a heat glove
  • Works on cushion coverings, too

Cons

  • Lack of controls

The Kenwood garment steamer resembles a canister vacuum on wheels, easily rolling from room to room whenever needed. Quickly refresh your outfit of the day with a steamer that’s ready to use in 45 seconds, from jumpers to skirts, including even soft furnishings in its list of safe fabrics. Thanks to the large two-litre tank, you can run the unit for 50 minutes before its next refill. Besides the clothing hanger for maxi-length garments and a heat glove, the attachments also feature a convenient trouser press. Its only drawback, note reviewers, is the absence of controls, apart from the power button.

Warranty: Amazon offers a one-year extended warranty for Dh18 and two years for Dh25.

5. Best for Bedding and Upholstery: Russell Hobbs 27220 Steam Genie

Pros

  • Powerful for a handheld unit
  • Steams duvets on the bed and rugs
  • Steam is hot enough to eliminate bacteria and odours
  • Three attachments, including a lint brush

Cons

  • Only runs for seven minutes per refill
  • Doesn’t come with a hanger

Another option to consider in handheld units, the Russell Hobbs steamer readies in 45 seconds to freshen clothes for seven minutes at a stretch. It’s slightly more powerful than our Tefal pick, giving you up to 28 grams of steam output per minute on a 1,800 wattage. Both share the same water tank capacity, measuring 200ml. It comes with three attachments: a delicate tool for finer fabrics, an upholstery head for bedding and rugs, and a handy lint brush to gather fluff and hair. If you’re looking to refresh your curtains, cushions and furniture around the house, reviewers attest to the steamer’s fantastic ability to do so. Some even add that it gets rid of clingy odours, like the smell of cigarettes.

Warranty: Amazon offers a one-year extended warranty for Dh18 and two years for Dh25.

Our recommendations are independently chosen by Gulf News editors. If you decide to shop through links on our website, we may earn an affiliate commission, as we are part of Amazon Services LLC Associates Program.