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For quickly pressing an outfit in the morning, refreshing a top you wore yesterday or breathing new life into curtains or other soft furnishings, a garment steamer is a handy addition to your household arsenal.
While it does a slightly different job to an iron, a clothes steamer can save you lots of time, especially if you tend to only get the ironing board out for one or two items.
Freestanding workhorses are great if you have the space, but you might prefer a handheld garment steamer that you can just plug in and go as well as pop in your bag for a night away.
We’ve rounded up the best models in every type and price bracket for you to choose from. Here are the best clothes steamers to buy in 2021.
1. Best overall clothes steamer: Pro Breeze Garment Steamer
This watering-can shaped clothes steamer from Pro Breeze has a long nozzle designed to distribute steam evenly.
Its shape makes it really easy to use, as you can direct the steam accurately, it comes apart easily and can be stored in its own pouch for travel.
We like the fact that it has an auto-shut-off feature so there will be no worries about accidentally leaving it running, particularly if you have young children in the house.
The steamer heats up in under a minute and has a 120ml tank, which is enough for two or three items of clothing before you need to refill.
It isn’t laden with bells and whistles, but if you want a garment steamer that you won’t be using it every day, this has all the functionality you need at a very fair price.
- Capacity: 120ml
- Power: 850W
- Weight: 760g
- Dimensions: 22.7 × 15.3 × 10.1cm
2. Best budget clothes steamer: Swan SI12020N Handheld Garment Steamer
“Mine is a Swan. I use it as and when I pull something creased out to wear and it takes two minutes to heat and maybe three to steam out the major creases. It also freshens clothes and has brought a few things back to life, so it pays for itself as it brings clothes into play more often and revives older stuff.”
The Swan Handheld Garment Steamer comes in at an attractive price, especially considering its excellent spec.
A large tank, impressive steam power and a light weight that makes it very easy to wield all make this garment steamer a great buy.
It works in both horizontal and vertical positions, so you can use it flat or on an ironing board, and it can even be used to breathe life back into furniture and carpets – it comes with a separate fabric brush for thicker materials.
Its ergonomic design and 1.9-metre cord make it easy to use and manoeuvre. The only downside is that it takes slightly longer than some models to heat up, but it’s still relatively quick.
- Capacity: 250ml
- Power: 1,100W
- Weight: 28.3g
- Dimensions: 32.6 × 17.1 × 15.2cm
Related: The very best steam irons, recommended by parents on Mumsnet.
3. Best handheld clothes steamer: Tefal Access Steam Minute DT7050 Handheld Garment Steamer
“I got the Tefal handheld one recently. It’s great for delicate materials like silk.”
There are so many handheld clothes steamers on the market that it’s easy to be dazzled by the various features and not know which one to buy.
If you have a reasonable budget though, we’d recommend the Tefal Access Steam Minute, which offers the best of all worlds and is fairly versatile in use.
It heats up in just 40 seconds, so you can be steaming almost instantly, and has just one easy-to-use setting that’s suitable for all fabrics.
And clothes are not all it’s good for. This model can be used on heavy-duty furniture just as easily as on delicate items such as silk. It even claims to kill 99% of viruses, bacteria and germs.
The two-metre cord gives you enough choice about where and how you work it, and a steam bonnet helps to prevent drips. It comes with a travel brush, storage bag and door hook, and is compact enough to be used for travel too.
- Capacity: 150ml
- Power: 1,100W
- Weight: 990g
- Dimensions: 10 × 12 × 24.5cm
4. Best small clothes steamer: Fridja F10 Handheld Clothes Steamer
“When I'm in a position to upgrade, I'm buying one of these steamers which are brilliant.”
The Fridja F10 is is an excellent handheld garment steamer. It’s quick to heat up (just 45 seconds) and steams continuously for 14 minutes on a full water tank.
It feels easy to wield, despite being almost as powerful as many floor-standing models, and has a two-metre cord to give you enough room to work.
The tank is anti-calcium, so it should have plenty of durability and the fact that it’s transparent is useful for seeing how much water you have left. We also like the added extras, such as the collar press, which helps give a professional-looking finish.
The steamer comes in a handy bag for travel and is available in a clear/grey as well as a rather fetching pink.
- Capacity: 260ml
- Power: 1,500W
- Weight: 1.64kg
- Dimensions: 15 × 12 × 22cm
5. Best clothes steamer for speed: Beautural Clothes Steamer
Heating up in just 32 seconds, this powerful little machine is really impressive and gets great results in double-quick time. It has a generously sized tank, which means that you can steam your way through several items of clothing very quickly and you won't have to pause for refills either.
Like the Swan, it has horizontal and vertical modes to make removing creases a cinch and its 360-degree swivel cord means you won’t get tied up in knots.
The trigger has an on/off function as well as a continuous steam feature, which is useful for heavy-duty and larger items, and it shuts off automatically after eight minutes when not in use for your peace of mind.
- Capacity: 260ml
- Power: 1,200W
- Weight: 1.1kg
- Dimensions: 29.8 × 18.8 × 15cm
Related: The best ironing boards for your home, with great options for every budget.
6. Best travel clothes steamer: Philips Steam and Go Plus Handheld Clothes Steamer
“I have this one and love it! Quickly steams out creases in clothes and I use it all the time. I never use my iron. Bought it for my sister’s wedding day to de-crease her outfit and have used it regularly since!”
This super-sleek black and copper garment steamer is so pretty you’d be happy to leave it out on your dressing table, ready to steam and press at a moment’s notice.
It’s lightweight, has a long cord (2.5 metres) that makes for easy and comfortable use, and its ‘Smartflow’ heated plate technology and continuous steam feature produce great results.
It can be used vertically or horizontally so you can get into every corner, and there’s also a brush attachment for de-creasing thicker materials.
Be aware that this model has quite a small tank, so can only steam one item of clothing before it needs refilling, but it's designed as an on-the-go model and, for travel, it’s extremely compact and convenient in a way that larger-tanked steamers aren’t.
- Capacity: 70ml
- Power: 1,300W
- Weight: 950g
- Dimensions: 38 × 12.8 × 15cm
7. Best luxury clothes steamer: Tefal IXEO QT1020 All-in-One Iron and Clothes Steamer
If you like the idea of a garment steamer but aren’t quite ready to give up on an ironing board, this clever machine does both.
The IXEO is an upright clothes steamer and, while pricey, comes with a board that can be fixed in three different positions – flat like an ironing board, vertical and at a 30-degree tilt. This means you have something to iron on which can allow for more pressure and control.
The head of the Tefal IXEO QT1020 is pointed like an iron, so it’s easy to send steam into tricky corners and flatten sections like collars, and its Turbo Steam technology powers through even heavier fabrics with ease. The one-litre tank allows you to iron for around an hour and the machine heats up in just 45 seconds.
- Capacity: 1L
- Power: 1,600W
- Weight: 10kg
- Dimensions: 51 × 51 × 46.2cm
8. Best upright clothes steamer: Philips Comfort Touch Plus Standing Garment Steamer
This freestanding clothes steamer is designed to be left out in the bedroom, rather than stored away. But if you know you’ll be using it regularly, it’s well worth the small footprint space it takes up.
The Comfort Touch won’t replace an iron or an ironing board as the whole process is vertical, but it does come with a board that clips vertically to the front of the steamer if you prefer to lean against something rather than stretch the garment taut.
It has a powerful steam jet, which quickly removes creases but also kills 99.9% of bacteria to refresh an item to be worn again if it doesn’t really need washing. There are five different fabric settings to choose from and a garment hanger that holds your item of clothing firmly in place while you steam.
We also really like the My Essence fragrance caps, which allow you to add your own scent to the steamer to infuse your clothes with fragrance.
Its power and capacity make the Comfort Touch Plus a great choice if you want to steam lots of garments or large items, but do be sure you have the space for it first.
- Capacity: 1.8L
- Power: 2,000W
- Weight: 5.4kg
- Dimensions: 173 × 33 × 37cm
9. Best clothes steamer for pleats: Morphy Richards 361000 Garment Steamer
This powerful little handheld machine has a clever design with an extra steam hole and a clip to allow you to press pleats into clothes – ideal for school uniforms!
The tank isn’t huge so it will need refilling regularly, but the steam power is impressive and it heats up in just 35 seconds.
There are two different settings (turbo and eco), so you can turn the steam down and save on water for more lightweight items, and the lint brush add-on is really good at getting into fibres to allow the steam to penetrate further.
Reviews say that the Morphy Richards 361000 feels quite heavy for its size, but it’s still easy to use and the generous three-metre cord makes life easier too.
- Capacity: 260ml
- Power: 1,750W
- Weight: 1.44kg
- Dimensions: 34.5 × 19.5 × 22cm
10. Best heavy-duty clothes steamer: Fridja High Pressure Clothes Steamer F1500
Unlike the handheld Fridja, this freestanding version doesn't have beauty at the top of the agenda. That said, it’s very practical and if you have a utility room where you can store it out of the way, it will serve you well.
It heats up in 75 seconds, but its huge tank lets you steam for up to two hours without refilling. The steam power behind it also sees creases out of even heavy-duty fabrics with ease.
The steam is put out through a telescopic pole that’s easy to adjust to the perfect length for you, and the sole plate is shaped very much like an iron – and can be used flat on clothes in the same way.
Wheels on the base allow you to move the Fridja High Pressure Clothes Steamer F1500 to wherever you need it, and it comes with a brush attachment, plates to help you press collars and a cover for delicate fabrics.
- Capacity: 3.8L
- Power: 2,200W
- Weight: 7.5kg
- Dimensions: 31 × 41 × 161cm
Do I need a garment steamer?
A garment steamer isn't an essential, but it can be handy if you’re in a hurry and don’t want to get the ironing board out, or if you wear the sort of clothes that might need pressing right before you leave the house.
Clothes steamers can leave clothes slightly damp, so you’ll need to leave time for them to dry. But they’re useful if you own a lot of dry-clean-only clothes and the portable versions are useful for travel too.
Do clothes steamers really work on clothes?
Yes! Clothes steamers have been used in the fashion industry for years, both in shops and backstage at catwalk shows precisely because they work so well.
They’re especially good for clothes that are hard to iron, like sequinned or heavily embellished items, and are also ideal for freshening up clothing after it’s been folded in a drawer or hung up to dry.
Are clothes steamers better than irons?
While this depends on the quality of each item of clothing, a clothes steamer will do a better job than a very basic iron – and it'll definitely be quicker too.
You'll likely still want to own an iron for large items, especially those with collars, as they can be quite tricky to steam.
It's worth knowing that lots of good quality irons now come with a vertical steam function, so if you don’t think you’ll be using a steamer much, an iron with that function should suffice.
Related: The best heated clothes airers and dryers to quickly dry your washing.
How do I choose a clothes steamer?
- Think about how much you want to use it and what its purpose will be: if you want your clothes steamer to replace your iron and ironing board, you’ll want a freestanding model. If it’s only for business trips or sticking in your bag for weddings, a smaller, more portable steamer is better.
- Consider where you want to use it: if it has a cord, will that stretch to wherever your clothes will hang?
- Look at the speed of heat-up: a steamer that heats up quickly is going to be quicker to use, but it may add to the cost of the steamer itself.
- Consider tank size: if you only want to steam one small garment at a time, a small tank will heat up more quickly and waste less water. If you want to steam lots of larger items, a bigger tank will mean fewer refills.
- Look for models that have easy-to-read displays and clear indicators for when the water is hot enough to steam.
What fabrics should not be steamed?
Avoid steaming suede, items with coatings such as waxed jackets, and anything with embellishments or details that might melt, like plastic.
It’s fine to steam delicate items like silk and velvet, but you might want to steam them inside out as the water from the steamer may leave a mark.
What's the best clothes steamer to buy?
Overall, we think the Pro Breeze Garment Steamer is the best clothes steamer to buy. It heats up in under a minute, has a generously sized tank and is more affordable than most.
How we chose our recommendations
As always, we cast our net wide and scoured the internet for reviews and comments about the best (and worst) garment steamers on the market, looking for five-star reviews and industry awards and accolades.
We also searched the Mumsnet Talk forums, as we know that Mumsnetters are always some of the most discerning customers around, and made a note of the clothes steamers that brought them joy and those that left them disappointed.
Finally, we consulted expert consumer sites such as Which? to find out what they demanded of the best garment steamer.
Why you should trust us
We work hard to provide unbiased, independent advice you can trust. We do sometimes earn revenue through affiliate (click-to-buy) links in our articles. This helps us fund more helpful articles like this one.
Read next: The best bikini trimmers for all budgets.
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Main image credit: Swan