Best steamer for clothes

Can you recommend a garment steamer

Always read your product’s instruction manual before you proceed, as use can vary between clothes steamers. Typically, you start by filling up the tank with water up to the water line, not above it. Then, turn on the device and wait until the machine starts continually producing steam. Otherwise, there’s a risk of water spurting out and getting onto your fabric, which may stain it.

The 5 Best Clothes Steamers of 2023, Tested and Reviewed

Plus, expert advice from cleaning pros on the do’s and don’ts of steaming.

Rachel covers all aspects of the home space and tests products to find the best for consumers. When she’s not writing, you can find her streaming, hiking, and decorating.

Nicole Lund is the senior commerce editor for Real Simple with five years of experience writing product reviews. She has written product reviews, gift guides, and more for Real Simple, The Spruce, MyDomaine, and Apartment Therapy.

Emily Estep is a plant biologist and journalist who has worked for a variety of online news and media outlets, writing about and editing topics that range from film and beauty to science and the automobile industry. Her plant biology degree has a focus on sustainable agriculture, and she’s an expert on growing your own food, environmental sciences, and all topics relating to houseplants.

In This Article

Jump to a Section


Clothes steamers are a great alternative for people who don’t have the patience, space, or tools to iron their clothing. Clothes steamers work by heating up water to produce steam, which loosens the clothing’s fibers to get rid of wrinkles. Steaming also helps give your clothes a nice refresh and can be used for other household items, such as curtains.

  • The Conair Turbo ExtremeSteam Hand-Held Fabric Steamer our Best Overall Steamer pick, is 58% off today.

“A hot iron can easily burn or damage more delicate fabrics like silk, satin, cashmere, or polyester,” says Marilee Nelson, co-founder of Branch Basics. “Steamers are a much safer option for delicate fabrics while simultaneously refreshing garments, reducing wrinkles and odors, and killing bacteria. Steaming is also more environmentally-friendly, since you don’t have to wash the clothes that only need to be refreshed.”

When it comes to choosing a steamer, “the lighter the better,” says Jerry Pozniak, CEO of Jeeves New York, a luxury dry cleaning service.

To determine the best clothes steamers, we tested 29 models in our Lab, assessing each product’s effectiveness, ease of assembly, design, and overall value, as well as how long it took for each product to produce steam.

Best Overall Steamer

Conair Turbo ExtremeSteam Hand-Held Fabric Steamer

Amazon Conair Turbo Extreme Steam Hand-Held Fabric Steamer

  • It comes with five steam settings and a variety of attachments.
  • It doesn’t have a very large water tank capacity.

The Conair Turbo ExtremeSteam steamer excelled across all of our testing categories, from its design and range of features to its actual performance as a steamer. We found the product to be highly effective at removing wrinkles, with just one to two passes needed on the highest setting. For comparison, similar handheld models we tested took about double the number of passes to complete the same level of smoothness.

This steamer also stood out for its five steam settings (most clothes steamers have one or two) and multiple attachments. These include a built-in creaser, a silicone band that helps pull fabrics taut, a bristle brush to help loosen fabric fibers, and a delicate fabric spacer that is designed to protect more fragile fabrics. This clothes steamer also has a “ready” light to alert you when the steamer is ready to be used. We did note that although the brand advertises that the steamer takes about 40 seconds to produce steam, it really took closer to a minute. However, it was still quicker than some other models we tested.

Price at time of publish: $70

Heating Time: 40-60 seconds | Steam Duration: 15-20 minutes | Weight: 3.5 pounds | Water Tank Capacity: 7.3 ounces (~216 mL)

A person using the Conair steamer on a pair of shorts.

Best Budget Steamer

MagicPro Portable Garment Steamer

Amazon MagicPro Portable Garment Steamer

  • You can turn it on and off to conserve steam.

We were impressed with the performances of this steamer, especially considering its low price. The MagicPro Garment Steamer stacks up well against its more expensive counterparts—it’s able to heat up in about one minute and was able to get rid of most of the wrinkles in one to two passes. It gives off quite a bit of steam (more than others we tested), but we liked that it has a button to turn it on and off so you can conserve steam while you’re adjusting the garment.

Something that might be a con is this product’s bulkiness. It’s definitely not very travel-friendly, which might be disappointing for some people—but on the other hand, it steams for an impressive 15 minutes. It’s also worth noting that the instructions are a bit tricky, and you might have to play around with it in order to really get the hang of it. Overall, though, this steamer is a fantastic budget-friendly option that more than lives up to expectations.

Price at time of publish: $47

Heating Time: 25-60 seconds | Steam Duration: 15 minutes | Weight: 2.8 pounds | Water Tank Capacity: 300 mL

Best Portable Steamer

Hilife Portable Garment Steamer

Amazon Hilife Portable Garment Steamer

Our testing confirmed that the Hilife Handheld Garment Steamer is easy to assemble and boasts both useful features as well as a solid steaming performance. It took us under one minute to assemble this steamer, so it’s easy to take apart and store at home or in your suitcase while traveling. It also features a larger water tank compared to similar models (a little more than one cup), and the water is clearly visible for ease of use. Plus, the steamer has a nine-foot cord, so you don’t have to worry as much about being tied to the location of your nearest outlet.

As far as performance goes, the Hilife Steamer does a solid job. It gave off a good amount of steam, taking about three passes on its only setting to get the job done. It can steam up for 15 minutes, which is seriously impressive for a travel-sized steamer. We noticed that some garments were a little damp after steaming, but they did quickly dry. Also, it took longer to heat up compared to other models (about 2.5 minutes). Despite these drawbacks, we would still recommend this clothes steamer for its larger size and quality construction.

Price at time of publish: $37

Heating Time: 130 seconds | Steam Duration: 15 minutes | Weight: 1.7 pounds | Water Tank Capacity: 240 mL

A person using the Hilife steamer on a shirt.

Best Upright Steamer

Pure Enrichment PureSteam Pro Upright Clothes Steamer

Pure Enrichment PureSteam Pro Upright Clothes Steamer

  • You can easily use it on curtains and other fabrics.
  • It’s bulky, and better suited for people who have a lot of stuff to steam.

Those with extra storage space to spare and a lot of clothes to steam will benefit from the Pure Enrichment PureSteam Pro Upright Clothes Steamer. This product’s transparent water tank can hold about a half gallon of water and comes equipped with convenient features that make it more effective and comfortable to use. These include a garment hanger, a brush attachment, a space dedicated to winding up the extension cord, and a longer-than-average hose. Our favorite feature, however, is the power button, which can be controlled with your foot.

In terms of steaming, this upright steamer was able to remove wrinkles in one to two passes. It took about two minutes to start producing steam, despite the brand advertising that it takes just 45 seconds. However, once you’re ready to go, you can continuously steam for up to an hour. There are four different steam settings available that can be adjusted by dial. Although this clothes steamer is more expensive than comparable models, we found that the impressive performance and convenient features made it worth the higher price. Plus, it has a five-year warranty.

Price at time of publish: $100

Heating Time: 45-120 seconds | Steam Duration: One hour | Weight: 9.5 pounds | Water Tank Capacity: 2 liters

A person using the Pure Enrichment steamer on a button up shirt.

Best Steamer/Iron Combo

Salav DuoPress Steamer and Iron

SALAV Handheld Clothes Steamer

  • It’s very easy to switch between the steam and iron settings.

We found the Salav DuoPress Steamer and Iron unit to give off a lot of steam and be very effective, which we were impressed by considering this is a combo unit. The steamer was able to get wrinkles out in three to four passes, and we found this product’s ironing abilities to be the best of all the combo units we tested. We were delighted at how easy it was to switch to the iron setting, which created a perfect crease in just one pass. To convert the steamer into an iron, all you have to do is press the steamer head (which is lined with a ceramic-coated ironing plate) down onto the fabric and go about ironing as you usually would.

The Salav DuoPress Steamer and Iron takes about one minute to produce steam. However, it only produces steam for about eight minutes until you need to refill the tank. It also does not stand up on its own, which is inconvenient if you want to set it down. Still, if you want a versatile product that steams and irons, you can’t do much better.

Price at time of publish: $60

Heating Time: 50-60 seconds | Steam Duration: 8 minutes | Weight: 2.8 pounds | Water Tank Capacity: 150 ml

A person using the Salav DuoPress Steamer and Iron on a button up blouse.

Final Verdict

Overall, we recommend the Conair Turbo ExtremeSteam Handheld Fabric Steamer for its high quality performance. Not only was it able to get rid of wrinkles in one to two passes (many others we tested took about three to four), but it also has a relatively long steaming time of about 20 minutes. Plus, it has additional accessories to make the steaming process easier, including a bristle brush, built-in creaser, and more.

Our Testing Process

We tested 29 steamers of all types for this article. We used wrinkled napkins to test each steamers’ effectiveness, noting how many steaming options were available on the device and how many passes it took to smooth out our napkins. We also measured the amount of time the product took to produce steam.

Other factors we evaluated were portability, including whether or not the product was comfortable to hold up while steaming, and ease of design, such as how intuitive the controls were and how easy it was to assemble out of the box. Lastly, we assessed the overall value of each item and evaluated whether the item was fairly priced based on our experience with the product. We used all of these insights to come up with our picks for the best clothes steamers.

How to Shop for Clothes Steamers Like a Pro


There are two types of clothing steamers: handheld steamers and large upright steamers. The type you buy should depend on how you want to use it, how long you want to spend steaming, and how much storage space you have available. Handheld clothes steamers are best for those who steam clothing occasionally or who don’t have the space for a large upright steamer. Large garment steamers work better for those who steam clothing frequently, as these products have larger water tanks and thus can steam for much longer than handhelds (up to 20 minutes on a handheld versus an hour on a large steamer).

Keep in mind that a larger steamer isn’t necessarily better. In fact, Jerry Pozniak, CEO of Jeeves New York, says that he only uses handheld steamers for clothing, drapery, and upholstered furniture. “We moved away from the larger units due to size, weight, and water dripping issues,” explains Pozniak. “Also, the large steamers take forever to heat up.”

Marilee Nelson, co-founder of Branch Basics, agrees, saying: “Handheld steamers remove wrinkles just as efficiently as vertical steamers, but they are designed with portability in mind and are easy to bring in your travel bag.”

If you are interested in a large garment steamer, just make sure you have enough storage space for one in your home. Although some large garment steamers can be broken down to become more compact, they will still need about as much space as a stick vacuum cleaner.

Heat Time

“The heat up time is an important selection criteria,” says Nelson. “If you plan to use your steamer in the morning before heading to work, it should not make you late!” Most steamers heat up in just under one minute, but the exact time varies depending on tank size and steamer power. Our Best Budget pick, the MagicPro Portable Garment Steamer, has the fastest heat time: about 25 seconds.

Smaller steamers will heat up more quickly than larger upright steamers, which can take about two minutes to heat up. While the difference isn’t huge, it’s still important to consider. Similarly, the length of time a steamer can run varies depending on the capacity of its tank. Smaller steamers have a runtime of about 8-20 minutes, while larger garment steamers can run for 1-2 hours depending on the setting.


The most important part of a clothes steamer is effectiveness, but extra features can certainly make the steaming process a whole lot easier. Common additional features include more than one steam setting, which will help if you need to get steaming done quickly or have sturdier fabrics. The Conair Turbo ExtremeSteam Handheld Fabric Steamer, our Best Overall pick, has five heat settings, plus comes with a variety of accessories.

Some steamers come with accessories, such as crease clips and bristle brush attachments. Crease clips help create creases in your pants without an iron, while a bristle brush attachment helps loosen fabric fibers so that they de-wrinkle more easily. “Having the right accessories makes all the difference in your steaming experience, such as a mini board which helps make the finishing touches like collars perfect,” says Nelson.

If you’re looking at a large garment steamer, look for additional features such as wheels on the bottom of the device, a retractable cord, and an included hanger with hanger clips to hold up your garments more easily.

More Steamers to Consider

Steamfast Canister Fabric Steamer: We really liked the performance of this garment steamer, as it steamed faster than most and got rid of the majority of wrinkles in just one pass. However, we found the included hanger clips to be very flimsy, so much so that we believe they will quickly need to be replaced.

Steam and Go Portable Steamer: This product did quite well in our testing, as it was ready to use in about two minutes and it got tough wrinkles out in just a few passes. It was a bit heavy to hold, however, and the construction felt flimsy compared to similar models.

Questions You Might Ask

What is the difference between a clothes steamer and an iron?

The big difference between a clothes steamer and iron is contact. Irons require direct contact onto fabric to get rid of wrinkles, whereas steamers need to be held a short distance away from the fabric to achieve the same result. Irons are great for creating creases in pants, pressing pleated clothing, and getting wrinkles out of thicker fabrics that would take a longer time to tackle, such as jeans or a blazer. Steamers are best for more delicate items or fabrics, such as a silk blouse or a cashmere sweater.

So is one necessarily better than the other? “It depends on the type of fabric,” says Pozniak. “Cotton and linen will need an iron, while you can use a steamer for silk, wool, and synthetic fabrics. If you do steam cotton and linen, you may get out some of the wrinkles, but those fabrics will never look crisp. You need the steam of an iron to relax the fibers and the heat of the iron to remove the moisture and ‘set’ the fabric, making it look crisp.”

Are there any fabrics you shouldn’t steam?

Fabrics you should not steam include “leather, suede, fur, vinyl/plastic fabrics and some embellished garments”, says Pozniak. Suede, leather, and fur in particular “can be severely damaged with steam.” You also don’t want to get too close to embellishments like buttons, beads, or sequins, as those could be made of plastic and melt.

Can you use a steamer to freshen up clothes between washes?

Absolutely, says Nelson. “Steamers are perfect for freshening up used garments in between washes since the hot steam targets bad odors. Especially when it comes to fabrics that cannot be washed, or items too bulky to wash by hand or in a machine—like a duvet or even a couch—steaming is an excellent alternative. Spritz your garment with vodka before steaming for even more odor removal!”

How do you properly use a clothes steamer?

Always read your product’s instruction manual before you proceed, as use can vary between clothes steamers. Typically, you start by filling up the tank with water up to the water line, not above it. Then, turn on the device and wait until the machine starts continually producing steam. Otherwise, there’s a risk of water spurting out and getting onto your fabric, which may stain it.

Hang your garments on a hanger and hold them taut while steaming. Keep the steamer an inch away from the garment while steaming—do not put the steamer nozzle directly to your clothes. According to Nelson, you should “steam any sort of lining first, and always steam items from top to bottom to produce an optimal effect.” Once you’re done, wait for your clothes to dry. Throughout the steaming process, make sure that your hands stay far away from the extremely hot steam so you don’t get burned.

Should you regularly clean a clothes steamer?

Yes, but how often depends on how much you use it. If you notice that your clothes steamer is not producing steam as easily or as quickly as previous uses, that’s when it’s time for a cleaning. Clothes steamers get dirty when the minerals from hard water build up overtime and create a gunk that can clog your nozzle and leave white residue on your clothes.

You can avoid this by using distilled water when you steam. If that isn’t an option, you can clean your clothes steamer with a mixture of equal parts white vinegar and distilled water. After you’ve put the mixture into your water tank, turn on your steamer and let that mixture run until it’s about halfway done. Repeat the process until your nozzle lets steam out easily and quickly. Once you’re ready to use your steamer again, make sure to do the same process but with just distilled water to make sure that any remaining vinegar is removed.

Take Our Word for It

This article was written by Rachel Center, a product reviews home writer for Real Simple. It was updated by Nicole Lund, associate commerce editorial director at Dotdash Meredith. To compile this list, we tested 29 irons and evaluated each model on its effectiveness, design, and overall value. For expert advice, we consulted Jerry Pozniak, CEO of Jeeves New York, a luxury dry cleaning service, and Marilee Nelson, co-founder of Branch Basics.

What Is Real Simple Selects?

Next to each product on this list, you may have noticed a Real Simple Selects seal of approval. Any product appearing alongside that seal has been vetted by our team—put through tests and graded on its performance to earn a spot on our list. Although we buy most of the products we test, sometimes we do get samples from companies if purchasing a product ourselves isn’t an option. All products go through the same rigorous process, whether they are purchased or sent by the company.

Love our recommendations? Check out more products that have earned the Real Simple Selects, from humidifiers to cordless vacuums.

Can you recommend a garment steamer?

I’m interested in buying a garment steamer and been reading through some older reddit posts (up to 11 years old) to find the right model/recommendation.

The issue, there’s just way too many prestigious and unknown brands on the market who have handheld steamers for the casual user. One steamer that I came across multiple times is the Jiffy Esteamer (€135 where I live), but that’s from posts older than 5 years.

I’ve also seen on Aliexpress, that Xiaomi, a brand that I personally only had good experience with, has one as well (€40).

And then there are brands like Rowenta, Philips, Tefal, Grundig. and so on.

So, can anyone that has experience with steaming recommend a garment steamer (likely a specific model and not too costly) they have good experience with?


So, thanks for everyone’s input! Since I’ve never had a steamer before and hoped to find “the best” steamer by this post, I just went ahead a bought a cheap one just to see what all the fuzz is about. I got myself the Philips 3000 series STH3000 steamer and here’s how it went:

  • The tank of 100ml is, as many online post mention, barely enough to steam 2 clothing item. Trust me, it’s actually a bigger annoyance than you’d imagine. Therefore, if possible, buy one of the steamers with larger tanks.
  • I’ve tried the steamer now on a thin shirt, that wrinkles fast. After 5 min., I managed to steam the shirt heavily, and most wrinkles went from noticeable to 70% less noticeable. I think a steamer would be a good solution for thin shirts (i mean like really thin summer shirts that nearly fly at the lightest breeze), but forget about it for anything beyond that.
  • I’ll send mine back and will forget about the idea of steamers. As most comments pointed out – an iron is what we have to use.