Best clothes steamers 2021 – 9 buys to de-crease your clothes with ease

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  • Investing in a clothes steamer to help keep your clothes looking their best? Smart idea. With help from the best clothes steamer, you can de-crease your clothes on the day you wear them, within minutes. No need to drag your iron and its board out of your cupboard and wait for it to heat up as these are easy to use – and you can take handheld ones on your travels since they are nice and portable.

    Now, we’re not saying that you don’t need one of thebest steam ironsto help tackle your laundry load, because you absolutely do, but the humble clothes steamer is invaluable for refreshing and de-creasing garments just before you head out of the door. Plus, using a clothing steamer can actually kill bacteria living on your clothes. A definite win in the current times.

    We’re all more than aware by now that wearing your clothes once and throwing them into the wash is bad for the environment – and for your clothes! If you want to wear your clothes a couple of times without feeling like – and it looking like – your dress, shirt or trousers have been worn the day before and scrunched into a drawer, then you can rely on a clothes steamer. You can also use a clothes steamer for cleaning curtains and upholstery, as well as de-creasing bedding – because everyone knows that ironing a bedsheet is possibly one of the most tedious tasks there is.

    Give your worn clothes another lease of life before launching them into your laundry basket with a clothes steamer. Whether you go for a small, portable steamer or a larger vertical model with a built-in clothes hanger, the method is the same. Use one hand to hold the steamer and the other hand to hold the fabric taut as you go. We’ve tested a mix of clothes steamers to suit all budgets.

    The best clothes steamers to buy in 2021

    The best clothing steamer

    Capacity: 70 mlDimensions: 38 x 12.8 x 15 cmWeight: 950 gramsPower: 1300 watts

    What we likeUltra-lightweightLooks greatGreat for travel

    What we don’t likeTiny water tank capacityNot the best for de-creasing an entire washing basket

    This elegant Philips clothing steamer has a slender design. It’s worth us noting that it’s perfect for freshening up an outfit but it’s not designed to blitz the whole ironing pile. It comes with an attractive, grey, heatproof storage bag that is also long and thin. It also comes with a silver heatproof mitt, plus a brush attachment. The water tank clips into the handle, so it’s slim and, at 70ml, too small. And its fill hole is small, so it’s tricky to fill it accurately under a tap.

    Its 24g/min steam function is pretty good. It feels like the vertical steam you might get from a steam iron. But unlike an iron, it’s very comfortable in the hand. There are lots of good, practical touches. The 2.5m power cord is longer than most and letting go of the steam trigger pauses it, so you can change garment or position safely or add the brush accessory without fear of scalding.

    We didn’t feel the need for the heatproof mitt, though. It was easier to do without and swap hands depending on which bit of the garment we were steaming. Results were good but we ran out of water far too quickly, after just two garments.

    Ideal Home rating: 4 out of 5 stars

    The best handheld clothing steamer

    Capacity: 260mlDimensions: 34.5 x 19.5 x 22 cmWeight: 1.44 kgPower: 1750 watts

    What we likeHeats up in just 35 seconds2 settings including eco3m cable

    What we don’t likeThe small tank means you’ll need to keep filling it with water

    The mid-priced Morphy Richards boasts a clever design that’s as innovative as it is ergonomic to use. The design is slim, yet fits in a 260ml water tank. But the shape means it is well-balanced in the hand, so it feels light. It heats up in 35 seconds.

    We also loved its many clever design touches. There’s just one clip-on tool but this boasts a brush with stiff bristles at the top and a squeegee at the bottom, good for lifting lint. We found the brush to be good on upholstery too.

    And then the top of the Express Steam boasts a very unusual feature: an extra steam hole with a plastic clip that lets you use the top to press collars and creases. The results will never be as strong as pressing with an iron, but they are good enough: you could use the steam head to remove wrinkles from, say, school shirts and then give collars a quick press with the tool at the top.

    Even little touches are nice, like the Velcro tie that stops the 3m cord getting in a tangle when you store the steamer. Our only criticism is that the lights (indicating 20g/min eco mode or 25g/min turbo) are at the front with the trigger button, so can’t easily see them.

    Ideal Home’s rating: 5 out of 5 stars

    The best vertical clothing steamer

    Capacity: 1.1 litre Dimensions: 40 x 40 x 168 cmWeight: 13.2 kgPower: 2170 watts

    What we likeSteams garments vertically and at an angleReady within 70 secondsKills 99.9&% of virusesEasy to transport

    What we don’t likeAt £299, this steamer should be seen as a long term investmentLarge so not the best for smaller homes

    There are just two things going against this premium Tefal. The first is that it’s pricey. The second is that it takes ages to unpack and set up. When you’ve paid good money for a product, you want a premium unboxing experience; you don’t want to feel like you’re assembling flat pack.

    That said, if money’s no object then this – once assembled – is the best of the lot. The steam head is shaped like an iron soleplate, which makes sense because the unusual design gives you the best of both worlds: you can steam garments hung vertically against its board, angle the board at 30° for comfort, or set it horizontally and use the Tefal like an iron.

    The black and copper design is attractive but looks a bit like a giant Duracell battery. It’s on wheels for portability. Power cord and steam hose each measure 1.8m and steam is ready in just over the stated 70 seconds. On test, it took 80 seconds.

    Steam is the best of the bunch, with a 5.8-bar pressure delivering 90g/min constant steam and an immensely powerful 200g/min steam shot when you squeeze the trigger. Results are what really matters though and the Tefal blew us away – or should that be steamed us away? It can blitz shirts effortlessly in less than a minute and was the best on test at getting creases out of a linen dress. The steam shot lasts for a good 30 seconds, which is long enough before you need to move to a new spot anyway.

    If you have the space for a vertical garment steamer and don’t mind Tefal’s price tag, it won’t disappoint.

    Ideal Home’s rating: 5 out of 5 stars

    The best portable clothes steamer

    Capacity: 260mlDimensions: 15 x 12 x 22 cmWeight: 1.6 kgPower: 1500 watts

    What we likeTrigger control, fast heat-up timeStainless steel headGreat for travelAnti-calcium water tank3 coloursComes with quite a few accessories

    What we don’t likePerformance is slightly underwhelming

    This Fridja handheld comes with an oversized velvety bag that’s unisex but feels like it could happily belong in a boudoir. Accessories include a piece of plastic that promises sharper results on collars, a fold-up clothes hanger and a fabric guard to cover the steam head for delicates. There’s no brush.

    It also comes with a clever bottle adaptor, so you can travel lighter on holiday or to fashion shoots. Remove the Fridja’s fab 260ml water tank and use the adaptor to use it with most water bottles. The power cable is a bit on the short side at 2m but, that aside, it’s hard to fault. The design is clean and modern, with a big, bright power light.

    The 25g/min steam is powerful and the trigger features a sliding switch, so you can keep it on constantly if you want to. You can steam constantly for 8 minutes at a time. The collar accessory is good, not great. No steamer will really offer the same sharp results as an iron, but it does help a bit – you hold the plastic up behind the collar and it gives you something to push against.

    Definitely the best for handheld power, you could blitz a pile of garments with the Fridja where other handhelds are designed more for just refreshing one or two items.

    Ideal Home rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

    The best value clothing steamer

    Capacity: 270mlDimensions: 18.7 x 11.9 x 29.2 cmWeight: 1.22 kgPower: 1500 watts

    What we likePortable sizeLightweightBudget-friendly30-second heat up timeAuto shut off mode

    Best clothes steamers 2021 – 9 buys to de-crease your clothes with ease

    What we don’t likePower cord is slightly too short

    This handheld garment steamer is attractive, in black with rose gold accents, and great value. Online you can pick it up for a little over half the £60 price tag that it officially launched with.

    We liked the trigger control and its 270ml tank but found the 2m power cord too short and the lights across the back that indicate power setting are too small, so they’re hard to see.

    Heating up takes 30 seconds. There’s no official figure for how many g/min steam it delivers but the steam is powerful enough, with two levels to choose from. We also liked the fabric brush which you can open with a plastic lever using your index finger, to open a clip that lets you press collars and creases.

    Performance is good, not great… but it is superb for the price.

    Ideal Home’s rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

    The best handheld clothing steamer for accessories

    Capacity: 260mlDimensions: 14.6 x 12 x 29 cmWeight: 1.27 kgPower: 1650 watts

    What we likeComes with three handy tools3 different heads11 mins steaming timeGreat for delicates

    What we don’t likeHard to steam and stretch the fabric at the same time

    The chunky Russell Hobbs won’t win any awards for its looks but it performs fairly well, delivery 25g/min steam from a good-sized 260ml water tank. It heats up in 45 seconds. We liked the long 3m power cord and the fact that the Steam Genie is well-balanced in the hand, although it is heavy. You can lock the controls so steam stays on, so you don’t get an achy trigger finger.

    Its best feature, though, is its accessories. Unusually it comes with three tools. The first is a pretty standard clip-on cover to pick up lint. More unusual is the delicate attachment, a fabric cover designed for gently refreshing clothes that have a single dot on the ironing label.

    The third tool is for upholstery: a fabric cover with coral-style “fingers” on it. The fingers have a large surface area for lifting dust from furniture. This makes the Russell Hobbs more versatile but the results are nothing like those from a powerful steam cleaner.

    Ideal Home’s rating: 4 out of 5 stars

    The best clothes steamer for shirts

    Capacity: 1 litreDimensions: 205 mm x 145 mm x 245 mmWeight: 7 kgPower: 1900 watts

    What we likeIts long steam hoseQuite compact for what it is

    What we don’t likeNot the most versatileIt’s meant to be left out on showQuite heavy

    Mini by name, mini by nature, this is the best vertical garment steamer to buy if you’re short of space, thanks to its 20.5×14.5cm footprint. The entire base is designed to be tall and thin, but it doesn’t topple over.

    It has a 1-litre, removable tank that will last you half an hour, with a large fill hole. The power cord measures 2m and the steam hose 1.2m. Its constant 40g/min steam is powerful enough to get the job done and is up to temperature within 60 seconds of switching on.

    The pole comes in 5 parts, so you can remove one for a lower height if you prefer, but it’s not telescopic so you can’t adjust it to be short for storage. Accessories include a lightweight mitt, to protect your other hand as you steam, and a plate with holes in, to place behind collars and other areas that you want to press firmly.

    The elegant, compact design is perfect if you want a vertical clothes steamer in your bedroom as a clothes horse, to give garments a quick refresh in the morning. But it’s not the best buy if you want a laundry workhorse.

    Ideal Home rating: 4 out of 5 stars

    The best professional clothing steamer

    Capacity: 1.8 litresDimensions: 173 x 33 x 37 cmWeight: 5.4 kgPower: 2000 watts

    What we likeBeautiful designEasily transportableYou can add oil based fragrance to scent your clothesAuto shut-off

    What we don’t likeCan’t be used horizontallyPretty bigNo grips for trousers – you can drape over the board

    You only have to look at the Philips to see it’s a bit different. Other vertical steamers look like cylinder vacuum cleaners, with a telescopic pole on top and wheels on the bottom. This has no wheels and looks like it’s a clothes horse, designed to live in your bedroom or walk-in wardrobe. It does not belong in the cupboard under the stairs, not least because at its shortest it’s still 145cm tall.

    It’s expensive and the design seems over-elaborate, with two poles supporting the hanger and a springy steam head that bends back if you push it against a garment. It also boasts an anti-calc collector in the base and a space in the head for adding your own fragrances. A knob at the top lets you hang clothes on hangers and lock them in place. Unusually it also offers variable steam, with a dial on the base.

    There’s also a flat part that clips on vertically and looks like a mini ironing board – giving you something firm to push against when steaming. We were disappointed that it couldn’t pop out horizontally and double as a mini ironing board for those times (like creases in folded hankies) when vertical steam doesn’t cut it. And there are no grips for trousers! Instead, you’re supposed to drape them over the top of the board.

    Accessories-wise it comes with a brush for upholstery and thicker fabrics, and a silver heatproof mitt to protect your free hand. This proved useful because the variable steam is powerful at top whack (up to 40g/min). We loved the clever, unique design and found the board effective: it’s a bit like ironing vertically.

    But the price tag and the fact you can’t pack the Philips away well means it’s not right for many people. The elegant Philips lives in our fantasy walk-in wardrobe. We’d take out a dreamy outfit for the next day, steam it preparation and leave it there overnight ready for the office… or the ball. But we’d pick the Tefal if we had to steam a pile of clothes.

    Ideal Home rating: 4 out of 5

    The best travel clothes steamer

    Capacity: 150mlDimensions: 10 x 12 x 24.5 cmWeight: 990 gramsPower: 1100 watts

    What we likeReasonable priceCompact at 25.4cmGreat for quick de-creasingLightweightAlso good for travel

    What we don’t likeSlightly difficult to fill upVery small tank – really only for 1-2 pieces of clothing

    Like similar handheld models, this clothes steamer takes up no more space than a shoebox, including accessories. It’s Tefal’s most compact clothes steamer, hence why we rate it the best travel clothes steamer. It comes in a carry bag and with two attachments – a steam cover for delicate fabrics, and a brush for heavier fabrics and upholstery. It also comes with a clever metal hook that loops over the top of a door, giving you somewhere to hang clothes for steaming.

    Its removable tank has a 150ml capacity and a tiny fill hole: it’s hit and miss under the tap, a bit like filling a water pistol. Then you turn it on and wait 45 seconds until it stops flashing to indicate that it’s ready for use. You have to hold down the trigger button to get steam, which takes a few seconds to get started. And the power cable is a bit on the short side at 2m.

    We didn’t have high expectations but we were pleasantly surprised: the Tefal performed surprisingly well. The 17g/min steam isn’t powerful enough to give crisp results that rival an ironed shirt, but it’s good enough to make school polo shirts respectable, take creases out of garments of all shapes and sizes quickly, and freshen up clothes to boot. Great value and handy for a quick wardrobe refresh.

    Ideal Home rating: 4 out of 5 stars

    How to buy the best clothing steamer for you?

    Image credit: Morphy Richards

    There are two types of clothing steamer to choose from:

    Handheld clothing steamersThese pack away no bigger than a shoebox and are great for travel, taking to work or if you work in the fashion industry – stylists love them. But the price of portability is a small water tank that needs refilling if you want to blitz a whole pile of clothing. And you’ll need to hang your garments somewhere: a doorway is good.

    Vertical clothing steamersThese clothes horse style clothing steamers include a clothes hanger on a telescopic pole. They typically pack down to the size of a small, cylinder vacuum cleaner. They’re much bulkier to store but steam is a bit more powerful and a large water tank means you can keep steaming for much longer.

    Bear in mind that steam irons offer vertical steam too. So if it’s just for occasional use, you could use an iron that does both instead. If you want to steam lots though, clothing steamers feel much nicer than holding a heavy iron aloft.

    See our best ironing boards guide for top recommendations from the experts

    How much should I spend on a clothing steamer?

    Handheld steamers start at around £50. They will do the job just fine. Budget at least £100 for a vertical steamer with a clothes hanger and a much larger water tank.

    What else should I look for in a clothing steamer?

    SteamMeasured in g/min, the larger this number, the more powerful the steam (it removes creases quicker); a few steamers let you adjust the level for different fabric types.

    Water tankThe bigger the tank, the longer you can steam for in one go.

    AccessoriesHandheld clothes steamers come with few accessories if any. Expect a soft cover for more delicate fabrics and a brush for tougher fabrics and upholstery. Vertical steamers often come with an attachment that helps you put creases in trousers, which work pretty well. Some steamers also come with a heatproof mitt to protect your free hand.

    Black Friday clothes steamer deals

    Waiting until the Black Friday deals arrive to buy yourself a clothes steamer? This could be a great idea – especially if you want to save a lot of money. You should be able to find plenty of clothes steamer deals everywhere from Amazon to Currys PC World, Very and many more destinations. We’ll be updating this page closer to the time with the best Black Friday clothes steamer deals, so keep your eyes peeled. Oh, and mark the 26th of November in your calendar.