How to get the most from your clothes steamer

Clothes steamers are a great alternative to ironing, not least because of their speed and ease, but also for a whole host of other reasons, as shown below.

> Preserving fabrics – did you know that washing clothes in a washing machine causes irreversible damage to the fibres? During the wash cycle clothes rub together and the fibres weaken. Over time this will lead to rips and holes. Using a clothes steamer is a non aggressive, non chemical process helping to preserve the life of the fabrics. If your clothes are unstained, steaming can be a great way to freshen up fabrics and delay the need to use the washing machine.

> Protecting fabrics – ironing fabrics works in a different way to steaming. Ironing removes creases in fabrics by crushing the fibres, using a combination of steam, heat and weight.  Steaming on the other hand focusses on the power of steam to relax the fibres.  Relaxing the fibres removes the creases and restores life to the fabric, whereas the crushing effect of ironing will shorten the life of the fabric over time.

> Removes odours – clothes steamers have more powerful steaming systems than irons, which kill up to 99.9% of the bacteria causing odours. In fact steaming with a Propress clothes steamer has been found to be effective in the fight against Covid 19.

> Allergy friendly – steaming also eradicates dust mites and pollen, helpful in the hay fever season when pollen sticks to your clothes.

The Propress steamer has earned itself a reputation stopping common home allergies.  Steaming is also an ideal tool for moth control, killing moth larvae which can cause irreparable and costly damage to your favourite garments. See how steamers can help asthma sufferers.

> Convenience – if you travel and need to remove creases in your hotel room or anywhere where an ironing board could be a problem, then steaming is the solution. There’s no need for an ironing board, you steam on the hanger. The Propress MINI handheld clothes steamer fits neatly in to your luggage and includes its unique heated, coated aluminium iron plate for simultaneous steaming and pressing.

Getting the most from your clothes steamer

Here’s our checklist for making sure you get the most from your new clothes steamer.

> Check your steamer has an aluminium iron plate. Steamers equipped with aluminium iron plates tend to be much more effective than those with plastic plates. The Propress PRO290 professional steamer has a dual action iron plate offering both fast crease removal, and easy confirmation of creases and pleats.

> Know what fabrics can be steamed. A clothes steamer can be used on a surprising array of fabrics. Delicates like silk and velvet can be steamed, along with the more obvious cottons, wools and polyesters. A few to avoid though are printed T shirts and wax jackets.

> Make sure the steamer is fully warmed up. Warm-up is very quick on a handheld steamer, with the Propress MINI handheld clothes steamer typically taking less than a minute. Professional steamers like the Propress PRO290 usually take 10 minutes.

> Hang the garment. The easiest way to steam is to hang your garment. For a handheld clothes steamer hang your garment on a hanger and place it on the back of a door (taking care to pull the garment towards you when steaming to avoid steam contacting the door). Alternatively with the Propress MINI clothes steamer you can steam clothes on a bed. Its water tank incorporates a dual water feed allowing it to also be used in the horizontal position. Larger professional upright steamers like the Propress PRO290 include a hanger pole system as part of the unit.

> Hold clothes taut. This will ensure your steamer delivers the best results possible. High performance steamers also act as a low temperature iron with the steam relaxing the fabric to remove the creases and a heated iron plate confirming and setting the fabric.

> Steam garments from the outside. Although for fuller garments such as dresses it can be easier to steam from the inside.

> Steam down the fabric. Slide the steamer down your garment, making contact with it. You don’t need to press hard or push the fabric against anything.

There is an option to use a pad like the Propress Pressing Pad for dense fabrics or complicated areas of clothing like collars and cuffs. Simply place behind the area to be steamed and steam through the fabric on to the pad.

If the garment is gathered its normally simpler and quicker to should steam from the inside, and less likely to put in unwanted creases.

Use your clothes steamer on a range of fabrics. Clothes steamers are great for freshening and removing creases on curtains, and can be completed in-situ without having to remove from the rail.

Clothes steamers can also be used on bed valances, sheets, pillows, chair covers, tablecloths and removing pressure marks on carpets. Steaming beds, mattresses and soft furnishings can help with the control of dust mites and bed bugs which are a major trigger for allergic reactions and asthma.

Soft toys can also be steamed to improve their appearance and help hygiene control.

Use on uniforms and work wear. Many people find the steamer a complete replacement to the iron. A particular effective use is for steaming and santising school uniforms, casual and work wear.

Essential for wedding dresses. A clothes steamer is the only way to effective way to get a bridal dress looking wedding ready. Read more about Propress steamers for wedding dresses.

Maintenance. To clean your steamer wipe with a damp cloth. Do not use any detergents or cleaning agents. For upright steamers use descaler at the recommended levels and frequency.  Do not use descaler on a handheld clothes steamer. Always use distilled or de-ionised water. For Propress steamers you can read more on maintenance here.