Steamers versus irons

We often get asked about how clothes steamers compare to using an iron. So here is a quick Q&A we compiled of the pros and cons of clothes steamers versus irons.

Are steamers better than irons?

Steamers are faster than irons. There’s no ironing board to set up, fabrics can be steamed in-situ, and clothes steamers often heat up faster than irons.

steamers vs ironsAlso clothes steaming does not compress fibres so there is no damage to the fabric, whereas the pressing of hot metal from an iron can cause irreversible damage.

Steaming fabrics in-situ is a major advantage for steamers. The lack of ironing board means set up is fast and steaming can be done in the tightest of spaces. Clothes are steamed straight on the hanger, curtains directly on the curtain rail, and cushions and seat covers directly on the sofa.

And now with the rise of handheld steamers, steaming is even easier. Traditional clothes and fabric steamers work well but are more suited to commercial environments where there is more space and a heavy duty device is needed. Handheld steamers are light, portable and can work anywhere, ideal for travelling and keeping clothes fresh and crease free on the move.

I am so impressed with my Propress mini. I am a dressmaker and curtain maker and I am thrilled with the results. Easy to use, the big belly water tank is great and I am able to get a lot done from each water tank fill. Lasts along time. Steams clothes beautifully and get exceptional results. Great also for mattresses and soft toys. The uses are endless. Beautiful piece of equipment, very stylish , not too heavy to use. Very high quality piece of equipment. I am beyond thrilled and highly recommend this to anyone.” – Gaye H

How is steaming better than ironing?

Steaming removes creases by relaxing the fibres of the fabric. Ironing, on the other hand, uses the heat of the metal base and weight to compress the fibres.

The compression of fibres over time can cause irreversible damage and shorten the life of the garment.

Steaming kills bacteria and in doing so removes odours. Steaming is also environmentally friendly. Clothes last longer, less dry cleaner visits are needed (and the use of environmentally damaging chemicals), and less washes (steaming can be used to freshen between washes, saving water and energy). See more at Apartment Therapy.

steamers vs irons

What is quicker between ironing and steaming?

Steaming is quicker than ironing for three reasons – there’s no ironing board to set up, the steamer heats up faster, and the steam is more powerful so creases fall out faster.

Typically a steamer, particularly a handheld steamer, is ready to use in about 45 seconds.

Can a steamer replace an iron?

Generally speaking, a steamer will never fully replace an iron. Some fabrics like denim, organza and thick cottons will still need an iron to get all of the creases out. But with some of the higher quality steamers now including a hot plate, those tougher creases can be removed, and required creases added with ease.

Can a steamer burn clothes?

A steamer eliminates the risk of burnt clothes as it never needs to touch the fabric.

How long does a steamer take to kill bacteria?

A steamer working at 175 and 212 degrees Fahrenheit will take about 3 minutes to kill bacteria, viruses and more. See more at Apartment Therapy.

Which fabrics should not be steamed?

Silks, cottons, polyesters and wools can be steamed. Wax jackets, suede and things that can melt, like plastic, should be avoided. If in doubt, check the label; or test a small corner of the garment first.

Is a clothes steamer worth buying?

Clothes steamers have a number of benefits over the steam iron. They are easier to use, faster, more effective, more convenient, preserve the life of the fabric, and are kinder to the environment.

Easier to use: the fact that you can steam the fabric straight on the hanger means there is no ironing board to set up, and you can work in smaller spaces, and take with you when you travel.

Faster: heat up time is quicker (usually 45 seconds) and you steam straight on the hanger. Steaming is great for home furnishings like sofas, cushions and curtains – you can steam all of these in-situ without the need to remove.

More effective: steaming on the hanger means you steam and shape to how the garment will be worn, not to the shape of the ironing board.

More convenient: with a handheld steamer you can take it anywhere in your lugguage to freshen up clothes. How many times have you tried to find an ironing board in a hotel?

Preserve the fabric: with little/no contact required fabrics last longer. Steaming can also cut the number of washes – sometimes a quick steam can freshen fabrics enough for another use.

The environment: steaming is kinder to fabrics which means they last longer, particularly vintage/secondhand clothes. And steaming suits can replace the dry cleaner visit, cutting the use of harmful chemicals. You can read more at Which?

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