A handheld garment steamer is one of the handiest items you can take with you on any trip and can also do the job around the house
when needed. They typically can remove wrinkles better than an iron and can tackle more delicate fabrics without burning or scorching them. How do you choose the best clothes steamer for your needs? Take a look at these 11 smart buying specifications and features:
Best Clothes Steamer Tips for Travel
Some of the most important specifications and features to look for include:
1. How Portable Is It?
The best handheld steamers pack a good steam punch but, in a compact size that’s easy to carry when traveling. They are lightweight and designed with useful features to help on those busy trips.
2. Best Clothes Steamer Heating Element
Wattage and voltage capability are both very important considerations when choosing a steamer. Steam build-up time is directly related to wattage in that the higher the wattage, the faster steam will be available. That can be important when traveling because you’re usually not in the mode of allowing extra time for steaming. Higher wattage also translates directly to a more powerful steam flow. Together faster build-up time and higher steam flow will save you time. It’s reasonable to expect your the best clothes steamer to have 600 watts of power or more.
3. What about voltage?
If you’re going to be in the U.S. for your whole trip then you just need 120 volts compatibility.
If you know your trips will include overseas travel, then you need to make sure that the handheld steamer you choose has dual voltage capability. That means both 120 and 240 volts. Also, don’t forget the adapters for the plug. Some travel steamers have them and some don’t. If your doesn’t come with the adapters you will need to get a set at extra cost.
4. Can it take the heat?
Traveling is a tough ordeal for everyone, including your travel steamer. Often they have high impact plastic cases for durability but, not always. You will probably order it online and so you won’t be able to do the touch test. There should be some mention of durability in the specifications or features of any steamer you are considering.
5. Reservoir Size
Water capacity is important in determining how long a steamer will produce steam before it runs out of water. Pay particular attention to this in the case of higher wattage handheld steamers. It’s true that they produce a more powerful stream and heat up faster but, they also use more water in the process. The lower the wattage, the longer you will be able to steam but, you will have a weaker steam flow. Look for an 8 oz reservoir or larger in the best clothes steamer.
6. Dimensions and Weight
In this case you will need to accept a tradeoff because you can’t have it all. Light weight doesn’t go along with a large reservoir size, portability, and steaming capability. Check the dimensions and make sure it will fit in your suitcase and if your space is small you may have to live with a little less capability. A larger wattage device will usually have a larger water capacity and will be less portable and larger in dimensions.
Does the device have a large enough water opening to make it easy to fill? Remember you are traveling and many steamers won’t fit under the spout in the sink and so you may need to use the bathtub if there is one. Smaller devices may be able to be filled in the sink. You may need to use a glass in some cases to pour the water in but, those with smaller openings are going to be more difficult to fill.
Steamers are notorious for hard water problems. Depending on the design, they can be rendered useless in only several uses. To get around that, some manufacturers specify using distilled water in their steamers. You aren’t usually going to have access to distilled water on the road so make sure the design of your steamer specifies resistance to hard water build-up.
Other steamers may require the use of salt to soften the water and salt is usually more readily available but, it’s just another indication that the steamer may have future hard water problems.
A comfortable grip is what is necessary to do proper steaming over any period of time. Look for a nice large handle that preferably folds for stowage in your suitcase or backpack. Think about how easy it will be for you to use the steamer given the shape and handle of the steamer.
10. Power Cord
Hotels are known for having very few outlets in their rooms. Newer hotels are being kinder with their number and placement but, you can’t count on that. Usually there is an outlet in the bathroom but, that isn’t necessarily a handy place to do the steaming (no TV).
So, a longer cord that gives you the ability to comfortably move around while you are steaming is essential. With shorter cords, you may not even be able to find a place in the room where it’s comfortable to hang your garment and steam. Cord length does also affect size and weight, so again there is sometimes a tradeoff that you will need to accept. The best clothes steamer will have a long power cord.
This is an absolutely essential feature. It is a fire hazard to leave a steamer unattended so that it is able to exhaust its water supply and run dry. Especially when traveling, it’s easy to forget and leave your handheld steamer plugged in. Make certain to get an auto-off feature.
12. Ouch! That’s Hot!
In case you weren’t aware, the temperature of steam makes it one of the hottest temperatures we can experience in a normal day when traveling. Steam is hotter than even boiling water so burns are a real possibly with a handheld steamer.
Usually you will be able to stay away from the steam but, the housing may be a different story. The surface of some devices can get to very hot temperatures, enough to burn. Try to find a device that has a cool-touch housing.
Travel Steamer Comparison
|Title||SteamFast SF-435W Compact Fabric Steamer, White||ESTEAM® Personal Hand Held Steamer||Ultra Mini Travel Steamer||Samsonite Travel Garment Steamer Dual Voltage|
|Feature||800-watt fabric steamer provides 12 minutes of continuous steam|
More effective and gentler on fabric than ironing; 7-ounce water capacity
Removes wrinkles and odors from clothes, linens, curtains, upholstery, and more
Includes a fabric brush, lint remover, and rubber accessory housing
Measures approximately 7 by 9 by 4 inches
|600 watt heating element (120 volt for North America use only)|
High-impact plastic outer housing for durability
Quick one minute heat-up time
15 Minute steam time per filling
Made in the USA
|Perfect travel or at home steamer|
Removes creases and wrinkles from fabrics thick, thin or delicate for seamless results
Just fill with tap water
Includes a drawstring travel bag
Plastic; 3 1/2 x 5 x 8 inches
|Anti-spill baffles mechanism helps prevent hot water leakage|
Dual 240/120 voltage operation for worldwide use
Large-capacity reservoir (with water line window) fills easily under tap
Compact steamer quickly removes stubborn, packed-in wrinkles without harming fabrics
Lightweight, compact design with fold-away handle, detachable brush and power-on light
|Warranty||1 year||3 Year Warranty|
|Height||4 inch||11 inch||8 inch|
|Weight||1 pound||3 pounds||1 pound|
|Width||9 inch||6.5 inch||5 inch|
|Length||7 inch||5 inch||3.5 inch|
|Reviews||Read Reviews||Read Reviews||Read Reviews||Read Reviews|
Product prices and availability are accurate as of Jul 7 18:04:26 UTC but are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on the merchant site at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product.
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For more great information on other home steamers don’t forget to check out our related articles Clothes Steamer: Top 4 Home Clothes Steamers For 2013 and Handheld Steamer: 4 Most Popular Travel Steamers.
I would love to get your opinion of this article or hear your clothes steamer story. Please take a moment to leave a comment below.
I sincerely hope this article has given you the tools you need to make the right decision on the best clothes steamer for you.