What makes a great travel clothes steamer? Portable garment steamers can make great travel companions, but not all of them meet the grade.
First, why would you even want a travel garment steamer? Don’t all hotels have irons now? Speaking as a seasoned traveler who spent 12 years 100% travel in hotels around the world, don’t bet on it! I always carried a garment steamer and here’s why.
I got tired of waking up the first morning of a project at the hotel only to find one of the following situations.
- 1. No iron and a lot of trouble getting one brought to the room
- 2. No ironing board with even more trouble getting one brought to the room
- 3. An iron that never heated up with obvious corrosion coming out of the holes because everyone used tap water
- 4. White mineral build-up coming out of the holes getting all over my dark clothing
- 5. An iron that had obviously ironed some material that melted to it and now was ready to transfer itself to my clothing
Take my word for it. Road warriors know…don’t leave yourself at the mercy of hotel irons.
How do you choose a travel clothes steamer from all the models available?
A travel clothes steamer needs to fit into your suitcase, backpack, or carry-on bag. It’s as simple as that. If it takes up a lot of space you need for your clothing and accessories, then it’s not useful. There are plenty of garment steamers available that will fit neatly into a suitcase.
You wouldn’t carry a rock around with you to remove wrinkles from your clothing while traveling, but that’s what it’s like to carry an ineffective clothing steamer. Steamer power is published in watts and you should get the most powerful one that doesn’t take up too much room in your suitcase.
Like with anything in the world, there are tradeoffs with power. With power comes a faster time to steam and a higher steam flow, but usually you get a reduced continuous steam time to go along with it. You also can count on additional weight to generate the additional steam power.
You can think of a water reservoir like a gas tank. The more gas you have in the tank, the further you can travel. Likewise, a larger water reservoir translates to a longer continuous steam time.
The tradeoff with a large reservoir is weight, bulk, and time to steam. If you just have a larger reservoir without additional power, it may take much longer to build up steam. A larger reservoir takes up more space in your suitcase and will also weigh more.
No matter what a manufacturer says, their garment steamer will last longer and produce more steam longer using distilled water than tap water. All places in the U.S. or in the world for that matter have some level of minerals in the water. When you turn that water into steam, the minerals have to go somewhere and they usually choose to coat the heating element. The more minerals that build up, the less effective the heating element becomes and over time it can become totally useless for heating the water.
The answer is distilled water, but who has distilled water when you’re traveling. The answer is no one. So you can use tap water and count on reduced functionality over time or you can buy some hard water cleaner crystals that cut through the build-up and prolong the life of your garment steamer. Some models even come with some crystals to get your started.
This may seem like a small item, but many garment steamers are plug-and-play appliances. That means that while they’re plugged-in they’re on and you have to unplug them to turn them off. If you forget to unplug, you may find yourself cooking your steamer. A few steamers come with power buttons so that you can turn them off without having to unplug them. There are both safety and convenience consideration. You have to decide how important it is to you.
Power Cord Length
Having traveled for business most of my adult life, I can tell you that there is nothing more frustrating than a garment steamer cord that won’t reach that extra six inches so that you can comfortably steam your shirt hanging on the bathroom door. You may have to live with it as most heating appliances have short cords because of the heat build-up over distance caused by the power draw.
If you will only be traveling in the U.S., then dual-voltage is not necessary. If you think you might travel outside the U.S. then you should get a dual-voltage model so that you’re not caught without wrinkle-removal capability. For the U.S. your steamer needs to be able to handle 120 volts and for overseas you need 240 volts.
Some folks pay attention to style whether they are purchasing clothing or appliances. For them, style is important enough that they want the products they buy to be stylish. I have to admit that I’m not a stylish guy, but I understand their need. There are definitely both types of portable garment steamers available. Those that look like they were designed by an engineer and those that were designed by an artist.
Tools and Accessories
Last, but not least are the tools and accessories that accompany your garment steamer. Most come with at least a lint brush, fabric brush, and a carrying case/bag. If you get more consider it a bonus.
We wanted to introduce you to a powerful little steamer that is fairly new on the market and covers many of the bases we introduced to you above. Take a look and see if this ultra-portable model may be just what you’re looking for!
You are probably more familiar with the Vornado brand thanks to their innovative air circulator designs, but don’t let their heritage fool you, they put the same innovation and quality into all of their products. With a fast heat-up time, 700 watts of power, and dual-voltage capability, the Vornado VS-410 Essential Fabric Steamer is the perfect wrinkle-removing travel companion. Compact enough to easily travel in your suitcase or backpack and powerful enough to do an effective job of removing wrinkles, this fairly new garment steamer is sure to be a hit with travelers. Here’s what you need to know.
- 700 watts of power produces a fast steam build-up time of only 2 minutes and a steady, powerful steam flow
- A large enough 5.6 ounce reservoir will produce 10 full minutes of continuous steam while keeping a compact size
- 7 steam holes distribute steam evenly across its head
- 120V/240V dual-voltage capability means you’re all set no matter where you travel
- A fairly long 8-foot power cord may get you the extra six inches to the bathroom door
- An ergonomic handle reduces fatigue while steaming
- Handy touch-sensitive power button (steam control) means safer use
- This model measures a compact 7.63H x 3.75L x 5.63W and weighs in at only 1.75 lbs.
- Long 5-Year manufacturer’s warranty
Tools and Accessories
- 1 – Attachable fabric brush refreshes fabrics
- 1 – Lint brush gives clothing a finishing touch
- 1 – Travel bag keeps everything neatly stored together while traveling
- 2 – Packs of CleanCycle cleaning crystals to reduce mineral build-up and prolong steamer life
- Great value
- Powerful steam flow
- Effectively removes wrinkles
- Touch-sensitive button too sensitive
- Small water tank
- Odd shape adds bulk to this compact unit
Travel Clothes Steamer
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As always, thanks for reading our SteamerCentral.com post! We sincerely hope that it has provided you with valuable information that helps you chose the best travel clothes steamer for your needs!