Garment steamers are not limited to garments – you can use them to steam upholstery and rugs and for refreshing curtains and drapes. They’re more commonly used in clothes shops, for refreshing garments to give them a soft, clean look, than for home use.
We tested six garment steamers ranging in price from $49 to $429 – all of them were good overall. We tested them on the same materials as we did for the steam irons and steam stations and added extra tests using poly-cotton shirts, two dresses (one a mixture of viscose and polyester and the other 100% polyester) and two curtains.
They are quick to heat up, all taking less than two minutes, but we found that these steamers can leave the material damp, so keep this in mind if you want to wear a freshly steamed garment. We found they weren’t really effective on materials that require the lowest or highest temperature of an iron such as organza and denim, but ideal for dresses and suits. If you’re after better results, try pulling slightly on the bottom of the garment with your free hand, but take care not to get burned by the steam.
Note that garment steamers aren't a complete substitute for a steam iron; as mentioned above, fabrics such as organza, pure cotton and denim need a steam iron to remove creases effectively. Even other fabrics such as poly-cotton and wool may need to go under the iron if a thorough pressing is needed.
Brands and models tested
- Jiffy Steamer J-2000
- Excelsior Professional Garment Steamer LS-648B
- Philips Quick Touch GC526
- Airflo Garment Steamer AFS500
- Conair Easy Care 5000 CGS28BA
- Homemaker 1500W Garment Steamer GS28-DJ
How we test
Performance Our testers, Peter Horvath and Narelle Cornelius, test every garment steamer using a range of fabrics (synthetic organza, silk, wool, cotton shirt, denim jeans and linen). We added extra tests using poly-cotton shirts, two dresses (one a mixture of viscose and polyester and the other 100% polyester) and two curtains. They assess how effective the iron is at removing creases. Garment steamers that take several passes to remove creases score lower, while garment steamers that leave creases or leak water score lowest.
Note: The performance scores are based on the individual scores for silk, wool, cotton, shirts, the two dresses and two curtains.
Ease of use They assess the irons for ease of filling the water tank; how comfortable it is to hold; convenience of the hose; the functionality of the hanger and how easy the controls are to use.