Also known as a garment steamer or a steamer, a clothes steamer is an electronic device used to remove notorious wrinkles from fabrics and garments through the use of steam.
As the name suggests, the device relies heavily on steam to relax cloth fibers as opposed to fabric- flattening techniques used by iron boxes.
Due to the use of high-temperature steam, the steaming process is considered to be gentler and more efficient when compared to traditional irons; therefore, if a garment steamer is used correctly, it is possible to steam delicate fabric without causing damage. (1)
Generally, a garment steamer works by turning water into steam which is then blown onto the wrinkled material. The role of the steam is to loosen cloth fibers and consequently eliminate the appearance of fabric wrinkles.
When dealing with garment steamers, it is important to note that they come in different sizes depending on the nature of use. For home use, a medium or small steamer would suffice; however, for large scale use, a garment steamer with a large tank is recommended. (1)
When dealing with garment steamers, it is important to note that they come in different sizes depending on the nature of use. For home use, a medium or small steamer would suffice; however, for large scale use, a garment steamer with a large tank is recommended.
Understanding the functioning of the garment steamer is not a hard task, in fact, you are good to go if you know the main parts of a steamer and how they work. Below are some of the main parts of a garment steamer.
Arguably the most important part when it comes to determining the capabilities of a steamer. The larger the water tank, the greater the performance and capacity of a garment steamer.
Therefore, when purchasing a steamer, it is vital to select one with a water tank that can accommodate your needs. For home use, medium-sized or small water tanks are enough to straighten your clothes.
Due to its reliance on steam to straighten fabric, a garment steamer comes with a heating element. In most occasions, a heating element is usually determined by the tank size.
Of course, large tanks require high performing heating elements for easy conversion of water into steam.
The steam nozzle performs the all-important role of directing the high pressure steam to your cloth. On most occasions, the steamer comes with soft brushes for the removal of hair or other material from your clothes during steaming.
Similar to traditional iron boxes, a garment steamer comes with a temperature dial for selecting the appropriate heat range depending on garment material.
More expensive brands come with a more extensive temperature dial to enhance the usability of a steamer on different fabrics.
Although not all steamers have the hose pipe, large sized steamers come with hose pipes designed to allow passage of the steam from the tank to the nozzle.
If you happen to use a steamer with a hose pipe, ensure the pipe is always straight to avoid affecting the pressure of the steam. Remember, high-pressure steam can be dangerous, especially if it makes contact with the human skin.
The first and most important step when steaming is preparing your steaming device. That is, pour water into the water tank before switching the steamer on. Once you have turned the steamer on, wait for around 2-3 minutes before testing how properly it functions by pulling the trigger. For positive outcomes, ensure you allow the steamer enough time to convert the water into steam.
Always check the quality of the steam before using the device on your clothes. By sampling the steam quality in the air or another surface, you will be in a position to determine whether the steaming temperatures are appropriate for use on clothes. Failure to try out the steam can lead to over dampening of your clothes.
The easiest and most effective way to steam is through hanging your garments. Due to the high-temperature steam being ejected by the nozzle, allowing your skin to come to direct contact with the steam will only lead to injury.
Hang your clothes in such a manner that you can access all areas, more so the highly creasy ones.
Unlike an iron box, you will not need to press the steamer on the surface of your garment. However, for you to effectively remove wrinkles, you must bring the steamer close enough. Using down strokes ensures you rely on a similar pattern which constantly loosens the wrinkled fabric.
When dealing with extremely wrinkled clothing, it is advisable to steam from underneath or on the inside of the garment. Steaming from one surface can damage your clothes, especially when steaming highly delicate fabric.
Also, in case you are dealing with delicate fabric, be sure to be gentle in your strokes and to keep the steamer 1-2 inches away from the targeted areas.
When using a garment steamer, it is not unusual to find wet spots on the different areas you steamed. As a result, you will need to allow enough time for your clothes to dry up; worry not, though, as the dampness usually dries within 5-10 minutes after steaming.
Therefore, always steam your clothes with a 10-20 minute allowance to avoid putting on damp clothes.
Believe it or not, in addition to steaming your wrinkled clothes, a garment steamer can perform several cleaning functions in your home as indicated below.
Due to the use of high pressure steam, a garment steamer can kill germs and bacteria when used on countertop surfaces. As such, you can use it to clean your bathroom and kitchen areas that need sanitization.
Curtains and carpets are known for their notorious, hard to remove stains. However, by pointing your steamer nozzle on the dirty surfaces, you can remove the stain with ease since the high pressure steam softens and rinses the stained surfaces.
Also, a steamer is a proven mould-remover. Since damp surfaces are known to attract mould, using a steamer will help remove and prevent mould build up.
Although unknown to many, a steamer can remove accumulated grease on your oven and other surfaces leaving your kitchen spick and span.
As you might be aware, cleaning cushions and cover seats is no walk in the park and can be expensive.Luckily, a handheld garment steamer is more than enough to clean, refresh and revitalize all your upholstery. The nozzle allows you to target the stained areas while the high-pressure steam makes it possible to clean up the surfaces.
Although difficult to compare due to their different working mechanisms, it is safe to conclude that garment steamers are safer and more efficient when used correctly. Without doubt, iron boxes are time-saving devices with the potential of leaving clothes looking crisp and neat.
However, it is impossible to assume the risks that come with using traditional iron boxes. Ironing through high temperatures is not advisable for gentle fabric as it more often than not leaves such clothes damaged. Moreover, removing tough wrinkles can prove too taxing when using iron boxes.
In addition to their cloth straightening functions, garment steamers can also be used to clean several surfaces at home.
The reliance on high pressure steam makes the electronic devices effective in disinfecting and cleaning stained surfaces at home.
As you look to use a garment steamer, it is important to understand your specific needs before making a purchase. For home use, medium or small steamers are recommended. However, to avoid sustaining injuries or damaging your clothes, be sure to follow the right steps and practice caution when using a garment steamer.