Garment steamers come in a large variety when it comes to brands, but no matter which brand it happens to be, the reach of the machine is one of the most important features to consider. Given its limited use around the home, garment steamers should be as versatile as possible. This means it needs to have a long enough reach (typically this boils down to the hose) to be able to steam any size garment with ease, as well as being capable of handling other items, such as drapes. For the best value, look for models that have at least a five foot hose, which will provide a wider range of use.
Water Capacity and Steam Time
Another important feature to consider is the water capacity of a steamer. This directly relates to how long it can operate at a time. The amount of time a model can run continuously can be as little as 30 minutes, or as long as 3 hours. The amount of time you should look for in terms of capacity and operation depend on your needs. Ask yourself how often are you going to be using it and what types of garments are you going to be steaming? If you only have a single item or two, you can easily get away with lighter models that don’t have a high capacity. However, if you will be using it often, have a lot of clothes that need steaming, or drapes to steam, look for models that have at least a two hour operation time.
A common complaint among garment steamer users is the ease and frequency of just setting the steamer head back down without cutting off the machine, which ends up wasting electricity and adds additional wear to the machine. As a result, many brands have begun to incorporate either a timer for operation, or automatic shut off sensor that turns the machine off after a certain amount of time. If you are very keen to details and good about turning things off, then it is a feature you may not worry too much about. However, if you are ever hurried while cleaning, consider models that have a timer/cutoff feature to help ensure you don’t waste water, power, or the steamer’s durability.
When it comes to garment steamers, portability is less a matter of being compact, and more a matter of having wheels and being easy to move about the home for convenience. This is particularly important if you want to be able to steam drapes or upholstery. Other aspects that make a clothes steamer portable include the overall design and potential including of handles that make it easier on your back to simply pull the steamer into position, or that make it easier to carry. If you plan to use it in more than one room of the home, look for models that feature things likes wheels and handles.
Hanger/Rack For Garments
As a basic feature, any good garment steamer will include some form of rack to hang garments or items from to help make it easier to steam them. While this feature can come in a wide variety of styles, including some that are simply a bar for you hand items from, commercial quality steamers will come with optional hanging attachments. For at home use, you may want to opt for garment steamers that include a hangar style rack, which can help ensure the item is suspended with adequate space between layers.
One of the highest rated and best selling brands for garments steamers on the market today, PurSteam produces a series of steamers that are for both commercial and portable use. The PurSteam Elite is their best performing and well known model and packs a lot features that make it an ideal choice for casual and full-time users. As a company, PurSteam seems to have developed a working strategy for garment steamers, which includes making durably, long lasting, and easy to use standard and hand-held models. One of their best known features that they offer with all their steaming products is a money-back guarantee for customers, if they are not satisfied.
One name that is already well known around any home that houses a craft enthusiasts or seamstress, Singer has ventured into other fabric-related fields and produces a competitively featured model. The Singer SteamWorks Pro is packed with all the popular features that make other brands so popular. It heats up in less than a minute, has a large tank that allows 90 minutes of steam time, and even includes a specialized garment and fabric holder. Overall, Singer’s clothes steamer offers a quality made product that comes with the brand’s well known guarantee of quality and 2 year warranty.
Another popular brand, SteamFast has a reputation that suits their name; they make clothes steamers that heat up very quickly. For people who need to be able to quickly get items steamed and ready for show or wear, SteamFast garment steamers are ready to go in less than a minute. The SF-540 Deluxe, their most popular model, heats up in 45 seconds and has a 78 ounce tank that lets you have continuous steam for up to 80 minutes. In addition to being some of the fattest heating garment steamers, SteamFast are also known for including a host of accessories to increase the versatility of the steamer. The company provides a full year warranty and complete customer support for any and all garment/fabric steaming related questions.
A popular European brand, Rowenta offers a series of garment steamers that all have the same underlying theme; ease of use. The company’s trademark designs include a convenient foot pedal for operation, handle and wheels that allow it to be easily moved and positioned for use, and a stay-cool hose design and handle to ensure it never gets too warm to comfortably handle. Their steamers are also quick to heat, in about a minute, and last around 45 minute to an hour (their commercial model has nearly 3 hours of operation time). Another feature that sets them apart and adds to the ease of use concept, is an easy to visualize tank to help you keep track of exactly how much water is left for use. h3>Jiffy Jiffy garment and fabric steamers are not your basic steamers. They are built with commercial performance and quality and mind. Offering simplicity and durability, their series of steamers come with simple options, such as plastic or wooden handles, and a choice between gray or pink for the machine’s casing. While not boasting the quickest heat-up time (around 2 minutes), they do offer the longest (in the general garment steamer business) standard warranty of three years. The biggest, or at least best known feature, for a Jiffy garment steamer is its unparalleled level of durability.
From a company that has been producing hair care products (in particular blow dryers), comes two models of garment steamers. The basic Conair Garment Steamer and the Conair Extreme Garment Steamer both offer the same standard features such as a 45 second heat-up, long (60 minutes or more) run time, and telescopic rack for more compact storage. However, the Extreme is rated as a professional quality model and offers a more intense steam generating system, as well as additional attachments to increase the versatility of the machine. Overall, they offer fairly popular models in competition with other basic and professional machines, though they don’t have as extensive warranties.
One feature that can really set a garment steamer apart is the accessories included with the model. Some companies only offer them separate from the machine itself. General accessories are things like clips or additional hanging features, steaming press pads for more detailed steaming/cleaning, multiple steamer heads for various fabrics (such as upholstery brushes), and hose extenders. If you want a lot of versatility with your clothes steamer, look for models that include accessory kits, or at least have them available for an additional fee.
Water Level Indicator
There are two ways in which a company can include this style feature; they either make the water compartment with a visible fill line, or they include and indicator light. Nothing can be more frustrating then starting a large task, like a set of thick drapes, only for it to run out of steam half way through. Water level indicators are a very convenient feature to look for in professional and commercial quality models.
Removable Water Tank
In addition to having a water level indicator, one feature that really distinguishes most professional quality steamers from basic models, is having a removable water tank. While some commercial brands (like Jiffy) use a compartment that is built into the machine, others (like PurSteam, Rowenta, and Singer) opt for a more user friendly canister-style system. Users simply remove the tank, fill it, and replace. For most, the removable water tank is a very convenient feature, that makes it easier to keep the system clean and free of build-up. If you intend to store it for prolonged periods at a time, or only use it once a week, it would be best to look for a model that allows the tank to be easily removed and cleaned for optimal storage and less chance of souring or grime.
Optional Steam Settings
While many garment steamers only offer versatile steam settings through heating in stages (such as the first five minutes after heat-up are a lighter steam), few offer the option for modulating the steam intensity. If you want to be able to control the intensity of the steam, such as using a lighter setting for more delicate materials, or a heavier one for really cleaning upholstery and bedding, then opt for a model that has at least two settings for steam (for example- Jiffy’s 4000 series and Conair’s Extreme).