Clothes Steamer vs Iron: Which One to Choose?

clothes steamer vs iron
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Let’s be real, ironing, whether with an iron or a steamer, is a house errand that no one really likes doing, but you need to for you to have crisp, nice, and wrinkle-free clothes.

With so many options in the market, there’s a constant battle between clothes steamer vs iron since they both generate heat to loosen the fibers of the fabric you use it on to remove wrinkles and creases.

While both serve the same purpose, though, the way they function is quite different, and choosing between the two will ultimately all come down to people’s preferences and needs.

Now, if you are new to adulting and doing chores yourself and are considering which one between the two you should settle for, our detailed comparison will help you which one will work the best for you.

Clothes Steamer vs Iron: Is it Better to Iron or Steam Clothes?

As mentioned earlier, when it comes to steaming or ironing clothes, it all comes down to what you prefer.

Each type of equipment comes with its own set of advantages and disadvantages, which is why we feel it is important that you have a clearer understanding of them both before making a decision.

Steamer

If you are looking to get rid of wrinkles from different types of fabrics, the steamer is quite superior.

While the old trick of hanging your clothes on a hanger while taking a hot shower may work to a certain extent, it does not beat the way a steamer works.

The steamer is fairly easy to use and extremely helpful when you have to care for delicate fabrics such as chiffon and silk.

The steamer is also ideal if you want to freshen garments made from fabrics like linen and rayon.

That said, you can also use a steamer for materials like cotton, but you will need a lot of time on your hands since it takes almost forever to get rid of just little wrinkles on it.

The result of using it is a smooth fabric.

Steamers are also great since you can turn them on again quickly, which means they consume far less energy than regular iron.

Advantages

The best things about steamers are:

  • Kills Unwanted Odor and Bacteria

One great thing about a steamer is that the interaction between the garment and the steam from the steamer will help kill bacteria.

Thus, steaming your clothes will not only freshen it and remove wrinkles but also remove any odors, saving your money and time from sending the garment to the dry cleaners.

  • Safe and Convenient to Use

Another great advantage of the steamer is the fact that the probability of your clothes getting burned or adding any unwanted creases is almost zero since the equipment never actually touches your garment.

This makes it safe for the garment and also convenient.

You also don’t need any additional accessories like an ironing board to do the job. Also, as mentioned earlier, silk is a delicate material, and the best way to get rid of the creases on it is by using a clothes steamer.

While you can use an iron on the silk, you risk the possibility of the fabric getting permanently damaged by getting burned. This is a risk you can most definitely avoid, especially if you have an expensive silk garment.

Additionally, not only can you use steamers on clothes, but you can also straighten out curtain creases and wrinkles without having to remove them from the rod.

Disadvantages

Here are some of the drawbacks of using a steamer:

  • Time-Consuming

On the downside, though, steaming is something that needs a lot of time since even fabrics like silk take quite a bit of time to achieve that wrinkle-free and clean look.

  • Costly

A good steamer can also be quite expensive.

How to Use a Garment Steamer the Right Way

Using a clothes steamer is fairly simple.

Here's what you should do:

1. Hang Your Garment

Make sure that before you even start steaming your garment, you carefully read the directions mentioned on the steamer.

After setting it up correctly, place the garment properly on a hanger, and then suspend it from a safe place.

Ideally, a sturdy curtain rod, the bathroom door frame, or the hook on the back of your bedroom door will work fine.

You will need to use both your hands to steam the garment, which means holding it up with one hand is not an option.

2. Steam Using Downward Strokes

Take a close look at your garment and identify the spots which need the most attention.

Steam using downward strokes as you steam the garment from top to bottom. 

While you could directly apply steam to the specific creased area, you must still ensure that you cover the entire garment so that you do not miss any spot on it, and it keeps a uniform texture.

3. Gently Hold the Garment Taut

This is the part of steaming the garment that many people tend to get wrong.

Most people just point the steam on the crease of the fabric and wait for it to disappear. This is where you need to use your other hand.

Gently tug on the bottom of your silk garment when you apply the steam on it. This careful pulling motion is the trick that helps to separate and straighten all the wrinkled fibers and what allows the fabric to become smooth once again.

Pro tip: Since the steam makes the garment warm and also damp, you should wait a couple of minutes for the garment to cool down and dry before you wear it.

Iron

For someone using an iron for the very first time, it can be a bit daunting. However, it is the only way you can get that perfectly crisp garment.

The iron is a handheld piece of equipment that transfers the heat from its flat and almost-triangular-shaped surface to the garment.

Its heated surface presses the garment’s material flat under its hot plate, and this could be done with or without steam, depending on the iron. A clothes iron is ideal for stronger and stiffer materials such as denim, canvas, and cotton. 

Ironing is, without a doubt, a time-tested method. That said, to get a wrinkle-free garment, you must have a high-quality iron, which is why we feel that our best steam iron for clothes is something that will help you get the perfect steam iron to do the job.

clothes steamer vs iron

Advantages

The perks of using clothes iron are:

  • Neat Results

The iron is ideal to use on fabrics like canvas, linen, rayon, denim, and cotton, and they respond almost exclusively to it only.

If used correctly, you are assured that your garment is not only wrinkle-free but also crisp and neat.

  • Multiple Models

Likewise, you can choose between regular irons and steam irons. Having these choices helps when you have specific types of clothing in your wardrobe.

Disadvantages

A clothes iron can have many disadvantages, such as:

  • Requires Accessories and Space

For starters, you need a good amount of space and a flat surface like an ironing board to do the job. If you don’t lay your garment flat on the surface, you risk creating a fold that can get pretty difficult to get out.

  • Not Suitable for Delicate Materials

Additionally, the clothes iron can be terrible on fabrics like silk and chiffon if not used in the right setting and correctly. You risk your garment getting burned and damaged.

How to Use an Iron the Right Way

We are fairly certain that you have seen someone used an iron a million times before. With an iron, it is essential to have the right amount of movement and balance of pressure, which can be tedious.

The trick to having a burn-free, crisp, and smooth clothing is to match the heat of the iron to what the garment care label says. If you do everything correctly, you’re assured of having a perfectly crisp and wrinkle-free garment.

What Fabrics Should Not Be Steamed and Ironed?

It is important to note that not every type of fabric can withstand the steam from a clothes steamer and heat from the clothes iron.

The water in the steamer gets transformed into vapor at 212 degrees Fahrenheit, and of course, the heat of the clothes iron also has a high temperature.

At this high heat, some fabrics and materials will get damaged by the heat or moisture, or even both.

Some of these materials include:

1. Leather

Using a clothes steamer or an iron on leather is always a bad idea. The excessive heat will cause that expensive material to shrink and eventually get damaged.

Garments made from this material are best left to experts to handle.

2. Plastic-Based Synthetics

If the material of your garment feels waterproof and slick, then it is most likely made from a synthetic fabric. A great example of this is a raincoat. 

Keep in mind that even faux leather, which is typically made of PVC (polyvinyl chloride), a kind of plastic, is capable of melting at temperatures as low as 167 degrees Fahrenheit.

3. Stained Items

If there is a stain on your garment, the last thing you would want to do is to use a clothes steamer and an iron on it since the hot steam or heat could end up making that stain permanently set into the fabric.

4. Suede

This is also a type of leather product. It is processed and has a soft feel to it.

Just like leather, you cannot steam or iron this material since the heat can permanently damage it. Hand a garment made out of this material to a professional.

Do You Need an Iron if You Have a Steamer?

We are sure that after reading this far, you would think that the steamer is a far better piece of equipment than the iron, so it is only justified to wonder whether it is ideal to own an iron when you already have a steamer or planning to buy one.

We would recommend owning both an iron and a steamer. As stated earlier, each has its own advantages and disadvantages.

Steamers are ideal for more delicate materials like silk and chiffon, while irons are ideal for thicker materials like cotton and denim.

It is highly unlikely that your wardrobe contains only one type of material that works well with either the steamer or iron, so for this very reason, we believe that you should have both of them.

Also, it is important to note that while both iron and clothes steamer serve the same purpose, they cannot replace each other.

While steaming is a great way to get rid of creases from your garment, an iron can also do the same job, if not better.

A clothes iron applies pressure along with intense heat on the fabric, and this leads to a crisper and cleaner finish.

It is something that you will not be able to achieve with a clothes steamer, especially on garments made from fabrics like cotton and denim.

On the other hand, a steamer never touches the garment, which means that the risk of damaging the garment is extremely low.

Summary

To conclude what is better between clothes steamer vs iron, there is no definite answer. The objective for both is the same, and that is to have wrinkle-free clothes.

Of course, the result will differ. We believe that choosing between the two honestly comes down to your personal preference.

A conventional iron will surely give those crisp and clean wrinkle-free garments you’re looking for, but you also need an ironing board and a ton of space.

On the other hand, a clothes steamer needs no extra space and is easy to use, but it isn’t as effective on thicker fabrics. We recommend that you buy both.

These are great household appliances that you can use almost daily. With both of them in your arsenal, you are assured of having clothes that look perfect and crease-free every single time.

We hope that you enjoyed reading this article and have learned more about clothes steamers and irons.  

If you are interested in learning more about them or reading reviews of top-rated irons, we recommend that you bookmark us.

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