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12 best clothes steamers: Smooth creases in your favourite garments and furnishings

Steam through the ironing pile with these powerful handheld or upright machines

<p>These gadgets can  kill 99 per cent of bacteria in just one minute of cleaning  </p>

These gadgets can kill 99 per cent of bacteria in just one minute of cleaning

Let’s face it – ironing is very far from the top of the list when it comes to our favourite things to do, and we suspect we speak for the entire nation. Clothes steamers – which smooth out creases from a wide range of items without the need for an ironing board – are a brilliant alternative to traditional irons. They not only take up far less space but are more portable, compact and typically come with a much lower price tag.

If you’re considering investing in a clothes steamer, factors to consider include heat-up time – portable ones should take around 40 seconds max, while heavy-duty ones with built-in support boards can take up to two minutes. Wattage is also important – avoid anything below 1,000W. Another factor is steam output, which typically varies from between 25g per minute to 200g. But don’t get overly concerned with output, because features such as ceramic plates and steam-boost functions can more than make up for lower outputs.

Steam settings that allow you to quickly change temperature and steam output will mean you can easily tackle a wide range of garments in a single crease-busting session, while a collapsible design and detachable brushes will be a godsend if space is in short supply.

It’s also worth noting that steamers with built-in flexible ironing boards – which typically have larger built-in tanks – can weigh over 7kg, while handheld ones typically weigh between 1kg and 2kg.

Finally, remember that garment steamers are no longer designed just for clothes. Due to the high temperature of the steam, these gadgets will typically kill 99 per cent of bacteria with just a 60-second cleaning session, so they’re a great way to keep soft furnishings such as sofas and curtains germ-free. Although certain features – such as an extra-long cable – will come in especially handy if you’ll be using your steamer in this way.

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How we tested

So what did our testing involve? Some seriously steamy crease-busting sessions and, admittedly, a not-insignificant amount of time grappling with upright garment steamers, filling water tanks and tying ourselves in knots with steamer cables. That said, we’re definitely garment-steamer converts and, hopefully, the following models will convince you of their benefits, too.

The best clothes steamers for 2022 are:

  • Best overall clothes steamer – Philips Series 3000 STH3010 compact garment steamer: £45, Argos.co.uk
  • Best clothes steamer for travel – Tefal access DT7050 travel hand steamer: £44.94, Onbuy.com
  • Best clothes steamer for super-quick crease busting – Russell Hobbs steam genie handheld garment steamer: £39.99, Russellhobbs.com
  • Best clothes steamer for ease of use – Swan SI12020N handheld garment steamer: £59.99, Amazon.co.uk
  • Best clothes steamer for power – Tefal access steam force DT8250G0 handheld garment steamer: £78, Ao.com
  • Best clothes steamer for stylish steaming – Tower T22014RGB handheld garment steamer: £24, Ao.com
  • Best versatile clothes steamer – Russell Hobbs 28370 steam genie 2-in-1 fabric steamer: £55, Argos.co.uk
  • Best clothes steamer for big garments – Russell Hobbs steam genie aroma 28040 garment steamer: £60, Argos.co.uk
  • Best value clothes steamer – Quest 41970 portable garment and fabric steamer: £12.99, Amazon.co.uk
  • Best clothes steamer for gadget geeks – Samsung airdresser clothing care system: £1,999, Samsung.com
  • Best clothes steamer for crease-prone garments – Fridja f1500 high pressure clothes steamer: £249.99, Fridja.com
  • Best clothes steamer for slick design – Steamery stratus no.2 professional steamer: £266.44, Amazon.co.uk

Philips Series 3000 STH3010 compact garment steamer

Best: Overall clothes steamer

Rating: 10/10

  • Tank size: 0.1l
  • Watts: 1,000W

This is a gadget that looks, feels and even sounds like a premium steamer. It’s incredibly travel-friendly, as it comes with its own carry pouch, and has a wonderfully compact design – the highlight of which is a handle that folds flat against the body of the steamer, which helps to minimise the risk of accidental burns.

The hairdryer-style design meant our hands were well away from the steamer’s business end. And there’s a generous two metre cable, which will come in especially handy for steaming sessions in unfamiliar hotel rooms with randomly placed plug sockets (sadly, we tested it in the rather boring confines of our own home, to be clear).

The 0.1l water tank doesn’t have a release button but simply clicks off with a light tug. The steamer made light work of some very deep creases on a tent-like cotton maxi-dress (thanks largely to its super-sized head). We loved the fact that we didn’t have to worry about slotting it back into its stand when taking a pause – it can simply be rested on its tank.

Tefal access DT7050 travel hand steamer

Best: Clothes steamer for travel

Rating: 9/10

  • Tank size: 150ml
  • Watts: 1,100W

Is it wrong to love a garment steamer because it happens to come in a gorgeous teal colour? Probably, but luckily, there are plenty of other features we love about the access travel hand steamer.

First up is its size – it’s surprisingly compact, fitting easily into the backpack we use for weekend getaways. And with 1,100W of power, it packs more of a punch than most steamers of this size.

The wide, flat base meant it was incredibly stable (a major plus point when you’re steaming garments on the go in a cramped hotel room), while the extra-wide head slashed steaming times, and proved especially useful on larger items.

Russell Hobbs steam genie handheld garment steamer

Best: Clothes steamer for super-quick crease busting

Rating: 9/10

  • Tank size: 260ml
  • Watts: 1,650W

This versatile garment steamer comes with three attachments – an upholstery one for use on larger items such as curtains, a delicate attachment for materials such as silk, and a lint one to deal with dreaded pet fur.

The steam genie packs a decent amount of power (1,650W), is quick to heat up – we timed it at just under 45 seconds – and has a large 260ml water tank, which allowed us to indulge in steaming sessions of up to 10 minutes. Although the head isn’t ceramic, its extra width was a godsend, allowing us to cover larger garments in record time. Our favourite bit? The cable, which is the longest we’ve come across, coming in at a whopping three metres.

Swan SI12020N handheld garment steamer

Best: For ease of use

Rating: 9/10

  • Tank size: 250ml
  • Watts: 1,110W

This is a very user-friendly garment steamer that instantly de-creased our favourite denim dress. It also comes with the added extra of a garment brush to help smooth down the fabrics – although, to be honest, we found its crease-busting prowess just as impressive with the brush removed.

We would love to have seen a slightly longer power cable than this one, which measures 1.9 metres, but that’s a small gripe. Back to the plus sides, such as it offering 1,100W, which provides more than enough power, and the 250ml tank that slides out incredibly easily (although you don’t even need to remove it to fill it).

Tefal access steam force DT8250G0 handheld garment steamer

Best: Clothes steamer for power

Rating: 9/10

  • Tank size: 200ml
  • Watts: 2,000W

This wallet-friendly steamer packs a serious punch, with 2,000W of power, and was incredibly quick to heat up – it was ready to go in 45 seconds. It also has an ergonomic design, which meant we could embark on lengthy steaming sessions without a hint of wrist ache.

We also loved the vertical steam function – many garment steamers have these, although few are actually that efficient, but in this case it was genuinely useful, and made smoothing out creased curtains (don’t ask us how curtains get creased but trust us, they do) a breeze. We also liked the fabric brush, which wasn’t just well designed but easy to attach and remove, too.

Tower T22014RGB handheld garment steamer

Best: Clothes steamer for stylish steaming

Rating: 8/10

  • Tank size: 200ml
  • Watts: 1,000W

This steamer errs on the chunky side but that’s not a complaint – it has a cleverly weighted design, which made it a joy to hold. It was also ridiculously easy to get to the bits other steamers can’t reach, thanks partly to the extra-long 2.5m cable (a godsend if you’re in a hotel where sockets are in short supply).

It’s simple to use, with clear, bold controls (the heat indicator, which turns on when it’s ready to go, is especially bright), and the flow of steam was both powerful and consistent. We appreciated the extra-large 200ml water reservoir, too.

Russell Hobbs 28370 steam genie 2-in-1 fabric steamer

Best: Versatile clothes steamer

Rating: 8/10

  • Tank size: 150ml
  • Watts: 1,700

This is one of the more versatile steamers, mainly because of the steam-trigger option, which allowed us to release an extra-powerful burst of steam to smooth out super-tough creases. However, we’re not sure the phrase “2-in-1” is entirely justified here, as there are no obvious dual functions.

Nevertheless, we loved how it came with a travel bag, and although it’s not a steamer that can stand upright, we were smitten with this particular approach to design – when we needed a pause, we could simply rest it on its side. Plus, the absence of a chunky, weighted base meant more room in our holiday luggage when we needed a steamer to hand.

Russell Hobbs steam genie aroma 28040 garment steamer

Best: Clothes steamer for big garments

Rating: 8/10

  • Tank size: 200ml
  • Watts: 1,800

Do you need to infuse your clothing, curtains or tablecloths with scent as you steam them? No, but we’re definitely converts to this approach after using the steam genie aroma, which has an attachment that allows you to infuse the steam with your own scented oils or fragranced water.

It was also extremely quick to heat up, taking just 45 seconds, and although the head wasn’t the widest we’ve seen, the combination of a large water tank and clever placement of steam vents made for seriously speedy steaming sessions.

Quest 41970 portable garment and fabric steamer

Best: Value clothes steamer

Rating: 7/10

  • Tank size: 100ml
  • Watts: 600W

We were rather sceptical about this steamer but our fears were unfounded. No, it’s not the most powerful steamer on the market, and nor does it have the largest reservoir capacity, but we were seriously impressed with the consistency of the steam output.

Another plus is its extra-wide base, which meant the chances of knocking it over were slim, and the ergonomically designed handle made it incredibly easy to steam awkwardly shaped garments in record time. We loved the generous-sized head, too.

Samsung airdresser clothing care system

Best: Clothes steamer for gadget geeks

Rating: 7/10

First things first: this obviously isn’t your average garment steamer, or the ideal option for small homes. That said, if you’re keen to slash your ironing times, are feeling flush and have an abundance of space, the Samsung airdresser might just be the answer to your prayers. Part wardrobe, part garment steamer and part steam cleaner, the airdresser is a cupboard-sized piece of kit, which resembles a futuristic fridge.

Place items inside it and after a couple of hours, they’ll come out clean, dry and largely crease-free. Its crease-busting powers work best on wool but will still work wonders on thinner materials such as cotton and rayon. A weight kit, designed to be clipped to the bottom of clothes, boosts its crease-busting credentials. Oh, and you can control the airdresser with an app, too. Watch this space for the version that will fold your clothes and put them away (joking, maybe).

Fridja f1500 high pressure clothes steamer

Best: Clothes steamer for crease-prone garments

Rating: 7/10

  • Tank size: 3.8l
  • Watts: 2,200W

Another seriously heavy-duty garment steamer, the f1500 produces five bars of pressure, comes with an enormous 3.8l tank and a flexible ironing board that slips into the main unit. It’s not the lightest of steamers, but a set of wheels increases its manoeuvrability. There’s also an overload of accessories, all of which proved useful (the fabric guard, designed for delicate fabrics, and the heat-protecting glove, came in most useful).

It takes a slightly longer-than-average two minutes to heat up, but once it’s ready to go, its 2,200W of power ensures it blasts away creases in seconds. However, we’d suggest opting for something a little less heavy-duty if you’re new to the world of garment steaming – the design of the steamer itself meant there was worryingly little room between our hand and the hot steam, so you’ll need to be adept at handling this type of tech.

Steamery stratus no.2 professional steamer

Best: For slick design

Rating: 9/10

  • Tank size: 3.2l
  • Watts: 1,850W

Upright garment steamers rarely look stylish, but this one comes surprisingly close to achieving just that. It’s very quick to set up – ready to go in just one minute – and does a great job of maintaining a constant steam temperature (you’ve got the solid-brass boiler to thank for that). Plus, it can be used on a wide range of fabrics – switch to 1500W mode for lighter ones or 1850W for more resilient fabrics.

Although it’s far from the cheapest garment steamer, the added extras (you’ll get a fabric brush, heat-protection gloves and a crease clamp) go some way to justifying the cost, as does the clever design.

Four ridged wheels allow it to be quickly and easily stored away without compromising stability, and it’s also incredibly rugged. The nylon-blend steam head will stand up to some serious wear and tear, and despite the large tank, which will take 3.2l of water, it’s got an beautifully slimline design.

Clothes steamer FAQs

What type of clothes steamer should I go for?

Typically, garment steamers come in two types: upright and handheld. While both designs are able to tackle creases effectively, there are a few key differences between them:

  • Upright steamers – These models are generally far more powerful than handheld steamers and, as such, are better suited to larger or heavy-duty jobs. They also have sizeable water tanks, so you can steam for longer without refilling, and often feature built-in hangers, too. However, it’s worth considering that upright steamers tend to be more expensive and bigger in size, which makes them less portable.
  • Handheld steamers – These models are far lighter and more compact than their upright counterparts, which makes them ideal if you’re looking for one to take with you on holiday. They’re also more affordable but tend to have smaller water tanks.

Do clothes steamers really work?

Absolutely, and our round-up can certainly attest to their abilities. However, it’s important to be aware that not all steamers are cut out for the same types of job, so make sure you buy the right one for your needs. For example, look for one with a large water tank if you’ve got a big pile of clothes to get through or one with a range of steam settings if you need to tackle lots of different types of fabric.

Iron vs clothes steamer: What’s the difference?

Whether or not to use an iron or a clothes steamer will depend on the de-creasing job you have before you. While irons use moisture, heat, steam and pressure to smooth and flatten fabrics as you press against an ironing board, steamers pump out soft billows of steam that pass through materials, making them better suited for garments made from delicate fibres or those decorated with lots of detail, such as sequins and beads.

What fabrics should not be steamed?

While some steamers are suitable for use on all fabrics, others shouldn’t be used on extremely delicate materials, so it’s always best to check with the manufacturer before you get started. According to clothes steamer brand Fridja, these gadgets are typically very versatile and capable of removing creases on a wide range of fabrics including natural fibres such as linen, silk, cotton and even wool. If you’re still unsure, the brand recommends using a delicate fabric guard to help prevent damage. Meanwhile, synthetic materials such as polyester, nylon and acrylic are typically very easy to steam using all clothes steamers.

The verdict: Clothes steamers

Philips’ series 3000 STH3010 compact garment steamer looks amazing, but it’s not just its appearance that bagged it the top spot – it’s got a slick, compact design and is packed with features we wish we saw more of. The Tefal access travel hand steamer is a brilliant option for jetsetters – it’s compact and lightweight, and blasts out consistent, powerful jets of steam, which dealt with the deepest of creases in a matter of seconds.

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