Best clothes steamers 2020 – refresh your wardrobe quickly and easily with a handheld steamer

These are the best steamers to give your clothes a new lease of life, pronto
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  • Step backstage at a catwalk show and you’ll see more clothing steamers than hair straighteners. They’re invaluable for refreshing and de-creasing all manner of garments, quickly and easily. Don’t think of them as an iron replacement though. Keep your iron for crisp shirt collars, perfect creases in trousers and pressing hankies (if you still do hankies – we do!).

    Get the skinny on all the best gadgets with our buying guide reviews

    Clothing steamers are better for taking creases out of more complex garments, including dresses. They’re also a good for refreshing clothes and giving once-worn garments another lease of life. They are good at sanitising (steam kills 99.9% of bacteria and lifts odours). Use them for steam cleaning curtains and upholstery.

    Whether you go for a small, portable steamer or a larger vertical model with built-in clothes hanger, the method is the same. Use one hand to hold the steamer and the other hand to hold the fabric taut as you go. We’ve tested a mix of clothes steamers to suit all budgets. Some are small and portable, others are larger because they include a garment hanger and have large water tanks so you can steam for longer.

    Best clothes steamers 2020

    1. Tefal IXEO Power QT2020

    Best premium vertical clothing steamer

    Best-clothes-steamers-Tefal

    There are just two things going against this premium Tefal. The first is that it’s pricey. The second is that it takes ages to unpack and set up. When you’ve paid good money for a product, you want a premium unboxing experience; you don’t want to feel like you’re assembling flat pack.

    That said, if money’s no object then this – once assembled – is the best of the lot. The steam head is shaped like an iron soleplate, which makes sense because the unusual design gives you the best of both worlds: you can steam garments hung vertically against its board, angle the board at 30° for comfort, or set it horizontally and use the Tefal like an iron.

    The black and copper design is attractive but looks a bit like a giant Duracell battery. It’s on wheels for portability. Power cord and steam hose each measure 1.8m and steam is ready in just over the stated 70 seconds. On test it took 80 seconds.

    Steam is the best of the bunch, with a 5.8-bar pressure delivering 90g/min constant steam and an immensely powerful 200g/min steam shot when you squeeze the trigger. Results are what really matters though and the Tefal blew us away – or should that be steamed us away? It can blitz shirts effortlessly in less than a minute and was the best on test at getting creases out of a linen dress. The steam shot lasts for a good 30 seconds, which is long enough before you need to move to a new spot anyway.

    If you have the space for a vertical garment steamer and don’t mind the Tefal’s price tag, it won’t disappoint.

    Ideal Home’s rating: 5 out of 5 stars

    Buy now: Tefal IXEO Power QT2020 All-in-One Iron & Clothes Steamer Solution, £299, John Lewis & Partners

    2. Morphy Richards Express Steam 361000

    Best overall handheld clothing steamer

    Best-clothes-steamers-Morphy-Richards

    The mid-priced Morphy Richards boasts a clever design that’s as innovative as it is ergonomic to use. The design is slim, yet fits in a 260ml water tank. But the shape means it is well-balanced in the hand, so it feels light. It heats up in 35 seconds.

    We also loved its many clever design touches. There’s just one clip-on tool but this boasts a brush with stiff bristles at the top and a squeegee at the bottom, good for lifting lint. We found the brush to be good on upholstery too.

    And then the top of the Express Steam boasts a very unusual feature: an extra steam hole with a plastic clip that lets you use the top to press collars and creases. The results will never be as strong as pressing with an iron, but they are good enough: you could use the steam head to remove wrinkles from, say, school shirts and then give collars a quick press with the tool at the top.

    Even little touches are nice, like the Velcro tie that stops the 3m cord getting in a tangle when you store the steamer. Our only criticism is that the lights (indicating 20g/min eco mode or 25g/min turbo) are at the front with the trigger button, so can’t easily see them.

    Ideal Home’s rating: 5 out of 5 stars

    Buy now: Morphy Richards 361000 Handheld Garment Steamer, £50, Amazon

    3. SteamOne S-Nomad Black

    Best mid-priced handheld clothing steamer

    Best-clothes-steamers-SteamOne-Nomad

    This French-designed garment steamer is stylish in looks and feel. Its matt finish is classy, feels great and makes for excellent grip: it won’t slip in your hand.

    The water tank is small at 140ml but it also comes with an adaptor that lets you use a standard small drinking water bottle. This is handy for travel or just if you want a bigger capacity.

    It also comes with a simple travel bag, complete with a handy hook on a sucker, so you can hang garments from a mirror, bathroom wall or a wardrobe door, ready to steam them.

    The power cord is long at 3m and it has two steam settings, of up to 25g/min, and comes up to temperature in 45 seconds. The control is a backlit button on the back. We found the green eco setting was good enough for most jobs and the blue main setting was better, powerful enough for collars.

    The brush attachment has bristles all round and did a good job too. It’s not cheap but the S-Nomad did impress and felt like a good all-rounder for home and away, not just a travel steamer.

    Ideal Home’s rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

    Buy now: SteamOne SN50SB garment steamer, £80.92, Amazon

    4. Fridja f10

    Best handheld workhorse clothing steamer

    best-clothes-steamers-Fridja-f10-approved

    This Fridja handheld comes with an oversized velvety bag that’s unisex but feels like it could happily belong in a boudoir. Accessories include a piece of plastic that promises sharper results on collars, a fold-up clothes hanger and a fabric guard to cover the steam head for delicates. There’s no brush.

    It also comes with a clever bottle adaptor, so you can travel lighter on holiday or to fashion shoots. Remove the Fridja’s fab 260ml water tank and use the adaptor to use it with most water bottles. The power cable is a bit on the short side at 2m but, that aside, it’s hard to fault. The design is clean and modern, with a big, bright power light.

    The 25g/min steam is powerful and the trigger features a sliding switch, so you can keep it on constantly if you want to. You can steam constantly for 8 minutes at a time. The collar accessory is good, not great. No steamer will really offer the same sharp results as an iron, but it does help a bit – you hold the plastic up behind the collar and it gives you something to push against.

    Definitely the best for handheld power, you could blitz a pile of garments with the Fridja where other handhelds are designed more for just refreshing one or two items.

    Ideal Home rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

    Buy now: Fridja f10, £99.99, Amazon

    5. Beldray BEL0932RG Handi Steam Max Pro

    Best value handheld clothing steamer

    Best-clothing-steamers-Beldray-Handi-Steam

    This handheld garment steamer is attractive, in black with rose gold accents, and great value. Online you can pick it up for a little over half the £60 price tag that it officially launched with.

    We liked the trigger control and its 270ml tank but found the 2m power cord too short and the lights across the back that indicate power setting are too small, so they’re hard to see.

    Heating up takes 30 seconds. There’s no official figure for how many g/min steam it delivers but the steam is powerful enough, with two levels to choose from. We also liked the fabric brush which you can open with a plastic lever using your index finger, to open a clip that lets you press collars and creases.

    Performance is good, not great… but it is superb for the price.

    Ideal Home’s rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

    Buy now: Bel-dray BEL0932RG 1500 W Handi Steam Max Pro, £37.65, Amazon

    6. Fridja f1500

    Best workhorse vertical clothing steamer

    Best-clothing-steamers-Fridja

    You’ll love or loathe the look of this vertical garment steamer and we loathed it. It’s bulky, plasticky and angular, more like a cylinder vacuum cleaner, where others are elegant enough to look good in a bedroom. That said, if it’s in your utility room as a laundry workhorse then who cares?

    And it is a workhorse, boasting an easy-to-adjust telescopic pole and a huge 3.8-litre removable water tank that can deliver more than 2 hours of steam. It’s ready in 75 seconds but there’s no figure for how much steam it delivers, the specs only state that it’s at 5 bars of pressure. The power cord measures 2m and the steam hose 1.2m.

    Like the Tefal, the steam head looks a lot like an iron soleplate. And you can press clothes against a surface because there’s a long fabric mesh that comes down vertically from the hanger at the top of the Fridja. Steam is powerful enough that you can get wrinkles out of a shirt fast: steam one side and the other side is done too, because the steam makes it through the mesh. We found it did a good job on a linen dress too.

    But steam is visibly powerful for the first 10 seconds that you squeeze the trigger and then starts to die down. The built-in pressure dial shows it drop from 4 to 1 bar, though it builds up again quickly as you naturally pause while you move to the next spot.

    Accessories include: a good brush attachment, a cover for delicate fabrics, plates that help you press collars and cuffs, and a lightweight mitt to protect your other hand.

    We found the Fridja to be a good workhorse, but not quite as powerful as the pricier Tefal.

    Ideal Home rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

    Buy now: Fridja f1500 high pressure clothing steamer, £199.99, Lakeland

    7. Beldray BEL0988RG Foldaway

    Best value travel handheld clothing steamer

    Best-clothes-steamers-Beldray-Foldaway

    This portable Beldray steamer has a more angular design and a handle that turns around by 180° to pack away smaller. Packing is also made easier because you can ditch the 350ml bottle and instead travel with a small adaptor that lets you use a standard small drinking water bottle.

    The 2.5m cord is long enough and the 20g/min steam feels powerful enough. In fact, there are two steam levels and it gets the job done even on the lower “eco” setting. There’s no trigger button though, the steam simply stays on.

    We liked the clip-on brush, with bristles that encircle the steam head, as it’s good to picking up lint in all directions, but it doesn’t double as a crease tool.

    Again this portable Beldray is available at great prices online.

    Ideal Home’s rating: 4 out of 5 stars

    Buy now: Beldray BEL0988RG 1600 W Handheld Travel Garment Steamer, £29.39, Amazon

    8. Russell Hobbs Steam Genie

    Best handheld clothing steamer for accessories

    Best-clothes-steamers-Russell-Hobbs

    The chunky Russell Hobbs won’t win any awards for its looks but it performs fairly well, delivery 25g/min steam from a good-sized 260ml water tank. It heats up in 45 seconds. We liked the long 3m power cord and the fact that the Steam Genie is well-balanced in the hand, although it is heavy. You can lock the controls so steam stays on, so you don’t get an achy trigger finger.

    Its best feature, though, is its accessories. Unusually it comes with three tools. The first is a pretty standard clip-on cover to pick up lint. More unusual is the delicate attachment, a fabric cover designed for gently refreshing clothes that have a single dot on the ironing label.

    The third tool is for upholstery: a fabric cover with coral-style “fingers” on it. The fingers have a large surface area for lifting dust from furniture. This makes the Russell Hobbs more versatile but the results are nothing like those from a powerful steam cleaner.

    Ideal Home’s rating: 4 out of 5 stars

    Buy now: Russell Hobbs Steam Genie garment steamer, £44.99, Argos

    9. SteamOne Minilys Plus

    Best compact vertical clothing steamer

    Best-clothing-steamers-SteamOne-Minilys-Plus-(1)

    Mini by name, mini by nature, this is the best vertical garment steamer to buy if you’re short of space, thanks to its 20.5×14.5cm footprint. The entire base is designed to be tall and thin, but it doesn’t topple over.

    It has a 1-litre, removable tank that will last you half an hour, with a large fill hole. The power cord measures 2m and the steam hose 1.2m. Its constant 40g/min steam is powerful enough to get the job done and is up to temperature within 60 seconds of switching on.

    The pole comes in 5 parts, so you can remove one for a lower height if you prefer, but it’s not telescopic so you can’t adjust it to be short for storage. Accessories include a lightweight mitt, to protect your other hand as you steam, and a plate with holes in, to place behind collars and other areas that you want to press firmly.

    The elegant, compact design is perfect if you want a vertical clothes steamer in your bedroom as a clothes horse, to give garments a quick refresh in the morning. But it’s not the best buy if you want a laundry workhorse.

    Ideal Home rating: 4 out of 5 stars

    Buy now: SteamOne Minilys Plus Upright garment steamer, £261.18, Amazon

    10. Philips GC524 EasyTouch Plus

    Best value vertical clothing steamer

    Best-clothing-steamers-Philips

    The Philips is hard to fault for the price, delivering a bit more steam than a handheld (32g/min), a larger tank (1.6 litres) and the convenience of a place to hang your clothes. If you have space for a vertical garment steamer then it’s a good buy.

    There’s a control on the base for selecting from five steam levels. And there are multiple ways to hang garments: the hanger has two clips and a bar, plus there’s a hook, and there’s a board to press clothing against, like a vertical ironing board, that’s just long enough for shirts. The pole telescopes down for storage but the board doesn’t fold away, so you can’t make the Philips much smaller.

    Accessories include a brush attachment that you can open to press creases (good but it fell off too easily), and a lightweight mitt to protect your other hand from steam. The power cord measures 1.7m and the steam hose 1.3m.

    It takes 45 seconds to heat up and then there’s no indicator that it’s ready, you can just see the constant steam rising. There’s no trigger: you turn it off at the base if you want to pause: there’s a delay of 10 seconds as it stops or starts.

    We liked the design but felt the steam wasn’t really powerful enough for a vertical model. You can use it to press shirts but an iron does the job better. It’s a good value buy for refreshing clothes – including delicate dresses – but other vertical steamers are more powerful.

    Ideal Home rating: 4 out of 5 stars

    Buy now: Philips GC524 EasyTouch Plus standing garment steamer, £94.08, Amazon

    11. Philips ComfortTouch Plus GC558/36

    Best-looking vertical clothing steamer

    best clothes steamers Philips

    You only have to look at the Philips to see it’s a bit different. Other vertical steamers look like cylinder vacuum cleaners, with a telescopic pole on top and wheels on the bottom. This has no wheels and looks like it’s a clothes horse, designed to live in your bedroom or walk-in wardrobe. It does not belong in the cupboard under the stairs, not least because at its shortest it’s still 145cm tall.

    It’s expensive and the design seems over-elaborate, with two poles supporting the hanger and a springy steam head that bends back if you push it against a garment. It also boasts an anti-calc collector in the base and a space in the head for adding your own fragrances. A knob at the top lets you hang clothes on hangers and lock them in place. Unusually it also offers variable steam, with a dial on the base.

    There’s also a flat part that clips on vertically and looks like a mini ironing board – giving you something firm to push against when steaming. We were disappointed that it couldn’t pop out horizontally and double as a mini ironing board for those times (like creases in folded hankies) when vertical steam doesn’t cut it. And there are no grips for trousers! Instead, you’re supposed to drape them over the top of the board.

    Accessories-wise it comes with a brush for upholstery and thicker fabrics, and a silver heatproof mitt to protect your free hand. This proved useful because the variable steam is powerful at top whack (up to 40g/min). We loved the clever, unique design and found the board effective: it’s a bit like ironing vertically.

    But the price tag and the fact you can’t pack the Philips away well means it’s not right for many people. The elegant Philips lives in our fantasy walk-in wardrobe. We’d take out a dreamy outfit for the next day, steam it preparation and leave it there overnight ready for the office… or the ball. But we’d pick the Tefal if we had to steam a pile of clothes.

    Ideal Home rating: 4 out of 5

    Buy now: Philips ComfortTouch Plus GC558/36, from £160, at Amazon

    12. Philips Steam & Go Plus GC362

    Best-looking handheld clothing steamer

    best clothes steamers Philips

    This elegant Philips clothing steamer has a slender design. It comes with an attractive, grey, heatproof storage bag that is also long and thin. It also comes with a silver heatproof mitt, plus a brush attachment. The water tank clips into the handle, so it’s slim and, at 70ml, too small. And its fill hole is small, so it’s tricky to fill it accurately under a tap.

    Its 24g/min steam function is pretty good. It feels like the vertical steam you might get from a steam iron. But unlike an iron, it’s very comfortable in the hand. There are lots of good, practical touches. The 2.5m power cord is longer than most and letting go of the steam trigger pauses it, so you can change garment or position safely or add the brush accessory without fear of scalding.

    We didn’t feel the need for the heatproof mitt, though. It was easier to do without and swap hands depending on which bit of the garment we were steaming. Results were good but we ran out of water far too quickly, after just two garments. The Philips is perfect for freshening up an outfit but it’s not designed to blitz the whole ironing pile.

    Ideal Home rating: 4 out of 5 stars

    Buy now: Philips Steam & Go Plus GC362, from £59.99, Amazon

    13. Tefal Access Steam Minute DT700

    Best clothes steamer for a convenient wardrobe refresh

    best clothes steamers Tefal

     

    Like similar handheld  models, it takes up no more space than a shoebox, including accessories. It comes in a carry bag and with two attachments: a steam cover for delicate fabrics and a brush for heavier fabrics and upholstery. It also comes with a clever metal hook that loops over the top of a door, giving you somewhere to hang clothes for steaming.

    Its removable tank has a 150ml capacity and a tiny fill hole: it’s hit and miss under the tap, a bit like filling a water pistol. Then you turn it on and wait 45 seconds, until it stops flashing to indicate that it’s ready for use. You have to hold down the trigger button to get steam, which takes a few seconds to get started. And the power cable is a bit on the short side at 2m.

    We didn’t have high expectations but we were pleasantly surprised: the Tefal performed surprisingly well. The 17g/min steam isn’t powerful enough to give crisp results that rival an ironed shirt, but it’s good enough to make school polo shirts respectable, take creases out of garments of all shapes and sizes quickly, and freshen up clothes to boot. Great value and handy for a quick wardrobe refresh.

    Ideal Home rating: 4 out of 5 stars

    Buy now: Tefal Access Steam Minute DT700, from £64.99, Amazon

    How to buy the best clothing steamer for you

    Best-clothing-steamer-Morphy-Richards-lifestyle

    Image credit: Morphy Richards

    There are two types of clothing steamer to choose from:

    Handheld clothing steamer These pack away no bigger than a shoebox and are great for travel, taking to work or if you work in the fashion industry – stylists love them. But the price of portability is a small water tank that needs refilling if you want to blitz a whole pile of clothing. And you’ll need to hang your garments somewhere: a doorway is good.

    Vertical clothing steamer These clothes horse style clothing steamers include a clothes hanger on a telescopic pole. They typically pack down to the size of a small, cylinder vacuum cleaner. They’re much bulkier to store but steam is a bit more powerful and a large water tank means you can keep steaming for much longer.

    Bear in mind that many steam irons offer vertical steam too. So if it’s just for occasional use, you could use an iron that does both instead. If you want to steam lots though, clothing steamers feel much nicer than holding a heavy iron aloft.

    Not sure what you need? Also read: Best steam irons – the top models to make ironing fast and easy

    Best-clothing-steamers-Fridja-lifestyle

    Image credit: Fridja

    How much should I spend on a clothing steamer?

    Handheld steamers start at £50. They will do the job just fine. Budget at least £100 for a vertical steamer with clothes hanger and a much larger water tank.

    What else should I look for in a clothing steamer?

    Steam Measured in g/min, the larger the number, the more powerful the steam (removes creases quicker); a few steamers let you adjust the level for different fabric types.

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    Water tank The bigger the tank, the longer you can steam for in one go.

    Accessories Handhelds come with few accessories, if any. Expect a soft cover for more delicate fabrics and a brush for tougher fabrics and upholstery. Vertical steamers often come with an attachment that helps you put creases in trousers, which work pretty well. Some steamers also come with a heatproof mitt to protect your free hand.

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