I travel with my handheld steamer whenever I go away, even if it’s just for the weekend, and as a result my friends and family sometimes make fun of me, that is until they need something ironing and realise how quick and easy they are to use.
In fact, so easy that I use mine everyday at home, to steam my clothes before heading out the door. So I thought I’d share my top tips for how to steam your clothes, as well as the best travel steamers I’ve found.
Why buy a handheld steamer?
To quote Chandler Bing, my reason for owning reason is threefold. 1. I am inherently lazy and cannot be bothered to faff around with an ironing board and iron, so even at home I stick to a travel steamer. 2. Not many hotels now have an iron in the room, especially abroad (they don’t allow them in Italy due to health and safety I’ve learned) and 3. It hurst. Just kidding, they really don’t as most come with protective gloves and are often lighter than an iron.
How to use a handheld steamer?
Try and use de-ionised water when you can. Though you can use tap water, it’s not recommended as the minerals can clog the machine (though you can user white wine vinegar or descaling solutions like you would with a kettle. I appreciate it’s not practical to travel with a full bottle, but you can decant in travel size ones.
Be aware of delicate fabrics. Certain fabrics like silk and satin are super delicate, so you don’t want to apply the nozzle directly to them to avoid damaging them. Most steamers do come with brushes you pop over the face of the steamer to avoid direct contact. If you don’t have one of those, just make sure you hold it at a sensible distance.
Wait for the appliance to heat. Usually this doesn’t take more than 30 seconds, and make sure you switch off after use.
Hold the garment tight. As this will help with the steaming process. Some steamers can be used horizontally, though most need to be held vertically.
Empty the tank after use. Sounds obvious, but if you don’t empty the tank, you risk clogging up the system, as well as leakage if you’re travelling.
The best handheld steamers
Philips handheld steamer
Best for: Horizontal steaming. It’s quite rare that you can use a handheld steamer horizontally, so this is a big plus for me, especially if there is nowhere to hang clothes from as it can be a bit holding the clothes in one hand and steaming with the other. This is also super handy if you’d like to iron bedsheets. It’s also super quick to heat up and at almost 1kg without water, it’s fairly light.
Can steam: 1-2 garments before having to refill, depending on the thickness of the fabric and length of the item. So I’d say it does run out quite quickly.
Any downsides? The handle is a little bit slippery meaning that I accidentally detach the water tank while I’m in the process of steaming.
Cirrus handheld steamer
Best for: Everything. There’s not much I don’t like about this steamer. It’s the lightest I’ve tried (weighs o.58kg), the matt design is cool and means you get a good grip on the handle. It heats up in 25 seconds and also cools down super quickly so you don’t have to worry about leaving the house/hotel room in a hurry.
Can steam: 1-2 garments. The tank has a 75ml capacity and although it says you can steam one outfit with it, I’ve found it doesn’t run out as quickly as I thought. I usually manage a couple dresses before running out if they’re made of silk or satin.
Any downsides? The slightly higher price point, though worth the investment in my opinion.
Morplan handheld steamer
Best for: steaming several items. I’m not sure what the tank capacity is as it doesn’t say on the site, but I think it’s close to 1L, meaning you can definitely steam two items, maybe slightly more.
Can steam: See above.
Any downsides? It definitely less fancy than some of the other brands, but it gets the job done. It’s a bit clunky for travelling with though.