How to use a clothes steamer the right way

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Perhaps you’ve been here before: You’re rushing to get ready before a big event and you pull your go-to dress out of the closet. The fit, the color and the style are all on point, but there’s one problem: It’s wrinkled. The fabric is too delicate for a hot iron and you obviously can’t go out looking like that. So what do you do? You steam it, of course!

Using a clothes steamer is an easy way to eliminate wrinkles from clothes and other fabrics. A steamer is a handheld device that functions by heating up water and converting it into steam that is then released via tiny holes in its nozzle. When you pass the steamer over the fabric, the heat and moisture work together to loosen up wrinkles.

Why Use A Steamer?

Steamers are great for clothes that otherwise would not be suitable for an iron. Clothes that benefit from the use of a steamer include delicate fabrics like silk and chiffon, synthetic fabrics like nylon that may melt under the heat of an iron and corduroy and velvet that could warp under an iron.

Clorox’s in-house scientist and cleaning expert, Mary Gagliardi, spoke to Reader’s Digest and noted that steamers are ideal for large swathes of fabric such as drapes, which would be very difficult to take down and iron. Steamers are also great to travel with and can be used on clothes where an iron may not be available or where it’d be too complicated to iron.

The best steamer will also be a great option if you need to get through a lot of clothes quickly. Steaming is generally faster than ironing, as it doesn’t require you to set up a board and the steamer itself heats up more quickly. You also don’t have to worry about wrestling your clothes on and off an ironing board, as steaming is done on garments that are already hung.


How To Properly Use Your Steamer

With a little basic knowledge, using a steamer can be a breeze. Here are some tips to keep in mind that will maximize your steaming experience.

Use Distilled Water

The best steamer will work optimally with distilled or filtered water. Gagliardi explained why to Reader’s Digest.

“Tap water includes calcium and magnesium, minerals that will cause a crusty buildup that can clog the iron or steamer. Instead, use deionized, distilled or demineralized water,” she explains. “This will prolong the life of your iron or steamer.”

Additionally, minerals in tap water may end up leaving marks on your clothes that can be difficult to remove.

Pull Down On Your Clothes

Steamers work best on taut fabrics. This means that you’ll need to get a firm grasp on the fabric and pull it down so that it’s stretched tight as you steam. If you skip this step and just steam your clothes as they hang free, it’s possible they’ll revert to being wrinkled again.


Don’t Apply Steamers Directly To All Fabric

Unlike an iron, even the best steamer isn’t meant to be used directly on all fabric. With more delicate fabrics like silk and chiffon, it’s best to keep the steamer at least an inch away from the fabric to avoid watermarks and burns. For heavier fabrics like linen and heavy cotton, it’s okay to use the steamer directly on the fabric.

Clean Your Steamer

Even if you are using distilled water, you’re going to have to give your steamer a proper clean a few times a year to eliminate buildup. To do so, pour distilled vinegar into the tank of the steamer, allow it to heat up fully, and then release the steam over a sink until all the vinegar is gone. Next, repeat the process with distilled water. Now your steamer is clean and ready for the next time your go-to dress is too wrinkly to throw on!

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About the Author
Lauren Alexander
Lauren is a freelance lifestyle editor and writer who sources inspiration from her international travels. If she's not on the beach, you can find her eating her way through local markets or at home DIYing self care products.

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