The Washing Alternative: Keep Your Clothes Fresh With A Steamer!

The Washing Alternative: Keep Your Clothes Fresh With A Steamer!

Are you pressed for time and the shirt you really wanted to wear is wrinkly - or just smells a little musty? Or maybe you just don't have the space for a full steam iron and ironing board set up at home? Then what you need is an easy-to-use, portable and effective garment steamer! These handy devices allow you to steam clean clothes in a jiffy, removing wrinkles and freshening up your clothes without the need for a full wash, dry and iron.

At Spotlight we have a great range of garment steamers for you to choose from, but is this handy appliance the one for you, and is steaming really worth it in the end? We'll answer these questions for you right here, so read on to discover everything you need to know about clothes steamers, including how to use a garment steamer and where you shouldn't use them.

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What Is A Clothes Steamer?

A clothes steamer is a small, electric device that converts water into steam which it then shoots out in a steady stream. This steam can be used to de-wrinkle most types of clothing, as well as sanitise clothes, curtains and other surfaces with its high heat.

Clothes steamers can be small and handheld or can be large standing machines that you often see in clothing stores. Both work the same way, but larger machines will hold more water and deliver hotter steam than their smaller counterparts.

The Pros And Cons Of Steam Cleaning Your Clothes

Here is a quick pros and cons list you can use to see if a garment steamer is something you want to invest in!

Garment steamer pros

  • They de-wrinkle clothes much quicker than it takes to iron them to the same effect.
  • Handheld steamers are usually lighter than steam irons, so you can use them for longer without getting a sore arm.
  • Garment steamers can be used to sanitise many household surfaces, like windows, toys and benchtops, with no added chemicals or cleaners needed.
  • Steamers can be used on some delicate materials that cannot be safely ironed and would otherwise need to be dry cleaned.

Garment steamer cons

  • They won't get rid of stains and dirt, so cannot be used in place of a full wash. They will, however, loosen stains and dirt so they can be removed more easily.
  • Can't be used on some clothing materials, as the high heat will damage or even melt some clothes.
  • Can leave clothes slightly damp, so isn't ideal if you need to wear something immediately.
  • A clothes steamer can damage delicate clothes if used incorrectly, as it can burn delicate materials.

As you can see, deciding to steam clean clothes or not comes down to how well you know your clothing. Always check the label before deciding to steam clean clothes and only use the steamer to freshen and de-wrinkle clothes, not completely clean them.

Materials And Garments You Should Avoid Steam Cleaning

Some materials should not be steamed, as the high heat steam can actually damage them! Materials to avoid include:

  • Waxed fabrics, as the wax can melt.
  • Suede made from synthetic materials cannot be steam cleaned. Suede made from natural materials can be steam cleaned carefully on low heat.
  • Plastic-coated clothing, as the plastic can melt.

You should also avoid using your steamer on absorbent surfaces like unsealed wood as the water can be absorbed and linger inside, which can then lead to swelling, cracking and mould growth.

Lady using a handheld clothes steamer on a red long sleeve blouse

How To Use A Steamer For Clothes

While every steamer may work a little differently, here is a general guide you can use to steam your clothes. Make sure to check the label on your clothing to see if it's suitable for steam cleaning, and if you need to take any extra care (like only steaming it inside out, for example). Here is how to use a clothes steamer at home:

  1. Hang your clothing on a clothes hanger, then on a clothing rack, pole or other horizontal device. Make sure you are using the steamer somewhere with good ventilation, with a power point nearby for the steamer.
  2. Fill the steamer with distilled water, making sure not to go above the maximum water limit. Tap water contains minerals that can clog your steamer over time, especially if you live in an area with hard water.
  3. Turn on the steamer and let it heat up to your desired temperature. It's important to let it heat fully before using, otherwise it may spit water out instead! Pay attention to which heat you need to use - materials like silk and suede will benefit from a lower temperature than say cotton or linen.
  4. Hold the bottom of the clothing you are steaming and pull it down gently so the fabric is taut - you may like to wear a glove or oven mitt on this hand to protect it from steam.
  5. Hold the steamer around 10cm away from the surface of the fabric and begin to steam, working your way from top to bottom, not side to side. More delicate fabrics may require you to hold the steamer even further away, while very tough clothes like a wool coat can have the steamer pressed right up against them.
  6. Once you have finished steaming your clothes let them dry for 10 minutes before wearing them or putting them away.

This may seem obvious, but never try to steam your clothes while you're wearing them! The steam can be heated to between 93? to 149?, so you'll definitely burn your skin if you're not careful.

Now that you know how to use a clothes steamer, make sure to always test it on an inconspicuous area of your garment before fully steaming. This is to check the colour in your clothes doesn't immediately run, or that the material itself won't burn.

How To Steam Clothes Without A Steamer

Did you know you can get the benefits of a steamer without using one? It not be as easy as using a clothes steamer itself, but here are a few ways for how to steam clothes without a steamer:

  1. Steam clothes in the shower - if you love a hot shower, then this is the option for you! Hang your clothes in the bathroom, close all the doors and windows and don't turn on your exhaust fan. Have a hot shower (at least 15 to 20 minutes) and the steam will waft onto your clothes, causing the fibres to loosen and de-wrinkle on their own. You may even like to hang your clothes in the shower itself if you have room, but be careful not to splash them.
  2. Steam clothes using your kettle - a quick and easy source of steam is your kettle. Hang your clothing somewhere near the kettle, boil it and once it nears completion, hold the kettle underneath your clothing with the spout facing towards your garment. When the steam comes out, carefully waft it over your wrinkly clothing! You won't have steam for long, so this technique only works for smaller garments that don't need heavy steam - unless you plan to continually reboil your kettle.

Steam clothes using your hairdryer - if you have a high-powered hairdryer, this is a quick and easy method to steam your clothes. Hang up your garment as usual, and sprinkle a little bit of water over it. Then blast the hairdryer (at a safe distance) over your clothing. The hot air will cause the water to evaporate into - you guessed it - steam! Because you're only making a small amount of steam with this method, use it for smaller garments that don't need a lot of de-wrinkling.

Using a handheld clothes steamer on a coral long sleeve button-up shirt

Enjoy Quality Clothing Steamers From Spotlight

Now that you know how to steam clean clothes, it's time to get yourself an amazing clothes steamer from Spotlight! Buy it online, safely pay and we'll deliver your garment steamer straight to your front door. Otherwise, visit your nearest Spotlight store and our friendly team will help you find out which clothes steamer is best for your needs.

Make sure to read our buying guide on laundry storage to ensure you can find a home for your new clothes steamer in your current space. And for more ideas and tips on keeping your home clean and tidy, read our blogs on how to clean your kettle, how to dry clothes without a dryer and the best ways to wash your towels.




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