The debate regarding garment steamer vs steam iron is one that has been around for a few decades now. Although ironing clothes is a real chore, choosing between a steamer and a traditional iron is one of the hardest decisions most people have to make.
Now, ironing clothes is one endeavor most people despise. However, since we all want to wear nice, crisp and wrinkle-free garments, learning how to iron our clothes is one basic skill we must acquire whatsoever.
Following the advancement in technology, ironing clothes has been made much easier with these two appliances—a garment steamer and a steam iron. However, choosing the right appliance between the two is where the real problem lies. This is because most people are not fully acquitted with these ironing appliances in terms of their use and design mechanism.
Due to that reason, this guide has dug deep into the world of steamers and steam irons to offer you a short comprehensive guide on the major differences between these two home appliances and which to prioritize on depending on your specific situation.
So, What’s the Working Principle of These Two Appliances?
The Garment Steamer
Now, if you’ve survived in the wild, or at a remote place, then you might have heard of an old hack where you hang your clothes on a hanger in the bathroom to remove the wrinkles overnight. Now, by using a steamer, you actually, kind of improvise this old hack as this appliance is definitely an improved version of that old concept.
Although they’re gaining popularity in recent times, garment steamers have been around for quite some time. Now, these appliances consist of a nozzle, a flexible hose, a water tank, and a telescopic tube.
To operate, you need to first fill the water tank with water then plug the machine to heat the water. Once the water heats up (after about 30-45seconds), you take the nozzle then point it towards your garments (a few inches away) to remove the wrinkles.
The hot steam works by relaxing the fibers on the fabric of your clothes to remove creases. This makes it the best for delicate fabrics such as silk, polyester, and satin.
The Steam Iron
The steam iron, on the other hand, is quite similar to the garment steamer but with just a few minor differences. It consists of a water tank, a flexible hose, and an iron. Now, just like the steamer, you need to add water in the tank first then plug it to heat the water.
The steam ejected passes through the flexible hose to the holes beneath the metal plate for an effective ironing process. While steamers generate wet steam, steam irons eject dry steam at very high pressure to effectively remove wrinkles from your clothes. This process of generating extremely high pressure is what sets steam irons apart when compared to ordinary iron boxes.
What Are the Major Differences?
Now that we’ve discussed briefly how each of these appliances works, let’s now get straight to what sets them apart. The first major difference is, of course, the technology. Just as we’ve discussed above, the steam iron works by pressing its smooth metal plate towards a garment to remove the wrinkles. It also released hot steam through the nozzles at the bottom to relax the fabric when ironing.
On the other hand, steamers release very hot steam that relaxes a garment’s fabric. Unlike steam irons, you don’t necessarily have to get into contact with your clothes when removing wrinkles. Due to their different operating techniques, steam irons are hence the best for ironing heavier fabrics such as cotton while steamers are the best for lighter fabrics such as silk and polyester.
Now, with that regard, there’s no definite winner here as everything will heavily depend on what you’re ironing.
Ease of Usage
Although both of these appliances are easy to use, there’s a slight difference between them that separates one from the other. For instance, a steam iron will require you to have an ironing board for you to accomplish your ironing needs.
On the other hand, a steamer will require you to hang your clothes and let the steam do the rest without having to think of adding an ironing board.
A steam iron will also demand you to have some basic skills on how to iron whereas a steamer will only require you to grab the nozzle and let the pressurized steam handle the creases on your garments.
So, with that said, it’s clear that the steamer is the ultimate winner when it comes to simplicity and ease of usage.
If you’re a young professional who happens to iron his/her clothes at the last minute before rushing out, then a steamer can prove to be a convenient companion that will never fail you. One,a steamer takes approximately 30—45 seconds to heat while a steam iron takes about 8—10 minutes to entirely heat up.
Secondly, a steamer generates a lot of heat that removes wrinkles from your garments when they’re hanging. This is quite different from a steam iron where you have to lay the clothes on an ironing board to iron them.
Thirdly, a steamer can reach hard to reach areas in a matter of seconds while a steam iron is likely to compress your garment towards the hard ironing board leaving some creases somewhere at the back when you’re ironing the other side.
Again, the steamer is the ultimate winner in this category as it offers a faster and more efficient ironing strategy.
By just mentioning versatility, I believe you can easily predict the winner here. Now, the fact that steamers use pressurized steam makes them the perfect option for a wide range of activities. When it comes to removing creases and wrinkles, steamers are generally the best and can be used on almost all fabrics due to the one advantage they hold—they use steam.
Therefore, removing creases from even the most delicate fabrics such as saris, formalwear, silk, wedding dresses and chiffon has never been so easy with the use of a steamer.
Steam irons, on the other hand, must get into contact with your garments. This alone makes it quite tricky to use them as the hot metal plates can easily scotch and damage your clothes if you’re not careful.
Now, back to steamers, these appliances can also be used in a wide range of settings such as in the bedroom for steaming beddings, towels and curtains to remove odors, to kill bacteria that attract dust mites and finally, deal with cases of a bedbug infestation.
So, just as I mentioned earlier, the steamer is definitely the winner here with nothing less than flying colors.
Finally, there’s the issue of convenience. Now, a steam iron has one benefit—it can dry or steam your garments. Earlier on, we mentioned that a steam iron releases dry steam that helps to remove creases with ease. Combining the steam with the hot metal plate guarantees exceptional results.
When it comes to the steamer, this appliance releases wet steam and sometimes it spits out water. Since it doesn’t have a dry function (such as a hot metal plate), you will have to leave your wet clothes to dry up first before you can put them on.
So, in this department, the steam iron gets the most votes making it the winner.
So, Garment Steamer Vs Steam Iron: Which is the Best?
Although the main objective of these two appliances is the same, to remove wrinkles, the final results can differ greatly. For those homeowners with both appliances at the disposal, here’s how you can differentiate them;
Since a steam iron can generate pretty high temperatures of 280—320°F, using it to get crisp lines on your formalwear can be the best move. Also, if your clothes are tailored, have short collars or are made of hard cotton fabric, a steam iron can be the best to use.
On the other hand, if you’re in a hurry or maybe you’re planning to get creases out of delicate fabrics such as silk and polyester, then a garment steamer can generally be the best option.
So, there you have it. Whether it’s choosing a steamer over a steam iron or the other way round, it’s all up to you. The best thing about this post is that it has offered you solid information that will help you decide on which between these two appliances will work out for you.
If asked, I would prefer to go with both. That way, picking one appliance to work for these garments while the other one works for these other garments can really save you a lot in terms of time and energy costs.
Now, is there anything you feel we’ve left behind? Well, if so, or maybe if you wish to add something, then don’t hesitate to do that in our comments section below.