How Does a Clothes Steamer Work?

Clothes steamers have been marketed as an effective solution to ironing for some time now. While many of us have jumped on the bandwagon already, it can be hard to justify making the switch until you know just what it is a steamer does in the first place. In this article, we’ll take a look at just what makes these steamers tick. There are two main processes that every steamer undergoes to turn the unit from a tank of cold water to a wrinkle-fighting machine.


If you’ve ever used an electric kettle, you’ll be quite familiar with the heating process used by clothes steamers, being that the two are largely the same in a certain sense. The clothes steamer comes equipped with a tank which is meant to hold a predetermined volume of water. Beneath (or around) the water tank is a heating element which causes the water in question to boil. And, of course, with boiling water comes a whole lot of steam.

Unlike the electric kettle; however, many clothes steamers allow you to choose just how hot the tank’s water will get through the use of heat settings. Not only does this determine how much steam comes out of the unit, it determines how much heat the unit gives off. This allows you to apply as much heat as you need to work with any given piece of fabric without having to worry about the fabric getting hurt in some way.

Often (though not always), a clothes steamer will come with a preheat function. This will typically allow the unit to work at a higher capacity than it otherwise would in an attempt to speed up the heating process. After the water has reached a predetermined temperature, the heating element’s output will slow down to a point where it merely maintain’s the water’s temperature, rather than raising it any further.


After the water has been heated to a point where it produces a desired level of steam, the steam in question is then transferred to one’s clothing of choice by traveling through a hose (though, some smaller steamers come without a hose) and then out through the unit’s head. The steam spouts out of the head almost instantaneously after the unit’s “trigger” has been pulled.

Dissimilar to an iron, the amount of steam produced by a steamer is extremely large when you consider the amount of solid material coming in contact with your clothing. While an iron has a few small holes built into it’s base, a steamer’s head is more hole than it is solid material. As such, it focuses less on physically pressing the material and more on producing large amounts of steam. As such, the process by which it actually removes wrinkles may be considered – to some degree or another – as being unconventional.

As you can see, the typical clothes steamer isn’t the scary, complex cleaning appliance that it may initially seem to be. Through the use of a very simple process, it offers a very high-end finished product every time.

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