How to Use a Garment Steamer

If you’ve never used a garment steamer before, the first thing you’ll likely notice upon first seeing one is that it looks a whole lot more complex than a typical clothing iron. While this certainly holds true, actually using a garment steamer doesn’t have to be any more difficult than using an iron. In fact, you’ll likely find it easier once you get the hang of it.


  1. Add water to the steamer’s tank. While each steamer’s tank takes on a different shape and is located in a different area of the unit, finding it should prove easy. When in doubt, check the manual.
  2. Plug it in. Usually (though not always), garment steamers don’t hold a charge and need to be actively plugged into a wall while in use.
  3. Allow the steamer to heat up all the way. Using the steamer before its ready won’t be hazardous, though it may be a bit of a time-waster. Pull the steamer’s trigger and see how much steam comes out. Once the level of steam stays consistent over the course of two pulls a minute apart, it’s safe to assume it’s reached a full steam. Check with the instructions to see how long it takes to heat up, as this will give you some indication as to when you should start checking.
  4. Similar to a clothing iron, the head of the steamer is to be pressed up against your clothes. Of course, it will remove wrinkles from any piece of fabric it comes in contact with. Because steamer heads aren’t as smooth as iron bases, you’ll likely find it much easier to go from top to bottom when steaming your clothes, as opposed to running the head in circles or going up and down.
  5. Lastly, allow your freshly-steamed clothes ample time to dry. Depending on the steamer you use, you may find it leaves clothes a lot wetter than an iron. After the clothing in question dries, you’re all done!


The above steps are all you’ll need to successfully steam your clothes. The below tips; however, will make the process go a whole lot smoother, saving you time and headaches while still coming out with the perfect end result.

  1. Know what fabrics you’ll be steaming. Certain fabrics can only take so much abuse before falling apart. On the other hand, there are fabrics which require a whole lot of power before they become wrinkle-free. Thick denim jeans will require much more heat than some silk underwear. As a general rule of thumb, you should use only the highest heat setting you need to effectively remove wrinkles. Going any higher may only prove to hurt your fabrics.
  2. Know how many fabrics you’ll be steaming. Much like a kettle or a coffee machine, adding more water than you need will do nothing other than slow you down. If you plan on steaming a shirt or two, don’t bother filling the tank all the way up. This way, it will heat up faster.
  3. Lastly, think about how much space you have to work with. Don’t feel as if you have to steam on a flat surface. Many commercial establishments will typically steam clothes while they are hanging up. An ironing board is far from necessary and may be downright impractical.

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