Portable vs. Upright Clothes Steamer – What’s the Difference?

There are two major types of clothes steamers – portable and upright (or non-portable). While each steamer serves the same major purpose, the means by which either one achieves its end result is quite different. That being said, when you simply want something that will steam your clothes, any only model will do. However, by ensuring you pick the best possible model for your needs, you can be sure you’ll walk away with the most convenient option and your disposal. That being said, let’s take a look at the pros and cons of either steamer to find out which is best for your own needs.


Portable steamers, as their name might suggest, are made for on-the-go steaming. They have a few advantages over their larger counterparts, even when not being used outside of the house.


  1. Because of their extremely small water tanks, portable steamers take a very small amount of time to heat to full capacity. This isn’t only great for on-the-go situations, but will also come in handy when you only plan on steaming one or two articles of clothing at a time.
  2. Portable steamers have the highest amount of power relative to their overall size. This is because of the fact that such steamers attain their small size through cutting back on their water tank capacity rather than lowering the power of their heating element.
  3. Portable steamers will give you the best bang for your buck. In fact, you may find that many high-end portable models are priced similarly to low-end non-portable models.


  1. Due to their small water tanks, portable steamers will prove very inconvenient when used on a large amount of clothing, being that you’ll constantly find yourself needing to refill the tank.


Made for at-home and commercial use, these steamers are highly unsuitable for on-the-go steaming. When used at home; however, you’ll find they can tackle very large jobs in a short amount of time.


  1. You’ll never find yourself refilling an upright steamer’s water tank in between articles of clothing. No matter how big a job you throw at them, these steamers can almost always get them done in one go.
  2. Due to their built-in hose, you’ll find upright steamers to actually feel lighter when it use, being that you never have to carry the weight of the entire unit at once.
  3. Upright steamers often come with more features, such as a variety of heat settings and optional heads. This makes them more versatile and suitable for a larger variety of fabrics.


  1. The most obvious drawback – they can’t be used outside of the home or place of work.
  2. Upright steamers tend to be significantly higher in price relative to their overall level of quality.
  3. A larger water tank means you’ll spend a lot of time waiting for your steamer to heat up, making it take longer to complete very small steaming jobs.


There is no right or wrong answer when it comes to deciding which type of clothes steamer is right for you. Buy knowing where you plan on using your new steamer and what exactly you plan on using it for, picking the right model for you is easy.

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