How to use a handheld clothes steamer? (step-by-step)

To use a handheld steamer:

  • Fill the steamer’s tank with water and plug it in to heat up.
  • Then, gently brush any wrinkles or creases out of your clothing as the steamer heats up.
  • When the steamer is ready, hold it about 6 inches away from the fabric and direct the steam toward the wrinkles or creases.
  • Move the steamer back and forth until all of the wrinkles or creases have been smoothed out.

Key Takeaways

  • The clothes steamer uses water to generate steam, which then penetrates the fabric, relaxes the fibers, and eliminates the appearance of wrinkles.
  • Clothes steamers can also be used to remove odors from fabric, sanitize fabric, and even kill dust mites.
  • Just fill in the water, let the steamer heat, and once it starts releasing the steam, move it back and forth over the fabric until all creases disappear.
  • Keep a safe distance between the fabric and the steamer as not all fabrics are made the same.

What is a handheld clothes steamer?

A handheld clothes steamer is a lightweight appliance that uses steam to relax the fibers of clothes and get rid of wrinkles and creases. It also helps to clean and sterilize your clothes by killing odor-causing bacteria.

These steamers are less expensive than full-sized clothes steamers and can be used on the go.

The good thing about these portable, handheld clothes steamers is that they can be used on clothing, upholstery, drapery, and more.

The steamer has a built-in heating element that heats the water to make steam. The steam is then spread evenly over the fabric with the help of a brush attachment or nozzle.

As the steam penetrates the fabric, it relaxes the fibers and releases wrinkles.

Additionally, some models also have a steaming plate that can be used for touch-ups on larger garments like dresses and suits.

What are the types of garment steamers?

Technically, there are 3 types of clothes steamers: large (vertical upright ones), portable steamers, and handheld steamers. Alternatively, you may even use a steam iron as a steamer, as technically, it works as a steamer too.

Let’s take a quick look at each of the types in detail.

Handheld steamer

You will find a few different types of clothes steaming machines, and the most common type is the hand-held steamer, which is great for touch-ups on clothing.

These steamers are lightweight and portable, making them easy and comfortable to use.

Large vertical steamer (Upright ones)

Another type is the standing steamer; these units are larger and have a longer cord, making them ideal for steaming larger items like dresses or curtains.

Some vertical steamers come with attachments for different fabric types, so you can customize the streaming experience.

In addition, there are some steamers that may include adjustable hangers and telescoping poles as attachments.

These types of steamers are great for people who need to frequently steam their clothing, such as people who work in the fashion industry or those who travel often.

Portable Steamers

If you are a frequent traveler, portable or travel steamers may just be the right thing to have.

These steamers can be very handy, as they not only keep your clothes wrinkle-free when on the go but also save a lot in terms of hotel laundry bills.

How does the clothes steamer work?

A clothes steamer has three main components, they are a water reservoir, a heating element, and a steam nozzle.

The water reservoir is where you add water to the steamer in the required quantity.

As soon as you plug the steamer into an electrical outlet and power it on, the water inside will begin to boil, producing steam in just a few minutes.

The steam is then released through the steam nozzle, which can be adjusted according to the fabric type.

Ideally, the steamer should be kept close to the garment (no more than 6 inches away) and work slowly and steadily back and forth until the wrinkles disappear.

Note: The distance between the steamer and the garment varies depending on its type and model. Just follow the instructions in the user manual to be on the safe side.

How to use a clothes steamer?

Using a clothes steamer is actually easy and does not require any special know-how.

Note: If you are using your clothes steamer for the first time, it is always best to keep its user manual handy for proper instructions.

Here’s how you can use a clothes steamer safely and effectively.

Step 1: Fill the water reservoir

Start by filling the steamer with water according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Note: To know more about how to fill your steamer, how much water to use, and for proper instructions, simply refer to the user manual.

Step 2: Use a clothes hanger or a flat surface

Hang your clothing on a wooden or metal clothes hanger.

If the item is too large or bulky to hang, lay it flat on an ironing board or a flat surface.

Step 3: Plug into the power

Next, plug the steamer into the power source and wait for it to heat up. This usually takes around two minutes.

Step 4: Start steaming your garments

Once the steamer is ready or when it’s heated up, hold the steamer close to your garment and start running it over the fabric.

Be sure to move it back and forth slowly to evenly distribute the steam.

Make sure you constantly move the steamer so that you don’t scorch any part of the fabric.

Also, be careful not to touch the fabric with the steamer head, as this could burn the fabric and leave a mark.

Lastly, be mindful of any areas with embellishments, as too much steam can cause them to fall off.

Step 5: Unplug the steamer

When you’re finished steaming, unplug the steamer and let it cool down for some time.

Step 6: Post-steaming step

You will need to empty any remaining water from the reservoir.

In some models, you may have to unscrew the water tank lid and pour out any leftover water.

Next, wipe down the inside of the chamber if necessary before screwing the lid back on.

Step 7: Let the garment dry evenly

You may also want to let the garment air dry for a few minutes before putting it away or wearing it.

Now that your garment is wrinkle-free, you can either hang it up or fold it neatly for storage.

What types of fabrics can be steamed using a clothes steamer?

Steam is safe for pretty much all types of fabric, including wool, wool blends, synthetic wool-like fabrics, cashmere, silk, silk blends, and coated or laminated fabrics such as polyester blends, rayons, and cotton.

That being said, some fabrics, such as crushed velvet, silk velvet, or suede, should never be steamed due to their delicate nature.

Are there any drawbacks to using a clothes steamer?

Clothes steamers are convenient for getting rid of wrinkles, but there are some downsides to using one that you should know about.

The most common problem with using a clothes steamer is that it can be difficult to control the amount of steam that it produces.

If this happens, it can lead to over-steaming your garment, which can cause damage to some fabric types.

Additionally, clothes steamers can be expensive, so you’ll want to make sure that you’re getting the most bang for your buck by choosing a high-quality model.

Moreover, using clothes steamers more often will lead to increased energy bills. This is because it uses electrical power to generate heat (for creating steam).

Another potential downside of using a clothes steamer is that some models can be bulky and difficult to store.

If you don’t have sufficient space in your home, it may not be worth investing in a clothes steamer.

Final Thoughts

A clothes steamer not only helps to clear off wrinkles, but it can also get rid of bacteria and other unwanted elements in the fabric.

Also, it gets rid of wrinkles and fabric lines on your clothes so you don’t have to iron them.

That being said, since all fabrics are not the same, it’s best to read the care label on the fabric before treating it with steam.

Lastly, always make sure to hang your garments evenly or lay them flat on an ironing board or a flat, padded surface as you steam them.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are all fabrics suitable for clothes steamers?

Usually, clothes steamers are suitable for most fabric types. But if you want to be sure, it’s best to look at the care label on the garment or just read the steamer’s instructions.

Can you use regular tap water in a clothes steamer?

Purified and clean water should be used in clothes steaming appliances for best results and long-term efficiency.

Do you fill a clothes steamer with hot or cold water?

You can simply fill the clothes steamer with cold water because it includes a built-in heating element to heat the water and generate steam.

What fabrics cannot be steamed?

Leather items, delicate fabrics such as velvet, and other fabric types that can melt, such as wax jackets, suede, plastic, etc., should not be steamed using a clothes steamer.

Manish Singh is an expert in electrical engineering with a Diploma in the field. With over 12 years of experience, he specializes in repairing music systems, washing machines, dryers, and other laundry-related appliances. His in-depth knowledge in electrical repairs and decent knowledge about garment care makes him a trusted authority in the field of appliance repair and laundry related topics. If you have any questions or need assistance with your appliances, you can reach out to Manish through email: manish.singh (at)