When you’re done washing your clothes, they tend to come out wrinkly. This is just fine for your jammies or your bath towel; otherwise, you might need to iron them. But ironing isn’t always convenient or practical.
For one thing, you’ve got to set up an ironing board, which takes up space. For another thing, you’ve got the safety concerns that come with a big hot piece of metal. Steaming, on the other hand, is both safe and convenient.
If you have enough space to hang your clothes, you have enough space to steam. But how does the process actually work? How do you use your steamer, and what kinds of results should you expect?
Let’s talk about steaming and why you should incorporate it into your clothing-care regimen.
How Does Garment Steaming Work?
So, what are the benefits of exposing your clothes to steam? Simply put, it softens up the fibers. When you use a steam iron, the steam loosens up the material, while the flat, hot plate presses it flat.
With a steamer, the hot plate is replaced by the force of gravity, pulling down on the garment and naturally straightening the material. The nice thing about it is that all you need is the steamer itself and some water. You fill it up, wait for it to heat up, and you run it over your clothes. That’s all there is to it!
Well, maybe there are some more specific things to know. Now, we’ll talk about the more particular aspects of steaming.
Is Steaming Better Than Ironing?
All of this begs the obvious question: is steaming better than ironing? As is often the case, it depends. That said, steaming has a few benefits that set it apart from ironing.
For one thing, it can be used to kill bacteria. This is a great feature for items that aren’t easy to launder. For example, you can steam your curtains or upholstery to keep them clean and odor-free. Similarly, steam can be used to kill dust mites, which means a steamer can be used for bedding, pillows, and even carpets. You can’t do that with an iron.
Another major benefit of steaming is the space savings. When you use an iron, you need an ironing board and space to work in. With a steamer, you can smooth your clothing right there in your closet without the need for any extra space.
How to Use Your Steamer
Here’s how to steam your clothes in four simple steps!
1. Fill and Prep the Steamer
Before you start steaming, you’ll need to prepare the steamer.
Using distilled water, fill the tank to the fill line. Distilled water won’t leave mineral buildup in the tank, as tap water will. Next, turn the steamer on, and give it two or three minutes to warm up. You can test it by squeezing the nozzle and seeing if anything comes out.
Once you’ve got positive pressure, wait another 30 seconds or so. Then, point the nozzle into your sink and squeeze it until you get a steady flow of steam.
The reason for this last step is to make sure there’s no water trapped in the hose. This water could be hot and might come shooting out.
2. Prepare and Hang Your Garments
Just like you prepped your steamer, you’ll also need to prepare your garments.
Even if they’re fresh out of the wash, your clothes might have some lint or other dust on them. Most steamers come with a fabric brush, which can be used to remove this dust before you begin.
Your garments will need to be hung up for the steamer to function. So put them on a hanger, and hang them in your closet or on a rack. Some larger steamers even have a mounting hook for hanging your clothes.
If you’ve got a smaller steamer, you’ll need to get more creative.
One useful option is to use a door hook to hang your clothes in front of a door or simply hang them on a wall-mounted coat hanger. Be careful with this method, though. Hot steam can cause some paints to peel and could damage stained or bare wood.
Thankfully, there are ways to prevent this. If you’re steaming on a door, just take a towel or a heavy sheet and hang it behind your garment. This will absorb the bulk of the steam and keep your finish from getting damaged.
For smaller garments, you can even hang them off the back of a chair. For larger ones, you could hang them on your shower curtain rod.
The point is you can use your garment steamer in almost any circumstance. All it takes is a bit of creativity.
3. Use Short, Downward Strokes
Now, it’s time to steam your clothes. The easiest way to do this is to use short, downward strokes with the steamer nozzle. Also, you need to be gentle.
With an iron, the point is to apply pressure. With a steamer, you don’t actually want to make contact. Instead, you want to get the nozzle very close to the garment without actually touching it.
The point of using downward strokes is simply to ensure consistency of movement.
If the wrinkles are particularly stubborn, it can help steam from the backside of the fabric. This is particularly true for heavy fabrics, which the steam may have difficulty penetrating.
Conversely, you’ll need to be more careful with delicate fabrics. For silk and similar materials, keep the steamer nozzle one to two inches away from the garment.
4. Let Your Clothes Dry
By its very nature, the steaming process can leave your clothes damp.
In most cases, they’ll be comfortably dry within about 5 or 10 minutes. That said, it never hurts to be careful. Give yourself about 20 minutes to wait after steaming before you put your clothes on.
We hope this guide on how to use a steamer has been a huge help for you. Using it to clean your clothes can be a blessing. Especially when you want to get rid of stubborn wrinkles.
If you believe a steamer can prove itself useful better than an iron, by all means give it a shot. Just follow the steps above and you’ll be good to go.