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Ironing versus Steaming: Unwrinkling the Debate
Today we’re diving headfirst into the longstanding clash: steam iron versus clothes steamer.
You might not be the biggest fan of ironing, yet we all strive to avoid the creases and wrinkles in our clothes.
Both steamers and irons aim to generate steam that relaxes fabric–making wrinkle removal an effortless exercise.
As we approach 2023, these two appliances lead the fight against clothes wrinkles.
The choice between an iron or a steamer not only determines how you’ll be spending your hard-earned money but could also impact the longevity of your appliance.
We’re here to make this decision less daunting.
Our in-depth analysis covers all you need to know about these garment care gizmos.
By the end of this article, you will be able to confidently choose a side in this steamer versus iron saga.
Explore below to uncover the strengths and weaknesses of each appliance.
Steam Ironing Pros
A steam iron is undeniably indispensable if you appreciate crisp, sharply pressed clothing with expertly placed creases and zero wrinkles.
High-end steam irons churn out impeccable, dry-cleaner-like results — a feat basically unreachable with garment steamers.
Although an ironing board greatly complements a steam iron, it’s not a critical requirement for achieving decent results.
Concerned about space constraints? A full-size ironing board isn’t your only option.
One of the most practical features of steam irons is their versatility.
You can disable the steam function and use the iron dry for handling delicate fabrics such as silk.
Even when your iron begins spitting or leaking, you can salvage your ironing session by turning off steam and spraying clothes with water – a significant benefit over a garment steamer, which becomes useless under similar circumstances
Steam Ironing Cons
Ironing needs a certain level of skill which comes from practice – a lesson almost everyone has learned painfully!
Childhood memories may make it seem effortless, but until ironing robots trod our hallways, meticulous ironing is a necessary chore.
Burned favorite shirts? Failed to flatten that persistent wrinkle? We’ve all been there.
Even seasoned ironing veterans are not immune to such damage if they lose focus.
Ironing boards, while highly beneficial, can also be problematic because of their size.
If you compare the space they occupy to that of a steamer, it’s certainly more.
Without a dedicated ironing room or a convenient folding wall-mounted board, managing an ironing board can become a burden.
Maneuvering it around, setting it up, and finding the right storage space adds to the hassle, not to mention it can be an eyesore and clutter your living area.
Ironing may be a requisite chore but selecting the right equipment can greatly affect your experience. Prioritize convenience, space, and quality results in your decision.
Garment Steamer Benefits
An average-sized garment steamer occupies about the same storage space as a vacuum cleaner—a considerably smaller footprint than a traditional iron and ironing board combo.
You can comfortably store it away when not in use without worrying about causing any clutter.
Garment steamers offer the ultimate convenience in wrinkle removal.
With the clothes hung, you simply glide your hand-held fabric steamer up and down the fabric, without any direct contact, and voila!
The wrinkles magically vanish. If space is a premium, or you seek a lightweight, quick, and portable alternative to conventional ironing, garment steamers are hard to beat.
Arguably the biggest draw for steamers is their simplicity of operation.
No learning curve. No steam iron technicalities to grapple with. Just move the steamer around the clothing—a highly doable task even for novices.
Re-positioning clothes, as is the norm with ironing, becomes a thing of the past.
Apart from clothes, another creative use I’ve discovered for garment steamers is in exterminating bed bugs.
Pass the steamer through every inch of your mattress, and the emerging steam kills the bugs instantly.
Read my review of the Conair GS59 steamer to learn more.
Drawbacks of Garment Steamers
That said, garment steamers are not without their demerits.
For one, they fall short in delivering that crisp, perfect look synonymous with steam irons or steam pressers.
If you fancy deep creases in your clothing, say, along pant legs, a traditional steam iron should fit the bill perfectly. For more pronounced, durable creases, only a steam press will suffice.
Moreover, garment steamers may at times struggle to remove tenacious wrinkles.
From my experience, a typical clothing steamer can erase most but not all wrinkles. The stubborn ones might persist despite repeated steaming.
It’s also worth mentioning that using a garment steamer for prolonged periods may cause arm fatigue. Holding the 3+ lbs device in an upright position throughout your ironing load is sure to be an upper-body workout.
On the balance of it, owning a garment steamer can simplify your life, especially with clothing that crumple easily.
However, for quality, lasting results, nothing beats the good old steam iron. Choice of ironing tool will, therefore, hinge on your unique needs.
Iron vs Steamer: Which Is The Ultimate Wrinkle Remover?
We are all aware that both steam irons and garment steamers serve the same core purpose – banishing wrinkles to keep our garments looking fresh and crisp.
However, their results and uses can differ significantly, sparking the debate—can a steamer indeed replace an iron?
Personally, I believe that while steamers have their place, they can’t wholly supplant irons.
Steam irons are the go-to for perfectionists who crave precision in their wrinkle-removal process with attention to the crispest creases.
They may require longer use and involve minor hassles, but if you’re someone who wears dress clothes often or routinely irons shirts, having a steam iron at home is not debatable.
On the contrary, garment steamers provide a quick and simple solution for wrinkle removal—you won’t be able to achieve the level of crispness a steam iron offers.
However, if your goal is to rapidly smooth out light wrinkles just before heading out, a steamer becomes an indispensable tool.
Ditch the troublesome ironing board and the time-consuming prep and give the garment steamer a chance.
It’s quicker, more convenient, and equally effective on various fabric types without the fear of inflicting any damage.
Ultimately, the choice between a steam iron and a garment steamer hinges on your personal preferences, lifestyle needs, and the kind of impact you want your outfits to make.
- What’s the difference between a garment steamer and a steam iron?
Basically, a garment steamer and a steam iron serve the same purpose – they remove wrinkles from clothes. However, their modes of operation differ. A garment steamer uses hot steam to loosen the fabric and remove wrinkles without physical contact. On the other hand, a steam iron uses a heated plate to press out the wrinkles, essentially applying both heat and pressure.
- Which is best for delicate fabrics, a garment steamer or a steam iron?
If you often work with delicate fabrics such as silk, satin, or lace, you’ll find that a garment steamer is much gentler. The steamer simply showers your delicate clothes with steam without any risk of leaving an iron print or accidentally burning your garments.
- Steamer or iron, which is more appropriate for heavily wrinkled clothes or large items?
A steam iron would be more suitable for tackling heavy wrinkles as it uses heat and pressure. It can be a little more labor-intensive but can provide crisp results. For large items like curtains or upholstery, a garment steamer can be more convenient due to its ease of use and maneuverability.
- Garment steamer vs steam iron, which is quicker to get heated and ready to use?
If we’re talking about speed, then garment steamers generally heat up faster than steam irons. This means you can start your garment care routine quicker. But remember, heat-up time can vary between different models and brands.
- Do garment steamers require more storage space as compared to a steam iron?
This could be true depending on the type of garment steamer you buy. Some types, especially those with a base, require a fair bit of storage space. Steam irons, on the other hand, generally have a compact design perfect for tight spaces.
- For those heading off to college, should they take a steamer or an iron?
Steaming may be more practical for college students. It’s quicker, works well on a range of fabrics, and doesn’t require an ironing board. Not to mention, it’s also great for refreshing and deodorizing clothes – an added benefit for students living in dorms!
- Which device lasts longer, a steam iron or a garment steamer?
The longevity of any appliance largely depends on its quality, how often it’s used, and how well it’s maintained. That being said, good quality steam irons typically have a slightly longer lifespan compared to garment steamers.
- Is a garment steamer or a steam iron more versatile?
Steam irons can press and create creases, which makes them more suitable for dress shirts and pleated skirts. Garment steamers, however, can be used on a wider array of items – curtains, beddings, upholstered furniture, and even carpets – not just clothes. Therefore, in terms of versatility, garment steamers might have a bit of an upper hand.
At the end of the day, I really believe that both appliances serve their purpose and belong in all households, I could not give up either of my steamer or iron.
Which one did you decide to go for?