Your $100 dress shirt is going to look like a dollar store purchase if it's creased and wrinkled. Plus, you'll look like you don't give a damn about your appearance.
The answer? You need to iron or steam your clothes. You've heard of the first (I hope!) but probably not the latter.
In today's article, we answer the question – what is the difference between a clothes iron and a steamer? And which is going to get your clothes wrinkle-free in the shortest amount of time (and with the least effort)?
In this article, you'll find:
- The case for irons – are they better than steamers?
- The case for steamers – how do they fare compared to irons?
- Tips on how to iron clothes
- Tips on how to steam clothes
- Recommendations for irons and steamers
The Case For Irons – Are They Better Than Steamers?
Irons are a handheld piece of equipment that transfers heat from a flat, almost triangular-shaped surface onto a garment – placed on an ironing board. The heated surface of the iron presses the clothing material flat under its hot plate with or without steam.
Irons are easy to use on smooth fabrics but not on sleeves, ruffles and pleats. Heavier fabrics like Pima cotton and twill respond better to an iron's hot plate.
Irons are good for pressing dress shirts and trousers. Basically – any clothing that requires a crease.
A sturdy ironing board is necessary – the space required for one puts the iron at a slight disadvantage compared to a compact steamer.
The iron you use doesn't have to be heavy to deliver a quality press. Although, the old school irons that were heated on a stovetop deliver a top-notch finish because of their weight (my wife's grandmother uses one that doubles as a weapon and a dumbbell).
The Case For Steamers – Are They Better Than Irons?
An iron isn’t going to work well on a sweater or to bring clothing to life and get out odors. You’ll need a steamer to clean delicate clothes.
A steamer removes wrinkles without making contact with the fabric.
A garment steamer uses hot steam to relax the fibers in clothes. A jet of steam is directed at whatever clothes you suspend on a hanger. Hold the steam wand at the end of the hose a short distance from the cloth – smoothing the clothes without applying scorching heat to them.
Steamers are ideal for soft and delicate fabrics like silk, satin, polyester and jersey. There is very little chance of burning a garment when steamers don't actually touch the clothing. The steam can also smooth out sleeves, pleats and ruffles which can be difficult to treat with irons.
A clothes steamer can also be used on difficult-to-iron items like a screen-printed shirt and will help you get wrinkles out of a suit jacket. Steamers are also effective in smoothing out sleeves, pleats and ruffles in garments.
Steamers are much faster than irons. Handheld garment steamers beat irons in terms of convenience because they are lightweight and require little space.
The main disadvantage of steamers is you can't press creases into fabrics. You’ll need a clothes iron for that crisp look.
Tips On How To Iron Clothes
- Start ironing a garment at a lower temperature and slowly up the heat.
- A steam iron with holes can also double as a steamer. Hold the iron a short distance from the clothes and use the steam option.
- Check the temperature settings to make sure you’re using the right amount of heat for the fabric being ironed.
- Don’t directly iron wool or delicate fabric. You can use iron covers or place another material (cotton) on top of them before ironing.
- Dampness helps smooth clothes out. Spray water to tease out tough wrinkles or iron your garments soon after you pull them out of the washing machine.
- Use distilled water in the iron to avoid lime deposits on the base of your iron plate that can damage your clothes.
Tips On How To Steam Clothes
- Use only on surfaces that are sealed and can handle high temperatures.
- For colored clothing – test a patch of cloth before steaming the garment. Colors tend to run when moisture is applied to clothes.
- When using a steamer – be careful not to oversteam. You could blow the seams on a jacket.
Recommendations For Irons & Steamers
Black & Decker – The Digital Advantage Iron
This 1500-watt iron comes with a digital display that allows for accurate temperature and fabric settings.
The vertical steam function is convenient for when you don't have an ironing board handy. You can even use this iron to steam your upholstery and drapes. A motion-sensitive automatic shutdown avoids accidents.
This model comes with a 1-year warranty but mine has lasted for over 8 years with no issues. Go with this and you'll be able to iron like a professional.
Steam Fast Home And Away Iron
With a travel iron! This 420-watt travel iron weighs about 1 pound and is easy to pack away in your travel bag.
It heats up in 15 seconds and is effective in removing wrinkles from most fabrics, despite its size. The option of working with a dual voltage is an added bonus for frequent travelers.
It comes with a heat-resistant travel bag and a steam control option. I highly recommend this company because they provide excellent customer service.
Jiffy Steamer – J2000
Buy the Jiffy steamer and save yourself hundreds of dollars on your annual dry cleaning bill. This steamer looks like a mop bucket with wheels but is the best deal for home use.
This well-constructed and sturdy unit takes two minutes to heat up to steam. The steam not only removes wrinkles, it freshens the fabrics – making them look cleaner.
You can use this steamer on clothing, bedding and table linens. It can also help remove wallpaper!
Still can't decide which is a better option or you? I don't blame you. I use both a steamer and an iron. If you are expected to look crisp and clean every day at work they are both essential tools.
What do you think about ironing a crease on jeans? Check here to discover men's denim style tips.
Click below to watch the video – How to Buy Irons and Steamers