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Difference Between Garment Steamer and Iron

Difference Between Garment Steamer and Iron

Often times, looking at the load of ironing, you may have wanted a simpler way to get it done, such as using a garment steamer. But is a garment steamer really as good as an iron? What is the difference between the two? Find out here.
Puja Lalwani
Last Updated: Mar 12, 2018
There are some who simply detest the ironing process. Opening up wrinkled clothes, laying them on an ironing board, and then expending all the energy possible on making clothes wrinkle-free may seem like a task to a lot of people. A garment steamer may then seem much easier to use, as all you have to do is hang your clothes and run the steamer over them to get them free of wrinkles. But not so fast! It's not as simple as it seems, and weighing the pros and cons of a garment steamer vs. a conventional iron is important. That is what we do here, so that you can make an informed choice.

How are Garment Steamers and Irons Different?

The key to choosing a garment steamer over a regular iron is to first identify your needs regarding either. While 'not liking ironing' does count, you should also consider other aspects of choosing one over the other. As such, here are a few tips that will help you differentiate between the two and help you decide which one suits your needs.
  • First things first, an iron requires the use of an ironing board, while a garment steamer is hand held and can be used on hanging clothes.
  • Secondly, an iron will take time to heat up while a steamer definitely takes lesser time.
  • When you iron, you can define pleats and creases of shirts, trousers and skirts, which is not possible with a garment steamer as applying pressure with it is not possible.
  • Ironing may leave a shine on clothes due to the heat and pressure applied by irons, but this can be avoided with a garment steamer.
  • Fabrics that require more effort to be made wrinkle free, such as cotton may not do too well with a garment steamer. A garment steamer may be great for lighter and more delicate fabrics that are in danger of getting burnt by an iron.
  • Garment steamers may also be better for heavy clothes that are difficult to iron such as wedding gowns or the like.
  • Garment steamers will not harm any fabric they are used on, unlike irons that need to be used at different settings for different fabrics.
In short, if you intend to use a garment steamer to replace ironing, you will require a heavy duty one that can fulfill purposes that ironing can. However, remember that even the best steamer cannot give you the crispness of clothes that an iron gives you. With heavy duty steamers, you should be careful using them as they require filling the steamer with water and then waiting for it to heat up. Steam burns can be as dangerous as iron burns.

If you wish to use a garment steamer as an accompaniment to your iron, that would be a better idea. For instance, if you are traveling and need to just touch up your ironed clothes, a travel garment steamer would be the perfect choice. These two units complement each other better than when they are used alone. A steamer is a good choice for you if you happen to be giving your clothes to the dry cleaner pretty often, if you happen to wear suits most of the time, and if you happen to have to iron a lot of clothes at a time. Technically, not every garment needs to have that crisp look. In such times garment steamers will definitely be perfect for you.

Finally, it is for you to decide which one will be a better choice for you. If you still can't decide, ask those who have used a garment steamer as against an iron, and then make a choice. You can also start with a small steamer to see whether you are comfortable using it, and then move on to the heavy duty ones if you happen to get comfortable with the small one.
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