How to Clean a Garment Steamer

Common household machines like vacuum cleaners and dishwashers need to be cleaned periodically. This ensures that they remain in a working condition for long. This HomeQuicks article tells you how to correctly clean a garment steamer.
HomeQuicks Staff
Ever wondered how clothing stores in malls, shopping centers, or boutiques always have crisp, wrinkle-free clean clothes that tempt you so much into trying them out? You can achieve that effect with ironing, but really, how much ironing is humanly possible? And what if you are on the move a lot and need your clothes to look flawless and wrinkle-free rapidly? In such situations, ironing can be a tedious process. There is an alternative to ironing, where you can steam the clothes as they hang to smooth out the wrinkles. This is where a garment or fabric steamer comes into play.
Such machines come in different sizes and features for industrial, portable, and home use. A standard garment steamer consists of parts like a water container, a long hose with a vacuum-like nozzle on the end, and a telescopic pipe to hang the clothes on. The method of operation is fairly simple. Fill the container with water, turn the machine on, let the water steam, and using the nozzle, release steam over the garment. There's no denying the handiness of such a machine, but even the best steamers need to be cleaned once in a while. Here's how you can do it.
Cleaning a Garment Steamer
The following steps are meant for basic cleaning of the device after use. Please refer to the user manual to determine the parts that can be detached for cleaning.
  • Turn off the machine and unplug its power source.
  • While it is being used, the steamer can get very hot, especially the water tank. So let it to cool down for about 30 minutes to 1 hour.
  • If the power cord can be unplugged and wrapped away, do so.
  • If it has cooled sufficiently, remove the steamer hose and drain any water stuck in the hose.
  • Remove the water container and drain it of any left over water. Leave it to dry completely.
  • Sometimes, water can remain in the part of the steamer that holds the water tank. So gently lift the steamer and tilt it to allow the water to drain away.
  • If the steamer has a telescopic rod, collapse it and coil the hose as well. Put the water container back.
  • Most steamer units have a housing unit below. As per the manual instructions, check which parts can be folded, fold them into the housing unit, and store the unit.
  • If you are storing the steamer away for a long time, make sure no water has collected in any part of the steamer. If water collects in the unit, it can damage the internal parts.
Decalcification of a Garment Steamer
A garment steamer converts water into steam, and through your hand movement, will release the steam over a garment. After a period of use, calcium residues will get collected inside the steamer, hose, and the steaming head. This is due to the presence of calcium in the water being used. It can clog the nozzle, and the steamer may not work properly. The steam may not get released continuously with the desired intensity. The "low water" indicator may keep flashing even though the container is full. Some models have a calcium level indicator on the steamer itself. Most steamers will need to be cleaned of calcium after 3-6 months of use. But how often you need to clean it from a garment steamer depends on the quality of water and the frequency of use of the steamer.

Important: This is a basic method to clean a steamer. Different brands have different techniques and procedures to clean their steamers. Some brands even specify a particular cleaning agent that is to be used. Please refer to the user manual for any specific steps or cleaning liquids to be used.
  • Prepare a mixture of ⅓ part white vinegar and ⅔ parts water.
  • The total volume of water should be equal to the maximum capacity of the water container.
  • Pour the mixture into the container, and place container in the steamer.
  • Plug in the steamer and turn it on.
  • Leave it to steam until only half of the liquid in the container remains.
  • Turn the steamer off and let the solution sit in the steamer for 30 minutes only.
  • Remove the container and discard the solution.
  • Try to drain away extra solution by lifting the steamer and gently tilting it over a sink.
  • Repeat the above steps with a fresh mix of vinegar and water at least 2-3 times.
  • After such cycles, check whether the steamer is working properly and steam is generated at a good rate.
  • Finally, fill the container with cold water and allow it to steam.
  • Now you can use the steamer for normal use.
Taking Care of Your Garment Steamer
Along with cleaning, you should preserve and use it in a proper manner so that it will work to its fullest.
  • Always use the steamer in a vertical and upright manner. Do not use the steamer in a horizontal manner like an iron.
  • Let the steamer cool down completely prior to storage.
  • Never ever use any liquid other than water in the steamer's water container.
  • Do not add starch, liquid detergent, perfume, dye, salt, soap, or any such additive to the water in the steamer.
  • Always use fresh, clean, tap or distilled water in the steamer.
  • If foam starts to collect in the water container, this means that the water is stale and needs to be changed.
  • Rinse the water container and then fill it for use.
  • Do not overfill the water container of the steamer.
  • Do not let your steamer run on insufficient water. If the "low water" indicator light is on, refill the container.
  • While filling the container, make sure that the steamer is not hot and the device is switched off. Let it cool down completely, then refill the container.

In your efforts to clean a fabric steamer, please make sure that you are actually "cleaning" and not "destroying" it. If the machine is very clogged and not working at all, do not attempt to take it apart and fix it, contact the manufacturer and seek the services of a professional.