The 3 Best Clothing Steamers of 2023 | Reviews by Wirecutter

We independently review everything we recommend. When you buy through our links, we may earn a commission. Learn more›

A good clothing steamer can have your garments looking polished and wrinkle-free in mere minutes. It’s often a more appealing option than pulling out the iron, and because a steamer smooths without scorching, it’s a better tool for delicate fabrics like silk and wool. Hanging Clothes Steamer

The 3 Best Clothing Steamers of 2023 | Reviews by Wirecutter

We’ve tested dozens of steamers since 2016, and our current favorite for regular home use is the Conair Turbo ExtremeSteam Garment Steamer. Its powerful blasts of steam, comfortable grip, and smart features make it the one we grab over and over. We also recommend an inexpensive compact steamer that’s ideally suited for travel, plus a heavy-duty steamer with a larger water tank for folks who frequently tackle bigger jobs.

This steamer melted wrinkles without spitting water on our fabrics—rare among the models we tested. It’s also comfortable to hold and has standout features, like an aluminum steamer plate and dual steam settings.

This small, inexpensive steamer is best suited for travel and occasional home use. It does leave some wet spots on fabrics, but it’s better built and more efficient than the other portable steamers we tried.

For serious steamers, this pricey, supersized floor-standing model will make getting the job done a lot more pleasant. Its steam head is the comfiest to use for extended periods, and it holds the most water—just be careful when rolling it across the floor with a full tank, because it can splash.

This steamer melted wrinkles without spitting water on our fabrics—rare among the models we tested. It’s also comfortable to hold and has standout features, like an aluminum steamer plate and dual steam settings.

Like most of the midsize handheld steamers we tested, the Conair Turbo ExtremeSteam Garment Steamer (GS38R) produced ample steam for the job, and it was easier to hold and more thoughtfully designed than the competition. It was also one of the only handheld steamers that didn’t leave wet spots on test fabrics. The Conair Turbo steamer weighs just under 2.75 pounds with a full water tank (other midsize steamers we tested weighed between 2.5 and 5 pounds), making it among the lightest and most comfortable to maneuver. The heat-up aluminum steamer plate glides over fabric, helping to smooth wrinkles nearly as effectively as a traditional iron. It also comes with several accessories, including a silicone band attachment for pulling fabrics taut, a mesh bonnet for protecting extra-delicate items, and a bristle brush for loosening fibers to allow for better steam penetration. Plus, with two settings, the Conair Turbo steamer was one of the only models we tested that allowed us to control the heat and force of the steam: We used the “steam” setting for smoothing delicate silks, while the more powerful “turbo” setting was effective for tackling heavier cotton shirts. It has a one-year limited warranty.

This small, inexpensive steamer is best suited for travel and occasional home use. It does leave some wet spots on fabrics, but it’s better built and more efficient than the other portable steamers we tried.

If you want a steamer on hand to occasionally freshen up a garment, or to pack in your suitcase, you probably don’t need anything fancier than the Conair CompleteSteam Hand Held Fabric Steamer (GS2). It’s around half the price of the Conair Turbo ExtremeSteam Garment Steamer, and it was more effective at smoothing wrinkles than any other steamer we tried in its price range (most of which were junky). It was also one of the only steamers of this size (often called “portable” or “travel” steamers) we tested that didn’t pour water out of the spout when tipped over. It has a relatively small water tank (5 ounces; the portables we tried ranged from 5 to 8 ounces), and it did spit some water when in use, but it left fewer wet spots on clothes than the other portables we tried. If you think you’ll use a steamer regularly, invest in the well-made Conair Turbo ExtremeSteam, but if you just need to smooth a wrinkle now and then—at home or while traveling—the Conair CompleteSteam fabric steamer is a solid choice. It has a one-year limited warranty, which is typical for small, inexpensive steamers.

For serious steamers, this pricey, supersized floor-standing model will make getting the job done a lot more pleasant. Its steam head is the comfiest to use for extended periods, and it holds the most water—just be careful when rolling it across the floor with a full tank, because it can splash.

If you do a lot of steaming, or if you find handheld steamers too heavy or uncomfortable, the Reliable Vivio 500 GC Professional Garment Steamer is a pleasure to use, and it may be worth the (considerable) investment. It’s nearly 6 feet tall, with a base about the size of a canister vacuum; despite its cumbersome size, it was our favorite steamer to use in testing. The tank holds a gallon of water (the most of any steamer we tried), it heats up quickly, and its steam head was much more comfortable for extended use than the handheld steamers that we tested. Be careful rolling the Vivio across the floor when the tank is full—it can splash water. This steamer comes with a three-year limited warranty, which was average for the ones we tested.

This steamer melted wrinkles without spitting water on our fabrics—rare among the models we tested. It’s also comfortable to hold and has standout features, like an aluminum steamer plate and dual steam settings.

They say the devil is in the details, but with the Conair Turbo ExtremeSteam Garment Steamer, the details were downright heavenly. The Conair Turbo steamer checked every box on our list: It was effective at vanquishing wrinkles, didn’t leave wet spots on test fabrics, and felt comfortable to hold. It heated up in under a minute and provided more than 15 minutes of continuous steam, and we found its long, 10-foot cord convenient. But the smart details—like the aluminum-quilted steam plate and the two steam settings—pushed the Conair Turbo steamer above its competitors to make steaming an enjoyable chore.

The bursts of steam from the Conair Turbo steamer smoothed out a silk dress in seconds and a rumpled cotton pillowcase in under a minute. Several steamers we’ve considered have multiple holes for the steam to escape, but the Conair Turbo has a thin, long slit, which results in a more targeted sheet of steam. It took more wrinkles out of crumpled button-down shirts than the other handheld steamers we tested (although the most stubborn wrinkles, on the sleeves and the bottom hems, still needed an iron). Also, many steamers we tested spit droplets of water along with the steam, leaving wet marks on test fabrics. The Conair Turbo steamer didn’t; out of eight handheld steamers we tried, only the Conair Turbo and the (now discontinued) Sunbeam Power Steam Fabric Steamer left clothes completely dry.

Handheld (aka midsize) steamers can be uncomfortable to use after a few minutes—of the three steamer types we tested, they were the heaviest to hold. The Conair Turbo is among the lightest and most comfortable handheld models, for both vertical and horizontal use. It weighs about 2.75 pounds with a full tank (the handhelds we tested ranged from 2.5 to 5 pounds), so while it can still feel heavy after prolonged use, it’s lighter than most in its category. It wasn’t as comfortable to use as the floor-standing Reliable Vivio 500 GC Professional Garment Steamer, but it’s about a quarter of the price and far, far easier to store.

Its 7.3-ounce water tank is one of the smaller water tanks among our handheld test group. Nevertheless, in testing it produced more than 15 minutes of continuous steam, and we were able to smooth a dress, a jacket, a pair of slacks, and three heavily wrinkled cotton button-downs with water left to spare. The Conair Turbo steamer’s water tank is also easy to remove and replace—simply slide up the release switch to unlock the tank, then click it back into place—which is handy if you do need to refill it in the middle of a big job. And it stands up on its own, meaning it can be filled while resting on the counter.

The Conair Turbo steamer has a heat-up aluminum head that glides smoothly and helps to push steam into the fabric’s fibers (similar to what an iron does). This feature was enormously helpful for unwrinkling heavier fabrics, especially when used horizontally against a flat surface. It also comes with three snap-on attachments: a bristle brush to ensure steam penetrates fibers for a perfect press, a silicone bar for pulling fabrics taut, and a mesh bonnet to protect your most delicate textiles. But for quickly removing heavy wrinkles, this steamer performs best all on its own. The Conair Turbo steamer also gave us more control over the amount of steam than most other handheld steamers, with two settings: “steam,” for freshening up lighter items, and “turbo,” for blasting the wrinkles out of weightier fabrics.

The relatively small water tank makes the Conair Turbo steamer weigh less than the competition when full, but it also means you’ll need to refill it if you’re doing a lot of steaming. And because of the tank’s small opening, it was challenging to fill from a gallon-jug of distilled water. (This is pretty common with handheld steamers, and can be easily remedied by using a funnel.) Plus, the small opening means it takes a long time for the tank to dry fully after use. Finally, we found the built-in creaser tool fiddly and awkward to use. If you want to make sharp pleats, use an iron.

This small, inexpensive steamer is best suited for travel and occasional home use. It does leave some wet spots on fabrics, but it’s better built and more efficient than the other portable steamers we tried.

Portable (aka travel-size) steamers are not the most impressive examples of modern engineering—most of them leak, and they’re not that powerful—but the Conair CompleteSteam Hand Held Fabric Steamer (GS2X) is the best one we’ve found, and it even outperformed some bigger, pricier models. If you need to use a steamer only occasionally, for an outfit or for a trip, the small CompleteSteam is effective, affordable, and lightweight.

In our testing the Conair CompleteSteam not only beat all of the cheap portable steamers, it also was easier to fill and left fewer wet marks on clothes than midsize handhelds from Rowenta and Black+Decker. The Conair CompleteSteam didn’t produce as much steam as our main pick, the Conair Turbo ExtremeSteam, so it needed more passes over the fabric to flatten wrinkles, and it wasn’t as effective on tough creases—but it’s also less than half the price. The Conair CompleteSteam is just right for light jobs and travel, and it’s more comfortable to use than a heavier midsized steamer if you don’t have much to steam. It did leave some water spots when used too close to fabrics. But the CompleteSteam can also be used horizontally (not a given in this category); it dribbled only a few droplets, which was a win compared with others that poured water everywhere.

The Conair CompleteSteam (like most of the five portable steamers we tried) looks like a small watering can, and it weighs about 2.5 pounds when full. It was the heaviest of the portable steamers we tested, yet it has one of the smallest water tanks. Empty it’s just over 2 pounds, and the tank holds 5 ounces of water. By comparison, the Hilife Steamer weighs 1.5 pounds when empty and has an 8-ounce water tank. You can steam two, maybe three, outfits with the Conair CompleteSteam before you’ll need to refill.

Conair’s one-year warranty is comparable to those of most of the other inexpensive portable steamers we considered. The price and quality of portable steamers indicate to us that these are not meant to last forever.

For serious steamers, this pricey, supersized floor-standing model will make getting the job done a lot more pleasant. Its steam head is the comfiest to use for extended periods, and it holds the most water—just be careful when rolling it across the floor with a full tank, because it can splash.

If you have a lot of steaming to do (like helping a wedding party get dressed or tackling a mountain of laundry), if you prefer to steam clothes spread out on a table or bed instead of hanging upright, or if you don’t find heavy handheld steamers comfortable to use, the floor-standing Reliable Vivio 500 GC Professional Garment Steamer is a solid alternative that left its four competitors in the dust. A flexible hose makes this steamer the most comfortable of our picks to use. It releases a steady, effective flow of steam; it’s smartly designed; and its 1-gallon tank was still steaming long after we ran out of fabric to smooth. It does, however, cost nearly four times as much as the Conair Turbo ExtremeSteam.

For big jobs, the handheld Conair Turbo steamer will build up your biceps but test your patience; the Reliable Vivio, on the other hand, has a lightweight hose (like all floor-standing steamers) that was more flexible than others we tried and easier to glide across fabrics. (It’s like using a vacuum-cleaner hose.) This also made the Reliable steamer the best of our picks for steaming horizontally, if that’s what you prefer. It was as effective as other full-size steamers at smoothing wrinkles (and also similar to the handheld Conair Turbo in this regard), but it was the only one that didn’t spit any water.

All floor-standing steamers have an attached pole to hold the steamer head and a garment. The Reliable Vivio comes with its own hanger, which keeps your clothes steadier while you steam than models like the PurSteam and the Jiffy, neither of which included one. The Reliable Vivio’s design sets it apart, but it did require more setup than other floor-standing steamers we tested—we had to get out a screwdriver. Another standing steamer we tried, the Pure Enrichment Pure Steam, also came with a snap-on hanger, but it was harder to move around (an important consideration when you’re trying to steam the front and back of a shirt).

Like those of all floor-standing steamers we tried, the Reliable Vivio’s removable tank was easy to fill, with a screw-on cap and a wide opening that fit under a faucet. It held more water (a gallon) than any other steamer we tested, but it still heated up in about two minutes. You don’t have to empty the tank after each use, so once it’s set up, it’s a breeze to wheel out and start using. The Reliable Vivio’s wheels were better on hardwood floors than those of any other full-size steamer we tried, but be careful when storing the steamer or moving it around. If the base tips backward, some water will dribble out of the tank. Leaking is a common issue, and this wasn’t the worst offender during testing. It comes with a three-year limited warranty.

Wirecutter senior staff writer Jackie Reeve has spent the majority of her waking life working with textiles, and that means dealing with wrinkles. She has written our guides to cotton sheets, flannel sheets, bed blankets, throw blankets, pajamas, robes, bath towels, and duvet covers, among others. In the course of doing the research for those pieces, she has done so much laundry that she must hold the company record by now. Jackie also wrote our guides to irons and ironing boards. For this guide she also built on the research of Camille Perri and Tim Heffernan.

Zoe Vanderweide is a Wirecutter staff writer covering style, so she’s constantly wearing, washing, styling and generally fussing over clothes. At any given time, she has between 30 and 40 garments in her testing queue to keep clean and wrinkle-free. In her off-hours, she’s also a type-A neatnik who considers a marathon garment-steaming session the ideal way to spend an evening in.

If you own a lot of delicate fabrics, or if you just need to freshen up the occasional piece of clothing or linen, a steamer will be a solid addition to your laundry arsenal, and it might even be a replacement for an iron. Over time, a steamer can also save you money normally spent at the dry cleaner. If you choose to hand-wash your delicate items at home (we have guidelines on what can and can’t skip the dry cleaner), a steamer can smooth out wrinkles and help everything look professionally cleaned and pressed. Steamers generally heat up in a couple of minutes, and the top ones we’ve tested melt away wrinkles with very little effort. They work best—and fastest—on thinner fabrics like silk and polyester, which you probably don’t want to iron anyway for fear of scorching them. Steamers are also a convenient way to smooth wrinkled curtains or drapes without having to take them down. We tested three basic types of steamers for this guide: midsize handheld models, which look like small dumbbells and are a good choice if you steam semi-regularly; small portable models (shaped like a pitcher), which hold a few ounces of water and are best for light use; and full-size, floor-standing models (similar in size to a vacuum cleaner), which have a rod to hang your garments on and the biggest tanks, so you can steam for long stretches without refilling.

Don’t rely on a steamer to create sharp pleats or creases, or to flatten seams. Some we tried came with special tools for that purpose, but they were time-consuming and fiddly, and they made us wonder why we hadn’t just gotten out the iron. In testing we also found that steamers were less effective than irons on stubborn folds and wrinkles, particularly on the hems of heavily creased shirts, jeans, and cotton sheets. If you wash and dry dress shirts—or any button-down shirts—at home, an iron is a better tool for keeping them crisp. A steamer can be helpful if you want to avoid storing a big ironing board in a small apartment, but that’s only realistic if your laundry isn’t that wrinkled. (We recommend options for small-space living in our ironing boards guide.)

We used these criteria to choose the best steamers:

Effective: The steamers with the strongest bursts of hot steam flattened wrinkles the fastest. We wanted to be able to steam an outfit in minutes and get out the door.

Non-leaking: A water stain can ruin a delicate, expensive fabric, and dribbling water can also be a safety hazard with a plugged-in appliance. We looked for steamers that didn’t drip, spit, or leak.

Big water tanks: The bigger the tank, the longer you can use your steamer before having to refill it. We looked at three different size categories and prioritized roomy water tanks for all of them.

Comfortable to use: Midsize handheld steamers can be especially top-heavy and awkward to hold. Since steaming involves a fair amount of arm lifting, we looked for steamers that were comfortable enough to use for several minutes at a time. We also favored steamers that could be used both vertically and horizontally, for people who are more comfortable using a steamer on a flat surface. And we looked for longer cords, which are helpful if you’re tall, or if your outlets aren’t in a convenient spot.

Protected by a warranty: Over the years, we’ve learned that irons and steamers can break easily. For one person, a steamer might last for years, and for someone else, the same model might conk out after two months. We considered only models with solid warranties, in case they give up the ghost too soon.

In addition to relying on our own deep knowledge of steamers (gained from a long history of testing them), we considered opinions from The Strategist and Good Housekeeping, and checked star ratings on Amazon, Bed Bath & Beyond, Target, and other retailers to compile a list of 28 candidates. We narrowed the list by reading user reviews from those same retailers, checking for things like customer service concerns and for reports of steamers that didn’t last long, and we looked at each steamer’s specifications—warranty, water-tank size, and useful features. We included well-reviewed steamers, favored brands that have proved to be reliable in the past, and covered household names that are easy to find. In the end, we decided to test 17 steamers in three categories: portable, handheld (aka midsize), and floor-standing.

We tried each steamer on a variety of items, including cotton sheets, button-down shirts, and silks, noting which models met the above criteria. We used them vertically (on clothes hung from hangers) and horizontally (spread out on an ironing board), and we measured the length of the steamers’ extension cords and the size of their water tanks.

This is not a comprehensive list of everything we tested in previous iterations of this guide, just what’s still available.

The   Beautural 1200-Watt Steamer for Clothes  smoothed wrinkles on thin silk but struggled with thicker cotton, and it spit some water onto fabrics.

The Black+Decker Advanced Handheld Steamer (HGS200) was a dud. We had to push the power button several times to get it to work, and it was the slowest steamer to heat up in our testing. Also, it didn’t produce much steam, and it made strange—even alarming—noises, so we unplugged it after just a few minutes. It did have the largest water tank (13.5 ounces) of any handheld we tried, though.

In past years, we’ve also tested and dismissed other handheld steamers, including the Jiffy Esteam Travel Steamer and the Steamfast SF-435 Compact Fabric Steamer.

The Hilife Steamer for Clothes leaked water, couldn’t be used horizontally, and didn’t get very hot.

In previous years we also tested and dismissed a number of other portable steamers, including the Conair Travel Smart and the Pure Enrichment PureSteam Portable Fabric Steamer.

Our former floor-standing pick, the J-2000 Jiffy Garment Steamer, has a simple design, and it emitted strong steam, but it was the worst offender in our testing when it came to water leaks from the tank. When we tried to roll the Jiffy’s stiff wheels across the floor, water poured out of the base, covering the cord and plug. We had to halt testing this steamer until it was dry enough to plug in, and it leaked again when we moved it after testing.

The Pure Enrichment Pure Steam XL Standing Steamer was the least expensive full-size steamer we tried. Although it has some nice details, overall you get what you pay for. It spit on our test fabrics, and it wasn’t as powerful as our Reliable Vivio 500 GC floor-standing pick. The clip-on hanger kept garments still, but it was fussy to unclip and turn around to steam the garment’s other side. Plus, it had the smallest water tank of the floor-standing group.

The PurSteam Full Size Garment Fabric Steamer has a dial to control the force of the steam. This is a nice (and rare) feature, but the steamer leaked on all the test fabrics. Also, the hose was stiff to use until the steam loosened it up after several minutes.

In previous years we tested and dismissed several other floor-standing steamers, including the Conair Ultimate Fabric Steamer (GS28) and the Steamfast SF-510 Fabric Steamer.

This article was edited by Ingela Ratledge Amundson and Jennifer Hunter.

Editors, The Best Clothes Steamers on Amazon, According to Hyperenthusiastic Reviews, The Strategist, May 10, 2019

Sarah Bogden, These Are the 10 Best Garment Steamers to Buy, Good Housekeeping, December 7, 2018

Jackie Reeve is a senior staff writer covering bedding, organization, and home goods at Wirecutter since 2015. Previously she was a school librarian, and she’s been a quilter for about 15 years. Her quilt patterns and her other written work have appeared in various publications. She moderates Wirecutter’s staff book club and makes her bed every morning.

Zoe Vanderweide is a staff writer reporting on style and accessories at Wirecutter. She has been wearing things for over three decades, and she has spent years covering streetwear, luxury, art, and design. Off the clock, you can find her painting the town rainbow with her (devastatingly stylish) daughter.

An iron isn’t the only way to blast away wrinkles.

After testing over two dozen irons (and researching many more), we like the Chi Electronic Iron 13102 for its durability and ease of use.

by Zoe Vanderweide and Dorie Chevlen

The right tools can keep your clothing looking better for longer. Here’s what you need to wash, dry, and spruce up your favorites.

These shoes, shirts, and accessories were the most-purchased Wirecutter clothing picks in 2022.

The 3 Best Clothing Steamers of 2023 | Reviews by Wirecutter

Steam Master Clothes Steamer Wirecutter is the product recommendation service from The New York Times. Our journalists combine independent research with (occasionally) over-the-top testing so you can make quick and confident buying decisions. Whether it’s finding great products or discovering helpful advice, we’ll help you get it right (the first time).