Garment Steamer or Iron: Which is Better? (20 Years of Personal Experience)

I worked in retail for several years, and I’m very familiar with steaming clothing for everyday display.  Since working in retail, I have owned a commercial garment steamer at home for about 20 years. 

I believe steaming clothes is far superior to ironing in most cases.  Here are the reasons what I choose a garment steamer vs. iron:

  • Quicker: Steaming is much quicker and excellent for touch-ups.  Whether you are doing a single piece of clothing or multiple, it’s much more efficient and doesn’t leave a sheen from spray starch. 
  • Low maintenance clothing: Nowadays, much of the clothing is “wrinkle-resistant” which makes clothes steamer an ideal choice for de-wrinkling small jobs.
  • Space-saving: A garment steamer requires less storage space than an iron and ironing board.
  • Germ and bug killer: A clothing steamer can get rid of bed bugs and dust mites on both clothing or use on your mattress. 

Can Steam Damage Clothing?

Yes, due to the intense heat of steam, you never want to use it on any plastic or wax in clothing.  Also, the moisture from steaming is not recommended for suede clothing.  Fabrics not to steam:

  • Plastic on clothing
  • Suede
  • Wax jackets

Pro Tip: Do not attempt ever to steam clothing while you are wearing it.  Though it makes sense, you may be tempted.  Don’t do it as you’ll quickly burn yourself.

Benefits of a Garment Steamer or Iron on Clothing

Finally, many people try getting a couple wears from clothing.  The steamer will activate any body odor or smells from your clothing during the process.  It will prevent you from going out wearing a dirty shirt.  

Other Uses for a Garment Steamer

  • Sofa – remove old gum under the couch cushion.  It also sanitizes and deodorizes the couch cushions you sit on daily.  Read the care tag on the furniture first
  • Curtains – You don’t need to remove them from the wall to clean spots.  Don’t use on drapes that say, “Dry clean only.”
  • Remove wallpaper – many painters use a commercial garment steamer to loosen the paste from the wallpaper backing
  • Tile floor – remove mildew and mold from your shower or bathtub area
  • Rug – the steamer will loosen the gunk with a spot treatment
  • Freezer – quickly remove ice and gunk when defrosting your freezer.
  • Counters – Some countertops can handle the heat while others cannot.  The most heat resistant countertops are concrete and granite.  
  • Stovetop – remove spatters of grease without chemicals. 
  • Carpet – Remove tough stains that have dried in your carpet. 

Please let us know if you prefer a steamer or an iron below.