Steaming clothes can be a practical, swift substitute for using a traditional iron. But it’s not all roses and sunshine.
Using a fabric steamer can be tricky if you’re not clued up on steaming essentials. You must know what fabrics can and can’t be exposed to steam, so you don’t ruin your favorite outfits.
Our step-by-step guide will equip you with all the facts on how to steam clothes.
- Not all fabrics can be steamed; avoid plastic-based synthetics, leather, suede, and stained items.
- Suitable fabrics for steaming include cotton, wool, silk, polyester, and fabric mixes like chiffon.
- To steam clothes, use a steamer, a clothes hanger, and hanger clips (optional); hang the garment, prepare the steamer, and steam each section of the clothing.
- Let the fabric dry and cool for at least 15 minutes before wearing or storing the garment.
Can You Steam Any Fabric?
Not every type of fabric can withstand steam. Water transforms from a liquid into a vapor (steam) at 212 degrees Fahrenheit.
Certain materials can be damaged by heat, moisture, or both. These include:
- Plastic-based synthetics: If your garment feels slick and waterproof, it’s likely made from a synthetic fabric (e.g., raincoats). Note that faux leather is typically made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC), a type of plastic. PVC can melt at temperatures as low as 167 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Leather: Excessive heat can cause your stylish leather jacket to shrink. These items are best left to the experts (e.g., dry cleaners who work with leather).
- Suede: Suede is a type of leather product that’s been processed and feels super-soft. As with leather, they require care and should be professionally dry cleaned.
- Stained items: Don’t reach for your fabric steamer if you stain your clothes. The substance could permanently set in the material.
As a rule, you can proceed full steam ahead with the following fabrics. However, always make sure to check the label of the individual garment first:
- Wools (including cashmere, although it’s wrinkle-resistant).
- Silks (steaming is recommended for this wrinkle-prone material).
- Mixes of the above-mentioned fabrics, such as chiffon.
How to Steam Clothes
Steaming clothes is a straightforward chore to accomplish. Some of you may even find it enjoyable compared to the drudgery of ironing.
- Time: 5-10 minutes
- Difficulty: Easy
What You’ll Need
- Steam cleaner (with garment attachment)
- Clothes hanger
- Hanger clips (optional)
1. Choose the Best Fabric Steamer for Clothes
You can buy a portable fabric steamer that’s exclusively for clothing. If you have space, you can get a larger one with a built-in hanger.
Alternatively, you can purchase an all-purpose steam cleaner with an attachment for steaming clothes.
If you already own one of these gadgets, check if the manufacturer sells a compatible accessory. Slim nozzles can draw the steaming process out. You may also end up missing spots as you work. So it’s preferable to use an attachment intended for garments.
2. Clear the Surrounding Area
Ensure that children or pets are out of the room to avoid accidents. Use common sense when you choose a work area. Don’t start steaming next to your expensive make-up collection or in front of peeling wallpaper.
3. Hang Up Your Garment
Place the item you want to steam on a hanger. Don’t use cloth-covered hangers; choose plain hard plastic or metal.
Some clothes require a hanger with clips, such as slacks or skirts. If the clips are plastic, make sure you don’t focus the steam on them for too long.
Always Remove Clothing
4. Prepare Your Clothes Steamer
Fill your steamer’s water tank up to capacity and let it heat up. Attach the accessory for clothes (if you have one).
5. Start Steaming
It’s time to steam your clothes. We’ve provided guidelines for different types of garments.
6. Let the Fabric Dry and Cool Completely
Don’t jump into your freshly steamed clothing straight away. Give the fabric time to cool (at least 15 minutes) and dry off before you wear it or put it away.