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Best Handheld Steamers

Updated June 2023
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Pros
Cons
Best of the Best
Hilife Portable Handheld Steamer
Hilife
Portable Handheld Steamer
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Long-Lasting
Bottom Line

High capacity and power make this an excellent choice for users always on the go.

Pros

Allows you to steam for 15 minutes before needing a refill. The lightweight design and ergonomic handle make it easy to hold. Can be used on a variety of fabrics.

Cons

Takes a while to heat up to the right temperature.

OGHom Handheld Garment Steamer
OGHom
Handheld Garment Steamer
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Quick Heat
Bottom Line

Utilizing a metal and plastic design allows this unit to be both affordable and easy to use.

Pros

Heats up in less than two minutes thanks to an anti-rust metal panel. Has a 9-foot cord making it easy to maneuver when needed. 240 mL capacity.

Cons

If you try to angle the steamer too much then water will spill out.

Electrolux Portable Handheld Garment and Fabric Steamer
Electrolux
Portable Handheld Garment and Fabric Steamer
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No Spill
Bottom Line

An airtight design, large capacity, and a long steam time make this a great choice.

Pros

Compact for easy transport. Has a removable water tank. Designed to be used at any angle. Warms up quickly and efficiently. Works for up to 18 minutes at a time.

Cons

It is very heavy so extended use may be hard for some.

Conair Turbo Extreme Steamer
Conair
Turbo Extreme Steamer
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High Powered
Bottom Line

A compact yet powerful steamer that is very durable and heats up quickly.

Pros

Heats up in less than a minute and can pump out steam for 15 minutes before needing a refill. Has five different heat settings. Comfortable to hold.

Cons

The fill hole for the tank is fairly small.

BEAUTURAL Steamer for Clothes
BEAUTURAL
Steamer for Clothes
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Simple Yet Solid
Bottom Line

A great price point combined with an anti-leak water tank makes this a great choice.

Pros

Steams both horizontally or vertically allowing for better versatility. Heats up quickly. Comes with three separate attachments for various garments.

Cons

The trigger can sometimes get stuck.

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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. About BestReviews  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.About BestReviews 
HOW WE TESTED

We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.

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178
Consumers
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Buying guide for Best handheld steamers

Nothing ruins an otherwise stellar outfit like deep wrinkles. This is especially true if you're traveling and have to unpack clothes that were folded or rolled up. Enter the handheld steamer: a portable steamer is great for work travel, vacation, or to keep at home. There are handheld steamers available at a variety of price points, all more affordable than standing steamers.

Before you start looking for handheld steamer options, there are some factors to keep top of mind. Depending on what you want to use the steamer for, you may find that an iron is actually the better choice (or when in doubt, get both). Also consider the handheld steamer’s water capacity, power wattage, steam settings, and storage.

No matter what’s most important to you as you look for handheld steamers, you should do your research before making your final choice.

a woman using a handheld steamer
Did you know that handheld steamers are environmentally friendly? Dry cleaning substances release toxic fumes into the air. Steaming an item at home rather than having it dry-cleaned will save the environment and save you some money.

How to buy the best handheld steamer

How a steamer works

Handheld steamers are a great way to save money on your dry cleaning bill, and steaming itself isn’t terribly difficult to master. Like an iron, a handheld steamer includes a water reservoir; fill the reservoir with water (distilled is best), plug the steamer in, and wait 30 seconds to a minute for it to heat up. The clothing you want to steam should ideally be hanging on the back of a door or on a clothing rack. When the steamer is heated, hold it a few inches away from the clothing item and run it over the fabric until there are no wrinkles.

Expert tip
Make sure you allow your steamer to warm up completely before starting to use it. 
BestReviews Cleaning Expert

Steamer vs. iron

Maybe you already own an iron and you’re wondering if you really need a steamer. This depends on what your garment needs are. An iron consists of flat plates that can heat up to 250°F to 350°F. The flat, hot metal is pressed directly against the fabric to release wrinkles.

Irons work wonderfully for stiffer fabrics such as denim and linen. An iron is less suitable for delicate fabrics, such as silk and satin, that are also wrinkle-prone. However, many steamers have settings high enough for heavy fabrics. Steamers are the more versatile tool of the two, so if you have to pick one, the handheld steamer is the better choice. Just make sure it has high enough heat settings to unwrinkle all fabrics.

Wattage

Wattage is a measurement of the power needed to operate an electric appliance. Most steamers have a wattage of 700 to 1,600 watts. The higher the wattage, the more powerful the handheld steamer. The most popular premium steamers are higher on the wattage end, usually around 1,200 to 1,600 watts. Steamers with a higher wattage take less time to heat up and are quicker to unwrinkle fabric. Handheld steamers with lower power are better if you’re trying to conserve electricity.

Steam settings

Any high-quality handheld steamer includes multiple heat settings. Some handheld steamers only include two settings: high and low. Others may include a “medium” level or more than three heat settings. It’s best to consult the user manual to get a better sense of which fabrics correspond to each heat setting. Generally speaking, heavy fabrics like cotton, linen, canvas, and corduroy are best suited for high heat settings.

On the light end, silk, chiffon, lace, and most sheer items are best suited for low heat settings.

If you find a handheld steamer with a “medium” setting, fabrics like cotton jersey knit, velvet (though often wrinkle-resistant), and even certain types of denim work best. When in doubt, err on the side of caution; start low and observe whether or not it’s high enough to remove wrinkles.

Water capacity

There’s no steam without water. The reservoir is another vital part of a handheld steamer since it holds the water that creates the steam. The bigger and more powerful the steamer is, the larger the water capacity. Keep in mind that high-wattage handheld steamers use up water more quickly. Depending on the wattage, heat setting, and water capacity, a filled steamer is good to use for 10 to 15 minutes.

Most handheld garment steamers hold between four and eight ounces of water, though some can hold a bit more. Look for steamers with a detachable water reservoir, since that makes cleanup and refilling much easier.

Expert tip
Always remember to empty your steamer when getting ready to travel.  
BestReviews Cleaning Expert

What features do handheld steamers have?

Storage

The best handheld steamers have storage in mind, including built-in space to tuck in power cords, especially if the cord is over 10 feet. Some steamers intended for travel come with their own storage bag, which is convenient even if you’re not traveling.

Crease attachment

For those who are particular about pleats in skirts or creases in pants, look for a handheld steamer with a crease attachment. This is a plastic attachment on top of the steamer’s head. All you do is tuck the fabric into the opening for the crease attachment, close the attachment on the fabric, and move the steamer downward. Once may be enough to get the crease to your liking.

Fabric brush

A fabric brush is excellent for thicker items like jackets, jeans, sweaters, and those subject to pilling. Fabric brushes are another common attachment you’ll find on a handheld steamer. This clips onto the face of the steamer — the same area that emits steam. Simply attach it to your steamer and brush the garment gently.

Look for a lightweight handheld steamer if you plan to use one often — a heavy one can be tiring to hold after a while.

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How much do handheld steamers cost?

Inexpensive

In the $12 to $18 range, you should be able to find a basic steamer to fulfill your needs. Chances are it’s on the smaller size with limited water capacity. There may be two heat settings, and a limited amount of attachments, if any.

Mid-range

The $19 to $30 range options your options quite a bit. This is where you’ll find handheld steamers that hold up to eight ounces of water, steamers with a wattage of over 1,000, and steamers that contain extras like a fabric brush, a crease attachment, or a storage bag. Steamers at this price are often bigger than cheaper ones but are portable nonetheless.

Expensive

If you truly want to invest in a steamer you’ll keep for a long time, consider spending a bit extra. For $30 or more, handheld steamers definitely have at least two heat settings (or up to five) and all the extra attachments available at the mid-range. Some premium handheld steamers don’t need distilled water, as they’ll be able to filter out the impurities from tap water.

a handheld steamer
FOR YOUR SAFETY
Avoid using a steamer on any clothes while wearing them — you can badly burn yourself.
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Tips

  • Stick with distilled water. Tap water is filled with minerals and impurities. Over time, it can wear on a steamer’s metal parts and cause hard calcium deposits. Distilled water is free of impurities and therefore won’t wear on the steamer or leave deposits.
  • Clean your steamer. It’s important to clean your steamer regularly since mineral deposits can build up easily, especially if you choose to use tap water. Clean the reservoir by filling it with one part white vinegar and two parts distilled water. Run the steamer until half the solution is gone. Allow the solution to cool, empty it, and repeat the process again until you no longer see chalky mineral deposits.
  • You can’t steam everything. Avoid using a handheld steamer on suede, wax jackets, and anything with plastic, as it can melt.
using a handheld steamer on a white t-shirt
Handheld steamers have multiple household uses: you can use them to remove stains. Pretreat a stain with the substance of your choice, then apply steam to it. Just be careful to not overheat the stained spot.

FAQ

Q. Are handheld steamers allowed on flights?

A. Yes, most handheld steamers are allowed in carry-ons if they’re TSA-compliant (which means no liquid inside). It’s more convenient to opt for the lightest, most compact handheld steamer possible.

Expert tip
Some steamers can be used vertically, which makes them double as an iron. Before purchasing a steamer, ensure it fits all of your needs.
BestReviews Cleaning Expert

Q. Can handheld steamers burn clothes?

A. It’s virtually impossible for steamers to burn clothes. Because they’re held inches away from clothes, the steam isn’t intense enough to significantly damage clothing. If there is a bit of damage, it doesn’t come anywhere close to burning the fabric.

Q. Can handheld steamers kill pests like fleas, ticks, or bed bugs?

A. Pesky critters are hard to get rid of, but it’s possible to use a handheld steamer to combat them. For any infestation, a larger steam cleaner would be more useful. A handheld steamer is more useful to supplement ongoing pest treatments. Use the handheld steamer along the seams of your mattress, crevices where your baseboard meets your floor, and any corners where there’s an infestation. The steamer setting needs to be at least 110°F with heat applied for 10 to 15 minutes to kill bugs and eggs. When in doubt, consult a professional exterminator for best practices.

 

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