Our #2 pick is well under $20.
A garment steamer is a great addition (or alternative!) to a traditional steam iron for quickly removing wrinkles and freshening fabrics. It work wonders on clothing made of soft or delicate materials, like flowing skirts and silky blouses, and on suit jackets, sequined tops, and other difficult-to-press items. Because they are so portable, garment steamers are perfect travel: they take up little room in your luggage and you can de-crease garments right on the hanger. They are also super easy to use around the house to spruce up bed skirts, draperies and window treatments, pillow shams, and more.
The Good Housekeeping Institute Cleaning Lab tests all garment steamers for efficiency, heat-up time, and ease of use. Our experts start by assessing how balanced and comfortable each steamer is to hold, the capacity and ease of sight into the water tank, and how easy it is to fill and empty. We time how quickly the appliance heat ups, how long it runs, and how many grams per minute of steam it pumps out. Then, we take it to the linen, silk, cotton, wool and synthetic fabric swatches and garments we've balled up and wrinkled overnight. We time how long it takes to de-crease each item, and then score each fabric for smoothness using an industry standard protocol borrowed from our GH Textiles Lab. We note any spitting or sputtering and test any attachments included with the steamer.
These are the best garment steamers, according to our tests:
For some — but not all — de-wrinkling jobs, a steamer is a better choice than a steam iron. Garment steamers pump out soft billows of steam that pass through fabrics and delicate fibers to allow wrinkles to fall out as you gently tug on the bottom of the shirt or blouse. Irons, on the other hand, use moisture, heat, steam and pressure to smooth and flatten fabrics and remove wrinkles as you press against the board. Steamers are better suited for use on items decorated with sequins and beads, and tailored garments, like jackets, that are difficult to lay out flat on an ironing board. Finally, use a steamer on any item where you don't want a pressed look or sharp creases, like knit sweaters or dresses.