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Beginner's guide: How to use a clothes steamer

Steaming is a gentle and effortless way to remove wrinkles from clothes and home textiles. In this guide, we will teach you all about how to steam clothes with a garment steamer.

How does a steamer work?

Steamers work by heating up water until it becomes steam. The hot steam is then applied through a steam nozzle to a wrinkled fabric to eliminate wrinkles and creases. There are two main types of steamers: upright steamers and handheld steamers. Upright steamers are ideal for everyday home or professional use, while handheld garment steamers are a more travel-friendly version with a smaller water tank.

Can I steam any fabric?

The short answer is yes. In general, all fabrics can be steamed, even delicate textiles like silk and wool. The hot steam allows the textile fibers to swell and regain their natural shape, which is more forgiving than the scorching hot surface of a traditional iron which tends to flatten down the textile fibers. However, you should avoid steaming materials that are made from animal hide, like suede and leather.

How to use a steamer

In the video below, we demonstrate how to steam a shirt with a Cumulus Home Steamer. These techniques can be used with any steamer, including smaller handheld steamers. Continue reading this guide for a more detailed description of each step of the process.

How to use a steamer

Step 1: Fill the water tank and plug in the steamer

Using tap water is fine as long as you have access to soft or distilled water. If you live in an area with hard water, we recommend using our distilled Steam Water. For handheld steamers, remove the water tank from the steamer, fill the tank with water, make sure it is properly sealed and put it back in place. If you are using a vertical steamer, pour the water directly into the tank. Read more about water quality here.

Step 2: Place your garment on a hanger

The most common way to steam is to hang your garment on a hanger. Some upright steamers, like Cumulus Home Steamer, are equipped with hangers. But when using handheld steamers, you need to use your own hanger. Find a place where you can comfortably hang your garment with an electrical outlet nearby – any hook, shower rod, or curtain rod will suffice.

Step 3: Grab the bottom of the garment

For a professional result, grab the bottom hem of the garment and gently stretch the fabric while you are steaming. This makes it easier to eliminate tough creases.

Step 4: Press the mouthpiece against the fabric

For handheld steamers, you need to press the steam button to release steam. Upright steamers will produce steam continuously. Once the steamer is producing steam, move the steamer against the fabric in any direction, top to bottom or sideways. The important thing is that you hold the steamer against the fabric.

Pro tip: Try steaming from the inside of the garment

This is an effective technique for removing creases on button-up shirts, blouses, t-shirts and similar garments. Steaming from the inside allows you to see the wrinkles while you apply steam.

Pro tip: Use a steaming tool for collars, cuffs, and hems

A heat-protected steaming tool can really come in handy when steaming details like collars, cuffs, and hems. Our Heat Protection Glove and Heat Protection Bag are great options for this. Simply hold the tool behind the fabric while steaming to create a pressed effect.

Pro tip: Try steaming horizontally

You can also steam garments horizontally. Simply place your garments on a table (with a towel underneath) or on your bed. This is a perfect method to use when de-wrinkling pants to get rid of those tough creases. No ironing board needed!

A wrinkle-free result

Voilà! It's really that easy. One final piece of advice is to allow yourself to be lazy sometimes. Steam only the collars, cuffs, and the bottom of the shirt if you’re going to wear it under a cardigan. And remember that your garments can get a little damp after steaming, so allow some time to dry before wearing them to prevent them from getting wrinkled again.

We hope you enjoyed this guide. Be sure to check out our product tutorials for more helpful tips.

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