Steam Iron vs. Garment Steamer: what to choose?

Garment Steamer Articles

Don't you also like to stand alongside of the Ironing Board? Oh, it is a trouble of all women! With the huge number of domestic helpers we still use an iron for about three weeks a year. It is better to spend this time to care for ourselves. But even if you love to iron clothes (according to the statistics there are only about 9% of such lucky women), you still don’t mind having a new modern appliance that would facilitate the execution of this task. There is a solution: manufacturers offer us a choice of a garment steamer or an iron with steam. But which one is better?

The working principle of the steamer

Rowenta garment steamer

The steamer is an appliance consisting of a water tank, nozzle, flexible hose and telescopic tube. Its working principle is simple: within a plastic tank water gets boiled, whereupon the steam naturally rises up in the hose. The steamer can be used in 30-45 seconds after turning on.

The garment steamer can help you:

  • steam out hanging clothes
  • remove the odor from the fabric
  • disinfect soft toys
  • clean and iron the curtains directly on a ledge
  • clean a window
  • pure upholstered furniture

And yet the steamer will not be able to replace the usual old-fashioned iron completely: yes, the steamer will steam the wrinkles out from clothes, especially from the "fretful" fabrics, but will not be able to put clothes into shape. A pleated skirt, pants with arrows and other similar things will be too tough (unless the steamer has special attachments like pants attachment).

The steamer is indispensable in costume stores and tailors. It is better to choose, if you have a lot of clothes with sequins and beads or made of knitted, wool or silk fabrics. The clothes steamer can be used to freshen up the down jacket, coat or other heavy garments. Also this device is perfectly cope with the cleaning: wet hot steam kills mites and germs.​

How the steam ironing system works​

Bosh steam ironing system

The steam ironing system is a device that consists of a water tank, flexible hose and iron. Sometimes instead of the iron you can attach a brush or a special tapered nozzle for removing stains. It works a little differently: the water within the tank gets boiled and turns to the steam which is ejected into the hose with force. In other words, not in a natural way, as in the steamer, but under pressure. Thus the generated steam is not wet, but dry, and its temperature is much higher.

Iron with steam is able to smooth out several layers of fabric (you will appreciate the quick ironing of bed linen and towels). It will quickly make the creases on the clothes and can easily handle a mountain of laundry. But cleaning is beyond the steam iron: it could steam out the hanging curtains but not clean.​

The steam ironing system is your best choice if:​

  • you have to iron a lot of clothes
  • you do not like to stay long near the ironing board
  • you have clothes made of delicate fabrics that are not easy to iron with the usual iron

The usual iron loses to the iron with the steam generator at operating speed. In addition, the water tank of the steam iron can hold up to 100 oz. (usually 34 oz.), so refilling the water tank during the process is not necessary. After buying the steam iron, you can safely put your old iron on a distant shelf.

On the other hand, the steam iron is unlikely to be able to replace the steamer: it will not help you with cleaning just because carrying such a huge device is not very convenient. Imagine: to iron the hanging curtains, you will not only have several times to move the steam ironing system, but also put it on a small table, as the hose is not long enough. In addition, the steamer and the steam iron have other differences.​

The main differences​

There are several major differences between these two devices:

  1. The steamer produces a wet steam with a temperature of 208-210 F°, whereas the steam iron generates a dry steam with a temperature of 284-320 F°
  2. The steam iron supplies steam under pressure, but the steamer uses natural steam movement (like in a kettle)
  3. The steam ironing system is ready to use only after 8-10 minutes after switching on, the steamer is ready in 30-45 seconds
  4. Iron with steam generator typically weighs more and costs more than the steamer
  5. The steam iron operates in a vertical and a horizontal position, but the steamer does in an upright state only (otherwise it starts to spill water)
  6. The steamer is suitable for disinfection and cleaning, while iron with steam generator is for ironing only

Obviously, these are quite different devices you need to use for different purposes. So which one to choose?

The best choice​

To make it easier to understand which device is right for you, we have created the table:


Garment Steamer

Steam ironing system




Steam temperature

208-210 F°

284-320 F°

Heating up time

Under a minute

8-10 minutes

Steam supplying

Naturally (like in a kettle)

Under pressure (like in a pressure cooker)

Ironing board

Not needed


Making creases

No (if the steamer doesn’t come with a crease attachment)





Ironing hanging article of clothes



Dust cleaning






The steamer is your best option if:

  • you have a lot of custom clothes with decorative elements
  • you want to simplify the cleaning in the house
  • you have your own clothes shop or just have a need to periodically refresh clothing, removing odors and cleaning from dust

Buy an iron with a steam generator if:

  • you want to simplify the ironing process
  • disinfection is important for you (high temperature and dry steam are also excellent destroy dust mites and microbes)

We hope that after reading this article you will be able to buy the device you need. And let your household chores reduce, freeing time for more interesting activities.