I have a bit of a problem with laundry. Namely, I’m lazy and don’t hang it as fast as I should. Sometimes, I need to wear nice clothes. This occasionally brings me to a bit of a conundrum: how do I get wrinkles out of my nice clothes really fast, so I don’t look like the slob I am?
The answer: a garment steamer.
I always keep one around just in case I wind up needing it, and it’s saved my bacon a lot over the years. I’ve chewed through quite a few before I found ones that are reliable and perform well (and trust me, those don’t necessarily go hand in hand in EITHER direction).
Today I’m going to share some of the best I’ve found, from a great brand, and how I pick the best ones.
If you are in a hurry:
How Do I Pick The Best One?
When I talk about size I’m referring to both the size or type of the unit itself (upright or handheld) as well as the tank size (which is related).
You have some different criteria for use and what is considered standard or exceptional between the two:
Handheld units should be small and easily packed in luggage, or even a large purse for travel models. Tank size should range from a half a cup at the lowest end to a cup and a half at the higher end (ones with tanks this big tend to be a bit bulkier and harder to travel with, however). Handheld units can generally only operate for about 15 minutes at a time.
Upright units are more like small appliances, akin to a vacuum cleaner (and around the same size). They tend to have tanks ranging from a liter to a gallon, and can continuously pump out steam for a half hour or more.
More power is usually better. The higher the power of your unit (usually around 1200 for a handheld or 1500 for an upright unit) the faster it will heat up and the hotter the steam will get.
You usually want to shoot for a unit that heats up in under a minute (though longer times can be forgiven for very large tanks with a gallon or more capacity), and can output steam ranging from the relatively gentle 210 degrees to the superheated 240 degrees.
Lower steam temperatures result in gentler steam for easy to harm fabrics, but leave more wetness in the garment afterwards. Superheated or “dry” steam is hot enough the molecules of steam are finer and stick less to the fabric, resulting in a more scouring clean that leaves the fabric mostly dry afterward.
Salav garment steamers on average will run you anywhere between $50 and $100 for upright units, and similar prices or less for handheld units.
In addition to basic specifications like wattage, tank size, and heating time, there exist a few extra features that some higher end units provide. These include:
- On/Off Switches – Many garment steamers do not have an off switch and instead work like a cheap electric kettle. Plug them in and they heat up, and don’t stop until unplugged.
- Auto Off – This a feature that automatically shuts the steamer off when the water runs out so it doesn’t destroy itself with its own heat. It is rare that a garment steamer has this feature but not an on/off switch, but not unheard of.
- Hangers – Most garment steamers come with a hanger of some sort, but many modify them in some way, either adding a flat board behind it to keep clothes flat and straight, or a swiveling hanger, multi-hanger, or some combination of the above. Having more than a simple hanger is always something of a plus.
Top Upright on the Market
|1||Professional Series Dual Bar
||9.8||Buy on Amazon|
||9.7||Buy on Amazon|
||9.5||Buy on Amazon|
|4||360 Degree Swivel
||9.3||Buy on Amazon|
Top 4 Salav Professional Garment Steamers Reviews
SALAV Professional Series Dual Bar Garment Steamer with Foot Pedals
The best of the Salav upright garment steamers.
This one incorporates everything that makes the next three good in one neat package. 1500 watts of power, multiple steam settings, 1.8 liter (half a gallon) tank: the whole nine yards.
Additionally, it has convenient foot pedals for both power and settings, making it more convenient to control and safer to shut off, a dual bar hanger, double insulated hose, and a host of accessories (including a pants press and a mini ironing paddle).
It will run you about $30 more than any of the below models, but I feel it’s completely worth it. There’s basically no tradeoff in quality or performance with this one, unlike the others. While the rest will save you a bit of money, they all have some small drawback that detracts from the entire package (which this does not).
SALAV GS18-DJ/120 White Performance Series Garment Steamer
Simple, but good performance.
As far as upright garment steamers go, this is pretty standard stuff. It draws 1500 watts of power for a very fast heat up time (around 45 seconds). It holds 1.8 liters of water (roughly half a gallon), which actually makes that heat up time a little slow comparatively (some units can heat a full gallon in 45 seconds), but that’s more of a nitpick; if you don’t have 45 seconds to spare you’re running too late anyway.
The telescoping hanger pole is standard issue but good to have, and shrinks to a manageable size for easy storage.
All in all it’s a no frills upright steamer, but for the asking price (ballpark of $60) that’ to be expected.
SALAV GS34-BJ 1500W Performance Garment Steamer with 360 Swivel Multi-Hook Hanger and 4 Steam Settings
A tradeoff with the above.
While it has the same power as the GS18 (1500 watts) it trades in tank size (it only holds a liter) for extra features.
This one has multiple settings for different kinds of fabrics (cotton, wool, etc.) so you don’t overheat the wrong kind, along with a swiveling multi hook hanger. Some of the other parts are higher quality as well, like the double insulated hose.
In general I’d say this is the better garment steamer (particularly as it’s the same price as the GS18), though the GS18’s larger tank size does make it a better general fabric steamer for curtains or bedsheets that require lengthy continuous steam output. If you don’t need more than a half hour of steam though, this is by far the better option.
SALAV Clothes Steamer with 360 Degree Swivel Hanger
A little better than both of the previous options.
This one has a fairly large tank for a Salav garment steamer (1.5 liters, or about 1/3 of a gallon) and has four steam settings: though all are “gentle steam”, coming out around 208 degrees. It has a stainless steel nozzle, meaning it can be used similar to an iron as well, producing more flat clothing.
While the lower heat of the steam is less than desirable in some regards, this is a very good garment steamer and will only run you $5 more than the previous options, so it’s definitely worth consideration. Just keep in mind that the low temperature steam will inevitably leave your clothes quite damp, so make sure to give yourself plenty of time for clothes to dry before wearing them.
Top Handheld on the Market
||9.5||Buy on Amazon|
||9.2||Buy on Amazon|
||9.0||Buy on Amazon|
Top 3 Salav Handheld Garment Steamers
SALAV HS-04/T 1000W Quick Steam Hand Held Steamer
Fixes my only issue with the last Salav steamer we covered.
In terms of raw performance, this is nearly identical to one of the below entries. 80 mL tank, 1000 watt power, 35 seconds heat up time, 5 minutes performance time, and max heat of 302 degrees.
The only differences: price (this one costs $5 more) and it has two steam settings, a high and low setting.
If it weren’t for the tiny tank size on both this and the very similar option below they might be my favorite garment steamers of all time, but alas their short performance time is a major drawback.
Still, when they ARE up and running they’re pretty great, and about half the price of some similar handheld steamers with larger tanks, so I can’t complain too much.
Salav Pink 265-Watt Travel Handheld Garment Steamer
Good for one feature only.
I included this one on the list for one reason only. Its basic stats are…unimpressive, even by Salav travel steamer standards. Its tank is downright minuscule (60 mL or ¼ cup of water), and its power is atrocious (265 watts).
It takes over 2 and a half minutes just to heat up that tiny amount of water, and while Salav claims that gives it “over 10 minutes of continuous steam”, that really only means it has a very low flow of steam, as many handheld steamers can only last 10 to 15 minutes on four times as much water.
HOWEVER, it has one very helpful (if niche) feature that made it beat out one other handheld steamer that was otherwise inferior in all ways to the next two: it automatically adjusts its power draw to different outlets, making it great for travel to other countries.
For most people, this is not a feature desirable enough to justify its otherwise subpar performance, but any steamer is better than NO steamer when you need one, so this one just barely squeaks by.
While it will run you around $30 (a steep price for such low performance), it’s rare to find a travel steamer that has a feature anything like this, so it’s justified.
Salav Handheld Garment Steamer StrongFastContinuous Steam
Now THIS is more what I look for in a Salav garment steamer.
While the tank is still downright tiny (80 mL, or about 1/3 of a cup) this steamer does more with it, and is far less misleading about its true capabilities.
It provides about 5 minutes of continuous steam, which means the flow is going to be pretty high. Its 1000 watt power heats that 80 mL in only 35 seconds, and heats it up to an impressive 302 degrees Fahrenheit, putting it well within the realm of superheated “dry steam”, making it perfect for sterilizing fabrics as well as de-wrinkling them.
You get all this for around the same price as the last option, but exponentially more performance. My main gripe is that it doesn’t have temperature settings, meaning for some things that 302 degrees is going to be TOO hot, which is why it’s a little lower on the list than out winner. But at little over $30, you can do a LOT worse in terms of not just Salav travel garment steamers, but handheld steamers as a whole.
Salav is an interesting brand. Many of the products they put out are close to exactly the same even in the same price range, making it hard to narrow down a top list (it comes down to VERY minor features and looking at how reliably over the long term they are), but they always seem to have at least one standout in any given category that takes the cake.
In this case, the winners by section, both handily beating out the others in their category by at least one major metric (and more, in the case of the Salav Professional Dual Bar Garment Steamer).
While both winners are slightly more expensive than their inferior counterparts, the price difference is small enough for me to unequivocally say: get either the Salav Professional or Salav Quicksteam depending on whether you need an upright or handheld garment steamer unless you need one quickly and they’re for some reason unavailable.