You’ve probably tried the well-known trick of hanging wrinkled clothes in the bathroom while taking a hot shower. The theory is that the steam from the shower works its way into the fabric and “smooths” out the wrinkles. You do it when you need quick and easy wrinkle relief – so why don’t you do it all the time?
The reason is easy. We’re from the iron age – that is, the steam iron that generations have relied on to press their clothes. And while ironing is a task that is rarely at the top of anyone’s favourite chore list, it is just one of those things we do – because it’s always been that way.
However, in recent years, there has been a shift away from irons and towards clothes steamers, like the ones sold by this New Zealand company. Where steamers have usually been associated with industrial applications e.g. dry cleaners, they’re finding new popularity in the family home, and for a host of reasons. According to those who use steam cleaners on a regular basis, be it in commercial or domestic settings, there are numerous benefits.
The most obvious advantage is ease of operation. Applying a steamer over fabric is less physically demanding than ironing but there are the added bonuses of not having to constantly rearrange clothing on an ironing board, and no danger of burning delicate fabrics.
A steamer removes wrinkles without coming into contact with the fabric, and this makes it much gentler on certain fabrics. This prolongs the lifespan of garments made from delicate fabrics. Along the same lines, over-washing and repeated dry cleaning irreversibly damages your clothing over time. This can lead to weakened fibres which causes holes and rips that are extremely difficult to repair, particularly when the fabric is delicate. On the other hand, steamers do not include any chemicals other than water and heat, so they’re gentler on clothing fibres and allow you to get more wear out of your garments. If they’re unstained, clothes can be freshened up with a steamer reducing the need for washing and dry cleaning – this is particularly useful for formal wear such as suits.
The freshening process will help to lift odours. When water within the appliance reaches steaming level it becomes hot enough to deactivate the bacteria that causes odours. Stains can also be removed. Before using a steam cleaner, it is possible to pre-treat the affected area with a stain removal product and aim the appliance directly at the stain for around 30 seconds. The heat from the steam should loosen the stain and work in conjunction with the pre-treatment product to remove it.
As you’ve seen, a clothes steamer is versatile. It does more than remove wrinkles. It can freshen clothes, lift odours and remove stains. But it is also able to get rid of dust mites, bacteria and bedbugs when it is run over a mattress, duvet, blankets and furniture. It’s this diversity of applications that makes steam cleaners an increasingly popular appliance for clothing and general fabric care – besides, who likes ironing anyway?