Good steam generators are not cheap so when purchasing one think of what you will be using it for. You do not want to spend your money on something that you won’t be using in the end (think exercise bike)? So ask yourself, will you be ironing lots of jeans, jackets, coats, shirts and bedding? Or will you be using it only for last minute touch ups on your delicate clothing like chiffon dresses, tulle skirts, light knits or maybe blouses?
If you are regularly find yourself ironing one item at a time or looking for something lightweight to tidy up your delicate garments or to freshen up a blazer or your delicate knitted jumper then you’ll probably find a standing steam generator more helpful as it actually lets you put your dress on the shoulders and work with it, not letting your sleeve become crumpled while you are dealing with the collar. Standing steam generators are very good for lightweight delicate fabrics, but they are not so good for heavier materials. I have never seen a single standing steam generator that would give the same results as a steam generator iron, they just don’t have enough of continuous steam output. So, if you are looking for something that will help you with a weekly load then I would recommend you sticking to a steam generator iron with a board. You can also use it as a standing steamer if you hang your piece of clothing on hangers but be aware handheld steamers are heavier than standing ones.
To tell you the truth, some steam irons (not steam generators) work very well on medium weight fabrics too. It is just that they won’t last as long as a good steam generator and they can be tricky to use with light or heavy materials.
At the moment there are three main brands that sell steam generators that I would look at: Phillips, Tefal and Rowenta.
I heard only good things about Phillips but never used one myself.
Tefals have a good reputation but I heard from a few people that their soleplates tend to leak rusted water which probably means their inner cleaning system is not good enough for areas with hard water. Probably the problem could be solved by using filtered water. Other than that, only good reviews about them.
Rowenta is the brand I chose to use. I have Silence Steam DG8991, which I got from Italy as they don’t sell them here in the UK. It is nearly 5 years now that I have it and I can tell only good things about it. I serviced it twice during this time and Rowenta team has done a great job and has a great customer service. You can find a similar version here in the UK which is Silence Steam DG8960. I saw these used in many alterations shops and at dressmaking studios, so they must not be bad either.
If you want to go a bit more professional and have spare money and enough space to store your new friend I can recommend Comel and Veit which they use at CSM. But in all fairness, I didn’t feel much difference between them and my lovely Rowenta.
Things to look for:
- It is very important that it holds comfortable in your hand, as most steam generators are on the heavy side.
- Soleplate has to be stainless steel because ceramic and aluminium or other non-stick ones simply won’t last.
- Water tank should be capable to hold at least 1.5 litres of water as you don’t want to keep adding water every 2 minutes.
- Continuous steam output should be at least 100-120g/min with shots coming up to a 450g/m. For standing steamers the numbers are smaller with continuous steam output 30-40g/min and about 120g/min for a shot if it has one.
- Bar pressure – 5 bar or more.
- Silent models. You won’t believe how loud steam generators can be, always try it before you buy it!
- A good self-cleaning system – read reviews on particular model to see what people say about their experience.
- Always choose durability to high spec. Most certainly you won’t be using all those functions. I use two: continuous steam and sometimes boost steam, I rarely change the temperature. Steam generators are clever they do not let you spoil your garment with heat.
Looking after your ironing system:
- Use only filtered water with your steam generators, never use distilled water as it will ruin your steamer. Some people say use 50/50 (distilled/tap) water but I read that this can be still harmful for your steam generator. I was using tap water and 50/50 mixture for the first 5-6 months. We have very hard water here, and I would have to clean my steam generator every 25-30 days and thedescale stick would be full. Everything has changed since I bought a water filter and started to use filtered water. I clean it every 3-4 months now.
- Never put vinegar in your water tank, it will ruin your steamer. Also, I am not convinced with all these ‘iron waters’ especially at that price. Filtered water rules!
- Try not to leave water in the tank, especially during hot days, or you’ll grow moss in your steamer.
- Descale your friend when it asks you to.
Happy ironing everyone!!!