Handheld or portable garment steamers are very handy to have around for light household duties like de-wrinkling clothing, curtains and items like bed skirts. They're best for occasional use, though, because they don't have super long steam times. For a garment steamer that can handle light-commercial duties or with longer steam times, see our picks for full-sized garment steamers elsewhere in this report.
Many users say that with a steamer like the Jiffy Esteam Personal Handheld Steamer (Est. $60) they don't need an iron. The Esteam is easy to use -- simply fill it with water and plug it in to create steam. It heats in just a few minutes and the 8-ounce water reservoir produces enough steam to last about 15 minutes, which is plenty of time, most say, to press the wrinkles out of their chosen outfit for the day -- even if it is a heavier band or police uniform. Many also use it around the home for touching up anything that may need to be refreshed, such as draperies or shower curtains.
The Jiffy Esteam heats quickly and produces a steady stream of steam. It's also reported as sturdy and durable. The Esteam is lightweight and compact, so it's easy to store away and, at just two pounds, doesn't cause fatigue even if you use it to the capacity of its steam time. The 9-foot power cord is ample for even taller jobs, but it's not retractable, so it adds bulk to the unit when it's stored. There is no on/off switch; the steamer must be plugged in and unplugged to turn it on and off. However, it has an automatic shut-off function if its water reservoir runs dry. Many use the Esteam for travel, saying it doesn't take up much room in a suitcase; for about $30 more, you can also purchase the Esteam with a set of converter and adaptor plugs for international travel.
The PureSteam Portable Fabric Steamer (Est. $30) is even lighter than the Esteam at 1.4 pounds, and gets great reviews for performance. It heats up in about two minutes and produces 10 minutes of continuous steam; it also has an on/off switch, which is unusual for a small steamer. The PureSteam has a slightly shorter, 8-foot power cord, and some owners say they need an extension cord to reach the tops of curtains or drapes. However, this steamer is reported as very durable and it comes with a two-year warranty.
The Steamfast SF-435W Compact Fabric Steamer (Est. $20) is a great budget choice, reviewers say. It's also very light at 1.6 pounds, and travelers give it great reviews for performance. It includes a fabric brush and lint remover, but owners aren't overly impressed with their performance. Overall, while it's very affordable, the Steamfast does not perform well on heavier fabrics, so is a better choice for touching up more lightly wrinkled garments, rather than as a dedicated clothes steamer for heavy wool jackets, uniforms or sport coats.
While any of the above handheld/portable clothes steamers can be used for travel, an even better option is the Conair Travel Smart Garment Steamer (Est. $20). At just one pound it's super light, and the handle folds in for packing, then back out when it's time to use the steamer -- a feature that earns high praise from reviewers. In spite of its diminutive size, owners say this Conair clothes steamer work very well, and is far preferable to hauling out the often low-end iron and ironing board at a hotel. Best of all, the Conair Travel Smart has dual voltage support, so it can be used even on international trips to countries that use a different voltage standard than the U.S.
The Conair Travel Smart heats up in minutes and runs continuously for about 10 minutes -- plenty of time, business travelers say, to refresh their suitcase-creased suits. It's also very popular with those in charge of organizing destination weddings, earning praise for taking up little space and gently steaming the delicate fabrics of the bridal party's finery.
Elsewhere in this report: