Full-size garment steamers are two-part units that consist of a water tank that sits on the floor and connects via a hose to a rectangular nozzle. A metal clothes stand doubles as a resting place for the steam nozzle when not in use. As such, full-size garment steamers can take up a lot of space -- making them less than desirable for users who are tight on space or don't plan to steam frequently. Full-size steamers typically take between two and six minutes to heat up.
The simplest garment steamers lack an on/off button and produce steam until they are unplugged (or run out of water). Some units have a trigger that allows you to control steam output and/or an auto-off function to stop releasing steam when the water level gets low. Garment steamers may come with extra attachments for the nozzle, such as brushes for specific fabrics and upholstery. The value of these extras is debatable; in her test for Slate.com, Laura Moser says the temperature of the steam is "way more important than a selection of attachments." But she does praise specific models for including these extras if they add functionality.
The full-size Jiffy J-2000 (*Est. $165) garment steamer scores highly in reviews at Amazon.com, where more than 250 owners give it an average of 4.4 stars out of 5, making it one of the best-reviewed garment steamers on the site. Users say the hose may be too short to work on items like tall drapes, and several note that the J-2000 is certainly expensive, but nearly all say it is worth the price. Amazon.com and Viewpoints.com reviewers agree the J-2000 garment steamer displays excellent craftsmanship.
The 1,300-watt Jiffy J-2000 clothes steamer heats up in about two minutes and holds 3/4 gallons of water, producing more than 90 minutes of continuous steam. It weighs 18 pounds and has casters to make moving it easy. A 5-foot hose connects to a 6-inch steam head. A plastic steam head is standard for this unit, but a model with a metal head is an optional accessory. As with other full-size steamers, the Jiffy J-2000 has an attached metal clothes bar. Jiffy Steamer's limited three-year warranty is the longest warranty of all the manufacturers we found.
If you need a heavier-duty garment steamer (all the experts and users we found said the J-2000 was sufficient for the average home user), the Jiffy Steamer J-4000 Pro-Line (*Est. $220) is highly rated. Compared to the J-2000 model, the J-4000 is a bit more powerful (1,500 watts) and it weighs 26 pounds.
In our research, we found that although many full-size garment steamers are similar in appearance, performance ratings vary. The Conair GS10RHR (*Est. $80), for example, costs less than the Jiffy steamer above, but earns mediocre reviews at Amazon.com, where it gets more 1-star reviews than 4- and 5-star reviews. Several users say the GS10RHR stops working after several uses, while others complain they couldn't assemble it in the first place. That said, there are a considerable number of owners who are satisfied with this garment steamer, and editors at SheKnows.com and InStyle magazine both recommend it.
The full-size Steamfast SF-407 (*Est. $55) gets somewhat better reviews. Bestcovery.com reviewer Jerry Arlen lists it among his top five, saying that it's relatively powerful and will suffice for most home users. At Amazon.com, users say this floor model works fine for lighter fabrics like sheer curtains and dresses, but a few complain it doesn't produce much steam and may not work as well on heavier fabrics. The unit heats up in about 45 seconds and produces about 45 minutes of continuous steam. It holds about 1.25 quarts of water, comes with a press pad and fabric brush and carries a two-year limited warranty. However, quite a few owners say they purchased this steamer specifically to steam wrinkles out of cotton dress shirts, but they say the steamer isn't powerful enough to work well. Some also say it wasn't durable.
For those with limited space or a tight budget, the Conair Compact Garment Steamer GS4R (*Est. $30) is a small and inexpensive unit, weighing only 5 pounds and resembling a canister vacuum cleaner. Instead of a metal clothes rod, a door hook is included, letting you hang your garment from a door. This Conair steamer heats up in about six minutes and emits 20 minutes of steam. However, user reviews are mixed; it doesn't get nearly the same good reviews as the Steamfast SF-407. About half of owners say the Conair steamer works well for the price, while the other half report problems with inconsistent steaming, water leaks and water spitting. Many say the Conair Compact Garment Steamer just isn't a good choice for delicate or sensitive fabrics that can be damaged by water spots. For these fabrics, and for a more reliable steamer in general, the Steamfast SF-407 may be a safer alternative.