Unusually it also offers variable steam, with a dial on the base. 5 out of 5 stars Buy now: Philips ComfortTouch Plus GC558/36, from £160, at Amazon How to buy the best clothing steamer for you Ideal Home rating: 4 out of 5 stars Buy now: Tefal Access Steam Minute DT700, from £64. Fridja f10 – best handheld workhorse clothing steamer It also comes with a clever bottle adaptor, so you can travel lighter on holiday or to fashion shoots. Remove the Fridja’s fab 260ml water tank and use the adaptor to use it with most water bottles.
The power cable is a bit on the short side at 2m but, that aside, it’s hard to fault. The design is clean and modern, with a big, bright power light. Buy now: Rowenta IS6200 Compact Valet, from £109, Amazon 5.
Tefal Access Steam Minute DT700 – best value handheld clothing steamer There’s also a flat part that clips on vertically and looks like a mini ironing board – giving you something firm to push against when steaming. We were disappointed that it couldn’t pop out horizontally and double as a mini ironing board for those times (like creases in folded hankies) when vertical steam doesn’t cut it. And there are no grips for trousers! Instead, you’re supposed to drape them over the top of the board.
It’s not as cute as the Fridja, but the Rowenta offers better performance at a keen price. The machine is easy to assemble but a bit ugly. It takes up the space of a cylinder vacuum cleaner when not in use.
It comes with crease attachment, upholstery brush and a lint brush. The hanger sits on top of the pole, so it’s easy to put garments over the top of it and you can steam all round, without the need to turn them. There’s space at the top to stow the steam head when not in use too, even with the crease attachment on.
The 30g/min steam is powerful and does an impressive job, even on demanding items like shirts. Use one hand to hold the garment taut, steam it with the other, and you need only pass the steamer over it once.
4 litre water tank is long-lasting too. The 25g/min steam is powerful and the trigger features a sliding switch, so you can keep it on constantly if you want to. You can steam constantly for 8 minutes at a time.
The collar accessory is good, not great. No steamer will really offer the same sharp results as an iron, but it does help a bit – you hold the plastic up behind the collar and it gives you something to push against. Definitely the best for handheld power, you could blitz a pile of garments with the Fridja where other handhelds are designed more for just refreshing one or two items.
Buy now: Fridja f10, from £99, Amazon 7. Philips ComfortTouch Plus GC558/36 – best-looking vertical clothing steamer Accessories-wise it comes with a brush for upholstery and thicker fabrics, and a silver heatproof mitt to protect your free hand. This proved useful because the variable steam is powerful at top whack (up to 40g/min).
We loved the clever, unique design and found the board effective: it’s a bit like ironing vertically. You only have to look at the Philips to see it’s a bit different. Other vertical steamers look like cylinder vacuum cleaners, with a telescopic pole on top and wheels on the bottom.
This has no wheels and looks like it’s a clothes horse, designed to live in your bedroom or walk-in wardrobe. It does not belong in the cupboard under the stairs, not least because at its shortest it’s still 145cm tall. Its removable tank has a 150ml capacity and a tiny fill hole: it’s hit and miss under the tap, a bit like filling a water pistol.
Then you turn it on and wait 45 seconds, until it stops flashing to indicate that it’s ready for use. You have to hold down the trigger button to get steam, which takes a few seconds to get started. And the power cable is a bit on the short side at 2m.
The creasing attachment worked well too and was easy to get on and off without risk of a scalded hand. So trousers and shirts are both handled well, as are dresses and other garments. Our only niggle was that the two grips slide along the hanger too easily, so they don’t hold garments taut wide-ways.
This is the cheapest handheld clothing steamer on test and the only one that doesn’t come with a fabric carry bag. Like similar models, it takes up no more space than a shoebox, including accessories. Comes with two attachments: a steam cover for delicate fabrics and a brush for heavier fabrics and upholstery.
It also comes with a clever metal hook that loops over the top of a door, giving you somewhere to hang clothes for steaming. This Fridja handheld comes with an oversized velvety bag that’s unisex but feels like it could happily belong in a boudoir. Accessories include a piece of plastic that promises sharper results on collars, a fold-up clothes hanger and a fabric guard to cover the steam head for delicates. Buy now: Philips Steam & Go Plus GC362, from £199, Amazon 4. Rowenta IS6200 Compact Valet – best value vertical clothing steamer We didn’t have high expectations but we were pleasantly surprised: the Tefal performed surprisingly well.
The 17g/min steam isn’t powerful enough to give crisp results that rival an ironed shirt, but it’s good enough to make school polo shirts respectable, take creases out of garments of all shapes and sizes quickly, and freshen up clothes to boot. Great value and handy for a quick wardrobe refresh. But the price tag and the fact you can’t pack the Philips away well means it’s not right for many people.
The elegant Philips lives in our fantasy walk-in wardrobe. We’d take out a dreamy outfit for the next day, steam it preparation and leave it there overnight ready for the office… or the ball. But we’d pick the Tefal if we had to steam a pile of clothes.