Fabric steamers are useful time-savers that can spiff up your wardrobe and refresh your curtains. Like irons, they used to take 2 full minutes to heat up. Now some go from zero to steam in less than 30 seconds and come with accessories to dewrinkle more efficiently. Consumer Reports put three affordable steamers to the test.
The Conair Extreme Steam GS23 for $35 is a handheld model that provides about 15 minutes of steam on one fill. Its fabric-creaser attachment does a good job creating crisp creases. But it didn't do a great job on shirts.
The $60 Steamfast Fabric Steamer SF-407 stands on the floor; you hang your clothing from an adjustable rod. Its large tank provides almost 90 minutes of steam, which is handy when you want to take on a closetful of clothes. You'll have to take down your curtains if you want to steam them because the Steamfast's hose is just 5 feet long.
The Shark Press and Refresh GS500 for $65 was the most effective at removing wrinkles. The Shark did well with shirts because in addition to the steam, it has a heated pressing bar, which in combination with the vertical pressing pad removed a lot of the wrinkles. The heated bar also leaves your clothing less damp than other steamers. And the Shark's 15-foot cord is helpful for reaching drapes.
Even easier than a steamer is a spray, the Downy Wrinkle Release Plus, for about $8. Consumer Reports found that it did a good job relaxing wrinkles from a very rumpled cotton shirt and other fabrics.
If you prefer a freshly ironed look, Consumer Reports recently tested irons and named two Best Buys. They are the Rowenta Effective Comfort DW2070 and the T-Fal Ultraglide FV4495. Each costs about $50 and provide bursts of crease-quashing steam.