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6 Reasons Why You & Your Wardrobe Should Love Steaming

"What are the benefits of steaming?" "Does steaming work to remove wrinkles?" "Does steaming clothes kill bacteria and germs?" These are questions we get a lot at The Laundress, so we've broken down the benefits of steam cleaning clothes and other household fabrics, plus given you step-by-step instructions on how to steam, ahead!

Steaming button down shirt


  1. First, hang up the clothing, or lay across an ironing board. 
  2. Hold the steam head to hover over the fabric.
  3. Drag the steamer over the fabric. It's ok if you touch the steam head briefly to the fabric. This will not damage the item, though it’s important not to leave the steam head touching the fabric for an extended period of time on delicate fabrics like silk or wool.
  4. Steam the item, top to bottom. Systematically move from shoulder to the end of each sleeve or from waistband to each pant cuff.
  5. If the item has lining, steam the lining first. Then steam the outside of the item.
  6. Finish by hanging the clothes or linens to dry before replacing them in the closet or on the bed.

Person steaming blazer


How does steaming work? The high heat of upright steamers like the Jiffy Steamer can help lift surface dirt and keep items fresh between wearing and washing, especially "dry clean" tagged fabrics like delicates and woolens. Steaming can be especially helpful to deep clean and refresh outerwear like coats and jackets that can’t be washed (or that you don’t launder often). It’s important to ensure thorough, continuous steaming across the fabric, positioning the steamer head just a few inches from the areas you’d like to address to achieve the deepest clean.

Does steaming clothes remove odors? Yes! Steaming cleaning can help lift odor-causing agents that can attract unwanted critters. After steaming, mist items with a fabric spray to freshen and add fragrance.

Can you use a garment steamer to clean a mattress? Yes! Steaming is great for refreshing your mattress and neutralizing odors. Hover the steamer 6” from your mattress and move over the entire surface as well as sides. To infuse your mattress with the luxurious scent of freshly-washed linens without the washing machine, add a few essential oil drops to your steamer’s water tank with water prior to steaming, or mist with a fabric refresher after finishing. Always check your steamer's manufacturer instructions before adding oil drops. For stronger or set-in odors, use plain white vinegar instead, which helps absorb and neutralize odors. Add it to a spray bottle and mist from 6” away before steaming.

Steaming clothing is a great way to save money on trips to the dry cleaner and keep your clothes looking their best!

Man steaming shirt
Man hanging up shirt on hanger


A fresh steaming provides the safest and gentlest finish for laundry items, releasing wrinkles for a natural finish. When it comes to steaming clothes vs. ironing them, not only does steaming avoid any risks posed from ironing (such as burning and unintended creasing), but the high temperature of steam lifts surface dirt, allergens, and sweat residue, which helps eliminate odors. A steamer is a great investment. You'll find it pays for itself very quickly, saving you time and money by reducing dry cleaning and aiding in the at-home cleaning process. You’ll find it’s easy to achieve a professional-looking finish on your clothes with just a few passes of a high-quality steamer.

Steaming can do so many wonderful things for your clothes. We at The Laundress steam everything! Here are some more reasons we love it:

Removes Wrinkles

Steam out wrinkly clothing using a steamer to create a more relaxed, casual finish vs. the crisp finish from an iron. As they tend to heat up more quickly, and don’t require an ironing board, steaming is also the more time-efficient way to remove wrinkles and creasing. Plus, it has the added benefit of freshening the fabric in addition to smoothing away creases.

Freshens Items Between Washing Or Dry Cleaning:

Keep items fresh between wearing and washing, especially woolens and dry-clean items. This will both reduce dry cleaning expenses and wear on items! Dry cleaning garments, especially delicates like silk and wool, can lead to dehydration and degradation of fabric over time. Steaming is a great alternative that still provides a deep clean and a professional finish.

Cleans & Freshens Items Not Suitable To Launder Or Dry Clean:

Steaming removes wrinkles from home furnishings such as upholstery and drapery, mattresses, pillows, bed skirts, bedding, and carpeting. Upright steamers like the Jiffy Steamer allow for easy maneuvering around the home to clean hard-to-reach spaces like curtains and bed skirts.

Sweater care tag label


The best way to get a professional finish on woolens, blazers, and delicate items is to steam them. Steaming also works great for cottons, linens, and durable synthetic fabrics, providing a casual, wrinkle-free finish. We opt to iron only when we want an extra-crisp finish for things like table linens, uniform shirts, and slacks.

Sweater swatch fabric

Knits & Woolens

Woolens can appear wrinkled after washing if they aren't smoothed before air drying. We steam knits regularly to release the wrinkles and fluff the yarns. Bear in mind that knits are heat sensitive, so take care not to overheat the fabric by steaming for too long, and only steam knits when needed as opposed to after every single wear. Never iron woolens as this practice can crush or flatten the natural pile of the yarns. Don't have a steamer handy? Use an iron set to the steam setting, hovering over the item & do not make contact.

Pink fabric swatch


Steaming is also ideal for delicate fabrics (like eveningwear and blouses) that cannot take high or direct heat from an iron. These items are often heat sensitive, so be sure to avoid steaming for too long, or to directly touch fabric with the steam head for an extended period of time.

Person steaming bed

Cottons & Bedding

Everyday fabrics like uniform shirts, slacks, cotton blouses, and bedding benefit from steaming. Steaming produces a more natural wrinkle-free finish as opposed to the crisp lines of ironing, so it can be a great choice for achieving a more relaxed look on everyday clothing. Steaming bedding is a great way of freshening and easing wrinkling in between washes.

Disclaimer: All techniques are based on textile science. Not all garments perform and react as science would predict.