You need to wear a crisp pair of trousers for an event coming up, but there’s just one problem: wrinkles. Those trousers you invested in don’t only look like they just went through the washer without a drying cycle, but they’re completely un-wearable for a formal event. At this point, you have two options: the steamer or the iron. But which one is better for the long-term health of your trousers, and which one is better for getting them to look their best right now? Here’s what you’ll need to know.
Steamer vs. Iron: What’s the Difference?
An iron uses both steam and the “hot plate” of the iron itself to smooth out wrinkles as you press the device to an ironing board with the trousers in between. When using a steamer, you avoid this direct contact and allow the steam to relax the fibers in the clothing. This is more of an “indirect” method, as opposed to the direct touch of the iron. Keep in mind that many irons do have a “steam” feature as well, but this is not designed to function as a steamer in and of itself.
Both devices have the same goal: clearing out the wrinkles in your trousers. But if you want to know what’s better for you right now, you’ll have to understand how each device works.
Using the Steamer
- Convenience. Steamers are lightweight, easy to fill, and simple to use with just the press of a button.
- Weight/size. Steamers don’t need the “heft” of an iron, because there’s no pressing that needs to be done when you solely use steam.
- No pressing. If you have hard creases that you need to get out of your clothes, there’s a chance that a steamer doesn’t have the “heft” to completely press it out.
Using the Iron
- Reliability. You may find yourself questioning whether steam will be enough for some wrinkles, but there’s rarely any question as to whether an iron can literally “iron it out.”
- Weight. When you do need extra weight to get a crease out of your trousers, there’s only one option: the iron.
- Fabric treatment. The iron is a much harsher response to individual wrinkles. If you need something gentler, the steamer will work better.
- Packing. An iron has a lot of weight to it, which makes it harder to travel with.
Deciding Whether to Use the Iron or the Steamer
Here’s how to decide which device to use for your trousers:
- When your trousers have hard creases that need more weight to remove, an iron is the only device that will work.
- When your trousers need a light touch more akin to dry cleaning, the steamer will be more than enough to loosen the fabric, get the wrinkles out, and give your trousers a clean-pressed look—without the pressing.
- It makes sense to own both if you always want a “clean-pressed” look, but for most intents and purposes, a steamer will do in a pinch.
What’s the final step? Make sure that you own some tailored trousers worth treating this well!