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Life Without My Steamer

8 years ago by

I love my hand steamer. I love it so much that I don’t even own an iron. I steam everything.

Cotton tee shirt? Steamed.
Jeans? Steamed.
Trench coat? Steamed.

When I used to work retail, I’d basically beg to steam the clothing that was going on the mannequins. I got some insane satisfaction from seeing a wrinkly pair of chinos go from zero to hero. I’ve had my steamer since high school. It came with me to the dorms my freshman year of college. It’s been with me at every apartment, weekend getaway and fashion week. That is until now. That’s right: I left my steamer at home during Paris fashion week (it’s not dual voltage, I couldn’t find a converter at Target, blah blah blah).


It wasn’t until today that I realized how out of balance my life had become. I’ve yet to wear any of the silk blouses I packed with me (no Altfits for this girl) and it’s because I’m not sure how to deal with their wrinkles. I’ve tried hanging them in the bathroom while I shower, hoping the steam will release each crease, but no luck. I’ve become so dependent on my steamer that I’m unable to get dressed without it. I even mistook this weird lamp in our apartment for a steamer earlier this week and started squealing with delight until I was told, “No Alex, that’s just a weird lamp…”

Any tips for surviving the rest of my time in Paris sans steamer? Do you steam or iron your clothes?


Add yours
  • J’en rêve, mais ça prend de la place donc c’est bof dans un appartement parisien qui manque un peu de rangements…

  • that tool sounds so useful! i myself iron probably less than once a year…:)


  • I’m an iron expert! :-)
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  • Definitely a steamer too! I love mine, although it’s bulky and I never take it with me on travels. I usually try to pack “wrinkle free” clothes or do what you do: try to get rid of wrinkles by steaming in the shower. Rarely works, so I’m looking for tips as well!

  • Fer à repasser … le plaisir de sentir la jolie senteur du linge just répassé :) ( Ca fait maniaque je sais lol )

  • I’ve been thinking of getting one – any advice on which are good? There are so many on amazon!

  • oui moi aussi j’en cherche un bien, mais je ne sais absolument pas pour lequel me decider, des suggestions ?

  • Jane with the noisy terrier March, 6 2013, 12:29 / Reply

    I have a steamer but mostly use an iron (I like the crispness of starch!). Most hotels, even smaller ones, will bring an iron and ironing board to your room. I also pack my wrinkle-prone clothes in dry cleaner bags. That helps!

  • I feel your pain. I love my hand steamer. I have an iron but I don’t use it any more because the steamer is so much better and easier to use! For silk you can spritz water, press and tug to get out wrinkles.
    I’m also a big fan of the Downy wrinkle release spray which is like having a dry cleaner in a bottle. It freshens up your clothes and gets out wrinkles.

  • I prefer steamers (from working in retail too!), but only own an iron–actually, which steamer would you recommend? I’ve been meaning to get one for a while, but am a bit lost as to which one to pick, and where to find it. The only advice I could give you for your silk blouses is to dip them in water mixed with a bit of white vinegar (if you feel comfortable handwashing them and aren’t bothered by the faint vinegar scent that will remain), and hang them to dry without wringing them. Otherwise, perhaps you could try using a steaming kettle as a steamer? Good luck :)

  • I’ve been dying to get a steamer because I think it makes clothes look so much more crisp than an iron. I want to get a small, hand steamer. Any recommendations?

  • I totally agree with you!!

    check out my giveaway!


  • You can steam your clothes with a conventional iron by using the steam feature – just crank up the iron up high and turn the steam on. If it’s a cheap iron, you may need to hold your clothes horizontal for it to steam well – in which case, you may as well iron it.

  • Rose D. NJ March, 6 2013, 12:47 / Reply

    I HATE to iron. Own a big, bulky steamer that does not like to cooperate…Lately, I’ve been sending my clothing out for pressing!!! Now, that’s lazy!!

  • Haha, j’ai découvert ça quand je bossais en boutique et ça a été ma révélation alors que le fer à repasser a toujours été mon ennemi numéro 1!

  • Ah! I know exactly what you mean. I got a large Jiffy steamer four years ago, and I have used it most days since. I converted my mother, sister, and three of my girlfriends–and two of my male friends!!–to it as well…

    And its fantastic for de-wrinkling a tablecloth in a snap!

    I havent pulled out my iron except to sew.



  • Tu sais, la france ou tout autre pays europeen est assez developpe et tu peux acheter ton propre steamer! Je sais c’est dingue. Va voir ici par example: http://www.fnac.com/REPASSAGE/Defroisseur-vertical/sh326721/w-4#bl=PEMAspiration%2c-repassage-%26-coutureBLO7

    Ou alors il y a les pressings…

  • un steamer!!! J’en rêve!! Hyper pratique!

  • I don’t own a steamer – been an iron sort of girl my whole adult life – but I totally get that “insane satisfaction” too from seeing a piece of clothing go from super wrinkled to super smooth. It’s so therapeutic!

    As for steamer alternatives, wish I could help! The only other alternative I’ve heard is the hang-clothes-in-steamy-bathroom one, and that didn’t seem to do much for your shirts. Maybe ask your neighbors if they have a steamer you can borrow? Or try dry-cleaning?

  • C’est malin, j’en veux un maintenant ! C’est quoi ton modèle chouchou ?

  • Lenore March, 6 2013, 2:15 / Reply

    Alex, I don’t know any easy-as-steaming alternative to steaming. Can only suggest ironing with a handkerchief (non-embroided) or scarf made of a light fabric between the shirt and the iron. Put shirt in the wrong side when ironing. Stay within the borders of the handkerchief/scarf. The handkerchief/scarf layer will prevent unsightly iron marks from the heat, etc. Use medium heat. Then happily wear your wrinkle-free clothes!

  • Margaret March, 6 2013, 2:16 / Reply

    I don’t have any fabulous suggestions, but it does make me feel better to know that someone else out there has tried the “hang it in the bathroom while you shower” method. Of course it never really works, but that doesn’t stop me from trying when I’m desperate.

    Good luck!

  • For travel I pack an empty plastic water sprayer and a small vial of scented linen water. When I reach the hotel I fill the water sprayer with tap water and then add a dash of linen water. Then the night before I hang the next day’s clothing on the shower rod and spritz them down. By the next morning they are wrinkle free and smell fresh. (this technique shouldn’t be used on silk though). I’ve used this trick for 15 years.

  • Helene March, 6 2013, 2:38 / Reply

    Achète un vaporisateur Evian ou d’une autre marque d’eau minerale en pharmacie. Cela défroisse hyper bien, cela ne laisse aucun dépôt (pas calcaire), il suffit de tirer un peu sur le vêtement vaporisé pour le défroisser et cela sèche très vite !

  • Vanessa March, 6 2013, 2:38 / Reply

    I’ve never steamed anything before, but been wanting to!! What steamer do you use?? I need one! Forget the wrinkles and have fun in Paris!! I’d love to be you right now, wrinkled and all. xx

  • Joanne March, 6 2013, 2:38 / Reply

    What steamer do you use?

  • Hi Joanne! I use a My Little Steamer! It works really well!

  • J’ai seulement un fer, j’ai tjs une énorme pile de linge à repasser, je repasse tjs devant un film le dimanche mais c’est long… Je pensais acheter une centrale vapeur pour me faciliter la vie! Est-ce que le steamer serait une meilleur solution? ça a l’air magique, ultra pratique!! Mais j’ai lu dans les commentaires que c’était encombrant, tu as quel modèle pour pouvoir le transporter dans tes bagages?

  • Un steamer, mon reeeeeve!
    Le problème est le rangement de cet appareil de rêve. Souvent trop gros, je ne me suis jamais laissée tenter de peur de devoir l’exposer dans mon salon ;-)
    Si un jour j’ai un plus grand appart, le premier truc que je m’achete c’est un steamer.

  • Unless I’m traveling to the sticks (which also happens), I get housecleaning to take care of steaming/ironing any MUST be ironed/steamed clothes upon arrival at the hotel so that’s one less thing to think about during the trip. It can be expensive, but certainly saves time and I don’t have to do the “how wrinkled do I look” and “is this level of wrinkle-ness even remotely acceptable” dance.

  • I have and iron but I didnt use it. I olways take with me clothes, which I didnt need ironing, but.. That materials are not natural than. Have a nice day and I really understand you.


  • hahaha ! Fer à repasser vapeur mais pas steamer. Je me tâte pour en acheter hein car je DETESTE repasser mais je n’aime pas les vêtements froissés pour autant. Donc je dois faire des concessions (ou reprendre une femme de ménage qui fait aussi le repassage, c’est ca l’idéal !!).

  • Gudrun March, 6 2013, 4:01 / Reply

    Because of your story, I have just bought my first steamer …

  • I always iron my clothes. But that is mainly because I never really have had a steamer at handy. The fuzz with ironing is the iron-board and all the tequnics you have to teach yourself to get rid of every single wrinkle, and that without creating new ones. I have worked for quite a while as a sewstress, hence I know these tequnices.
    I just remembered now that I even actually have a steamer in my studio, but I have never touched it! Anywho, I will now go get myself a hand steamer. And for other tips than the bath-steam-tric… well you can clean or just make the garment wet, and hang it perfectly on the hanger, so it will dry that way. But you cant’t use your time on that when you’re at PFW. I picture some garments look great all way-to-wrinkly too. Like made to be wrinkly. try that!?… unsure… just have fun, and get on a big smile and the nobody will notice the wrinkles on your shirt, darling.



  • they’re doing a portable iron now (like suuuuper small and light) and I bring it everywhere with me

  • Bonsoir Alex,
    Try a hairdryer while a hot shower is running in the bathroom…!!! Tu m’en diras des nouvelles…

  • You are at Paris Fashion Week. There must be 1000s of steamers there and you know all the right people. I’m sure someone will come to your rescue!

  • I’m addicted to my steamer too, but I have yet to get a travel size one.


  • Il faut aller au pressing Alex , comme le disent les Français. Ils vous repasseront tous vos vêtements pour quelques euros et le tour est joué.
    Bonne fin de séjour à Paris….chanceuse


  • Really craving a steamer now…
    Oh, and just wanted to say that I am really enjoying your posts. Just like Garance, your writing is refreshingly honest as well as hilarious! Enjoy Paris!

  • Carole March, 6 2013, 5:10 / Reply

    i would love to have a professional steamer…..u can hang up your clothes and spray with plain water or mix is a little bit of fabric softener …display people in bedding spray pillow cases with this combo and the creases disappear

  • Audrey March, 6 2013, 5:38 / Reply

    I hate to iron! and live in a small apt with no room to store an ironing board. I am also very picky about a wrinkle free outfit for work each morning. And, I too iron my linen Tee’s. So my temporary solutio was a mini ironing board which fits perfectly in the gap between my fridge and kitchen wall….
    I’ve been wanting to get a steamer for years, but don’t know know which kind to buy or what brand? Your post has encouraged me to finally go out and get one!
    Which one do you have Alex??

  • I never ever ironed my clothes even my shirts ! It never bothers me that my shirt isn’t really wrinkle less, I actually I kind of like it. Paris is the perfect place to be a bit négligée .. x


  • Lauren March, 6 2013, 6:14 / Reply

    Two words. Bourgeoisie crisis.

  • Totally agree. Got a commercial one at home and take my Rowenta travel steamer (dual voltage) wherever I travel. It’s not the sturdiest – on #2 now, but it’s cery convenient and works well enough!

  • ShibaGirl March, 6 2013, 6:27 / Reply

    HELP! Could someone please recommend a good home steamer?! I’ve tried a travel one, and it wasn’t worth the money. I would love a good steamer. Thank you.

  • Never tried a steamer, i should though!


  • whenever i am on trips sans steamer, i hang my wrinkly clothing on a bathroom towel rack while i shower. all the steam straightens them out!

  • Alex, je viens de me rendre compte que tu écrivais les billets sans cadre blanc.
    Je les aime bien.

    Les fers font trop de traces…sur certains vêtements fragiles!
    Je viens de me rendre compte qu’il existait des steamers version voyage, génial!

    Continue comme ça, j’aime bien ta rubrique.

    Merci pour l’info :)

  • Nansosi March, 6 2013, 8:29 / Reply

    Jeez Alex! What a great promotion for a steamer if I ever read one! I just saw a demo for “My Little Steamer” on youtube and I had no idea how amazing they are. SOLD! I’m going out and buying one! Thanks for the post.

    P.S Looks like you won’t need one, but I love my Panasonic 360º Cordless iron. There’s no cord to get in the way…

  • http://www.amazon.com/Grandmas-Secret-Wrinkle-Remover-8oz/dp/B001685MW6

    Secret to stylists everywhere!! Buy some Grandma’s Secret! Its seriously magic!!!


  • I am a proud owner and user of a steamer; I also use it for all types of clothing. I told my husband that if I ever lose my job as an accountant, I will just steam clothes for a living.


  • I coudn’t agree more with you. I travel overseas a lot and I can assure you my life changed after I found the best steamer ever called “my little steamer” about $20 on Target or Bathbedandbeyond….strongly recommend it. Unfortunately it is not dual voltage (110 only) but works much better than Rowenta (considered one of the best and much more expensive)

  • Usually I iron but the steamer is faster.. When I worked at H&M we used to iron everything!!


  • Is a steamer really that good? Someone point to one!


  • I never iron anything, but of course part of me wishes I did. I’ve tried steamers in the past but have always been incredibly disappointed by their performance. I feel like my clothes are just hot and damp, but still as wrinkly as when I started. Please tell us which one you use that’s so magical!!


  • Vapeur addict définitivement. Pour une française c’est toujours bizarre. Ca ne fait pas partie des habitudes

  • you could use a hair-dryer, it really works!

  • jackie March, 7 2013, 4:38 / Reply

    Le steamer me tente à fond. Des conseils pour en acheter un?

  • Steamer ! Mais totalement steamer !!
    Va dans n’importe quel pressing, ça te coûtera trois francs six sous et ils seront tout lisses !

  • Oh Alex, I’ve always thought about buying a steamer, it’s so useful, but is there a steamer so little that you can take it with you during your travels? Yesterday I took a look on internet and I found a lovely pink steamer… I really want it, but it’s huge!
    I hardly iron, I don’t iron jeans (I read that you should hang them well and it would be fine. Also, you should never iron the seams because the synthetic thread, once ironed, can irritate skin), t-shirt… When I travel, I try to pack well and choose clothes that don’t easily get creases. Shower doesn’t work, most of the times the creases stay there and the clothes get almost wet…


  • Sandrine March, 7 2013, 6:10 / Reply

    Moi j’ai une technique infaillible lorsque je n’ai pas de fer a repasser sous la main.
    Il suffit de brumiser avec de l’eau ton vêtement et ensuite avec un sèche cheveux a pleine puissance d’effectuer des mouvement de haut en bas a environ 15 cm.
    Bien sure cette technique ne marche pas sur des tissus très épais mais pour les chemisier c’est parfait ;)

  • hahahaha, j’adore le “non alex c’est juste une lampe bizarre”, j’en ris encore….
    courage ma belle

  • Voilà déjà deux mois que j’ai emménagé à New York, et je n’ai toujours pas porté mes blouses.
    Ton article me rappelle quand je travaillais pour un magazine et utilisais le steamer.
    Je me rappelle aussi d’un sentiment de satisfaction en regardant le vêtement devenir lisse.
    Il me faut un steamer!

  • My mom got me a handheld steamer, it’s brilliant, and portable! I hate ironing, but somehow love steaming. There really is something therapeutic about watching your clothes wrinkles magically disappear with steam.

  • ShibaGirl March, 7 2013, 6:46

    What kind of steamer? I’d love to know what works well.

  • One way of insuring no wrinkles in clothes when traveling is to use silk paper when folding them. It’s a really old fashion system but does work and frees up precious time when you get to your destination. Who wants to iron or steam clothes, especially in Paris when you can be out people watching?!!
    Come on enjoy!

  • Teresa Maria March, 7 2013, 4:48 / Reply

    Repasser? Vapeur? JAMAAAAISS!!! Quand j’achete mes fringues si elles ont vraiment besoin d’être repassées, je ne les achete pas! Voilá! Et mas cherie, relax avec ton truc. La vie est belle, on s’en fout!
    Gros Bisous

  • my old roommate had a hand steamer, it was amazing… i need to get one.


  • this post just reminded me that I really need to invest in a steamer! I’ve used it when working retail many years ago and it was amazing how well it got rid of wrinkles!!


  • I feel your pain!! I travel a lot and run into the same problem with the voltage. I have yet to find a travel version of an appliance that I’ve really liked or feel is ever as good as the original — be it a steamer, iron, flat iron, hair dryer or whatever. I can’t tell you how many converters have ruined my fave tools (of course in the most inconvenient times too…it seems to always know when I’m desperately trying to hurry out the door and I’ve just walked out of the shower with my hair dripping wet…that’s when it always decides to breakdown!) so they are banned from traveling with me. I’ve resorted to buying two of the most essential items — one for the US and one for EU — then I’ll pair them with my universal adapter for the socket changes. Suggest you buy it locally whereever you travel most.

  • next time get a travel jiffy

    But I use this method on my shirts and it works pretty well. tip comes from this aussie lady who knows everything about household cleaning!

    It’s fabulous for something Shannon describes as Bachelor Ironing, (ironing when you don’t want to). All you need to do is hang up your clothes after washing, then spray them with a light mist of lavender oil (one teaspoon) mixed with 1 litre of water in a spray bottle.

    once it dries I usually spray once more after it’s dried. and it’s all good! also packing silk in pantyhose stops the wrinkles. good luck!

  • Just purchased my first, because of my obsession with silk shirts, and yes a steamer can change a life!!!
    Have steamed all my clothes, iron in bin, dog looks terrified!!

  • I have a favor to ask: could you please put the name of the person who wrote the post on the home page? While it takes only a moment to click on the link in order to get to the rest of the article and see the name of the author, I’d prefer not to have to do it. Merci!

  • Maria Sartoria March, 9 2013, 6:37 / Reply

    I iron each and every garment I own. Moreover I iron my sheets, my towels, enything.
    I liked trending! Funny, très drôle!

  • for silk or any light weight/ thin fabric, i soak the piece in water and gentlely squeeze out the excess water. use the hairdryer in low heat to “blow dry” the garment. it takes a bit time but better than wearing a piece full of wrinkles….
    i totally understand your pain…. and when I was in college I also had that guilty pleasure/ weird enjoyment of steaming clothes when I was a parttime in a boutique :)
    steamer is really a great piece of invention, someone shall get a Noble Prize for that :P

  • I use a spray bottle of water to ‘iron’ the wrinkles out. You can find very small ones that can fit in any luggage, or you can find them in any drugs store in the world, but it’s the same concept. Just spritz and run your hand over the garment to straighten out the wrinkles. You can blow dry if you are in a hurry, but I usually do this when I first get to my destination, and by the time I need the garment it’s dry and the wrinkles have just fallen out on their own.

    Also, since I have wavy/curly hair (that I do not wash everyday, to drying) I use the spray bottle to spritz my hair to revive it (and the hair products) in the morning.

    Spray bottle, it’s my beauty and fashion go to! :o)

  • Trop drôle ce post!!!! Je ne repasse jamais et emmène ttes mes affaires au pressing mais je me dis qu’un “steamer” serait peut-être une solution..

  • Garance, please please open the model of your magic tool)))!

  • If somebody knows where to find it in Italy, pleeeease let me know!


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