After being packed in a suitcase for many hours, your clothing will likely be wrinkled and unsightly. That's where a travel steamer comes in. These compact units are light enough to pack into a carry-on or even duffel bag, yet they deliver powerful steam that eradicates wrinkles from your clothes.
After hours of testing the top steamers on the market, we landed on the True & Tidy Handheld Garment Steamer as our number-one pick. However, there are plenty of other great options for different needs.
Read on for the best travel steamers to take with you on the road.
Best Overall: True & Tidy TS-10 Handheld Garment Steamer
Large stainless steel soleplate
See-through water tank
Tricky to fill water reservoir
Of all the travel steamers we tested, the True & Tidy Handheld Garment Steamer stood out the most. This colorful unit weighs just 1.5 pounds, and it breaks down into two pieces, making it extremely easy to stash in a bag of any size. We loved that its water reservoir is completely see-through, which allowed us to monitor exactly how much water was left. And it excelled in our testing, removing tough wrinkles with just a few passes thanks to its powerful steam and stainless steel soleplate.
This travel steamer comes with a brush attachment that can help smooth fabric as you work, and it was ready to use in around two minutes. The handle stayed cool and comfortable for the duration of our testing, and the on-off rocker switch made the steamer simple and straightforward to operate. Our only woe when it comes to this travel steamer is that the water tank is a bit tricky to fill—you have to pour water in slowly. Otherwise, it backs up and overflows. However, beyond that one quirk, the product exceeded our expectations, earning a 5 out of 5 in terms of design and value.
Best Budget: Black+Decker Easy Garment Steamer
Slit in nozzle gives off impressive steam
Large, easy-to-fill water tank
Extremely effective at removing wrinkles
The great thing about travel steamers is they're typically quite budget-friendly, and one of the best values we found was the Black+Decker Easy Garment Steamer. Despite its low price, this handheld steamer worked extremely well in our tests, removing wrinkles in just one or two passes. We loved that its nozzle has a slit-shaped opening, which allowed more steam to come out and delivered faster results.
This travel steamer takes about a minute to heat up, and there's a large window that lets you see into the water tank to monitor how much is left. The top of the unit twists off when you need more water, and we had no issues filling the water tank from the faucet. The steamer is slightly bulkier than other models we tested, but it's still compact enough to fit in a carry-on or other suitcase.
Best Splurge: iSteam Steamer for Clothes
Extremely compact design
Can be used both horizontally and vertically
Well-made and durable
Spits water when first heating up
If you don't want to sacrifice any more suitcase space than is absolutely necessary, it's worth splurging on the iSteam Steamer. This sleek little device is one of the smallest we tested, yet it blew us away during testing, heating up in less than a minute and delivering enough steam to remove wrinkles in just a few quick passes.
This steamer has a water tank mounted to the front, and an easy-to-press button releases the tank for filling. All of its pieces are made from thick, durable plastic, and we were even impressed with the quality of its brush attachment, which had significantly more bristles than other options. You can even use this steamer at an angle thanks to its no-drip design—though, we found it was less effective in a horizontal position, as the steam tends to taper off a bit.
Best for Heavy Materials: MagicPro Portable Garment Steamer
Strong steam production
Sturdy, durable form
It generally holds true that the larger the steamer, the more power it packs. The MagicPro Portable Garment Steamer is an unbeatable model in terms of steam output, making it ideal for heavy fabrics like wool or denim. But the major downside is that it's fairly bulky and takes up quite a bit of space in your suitcase. Still, we were wowed by this steamer, which has a water reservoir attached to the front of its body. It was able to remove wrinkles in one to two passes, working significantly better than similarly sized models and earning a 5 out of 5 stars in terms of effectiveness.
The MagicPro Steamer has a trigger-style button that turns the steam off and on, and it automatically locks in, saving you from having to hold it down the whole time. It's ready to use after just one minute of heating—impressive for its size—and it comes with a brush attachment, as well as a lint brush.
Best for Weddings: Conair Turbo ExtremeSteam 2-in-1 Garment Steamer
Heats up extremely fast
Four steam settings
Includes a variety of attachments, including a delicates bonnet
Oversized and bulky
Doesn't work well horizontally
The last thing you want on your big day is to accidentally scorch your wedding dress, which is why we recommend the Conair Turbo Extreme Steam for delicate items. This steamer comes with a unique "delicates bonnet" attachment that helps to diffuse the steam, yet it doesn't hamper the unit's effectiveness. It was able to remove wrinkles from fabric in just a few passes in our testing, earning it a 5 out of 5 in terms of effectiveness, and we were impressed that it heated up in less than a minute, as well.
There's one major downside to this steamer, and that's its size. The unit is more than a foot tall and weighs over 3 pounds, making it one of the largest options on this list. It wouldn't be good for frequent fliers who only travel with a carry-on, but we think it would come in handy at weddings or other special events.
Best Combo: HoMedics Perfect Steam Professional Mini Garment Steamer And Iron
Four different settings
Includes a convenient carrying case
Heats up very quickly
Not as effective as larger units
Very small water tank
If you like to have the option to iron your clothes as well as steam them, this adorable combo unit is definitely the way to go. It's the perfect traveling companion thanks to its compact size, light weight, and well-designed travel case. Plus, it offers four different operation settings—two for ironing and two for steaming. In our tests, it wasn't as effective as larger units, often requiring four or five passes to get rid of creases, but we didn't expect it to be, given its small size. The lower steam setting was fairly ineffective, but we were impressed by the output on the higher setting, especially given how small the unit's water tank is.
The main selling point of this product is its handy travel case, which is made from hard plastic. It includes a removable base where you can rest the iron when it's hot, as well as a cord wrap to keep everything neat and tidy inside the shell. The case snaps shut with two clasps, and it has a chic leather carrying trap, as well as a soft carrying bag. All these helpful features earned it a perfect score for portability.
Best with Accessories: BEAUTURAL Steamer for Clothes
Includes several handy accessories
Great for creating creases
Longer steam time than average
Accessories allow you to do more with your travel steamer, and the Beautural Steamer comes with three handy attachments: a brush, lint brush, and crease clip. This steamer is on the larger side, making it slightly bulky to travel with, but in testing, we liked that it's able to remove most wrinkles within a few passes. We were also impressed with the crease clip, which made crisp, clean creases with just one pass.
The Beautural Steamer only takes a minute or so to heat up, and its water tank delivers up to 15 minutes of steam. We liked that it has a locking trigger for continuous steaming, and we gave it a 4 out of 5 in terms of design—the only thing we didn't like is that the water tank opening is tiny and awkwardly placed, making it tricky to fill without spilling.
To keep your clothes looking fresh on the road, we recommend the True & Tidy TS-10 Handheld Garment Steamer. This compact unit is extremely lightweight and easy to operate, and it delivers an impressive blast steam that removes wrinkles fast. For a more budget-friendly option, we also like the Black+Decker HGS011F Easy Garment Steamer—while slightly larger, its unique slit opening gives off ample steam.
How We Tested the Travel Steamers
We purchased and sent 30 clothes and travel steamers to our at-home tester, who put them through their paces for several hours over the course of two months. To start, they unboxed and set up each product, noting how clear the instructions were and how intuitive the design of the steamer is. They noted whether it was durable and practical, and if the buttons were placed well. They also noted if it could be described as a stylish option and if the product came with accessories like a case.
Next, they evaluated the heat time of each steamer by timing with a phone stopwatch how long the water took to heat up. They then used wrinkled linen napkins to test effectiveness and try out all the settings. How quickly did the steamer remove the wrinkles? Did it take one pass, three passes, or five passes to remove them? Did the napkin feel damp afterward? They answered all of these tough questions before also rating the portability of the product and noting how easy it is to hold or carry around. They put the travel steamer in a packed carry-on bag to see if it would be practical to pack in your suitcase and if it altered the weight of the bag.
Lastly, they used their experience to rate the overall value of the product and decide if it's worth the money you'd spend on it. All of these insights were boiled down to this list of what we believe are the very best travel steamers.
What to Look for in a Travel Steamer
Heat and Steam Time
When comparing different steamers, you'll want to look at factors such as their heat and steam times. The former indicates how long the unit takes to heat up and be ready to use, while the latter lets you know how long it runs for when the tank is full.
"I like [a steamer] that has a decent amount of continuous run time—10 mins, at least—so that you don't have to stop and refill several times," says Melissa Maker of Clean My Space.
If you're going to be packing a steamer in your suitcase, it should ideally be compact and lightweight—otherwise, it will prevent you from packing other necessities. The unit's weight will also impact its usability. "A steamer should be a manageable weight, comfortable to hold, and nicely balanced, so it's not too top or bottom-heavy," says Maker.
Many travel steamers have a basic design with just one setting, but some options offer more versatility with multiple settings and attachments. Lint brushes can help keep your clothes tidy, while crease clips are great for steaming dress pants. Other features to consider include safety settings, such as automatic shutoff times, and carrying cases, which are extremely useful for traveling.
Which steamers are easy to pack?
Most travel streamers are lightweight and portable when you compare them with traditional clothes steamers. Most weigh less than 2 pounds, and some of the more compact varieties are no larger than a travel mug. This makes them easy to slot into even the smallest of suitcases.
What steamers are easiest to use?
Some travel steamers are lighter and more ergonomic than others. Personal opinions differ on which are the easiest to use, and it depends on what you need it for. Selecting one that you can hold at any angle without the water spilling out is helpful, and those with a larger water container will save you the inconvenience of refilling them so often.
Do travel steamers work?
Absolutely! Standard-size clothes steamers are more powerful and carry more water, so they are better for steaming multiple garments and heavy fabrics. However, a quality travel steamer will still effectively lift creases out of the clothes you are taking on vacation or a business trip.
How hot do travel steamers get?
To produce steam, all models need to generate water temperatures of more than 200 F. That means you need to use any clothes steamer with care. For use with heavier fabrics, temperatures can reach as high as 395 F on standard clothes steamers, but the less powerful travel varieties don't often reach these temperatures.
Is a steamer better than an iron?
While they may seem similar, steamers and irons serve different purposes in the laundry room. Steamers use hot steam to relax fibers within a fabric, thereby eliminating wrinkles, while irons are used to press and smooth fabric and create creases. Further, steamers are typically used vertically on hanging garments, while irons require a horizontal surface.
Can you bring a steamer on a plane?
Yes, clothing steamers can be packed in a carry-on or checked bag. Just make sure they don't contain any liquid.
Does a steamer clean clothes?
Steamers are effective at sanitizing clothing due to the hot temperature of their steam—usually upward of 212 degrees—but they don’t necessarily clean your garments. The hot air kills bacteria, but it doesn’t get rid of dirt, grime, odors, or sweat that may be on your clothing.
Why Trust The Spruce?
This article was written by Camryn Rabideau, a freelance writer and product tester for The Spruce. As she started her research into travel steamers, she spoke with experts Wayne Edelman, CEO of Meurice Garment Care, and Melissa Maker of Clean My Space for insights on the benefits of steaming, what to look for in a travel steamer, as well as how to steam clothes properly.
Camryn then went on to personally test 30 different clothing steamers, including a wide range of handheld models, evaluating each one on its design, portability, heat time, effectiveness, and value. She took these scores, as well as her overall experience with each steamer, into consideration as she put together this list of the best travel steamers.