garment steamer on clothes

How to Steam Clothes Without a Steamer

Steamers are undoubtedly handy appliances for quickly removing wrinkles from clothes, but what if you don’t have one on hand?

Whether you’re travelling, don’t own a steamer, or simply prefer alternative methods, there are several effective ways to steam clothes without a steamer.

In this guide, we’ll walk you through the process of how you can get your clothes looking crisp and fresh again using alternative steaming methods.

From utilising a steaming hot shower to everyday household items – such as a pot, kettle, or even a flat iron – these methods are simple to implement and require minimal equipment for when a steamer is unavailable.


Method 1: The Shower Steam Method

steam shower

One of the most straightforward and accessible methods to steam your clothes without a steamer is using the steam from your shower.

This method works well for both small and large garments, making it a versatile choice. Follow these steps to steam your clothes using this method:

  • Gather your supplies: Before you start, ensure you have the necessary supplies:
  • The wrinkled item of clothing
  • A sturdy hanger
  • A clean bathroom with a working shower
  • Prepare the bathroom: Ensure your bathroom is clean and free from any dust or debris that could transfer onto your clothes. Close all windows and doors to create a steam-friendly environment.
  • Hang the garment: Hang your wrinkled garment on a sturdy hanger. Allow enough space around it to enable the steam to circulate effectively.
  • Turn on the shower: Turn on the shower to the hottest water temperature possible. Allow the bathroom to fill with steam by running the shower for a few minutes with the door closed.
  • Steam the garment: Once the bathroom is filled with steam, hang your clothing item in the shower and leave it to steam for a few minutes. Gently pull and smooth out any wrinkles with your hands. Ensure you maintain a safe distance to avoid burns from the steam.
  • Let it set: After steaming, let the garment hang for a few minutes to allow any remaining wrinkles to be released from the materials. Remove the item from the bathroom and lightly shake the fabric to help smooth it further.

This technique is particularly effective for handling delicate fabrics like silk or chiffon. The steam aids in loosening the fibres and smoothing out wrinkles without exposing them to direct heat.

However, it’s important to note that this approach might not yield optimal results for heavier fabrics or deeply entrenched wrinkles.

Exploring the alternative methods outlined below could be a better solution if you’re dealing with more resistant creases.


Method 2: The Kettle Steam Method

kettle steam

In this method, a kettle or teapot can be repurposed as a steaming tool to remove wrinkles from your clothes. 

Here are the steps you need to follow for this method:

  • Gather your supplies: For this method, you’ll need:
  • A kettle or pot
  • Water
  • A hanger
  • The wrinkled garment
  • Boil water in the kettle: Fill the kettle or pot with water and bring it to a boil. Ensure there’s enough water to produce a significant amount of steam.
  • Hang the garment: While waiting for the kettle, hang your clothing item on a sturdy clothes hanger. This technique works best for more compact items (shirts, blouses, skirts, etc.)
  • Create steam: Once the water is boiling, carefully hold the hanger over the steam spout, allowing the steam to penetrate the garment. Be cautious to avoid steam burns and keep a safe distance.
  • Smooth out the wrinkles: Put the kettle down and use your hands to tug on the fabric lightly, smoothing out the wrinkles as the steam works its magic.
  • Let it set: After steaming, let the garment hang for a few minutes to allow any remaining wrinkles to dissipate.

The focused steam jet works efficiently to iron out wrinkles and refresh the look of your clothes. However, exercise caution when employing this approach, as the steam can be scalding hot.

Steer clear of touching the spout or getting too near the steam to avert accidental burns.


Method 3: The Saucepan and Towel Method

saucepan and towel

This method utilises a pot with a lid to create steam for wrinkle removal. Here is a step-by-step guide to using this steaming method:

  • Gather your supplies: For this method, you’ll need:
  • A saucepan
  • Water
  • A hanger
  • One clean, damp towel
  • The wrinkled garment
  • Boil the water: Fill your pot with water and bring it to a boil. While waiting for the water to boil, hang your item of clothing on a sturdy hangar.
  • Create steam: Once the water is boiling, carefully hold the damp towel over the steam and allow it to penetrate the fabric.
  • Smooth out the wrinkles: Move the steamy towel up and down your wrinkled garment, smoothing the wrinkles out of the material. Redampen and heat the towel as needed and repeat the process.
  • Let it set: After steaming your clothes, let the garment hang for a few minutes to allow any remaining wrinkles to disappear.


Method 4: The Flat Iron or Straighteners Method

flat iron and hair straightener

If you have a flat iron or hair straighteners at your disposal, they can be repurposed to eliminate wrinkles from your clothing. Here is how:

  • Gather your supplies: For this method, you’ll need:
  • A flat iron or hair straightener
  • A hanger
  • The wrinkled garment
  • Prepare the straighteners: Plug in your flat iron or hair straightener and set it to the lowest heat setting appropriate for your garment’s fabric (check the care label).
  • Hang the garment: While the straighteners are heating up, hang your item of clothing on a sturdy hanger and smooth out any visible wrinkles.
  • Smooth out the wrinkles: Starting at the top of the garment, gently clamp the flat iron or hair straightener onto a small fabric section. Gently glide the iron downward, applying light pressure to release wrinkles as you progress.
  • Repeat and leave to set: Repeat this process on all sections of the garment until it appears smooth and free of wrinkles. Once done, hang the garment to cool down and set it in its wrinkle-free state.

This approach is excellent for addressing wrinkles on collars, cuffs, and other smaller areas. The blend of heat and steam from the flat iron or hair straightener helps relax the fabric fibres.

However, exercise caution to prevent accidental burns or damage. Before ironing, test a small, inconspicuous fabric area to ensure it can withstand the heat.


Method 5: The Clothes Dryer Method

ice cubes in clothes dryer

If you own a tumble dryer, you have the option to utilise it for both removing wrinkles from your clothes whilst simultaneously drying them. Follow these steps to steam your clothes using a dryer:

  • Gather your supplies: For this method, you’ll need:
  • A tumble dryer
  • Ice cubes OR a damp washcloth
  • Prepare the dryer: Collect the garments you intend to steam and place them inside the dryer. Add a couple of ice cubes or a damp washcloth to the dryer along with the clothes. This will generate steam as the dryer begins to heat up.
  • Set the dryer heat: Set the dryer to the lowest heat setting or opt for the “air-only” mode to safeguard delicate fabrics from potential damage.
  • Steam the garments: Allow the dryer to run for approximately 10 to 15 minutes, enabling the steam to permeate the clothes and eliminate the wrinkles.
  • Leave to set: After the cycle ends, carefully remove the garments from the dryer and gently shake them to remove any remaining wrinkles. Hang or fold the clothes to prevent the formation of new wrinkles.

This method effectively combines steaming and drying, making it suitable for a diverse range of fabrics.

However, exercise caution with delicate or heat-sensitive materials, checking the care label before drying. Also, don’t overfill your tumble dryer, as this will encourage more creasing.

It’s important to note that this approach may not be ideal for significantly wrinkled clothes or more oversized items that demand more focused attention.

In such scenarios, you may need to blend this method with another technique or consider an entirely different approach.


Method 6: The Iron and Towel Method

steam iron, clothes and towels

If you have an iron but no steamer, this method can work wonders in removing wrinkles from your clothes. Follow the steps below for the best results:

  • Gather your supplies: For this method, you’ll need:
  • A steam iron
  • A spray bottle
  • Water
  • A clean towel
  • The wrinkled garment
  • Fill a spray bottle: Fill a spray bottle with water and adjust it to a delicate mist setting.
  • Prepare the iron: Fill the iron with water and set it to the appropriate temperature for the fabric of the garment, ensuring it isn’t excessively hot to prevent damage.
  • Hang and dampen the garment: Hang the garment you wish to steam on a hanger. Dampen the fabric by lightly misting it with water from the spray bottle.
  • Steam the garment: Once the iron has reached the desired temperature, gently press it down onto the dampened fabric, applying light pressure for a few seconds. Glide the iron along the material, concentrating on areas with wrinkles.
  • Repeat as necessary: For persistent wrinkles, lightly spray more water on the fabric and repeat the ironing procedure as needed.
  • Leave to set: After steaming, hang the garment to air dry or lay it flat to maintain its shape.

This technique is effective across various fabrics and notably efficient for smoothing wrinkles from cotton, linen, and synthetic materials.

Always tailor the iron temperature to suit the fabric to avoid scorching or burning. If uncertain, initiate with a lower temperature and gradually increase as needed.


How to Steam a Dress Without a Steamer

iron polka dot dress

One of the most common clothing items people need to steam dresses. You can use any of the above methods we’ve already discussed and achieve great results without a steamer.

However, whether using a shower, kettle, iron, or pot, consider these additional tips for the best results:

  • Inspect the dress: Prior to steaming, ensure the dress is clean and free of any stains. Steaming can set stains – especially organic ones – so starting with a clean garment is important to avoid potential long-term damage.
  • Adjust the steam source: Depending on the fabric and style, you may need to modify the steam source’s angle or distance to avoid damaging delicate embellishments or decorations. If it has an intricate design, the kettle method is best due to its fine control.
  • Consider a professional cleaner: If you have a valuable or particularly delicate dress, consider taking it to a professional cleaner for steam pressing. They have the expertise to handle delicate fabrics and intricately designed dresses.