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Anyone with a passionate dislike of ironing is familiar with “the chair”. In some cases it might just be the bedroom floor, or a corner in your wardrobe, a laundry basket or just “the pile”.
Whatever the name, it’s the home of the “to be ironed” shirts, pants, uniforms and those tops made in unforgiving fabrics like silks, satins, linen and cotton. However, if you too have been putting this all in the too-hard basket, replacing your iron in lieu of a garment steamer may help.
PUTTING IT TO THE TEST
Tefal’s IT344 Upright Pro Style garment steamer. Priced at $199 RPP
WHERE TO BUY
The Good Guys
It has three steam levels and promises 50-minutes of steaming on a 1.5L tank of water and a speedy 45 second heat up time.
While news.com.au loaned this steamer from Tefal for review, I have personally bought and owned one of their similar models (for reference, it’s the now retired IS6300 Master Valet Garment Steamer) and have used it for four years.
Here’s how the IT344 Upright Pro Style performed.
TEFAL PRO STYLE UPRIGHT GARMENT STEAMER: HOW DOES IT WORK?
There’s two ways you can work through your ironing pile. For shirts and dresses, Tefal recommends you slide your garment onto the ‘hanger-shaped head of the steamer, where you then press and steam the fabric against the retractable board. Pants and skirts can be clipped on at the top of the steamer, which means you can line up your pants so they get a crisp middle crease – just as you would if you were using an ironing board.
However, for an even quicker steam, I prefer to hang my clothes on a hanger, place the hanger on the hook and steam one side before flipping it over to do the other side. To help get rid of all the creases, use your free hand to pull the fabric taut at the bottom, while steaming in a downwards motion. The extra tension will help release any tough wrinkles.
WHAT ATTACHMENTS DO YOU GET?
Apart from the main body of the steamer, the Tefal IT344 also comes with a fabric brush attachment. While the bristle brush can give you a bit more grip as you steam your clothes, it didn’t have many benefits in terms of removing dust and hair.
In terms of setting up the machine, the vertical board, pole, base, steamer chute and hanger head do come separately, and it took about five minutes to set up. You can pretty much intuitively figure out which parts go where but there is an instruction book with extra guidance, should you need it.
TEFAL PRO STYLE UPRIGHT GARMENT STEAMER: PERFORMANCE
For reference, here is what the Pro Style Upright Garment Steamer promised to do:
– Heats up in 45 seconds
– Provide 50 minutes of steaming time on a full 1.5L of water
– Remove creases on all fabric types
Although the machine was quick to heat up, it took closer to a minute and 15 seconds rather than the promised 45 seconds.
The water tank easily pulls out of the base and slots back in after refilling. Tefal also recommends users to run a descaling cycle every six months to remove any calcium build-up and avoid the steam from possibly staining clothes.
On the low setting it easily de-wrinkled cotton T-shirts, floaty silk tops and light dresses and I used the medium setting on my linen and cotton shirts and thick denim jeans. On the latter, the steam effectively and swiftly removed the creases without any extra work.
I did, however, find the plume of steam on the high setting to be too powerful for my clothes. It would leave the occasional wet patch and although it quickly dried up without a trace, it’s worth noting. The high steam setting would be useful for freshening up and sanitising heavier fabrics like curtains, upholstery, towels and bedding.
When it came to its running time, it ran for a total of 75 minutes on a mix of low, medium and high steam settings, exceeding its 50 minute guide time. And despite running the steamer for more than an hour, the handle never felt hot to touch.
All-in-all, the garment steamer does exactly what it says and is drastically more time efficient than ironing. Because you’re not dealing with a heated metal head, there’s also no risk of accidentally leaving scorch marks on the fabric or adding unintentional creases.
TEFAL PRO STYLE UPRIGHT GARMENT STEAMER: DESIGN
The one potential drawback of the garment steamer is its size. While it’s not much bulkier than an ironing board, it doesn’t fold up flat.
Personally, I haven’t found it an issue and I store my steamer on its tallest setting in the corner of my small bedroom. That way it’s always ready to be used. If you needed to, you could collapse the pole so that it sits at thigh-height and store it in your wardrobe.
TEFAL PRO STYLE UPRIGHT GARMENT STEAMER: BEST OF RATING
It looks smart and while it’s not the most compact appliance, the steamer isn’t complicated to use.
I liked that the triangular head mimics the sharp point of an iron, which means you can get into hard to reach places like underneath the collar or in between ruffles.
Your ‘ironing’ will be done in minutes. It’s a great way to freshen up your clothes in between washes, eliminate odours, sterilises fabric and you don’t have to worry about damaging delicate fabrics like brushed silks, lace and wool.
I deducted half a point because it’s triple the price of the average steamer, but it does work, and really well at that.
If you hate ironing and want a way to cross it off the chore roster faster, this steamer will do just that. It’s super easy to use, saves time and although it’s a bit of an investment, the convenience is worth it. While it can be easily disassembled and stored, it’s best for people who don’t mind having a garment steamer on show at all times, or have a space where they can store the steamer for easy access.
For our complete roundup of the six top garment steamers see our previous post here.