How to Clean My Little Steamer: A Beginners Guide

Ever wonder why some people always look like their clothes came straight from the laundry? The secret to looking expensive is never to wear wrinkled clothes. It’s a cardinal sin of fashion!

But ironing is such a hassle. And who has time to do it anyway? It is where steaming comes into the frame. It’s the easiest way to remove any creases from your outfit. 

In this article, we will talk about all the ways you can clean your clothing steamer and the tricks to take care of it!

How to Clean My Little Steamer

how to clean my little steamer

Over time, garment steamers gather a lot of water build-ups, especially if you have hard water. It can affect your steamed garments and make the steamer not function to its best level. So making sure to clean the garment steamer twice a month is a brilliant idea. 

Here’s our step-by-step guide on how to clean my little steamer:

What You’ll Need:

  • Vinegar
  • Distilled water


  1. Mix one part vinegar with two parts distilled water and fill up the reservoir. 
  2. Turn on the steamer and let that vinegar-water solution sit there until about half of it is gone. 
  3. Turn off the steamer and let the water cool down completely. 
  4. Empty the steamer in the sink and add clean, distilled water to the tank. Fill up the tank and rerun the steamer.
  5. Do this a few more times until the vinegar smell evaporates from the steamer. 
  6. Empty the steamer and let it air dry completely. Keep the lid open until it dries down. 
  7. And that’s it. Your garment steamer is thoroughly clean. 

Pro Tip: To remove calcium build-up from the water reservoir, always use distilled water instead of tap water. Distilled water does not contain any chemicals or minerals so that it won’t increase mineral build-up even more. 

How to Clean a Clothes Steamer without Vinegar 

If you hate the smell of vinegar and don’t want to use it for cleaning your steamer, there are other things you can use. You can use baking soda, and it would work similarly. Some great liquid steamer cleaners do the job better than any vinegar or baking soda. 

We like the Durgol Universal Multi-Purpose Descaler and Decalcifier. It’s affordable and can be used for a wide variety of kitchen gadgets. From coffee makers to your pots and pans, this cleaning solution is super versatile. 

How to Clean a Handheld Steamer

handheld steamer for cleaning

Handheld steamers are the most common type. They are lightweight and easy to carry around.

There are even some models that can be carried around in a suitcase for emergencies. The process of cleaning a handheld steamer consists of traditional descaling methods with vinegar and water.

Here’s how to clean a handheld steamer:

  1. Unplug your steamer before you start cleaning. Otherwise, you might end up electrocuting yourself! We don’t want that happening. 
  2. Empty your water tank and check inside for calcium build-ups.
  3. With handheld steamers, these build-ups are more prominent and happen faster. It is because the water tank is tiny.  Check the nozzle to see if it has any build-ups inside.
  4. Use a piece of soft cotton cloth and wash away the calcium deposit from it. You can use vinegar or lemon to do it.
  5. There are also many reasonable descaling solutions to try. We like Lime Out for its soft lemon fragrance and heavy-duty cleaning strength. 
  6. Then do the vinegar water cleaning process we have mentioned earlier. But after the steamer evaporates half of the vinegar water, let it sit for 30-40 minutes before you discard it into the sink. It helps to weaken the calcium more.
  7. Run the steamer with normal water and you are done!

How to Clean a Standing Steamer

If you have a standing steamer, these previous methods are not for you. Standing steamers are bigger thus requires a different cleaning approach.

Here’s how to clean a standing steamer:

  1. First, disconnect your standing steamer from the electricity. 
  2. Remove your water tank from the standing steamer and discard the unused water from it. 
  3. Fill the reservoir with two-part vinegar and one part distilled water. 
  4. Don’t overfill the tank, and make sure to fill it till the recommended line. 
  5. After you have done that, reconnect the steamer to the electricity and turn it on.
  6. Most standing steamers come with multiple settings. Set it up to the highest and let the steam run.
  7. Let it run until the water tank is ⅓ full. While it’s steaming the water away, stand somewhere close to it and keep an eye on the steamer. 
  8. You can do this in front of an open window just in case something goes wrong. As it’s an electronic device that deals with water, you need to be extra careful with it. 
  9. You can repeat this process until the water inside the tank looks clear.
  10. Once the water is almost gone, turn off the steamer and remove the water tank from it.
  11. Pour the leftover water in the sink or your garden. Some plants thrive off of vinegar water. 
  12. Rinse the tank with fresh, clean water. You don’t need to use any liquid soap or detergent as the vinegar was abrasive enough. 
  13. Use clean water to run this cycle a few more times. It helps to get rid of the vinegar smell. 

Why Buy a Garment Steamer?

Maybe you are skeptical about buying a garment steamer, so you’re trying to understand how much effort there is to keep a steamer. Honestly, none. All you have to do is clean your steamer from time to time, and it will be brand new.

But if we start talking about the advantages of owning a steamer, we might have to be here for a while. Here are some of our favorite features of having a clothing steamer at home:

  • Best for Cotton: If you wear a lot of cotton fabric but you hate ironing them, a clothing steamer is your best friend. You will only need 2-3 minutes to remove any wrinkles from your outfit. It’s super fast and easy.
  • No More Burns: Unlike an iron where you have a risk of burning yourself, a garment steamer is secure as its literal steam. So you don’t have to worry about signing it clumsily.
  • Requires Zero Skills: We all know there is a certain level of skill involved in ironing any outfit. There is an art to it. How you fold, which direction you go is all part of a system. It can be not very clear, especially for those high supper dresses or high collar shirts. 

    Steamers do the same thing with zero skill involved. All you have to do is hang the outfit in a hanger and run the steamer all over the fabric. The steam does the hard work for you.
  • No Fabric Burn: There is no risk of burning the fabric while you have left the steamer unattended. It has happened to all of us at least once while dealing with clothing irons.
  • Compact Design: If your apartment is small, you might not have enough space for a clothing iron and ironing board. A stammer takes very little space to store. 

Which Type of Garment Steamer is Best for Me?

There are mainly two types of garment or clothing steamers out there: handheld and upright. Both are greater but for different purposes. 

Handheld Garment Steamers:

Handheld steamers are the most common type. They are compact, lightweight, and best to carry around. So if you like using steamers every day, grab this one. For everyday outfits, this one is the best to try. 

If you like traveling a lot, having a steamer like this is the best choice. You can carry them inside the suitcase and they even pack easily in a large handbag. 

Upright Garment Steamers:

These garment steamers are pretty heavy and bulky. They have larger water tanks so you can steam a lot of clothes in one batch.

They come with a built-in hanger so you can hang your clothes in them. These steamers are ideal for larger families or commercial use. So not suitable for simple apartment laundry. 

Little Steamer Maintenance Tips

As your steamer serves you well. You also need to take care of it. Proper maintenance can not only but its performance, it will also last a lot longer. 

  • Always use clean water to steam your clothes. Avoid any dye or essential oils. 

    Adding them to the water might cause an unwanted reaction in the steamer. As steamers are made using metal parts, we don’t know how they would react when coming into contact with perfumes and chemicals.
  • Don’t run your steamer without water. It can overheat the machine and cause the motors to fail.
  • It’s not ideal for storing away your steamer with water inside the reservoir. Always throw away the leftover water. 
  • Store in a cold and dry place to prevent it from getting damaged. 
  • Have a regular cleaning schedule. We like to clean our steamer twice a month at least. It not only keeps the steamer in top condition, but it also makes the clothes smell fresh. 

Frequently Asked Questions

01. Can I Put Vinegar in My Steam Mop? 

You can add vinegar to your steam mop but only if you are cleaning tiled floors. Vinegar works well with linoleum and vinyl footings too. But for hardwood floors, this is a big no. vinegar is an abrasive agent. It will damage the wood and discolor it. 

You can use vinegar in your steam cleaner to clean countertops and other types of solid materials. But if you choose to clean fabrics, it’s ideal not to use vinegar. Vinegar has a lingering smell that can feel overpowering on fabrics.

02. Why is My Clothes Steamer Spitting Water?

If your clothing steamer is not steaming and spitting water all over, chances are, it is clogged and needs a thorough cleaning. To properly clean your clothing steamer, descaling is essential.

We use tap water for everything, including steamers. But we don’t know that tap water contains many chemicals and minerals that can, over time, build up inside the machine and cause it not to function correctly. 

To remove these calcium buildups, it is very important to descale. You need something abrasive like vinegar or baking soda to let it slowly melt away the minerals. It takes around 40-50 minutes but you will be amazed by how much dirt comes out of the steamer. 

03. Is Steaming Bad for Clothes?

Steaming is excellent for clothes as it kills all the germs and bacteria. If you have a dress that smells a bit strange after sitting in the closet for a while, steam it, and you will notice all the odors have evaporated. That’s because the high heat kills the bacteria that’s been causing the odors. 

Another advantage of steaming is how cost-effective it is. Cleaning a jacket, coat or outerwear can be pretty expensive as they require careful attention. But if you use a steamer, it becomes hygienic without taking too much time or money.

04. Is Steaming Clothes Better than Ironing?  

It’s hard to say which one is better as both serve a very different purpose. Streaming is quick and fast at removing unwanted wrinkles from fabrics. 

You don’t need any particular skills to do it. It’s affordable, practical, and something that most people can incorporate into their everyday life.

Ironing on the other hand is more effortful. The result is much smoother and sleek. There is nothing better than a well-ironed crisp white shirt and we all can collectively agree on that. 

However, ironing is quite time-consuming and you need some specific skills to do it. It takes s a few trials and errors to learn how to iron clothes properly. 

Also, let’s not forget each outfit requires a different method of ironing. It’s one of the reasons why people don’t wear cotton more often. Because they can’t be bothered to iron. But with a steamer, this task takes only 2-3 minutes. 

05. Can You Steam All Clothes? 

You can’t steam all clothes and garments, but it can do an excellent job for most everyday outfits. Steamers use hot water particles and air to loosen the wrinkles in the fabrics. 

But if the fabric reacts badly to water and heat, the result can be disastrous. Some fabrics shrink when they come in contact with water or heat.

But most fabrics that we wear, including cotton, silks, wools, and polyesters, are permitted for steaming. For things like suede, leather, wax jackets and pants, should never be steamed. 

If you are wearing something that’s made out of plastic or latex, it’s not ideal to steam or iron them. They can melt when in contact with heat. 

So, you can not steam all clothes but the clothes we wear mostly for everyday life, are ideal candidates for steaming. 


And there you have it. Cleaning your clothing steamer is that easy! Regular cleaning ensures fresh-smelling garments and a polished look no matter what day it is.  

Which method was your favorite? Do you have some of your tricks? Let us know in the comments down below!

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