How to Clean a Garment Steamer

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You can clean your garment steamer.
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Garment steamers need cleaning when the flow of steam begins to thin or stops altogether. Mineral deposits in water can cause an upright garment or handheld steamer to clog and become less efficient over time. Using only distilled or de-mineralized water in the steamer will help to delay the need to clean it, however, dust and debris caught in the reservoir during the filling process can also cause the steamer to clog. Clean your steamer regularly to keep the machine in top form.


Things You'll Need

  • White vinegar

  • Distilled water

  • Recommended cleaning solution

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Step 1: Empty the Steamer

Remove remaining water from the fabric steamer. Open the drain valve and allow excess liquid to drain into a sink or tub and then close the drain valve. If a drain valve is not part of the steamer, turn the steamer over, allow the water to pour out of the reservoir completely and then return the steamer to an upright position.

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Step 2: Add Cleaning Solution

Fill the water reservoir with a cleaning solution made of two parts distilled water and one part white vinegar. Alternately, add the manufacturer's recommended cleaning solution. Place the cap or plug back on the reservoir, plug the garment steamer in and turn it on.

Step 3: Let It Soak

Allow the cleaning solution to soak for 15 to 30 minutes or more, depending on the manufacturer's recommendations. Some manufacturers do not recommend using the heat and steam function when cleaning. Drain, rinse and refill with distilled water or a solution of half tap water and half distilled water, per the instruction manual.


Step 4: Run the Steamer

Allow the steamer to run until half of the cleaning solution has been used up, unless the instruction manual states otherwise. Do not allow the steamer to run dry, which will tax the internal heating mechanism and damage the machine. Keep track of how the steamer is working—note the amount of steam flowing from the wand or mouth of the machine. A steamer that is emitting a regular amount of steam (all holes are showing a steady flow of steam) is a clean garment steamer.


Step 5: Let It Cool

Turn off the steamer and unplug it. Allow the remaining cleaning solution to sit in the reservoir for half an hour or until the steamer has cooled off. Pour out the remaining mixture.

Step 6: Rinse and Refill

Rinse the cleaning solution from the reservoir with clean water (tap water is fine) and then refill with pure distilled water and plug the machine back in.


Step 7: Run the Steamer Again

Turn on the machine and allow the steamer to run through half the distilled water. This will remove any remaining vinegar in the steamer.

Step 8: Clean the Attachments

Clean any additional attachments by soaking in a vinegar and water solution or scrubbing gently with hot water and dishwashing detergent. Some garment steamers have several removable items, such as the Conair steamer attachments.

Step 9: Drain and Air Dry

Remove the remaining distilled water from the reservoir and allow the container to air dry before packing it away.


Do not place additives in the reservoir at any time. Dyes, salt and perfumes will clog and corrode the machine.

Standing, stale water can become a thick sludge of mineral deposits over time. Water left to sit in the steamer for longer than 30 days could result in clogs and destroy the machine.