I tested the cost of using an iron and steamer – one slashed my bill but the results were disappointing


AFTER steaming my crumpled dress for almost five minutes, I’m beginning to lose any hope of it becoming crease-free.

I’m testing to see whether a hand-held steamer is as effective at neatening out clothes as a traditional iron.

I tested a hand-held steamer and an iron to see which was cheapest

The gadgets are usually cheaper to buy than an iron, plus they’re compact and easy to store.

Households have been swapping to steamers in a bid to save cash on their energy bills.

Research from USwitch claims households could save almost £30 a year by swapping from their iron to a steamer instead.

It means more families are looking to make the switch to save money on bills, which could reach £3,000 from April.

But are they are as effective as a traditional iron?

I put an iron and a steamer to the test to see which one worked best and if you do save money.

Choosing the steamer and iron

The Hilife Clothes Steamer from Amazon

My £25 iron from John Lewis

Deciding what steamer I wanted was pretty easy.

They are all fairly well priced and I didn’t need to worry about having room to store it as they’re all quite small and compact.

I opted for the £29.99 Hilife Clothes Steamer from Amazon.

This is because its price tag fell nicely in between the cheapest and most expensive models on the market.

For example, the Logik Handheld Garment Steamer from Currys will set you back £19.99.

While the Philips Steam & Co is priced at £74 at Amazon.

I decided to test the steamer against my trusty £25 John Lewis iron, which I’ve had for around three years.

With just a £4.99 difference in price, I thought this seemed liked a pretty fair battle.

The method

I raided my wardrobe and found two identical dresses in different colours that I’ve been meaning to iron for a while.

I also grabbed two white shirts belonging to my fiancé Henry that were in need of some straightening out.

My plan was to try the steamer on one of the shirts and a dress, before trying the iron on the other two items.

I would then be able to tell which one gave me the better results, as well as being able to work out which one was cheaper.

Steaming the clothes

My dress before it was steamed

The dress after it was steamed

I’m not the handiest of people when it comes to chores, so I wanted to get a steamer that looked easy to use.

The Hilife steamer was pretty straightforward, but unlike some others, you can’t use this one horizontally.

This is because the water spills out and you risk burning your hand.

I filled the tank with around 150ml of water, left it to heat up and it was good to go after just over a minute.

Starting with a shirt, I placed it on a hanger and hooked it over my living room door.

All I had to do was hold the steamer in one hand – moving it vertically up and down the garment – and smoothing it out with the other.

There was a handy instruction manual explaining how to use the steamer in the most effective way.

After about four minutes, the shirt looked good enough to wear to the office.

Next up was my dress. I will admit, it was in a pretty wrinkled but I was hoping for a miracle.

After three and a half minutes of steaming the dress, I noticed the steam had stopped and the water tank was empty.

I then had to unplug the device and let it cool for 15 minutes before using it again, which was a bit of a pain.

After another two minutes, I wasn’t seeing much improvement in the appearance of my dress.

Some of the surface level creases had gone, but the deeper ones seemed determined to stay.

So after five minutes, I decided to give up.

Ironing the clothes

The dress before an iron

The dress after it was ironed

I have to admit, in the three years that I’ve owned my iron, I’ve only used it a handful of times.

I find taking the ironing board out and setting it up to be a faff, especially living in a one-bedroom flat.

This is definitely one of the benefits of of a hand-held steamer.

But I set myself up and waited for around one minute for it to heat up.

First up was my dress, which took just three minutes of ironing to look pristine and it was much easier to straighten out the pockets.

It also took just two minutes to get the shirt looking neat and tidy.

I was surprised at how quickly I was able to get my clothes looking in tip top condition using the iron.

How much it cost on my energy bills

I asked USwitch to crunch the numbers on how much it cost me to steam my clothes, compared to using the iron.

The Hilife clothes steamer has a wattage of 700,

Based on this, and the time it took my to steam the shirt and dress, I asked the experts to calculate running costs.

It took me nine minutes to steam everything, costing me 3.7p.

Meanwhile, it took me just five minutes to iron the two items, costing 5.7p – 2p more expensive than the steamer.

If I used the steamer for 15 minutes a day, three times a week for a year, it would cost me £9.36.

While using the iron for the same amount of time throughout the year would cost me £26.52.

This £17.16 more expensive than using the steamer.

My verdict

I was honestly hoping that the hand-held steamer would work, but sadly, it just didn’t deliver the results I wanted.

While the shirt looked presentable, my dress was still crumpled.

The iron was much more effective at getting all the creases out of my clothes.

I think the steamer would be perfect for giving something a quick once over, but not for anything that needs a bit more elbow grease.

Of course, one of the positives is that the steamer is much cheaper to run.

While I won’t be abandoning my iron completely, I’ll definitely stop using it for clothes that don’t need a lot of work and picking up my steamer instead.

Meanwhile, we made a roast dinner in an air fryer and the results were amazing.

Plus, we tested supermarket mould cleaners and one 25p solution was better than Cillit Bang.

Do you have a money problem that needs sorting? Get in touch by emailing [email protected]