I am a huge fan of essential oils, and regularly use them in home made cleaning products and my diffuser. I often get asked can you use essential oils in a clothes steamer to add a light scent to your clothing? Unfortunately, no.
Essential oils should not be used in your clothes steamer. They are not water soluble and will not be evaporated into steam. The oils may build up on the inside of your steamer, causing it to clog. It could shorten the life of your garment steamer.
Unfortunately, you cannot and should not add anything to your clothing steamer except distilled water, or occasionally, white vinegar.
If you use essential oils in your steamer water tank you risk causing damage and/or build up of oils inside the boiler.
Manufacturer Advice on Using Essential Oil in Clothes Steamers
Conair state that salt, bleach or dye can corrode or clog internal parts of their garment steamers. There is no specific advice on using essential oils in their steamers, however, I would not recommend it.
Rowenta advise that any additive that condenses under heat should not be added to a Rowenta garment steamer. This includes essential oils.
The effect could be brown dripping of water, spitting water and premature aging of your steamer.
PurSteam Garment Steamers
I reached out to PurSteam Steamers for their advice, which was not to use essential oils in their clothing steamers.
PurSteam advised this may reduce the “effectiveness” of the steamer.
Steam and Go Steamers
Steam and Go advise you should not use any perfumes, essential oils, salts or additives of any kind to their steamers.
Can You Use Ironing Water in a Clothing Steamer?
Ironing water should be sprayed directly onto the clothing. Do not put ironing water inside your garment steamer.
Most ironing waters contain essential oils. Even though the amount of essential oils in ironing water are much smaller, you could still potentially damage your fabric steamer.
Ironing water for you to consider:
Can You Use Fabric Softener in a Clothing Steamer?
Fabric softener should not be mixed with water and poured into your clothing steamer. Use distilled water only.
Whilst it would be lovely to have a fabric softener scent, this could potentially damage your clothing steamer as well.
It is possible to make your own clothing spray by mixing fabric softener and water and pouring into a spray bottle. Shake well and ensure that the fabric softener is well mixed with the water.
Lightly spray your clothing with the mix before steaming.
Note: Don’t be too heavy handed with the fabric softener. Some fabrics can stain when coming into direct contact with fabric softener.
What Water Should I Use in My Clothing Steamer?
Distilled water is the best choice for use in your garment steamer. Distilled water is cheap to buy in bulk and will not damage your fabric steamer in any way.
If you are unable to get hold of distilled water, dry demineralized water.
If you choose to use tap water, filtered water, bottled water or any other type of water in your clothing steamer you will need to regularly descale the steamer by using a vinegar and water solution. Check out my tutuorial on keeping your clothing steamer clean here.
What Can I Use to Refresh My Clothes in Between Washing?
Steaming is a great way to refresh clothing in between washing, or dry cleaning. If you find the armpit area of your clothing has some odor, try a mix of distilled water and white vinegar.
This is generally 50/50 of each product. Mix this up in a spray bottle and spray directly onto your apparel, followed by steaming.
If you have vodka at home, this will also work for removing stubborn odors. Depending on the area of fabric you have to steam, mix up 1/4 cup of vodka and 1/4 cup of distilled water. Again, spray directly onto the clothing – don’t put this in the steamer.
Follow with a good steaming and any funky smells should disappear! The alcohol helps with sanitizing, without leaving a vodka smell on your clothing either.