I've never been one for ironing -- there's a discouraging amount of setup and time involved, and the risk of burning silk -- so, for my first few years in New York, I dropped off all of my wrinkled (but not necessarily dirty) clothes at the dry cleaner to be steamed. If I was in a pinch, I'd steam my clothes in the shower, which I hated doing because it wasted so much water.
That is, until I got my own steamer. I was previously under the impression that all steamers were large, clunky and expensive. It turns out that while professional ones are, there's also a category of small, inexpensive, handheld steamers that do the trick. I bought one by Steamfast for $30 and I've been using it to steam everything from silk blouses to stiff pleated cotton skirts. It takes a few minutes to heat up and provides a surprisingly powerful steam (originally, I didn't think it was going to be able to smooth out those stiff cotton skirts.) And, at 7 x 9 x 4 inches and 1.5 pounds, it fits easily in my cupboard and my suitcase, which means I don't have to think twice about what kinds of fabrics I pack for travel.
Steamfast SF-435 Compact Fabric Steamer, $29.99, available at Target.
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