This is the weirdest love letter I can write. It’s to my … travel steamer. We’ve been in a committed relationship for four years and it’s time the world knows. Here are 10 reasons I take it everywhere … how I’ve weaponised it against microscopic demons … and why you can expect to find me steaming away in an airport bathroom.
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10 reasons I love my Conair Travel Steamer (in a borderline unhealthy way)
1. It’s dual voltage
I can plug my dual-voltage steamer straight into sockets in the U.S., Canada or Puerto Rico (120V countries) … and do exactly the same in Thailand, the UK or Australia (220 and 230V countries). That is MAGIC. Wizardry.
Its voltage changes automatically, so you don’t have to push any buttons or switches or remember to do anything. You just plug it in. It just works (and you can’t mess it up).
As someone who has taken out an entire household of fuses in one dramatic burst (with a hair straightener that shouldn’t have left home) … this is the device for me.
2. It fits plugs in Thailand
This travel steamer has two flat pins and, as such, will plug directly into Thai plugs – easy! If you want to use it in a country with different plugs (for instance, the UK or Australia), you just need a universal plug adapter – not a voltage adapter.
Tip: Conair Travel Smart by 450 Watt Dual Voltage Garment Steamer has a “Type A” plug with two flat prongs, one of which is bigger (as you can see in the photo). This will plug directly into Thai sockets, as well as sockets in (alphabetically): BVI, Canada, China, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guam, Guatemala, Jamaica, Japan, Laos, Mexico, Nicaragua, Peru, Philippines, Puerto Rico, Taiwan, Trinidad & Tobago, Turks and Caicos, the U.S., USVI, Venezuela and Vietnam. If you want to use it elsewhere – just use the travel adapter you’d probably need anyway.View on Amazon
3. Its “mite-iest” feature
Before we continue with the Steamy Love Note (and you think I’m insane for this obsession), know that my steamer is my weapon. I mentioned this before on my What to Wear in Thailand post, but thought I’d highlight it again.
Something in the microscopic animal world likes me and finds me tremendously snackable. Google suggests it might be mites or perhaps a dust mite allergy, but it’s particularly bad in Thailand (perhaps the climate? perhaps unfiltered water in washing machines?). If I put on a top in Thailand, no matter how freshly laundered, I get absolutely attacked up and down by mites. I can’t see them, but they leave little red marks and it’s stingy and uncomfortable.
On occasion, it happens at home, too, so it’s not just Thailand – but it’s worse here. If this rings true for you (high-five for being tasty!), the solution is steaming. Using my travel steamer on every shirt I wear has 100% solved the mite bites. I love that the perfect fix is completely non-toxic. (As for mosquito bites, you’ll want this stuff).
4. It’s really lightweight
Whether you’re using a weekend duffel bag or want to go full minimalist with your carry-on, this steamer is still an easy inclusion. When empty it weighs 1.2 pounds or 500 grams (exactly the same as a loaf of sliced bread). I like my carry-on to be light, but this earns its place and is almost never relegated to my checked luggage (because I use it in transit – more on that below).
5. It’s super packable
As you can see, it’s around the size of a water glass or a small water bottle. To use it, you push the red button down to release the handle. I like to keep the cord bundled together with a velcro tie I bought separately. As mentioned, my steamer is four years old so you can see a bit of wear on the body. However, this steamer has been chucked, as it is – no case – into every bag I’ve used in that period. It’s sturdy and always ready to roll. Emotional Support Steamer, anyone?
6. You just add water
I’ve heard that some people use distilled water to keep the inside of their steamer clean. I’ve never bothered with that and here’s what it looks like inside after four years of using tap water (almost always). Not bad.
On the odd occasion I’ve used bottled water, it’s because the tap water (A) isn’t potable and (B) is evidently discoloured or has a sulphur smell. Your experiences in Thailand will vary depending on where you stay and the condition of its plumbing. In older places with older pipes, you might prefer to use bottled water. Another option is to grab the random glasses of water you’ve strewn around your room and use them in your steamer. Planet-Saving Steaming!
7. It steams every fabric there is
I will unabashedly point my travel steamer at every piece of clothing I own – even the “dry clean only” ones (haha yea right). If you own something priceless and irreparable, maybe exercise a little more caution. I, however, approach my clothes like the Big Fat Greek Wedding dad uses Windex: “just steam it”.
While you wouldn’t pack wool or cashmere for Thailand, at home, you might find that your travel steamer is kept as busy as mine. I use it for absolutely everything: rayon, silk, cotton, Lululemon’s luon, Tencel and especially linen. (By the way, it doesn’t “spit” so you can use it on fabrics like silk without getting them wet).
It only has one temperature (“steaming”) but you could hold it further away to steam something more gently. (Whereas I shove it inside my clothes for maximum steam). As I said, mine is not a cautious approach.
8. I never iron (almost never)
How crisp you do like your shirts? While this travel steamer wouldn’t replace your iron for, say, a cotton dress shirt, it covers my needs entirely. In fact, for many women’s tops, I find it’s superior to using an iron because I can get into detailed/frilly areas and not have to worry about burning delicate fabric.
Note: The Conair travel steamer comes with a “delicate fabric” plastic attachment to place on the front – I don’t use it.
The extra-good news? Unless you’re on business travel to Thailand (in which case – iron), a steamer is the exact puzzle-piece missing to take you from “crumpled linen heap” to “tropical casual”.
9. It does gold-medal work
As you can see – it gets the job done. On the odd occasion that I can’t achieve “Kate Middleton pressed-to-perfection” with this travel steamer, I remind myself that in five minutes it won’t matter – sitting down, or putting a seatbelt on will, of course, add creases and who cares.
10. Quick touch-ups
I really recommend wearing a majority of linen in Thailand (find out why). As such, using your travel steamer not just in the morning as you get ready – but also for quick touch-ups on crumpled linen – is ideal. Yes, you’re on vacation, but it takes two minutes and instantly brings the day’s clothes back to acceptable in time for happy hour. (Full disclosure: I use my travel steamer in airport bathrooms as well).
Other things to know
What about the water level?
- To fill it up: there’s a lid inside showing the fill level.
- To check its level, as you use it: It’s pretty easy to see the water level by holding it up and looking through the plastic. If it gets down to a centimetre or half an inch, it’s time to unplug it and refill.
How much water can it hold?
About 3.5 fluid ounces or 100 ml (a little more than 1/3 cup).
How do you use it?
You just plug it in! If you’re using tepid tap water it takes about a minute to heat up and start producing steam (you can hear it bubbling and then it’s ready). You can speed things up a little by using warmer tap water but it’s not a noticeable time-saving. Don’t check if it’s steaming with your hand!
There’s a caution note on the steamer to hold it upright but the way the handle is designed it’s very easy to keep it in the right position. If you get creative with your angles you could burn yourself, so just throw your clothes on a hanger and hang it from a hook in the bathroom or the back of a door. It’s pretty comfortable to hold as you’ll be moving it around (so no muscle fatigue).
How long does it steam? How many clothes?
As a general rule, you can steam probably three items of clothing in one fill (but see my refill tip below if you’re as impatient as me). I don’t know its maximum running time because – after running it dry to burning once – I try to err with caution and unplug when it’s about one-third full.
In my experience, it will steam at least three shirts (maybe as many as five or six). Its output will depend on how long you spend per item, so that’s a rough average for doing a decent job. If you have a totally stiff linen shirt and you’re trying to replicate an iron, it might take the entire fill.
How to turn it off?
To turn off your travel steamer, you just unplug it (and likewise plug it in to turn it on). There’s no automatic shut-off and it doesn’t have a water sensor gauge so – much like a hair-straightener – it’s up to you to remember to unplug it. I did accidentally leave it plugged in once and was alerted to the fact by a strong “hot burning metal” smell. (No damage to the steamer, though, it still works perfectly).
Disclaimer: you’re fully responsible for yourself and your own use of steamers, steam and other hot things.
The top of the Conair travel steamer has a caution note that the unit gets hot while in use (both the white lid and the green body – obviously). However, you might want to either refill it in a hurry or pack it up and go without waiting (in the aforementioned airport bathroom, for instance).
To do so, I use a towel as an “oven glove” to remove the lid while it’s still hot – set it aside for a minute – and then I can either (A) refill it again – being careful of steam as I fill – or (B) pack it in my bag more quickly as a lukewarm, rather than scalding hot, device.
Do you need to clean it?
After four years, my travel steamer has some white residue inside. I bubbled through a mixture of 50/50 white vinegar and water a few times which helped but I’m not too bothered as it works perfectly. I prefer a take/take relationship rather than give/take but you might have to be more generous if your water tends to leave deposits.
Love letter: complete
Hopefully, that’s a helpful guide for anyone who loves linen and hates to be crumpled (or is, like me, a Christmas dinner to microscopic mites). If you need more help with your packing for Thailand, see a few suggestions below. Enjoy!
Sources: Plug details