Why you should NEVER use tap water in your steamer

can you use bottled water in a steamer
A calcified heating element

The minerals in tap water wear down and corrode the metal inside your clothing steamer over time. Some may also cause build up inside the steamer, known as calcification.

Calcification can cause your steamer to become blocked, or produce a spitting effect and ultimately, shorten the life of your steamer.

This is why you should never use tap water in your clothing steamer.

What is the Best Water for Clothing Steamers?

Distilled water is the number one choice for use in clothing steamers. Garment steamer manufacturers also recommend using distilled water in your clothing steamer.

What is Distilled Water?

Distilled water is a type of purified water that has had both its minerals and impurities removed.

This is water that has been boiled, then the steam condensed back into water again. Any minerals or impurities that do not condense into steam are left in the original container.

As distilled water is created from steam, is free from minerals and impurities, this is the best choice water for steamers.

I am often asked, ‘do i have to use distilled water in my steamer?’ and my answer is always yes.

Distilled water is also very cost effective to buy, at under $2 a gallon at Walmart and Amazon, this is much cheaper than replacing your garment steamer when you’ve destroyed it by using tap water.

Where to Buy Distilled Water

Distilled water is available online via Amazon. Please see the link below which at the time of writing, is the best value bulk distilled water available. You can also purchase distilled water at Walmart by the gallon, however, this was not available online and only available by attending a Walmart store.

Arrowhead Brand Distilled Water, 127.99 oz
109 Reviews
Arrowhead Brand Distilled Water, 127.99 oz
  • Lightweight 1 gallon plastic jug; ideal for use in small appliances
  • Easy pour lightweight bottle is simple to handle
  • Purified water that has gone through a meticulous distillation process
  • Country of origin is United States

What is Deionized Water?

Deionized water is also a type of purified water. This is water that has had its ions removed.

Tap water contains both positive and negative ions. Examples of positive ions are calcium, hydrogen and iron, examples of negative ions are chlorides, sulfates and nitrates.

The water is filtered through positive and negatively charged resins. The positively charged resins attract and bind the negative ions in the water. The negatively charged resins attract and bind the positive ions in the water. The binding removes the positive and negative ions and results in deionized water.

Whilst the ions have been removed from the water, other minerals and impurities may remain and may cause damage to the internal working of your steamer.

What is Demineralized Water?

Demineralized water is similar to distilled water but not the same. Demineralized water has had its ions removed, but any organic particles or impurities that don’t have a charge are left in the water.

Demineralized water is very similar to deionized water, where the ions have been removed. They may have different names due to the process used to remove the ions from the water.

If your only choice is demineralized water or tap water to use in your clothing steamer, demineralized water is the better choice. You may still need to descale your clothing steamer however, as organic particles or impurities may build up with use over time.

Can I use Filtered Water in my Steamer?

Filtered water has been through a process to remove bacteria, impurities, chemicals and some minerals, but not all.

Filtered water does not go through the same process as purified distilled water and as such, filtered water is not suitable for use in your clothing steamer. This also includes bottled drinking water, which in many cases, is also filtered water.

Can You Use Regular Water in a Steamer?

It is strongly recommended to never use regular water, tap water, bore water, well water or rain water in your garment steamer. If you use any of these types of water in your garment steamer, it may work okay in the beginning.

Over time, the minerals and impurities in regular water will build up inside your clothing steamer. This can cause spitting water, leaking, corrosion and shorten the life of your clothing steamer.

If you use regular water in your clothing steamer, you will need to regularly descale your steamer.

Bulk Distilled Water

Bulk distilled water is available on Amazon by following the link below.

Arrowhead Brand Distilled Water, 127.99 oz
109 Reviews
Arrowhead Brand Distilled Water, 127.99 oz
  • Lightweight 1 gallon plastic jug; ideal for use in small appliances
  • Easy pour lightweight bottle is simple to handle
  • Purified water that has gone through a meticulous distillation process
  • Country of origin is United States

Best Distilled Water for Traveling

Convenient sized bottles, perfect for travel

This isn’t a very cost effective way to purchase distilled water, but certainly is handy, especially if you travel. These 12 ounce bottles are great for packing in your suitcase and using with your handheld steamer.

The quality of the water stays fresh as it’s not exposed to contaminants in the air. Great for portable or travel steamers, or for those who only use their clothing steamers to steam a few items at a time.


If you regularly travel and are looking for an affordable, electricity free solution to clothes steaming which you can use with tap water, take a look at InstaSteam.


Can you make Distilled Water yourself?

Yes! There are many counter top machines available to distill water at home. Prices range from approximately $70 – $250. We’ve spent hours on Amazon looking at all the different water distillers, as this isn’t a product we own ourselves. There are certainly mixed reviews between different price points as far as quality of both the machine and distilled water go.

The water distiller with the least problematic reviews was:

H20Labs Stainless Steel Water Distiller

H20Labs Stainless Steel Water Distiller

This countertop home water distiller produces one gallon of distilled water at the touch of a button. Whilst it’s not the cheapest distiller on the market, upon researching water distillers, the H20Labs Stainless Steel home water distiller had the highest reviews when it came to ease of cleaning, sturdiness, customer support and life of the product.

There are many other choices available on Amazon.com ranging from around $70-$250. Some of the cheaper models are made of plastic, also with plastic jugs for the water to filter in to. If you’re not concerned about the environmental impact or potential contaminants in plastic (as we are) then a cheaper plastic version may suit your needs.

Consumers have reported cheaper models arriving with no instructions, no buttons to turn on or off (having to unplug it at the wall) and terrible tasting water, including an increase in measurement of solids in the water after distilling with the cheaper versions.

We’ve chosen the H20Labs Stainless Steel Distiller as at the time of writing, there were minimal reports of problems with this distiller. It seems the downside of purchasing a water distiller is the warranty is only 1 year. H20Labs also offer an extended warranty (at an additional fee) for up to 3 years.

Best Budget Choice for Home Use Water Distillers

Vevor Countertop Water Distiller

We tried to find a water distiller under $100 to use as our recommendation, but in all honesty, after reading the reviews, we can’t recommend one. It seems you get what you pay for when it comes to the cheapest water distillers on the market.

The next product up comes in under $120, which is the Vevo Countertop Water Distiller. There’s only a handful of reviews on this product (7 at the time of writing), so it’s really hard to make a good judgement on this one, but the reviews so far are positive with no real issues.

We hope you’ve enjoyed our article on distilled water. Some garment steamer manufacturers have built in cleaning functions, however, we still recommend using distilled water with these products to extend the life of your steamer.

If you choose not to use distilled water in your clothing steamer, we recommend a regular cleaning schedule. Click here to read our post on how to clean a clothing steamer.


Clothes Steamer Reviews, Ratings & Advice

clothes steamer reviews

Hi, I’m Lauren. Passionate organizer, t-shirt folder and owner of both a commercial steamer and a home steamer. I’ll discuss all things steaming, so if you’re thinking of purchasing a garment steamer or steam iron, I’m hoping I can help you determine the best one for your needs. Please join me on social media, and don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions! Happy Steaming!

Last update on 2020-07-08 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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