Steam isn’t just used for removing creases, it’s indispensable throughout the garment production process.

Steam is one of the most important tools in garment production. Present in most stages of production, steam is used in different ways depending on the type of clothing being made. Without steam, garment production simply wouldn’t work.

Most basically, steam is used to remove creases and wrinkles from clothing, whether with a traditional clothing iron or a handheld garment steamer. Retail stores expect garment manufacturers to remove creases with steam so that they don’t have to do it themselves.

Using steam to remove creases also eliminates unpleasant manufacturing odors from fabric. The result is the smooth, fresh-smelling product that customers prefer. Savvy garment manufacturers not only use steam for ironing but also apply it to other purposes.

Why garment makers need steam

  • Steam removes the risk of over-shrinking during production

Steam has functions beyond removing wrinkles—it also plays a vital role in garment shrinking (link to: How to Relax Fabrics and How Steam Shrinking Works). Heat generated on the production line releases tension in fabrics, causing polymers to revert to their original size. This can cause garments to shrink, creating huge problems for garment manufacturers. Alongside fabric wastage, over-shrinking causes costly order delays. But there is a solution. Pre-shrinking, a technique used by garment manufacturers to avoid more serious shrinkage later on, uses steam to shrink fabric down to the desired size. This alters and stabilizes the properties of fabric fibers so as to prevent garment shrinkage during future washing.

  • Steam drying is a smart way to use excess steam

If you’re an experienced traveler, you’ll know that hanging up your clothes while you have a hot shower removes wrinkles caused by being stuffed in a suitcase. Industrial steam drying is a similar idea: the offset steam from garment washing is used to remove wrinkles from clothing. Manufacturers thus get to wash and iron clothing all in one simple step.

  • Steam kills bugs and bacteria that linger on clothes

Garment manufacturers do their best to produce clean and fresh garments for retail stores to sell. However, dirt and bacteria can stay on clothing even after washing, causing odors and stains. Heat produced during washing kills bacteria, but it’s steam that does the deep cleaning. Hot steam relaxes fabric fibers, opening them just enough to let dirt fall out. Moreover, steam cleaning devices heat water up to 200° F (93° C), which is enough to kill bugs and bacteria.

Materials such as polyester that are commonly used for sportswear can retain odors from excessive sweating even after washing. These unpleasant odors will keep returning until the bacteria causing them is killed. Steam ironing areas prone to holding large amounts of sweat will spruce up sportswear by killing odor-producing bacteria and eliminating odors.

  • Steam preserves clothing and helps them last longer

Processes such as steam ironing remove wrinkles from garments, but did you know that they actually protect clothing, too? The secret to long-lasting clothing is in the fabric bonds. Some fabrics stretch with age, which changes their original well-fitting form into lifeless garments. Regular steam ironing helps maintain a crisp, newly purchased look. Fabric fibers are forced apart during steam ironing, allowing for shaping and wrinkle removal, and rejoin when garments cool down. This rejoining process reinforces bonds, making clothing look better for longer.

Which steam-powered machines are used in garment manufacturing?

We’ve seen steam’s importance in garment production, but which garment manufacturing machines actually produce or expend steam? Keep reading to find out.

  • Boilers generate steam for all areas of garment production

Producing enough steam to serve the whole production process can be costly—especially since traditional boilers can take hours to heat enough water to produce the amount of steam required. Fortunately, environmentally friendly steam boilers on the market today can produce steam with high thermal efficiency (link to: How to Choose an Industrial Boilers?).

  • Dyeing and printing are made possible with steam

Fabric dyeing and logo printing add color and character to otherwise bland fabrics, creating the beautiful clothing we see on store shelves. Heat and moisture are required to transfer dyes and logos onto fabric. Steam is the perfect solution for consistent garment coloring, as it swells fabric fibers so that they are porous and easily absorb dyes.

  • Garment pressing machines use steam to produce creased or creaseless clothing

Garment pressing is often mistaken for ironing, but the two are very different processes. Ironing involves swift back-and-forward motions with a handheld iron, whereas pressing involves clamping fabric between two hot plates and applying pressure.

Garment pressing machines are usually equipped with different temperature settings and apply just the right amount of pressure for intentional creasing or crease removal. Heavy-duty garment presses have an output of 180-230 pieces per hour—far more than manual pressing could achieve. Some garment presses even have a vacuum system to remove moisture from clothing, producing crisp, fresh garments.


Steam is indispensable at all stages of production, from providing consistent dyeing and logo transfers, to pre-shrinking and shaping, to removing creases before shipping. Garment manufacturers must install an industrial boiler to create the amount of steam necessary to complete these crucial tasks. Boiling vast amounts of water can be costly, so garment manufacturers should choose an energy-efficient boiler to meet their steam production needs.

Moreover, choosing a supplier that can provide multiple garment production machines is a simple but effective way to reduce costs, as after-sales services and maintenance will be provided by a single source. Oshima’s range of steam-assisted machines, from boilers and printing to dyeing and pressing, are the perfect addition to any garment factory. Contact us today to learn about our range of fabric steaming products.