LG Styler Steam Clothing Care System full review
It's difficult to know where to start with the LG Styler. Aesthetically, it's a beautiful machine. Tall, slim, and terrifically glossy, it radiates quality and looks every bit a next generation laundry appliance.
When you open the opaque glass door with its curved corners – a lovely touch – and see how the internal circular light bathes the interior in a cool, futuristic blue, you feel as though you're about to step into a deep space decontamination chamber out of Kubrick’s 2001.
Yes, the LG Styler has the 'Oooh' factor.
The control panel is an integral touchscreen that responds to the slightest touch. Once you press power, seven unobtrusive icons are illuminated, detailing various programmes to choose from four specialist cycles: Refresh, Special Care, Sanitary and Gentle Dry.
Inside, you find two clothes hangers, one trouser hanger, and a rack shelf, all of which look as though they belong in a space station cabin.
Upon further investigation, you discover small tanks at the bottom of the appliance: one for water and the other for drainage – there’s no need to plumb anything in. You see that the door holds a trouser care gate with a soft-click close clasp. The Styler hangers, you notice, clip firmly into little notches in the top bar, and the shelf clicks into the interior cavity using two little bars at each side. It's all beautifully designed.
So, you set up the Styler with a sense of awe and trepidation. You clip the drip tray into the bottom of the appliance, place the lint filter into position, slip an orchid aroma sheet from the supplied box into the back air vent – you can use perfume on a cotton pad if you prefer -- and fill the water tank with tap water, noting that the appliance will use two thirds of the water upon first use.
And that’s when it hits you.
What exactly does the LG Styler do?
Well, it's a steam closet. And it also dries garments.
It doesn't wash your clothes nor is it a replacement for ironing, so if you're looking for a gizmo to exile your ironing board, the Styler is not your salvation. You also can’t put silk into it.
So then, what's the point of this appliance?
In an attempt to answer this question, I threw pretty much everything I could at the Styler: jackets, coats, dresses, suits, knitwear, hats, cushions, pillows – even sheepskin rugs and curtains.
My initial tests involved a corduroy jacket, a mixed-fibres blazer, a wool blend topcoat and a cotton twill sports jacket: all put through the Refresh-normal cycle, which steams and then dries garments over 39 minutes.
The results were pleasant, but not extraordinary. The garments came out of the Styler bone dry and smelling nice, but some creases remained in the twill sports jacket – and LG admits the Styler struggles to de-wrinkle heavy cotton.
On the plus side, my smart meter suggested I had spent less then 20p per cycle on electricity.
At this point, I just didn’t get the purpose of the Styler. Thinking I may have missed something, I watched a few LG Styler marketing videos but didn't learn much more.
Indeed, the Styler’s usefulness didn’t hit me until I put an insulated down coat through a Refresh-heavy cycle. The coat had been packed away over the summer and had a dusty, fusty smell. After the 60-minute cycle, the coat looked as though it had been to a specialist dry cleaners. The down had volume, the coat smelt wonderful and the fabric appeared richer.
Without the Styler, I would have either stuck this coat in the washing machine, tumbled dried it with two tennis balls and hoped for the best, or begrudgingly taken it to the dry cleaners. Both options would have cost me a lot more than the 15p my smart meter said I spent to steam the coat in the Styler, and used more chemicals to boot.
So, armed with this cost-benefit mindset, I began to “styler” items that were specifically dry clean only or impossible to wash in a conventional way, so I could compare them to what I would expect from dry cleaning.
A wool coat with heavy draping, a velvet beaded jacket and a wool cloche came out of a Refresh-heavy cycle looking reinvigorated with a sheen to the fibres. A series of man-made fibre jackets and coats came out well, again with a fabric improvement.
Subtle material rejuvenation was a consistent feature as I put more garments through Refresh cycles. A three-piece wool suit and a tuxedo not only smelt great and had no visible creases, but I got the distinct impression that the Styler’s steaming function was somehow putting the guts back into the fabric, giving lapels the plump look of luxury tailoring.
Though the trouser clasp feature on the back of the door, oddly called Pants Crease Care, doesn’t replicate the sharp edges of a conventional trouser press, I still felt the process improved what was a rather wrinkled pair of trousers.
And this led to a key realisation. The LG Styler Refresh and Special Care steam cycles are for those awkward garments you own: the dry clean suits and jackets you wear for work, the dinner suit or beaded evening gown that escapes your wardrobe once a year, and the black overcoat you only wear on rare occasions. They tackle the puffer jackets and down-filled gilets, anything with beads, sequins and embroidery, and those hats that smell musty.
If you have items that aren’t dirty and you can’t easily throw in a machine, or bung in a tumble dryer, the Styler will refresh those garments and stretch out the time between, or even avoid, trips to the dry cleaners.
Now the Styler has a third cycle: sanitary. And it was a revelation.
It has four options -- normal, bedding, fine dust and heavy duty – and the cycles run from 53 minutes to nearly two hours with an additional process after steam designed to kill germs.
I popped a couple of stinky sponge-clean only pillows on the bedding setting, and the results were fantastic. The pillows came out of the appliance as though they had been washed, line-dried and plumped up to distraction.
A key point to add here is that the Styler has the British Allergy Foundation “Allergy Seal of Approval”, which means the appliance has been scientifically tested and proven to restrict, reduce or remove allergens.
Indeed, it’s interesting to note that the Styler kills 99.9% of e-coli and staphylococcus aureus bacteria, which suggests the appliance reaches temperatures that could ensure your natural fibres are moth egg, bed bug and cat flea free – useful if you pack up your seasonal wardrobe twice a year.
I tested the Gentle-Dry-normal cycle on a number of knitwear items that require flat drying. The Styler dried these garments in an hour and a half, without any damage to fibres. One particular item was a knitted merino wool coat that I rarely wash because it’s enormous. Drying the coat folded on the Styler shelf took a few cycles, so three hours in all, but this was far short of the two-day time it typically takes to dry this beast. Again, the process seemed to have reinvigorated the knit stitches.
Getting the most from the Styler
At this point, using the Styler began to get addictive -- I even bought new garment covers to preserve my “stylered” garments in the wardrobe.
Sometimes, a certain cycle had a great effect on a garment; other times, I couldn’t discern any difference, so be aware: there’s an element of experimentation involved if you want to use the Styler for an unconventional item, and no guarantee of success. I often needed to choose a longer process for noticeable results; I didn’t seem to get much out of the Special Care cycle.
But the LG Styler forces you to consider whether you really need to conventionally wash or dry-clean an item, or whether the Styler will do the job by itself.
When it comes to drying, I popped a couple of sheepskins on Gentle-Dry, and it was a far easier and quicker process than leaving them laying around for a weekend. I also Gentle-Dried two sofa cushions after washing, fearing my tumble drier might wreak havoc, and even stuck in 500g of newly dyed wool that had already spent a day sitting soggy on my draining board.
The LG ThinQ app
You can communicate with the Styler through the LG ThinQ app on your smartphone. You connect your phone to the Styler through your wireless router, and this enables you to download new programme cycles, receive push alerts when a cycle is complete, and, if your Styler model has the Smart Diagnosis feature, the app will help you to identify any problems.
Bear in mind that the Styler will need to be in range of your router to use this feature.
Placement and range
At 185cm tall and only 58.5cm deep, LG suggests you can install the Styler in a walk-in wardrobe or an inbuilt unit as long as you have 20cm ceiling clearance, 5cm either side and 46cm for forward door swing. The appliance is certainly quiet enough to put in a bedroom or adjoining closet space. It shakes a little in operation but only by about 5mm each side.
However, it is heavy at 83kg, more with packing, so if you live in an apartment, you're going to need a lift to get it upstairs. You may also struggle to get it up the stairs in your home without specialist help.
The Styler comes in two colours: white and black. If you're worried about remembering cycle information, the appliance comes with a handy reference guide that you can suction cup to the front of the machine.
Price and availability
The Styler is available worldwide. In the UK, the best current price is £1,699 on the white model (the Styler S3WF), from John Lewis online. That's £200 off the RRP of £1,899. Currys PC World has it in white for £1,849.99, as does Marks Electrical.
With Black Friday coming up, you may be able to find a better deal soon.
The LG Styler is a significant cash investment. So is it worth it?
The answer really depends on your lifestyle. It was difficult to put a star rating on the Styler because for some people it will be more than worth it, but for many others, not so much.
If you regularly wear a suit, a uniform or ceremonial garb, or you go to a lot of formal events, the LG Styler will help you to manage your wardrobe without constantly having to schedule dry-cleaning drop-offs and pick-ups.
Again, if you find your dry-cleaning bills run over £100 a month, then using the Styler is going to offset those costs for you and probably pay for itself after two or three years. In this respect, the Styler is a bit like a robot vacuum; it doesn’t deep-clean but it keeps the situation under control so you don’t continually have to use big guns to deal with small problems.
People who want to use its sanitising function for household items, baby or pet bedding and toys, or gym/ running gear could also find peace of mind and lifestyle improvements by having the Styler in their home.
If you're not planning to use it as a regular dry cleaning substitute or for daily home hygiene, then the Styler is a nice-to-have, not a must-have. You'll use it, but probably not enough to justify the price tag.
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