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How to choose the best steam iron

Hailey Avatar By: Hailey | Last updated January 12, 2021

steam iron steam on dark gray background

Ironing isn’t the most fun activity on our daily chores list, but it can become an easier and more pleasant one, when you use the right tools. Irons have improved tremendously over the years and are now equipped with lots of features designed to save us time, energy and to help us obtain the best results.

There are so many variations, types and models to choose from when it comes to irons these days, that it can be exhausting to figure out for yourself what to get. Luckily for you though, there are plenty of reviews as well, that can help you make a more informed decision, without investing so much time in research.

Best Review Guide put together a steam iron buying guide for you, to assist you with your purchase and make the process easier for you.

Here are some of the most important aspects to consider when shopping for a steam iron:

What type of iron should you go with?

While this guide focuses on choosing the best steam iron for your needs, it is important to first establish whether you indeed want a steam iron to begin with, or maybe you should opt for a dry iron. Your ironing needs should help you decide easier which one is best for you. If you only need to iron clothes from time to time and you don’t depend on an iron on a daily or at least constant basis, a dry iron should be enough for you. It will cost you less and it will get the job done.

However, if you know you’ve got a lot of wrinkly clothes that you need to iron frequently, a steam iron would make more sense. Steam irons are more effective when it comes to remove wrinkles, regardless of the fabric of the garment. They can generate less or more steam, to cope with even the most stubborn wrinkles.

Steam irons vs steam generators

If you’ve decided to go with the steam irons, there is another decision to be made. Should you buy a steam iron or a steam generator?

Steam irons are usually more affordable than steam generators and less bulky. They are good enough to handle normal ironing needs and can be used with your normal board. However, they don’t produce the same amount of steam as a steam generator and they have to be refilled with water more often.

Steam generators are pricier because they are more powerful when it comes to steam power and they can handle larger amounts of laundry. They are bulkier than ordinary steam irons, which makes them more difficult to store or carry with you, but they are also lighter. And one of their biggest advantages is the fact that they can hold up to 3 times more water, so you don’t have to refill them that as often as regular steam irons.

What kind of soleplate should you go with?

There are several types of soleplates available and we are going to describe the most common ones:

Ceramic soleplate – this type of soleplate spreads the heat efficiently and is a non-stick material

Stainless steel – The heat is spread equally and is a smooth material, although you should be careful not to scratch it when you iron garments that have buttons, zippers and so on

Aluminum – this type of soleplate is usually associated with cheaper irons because over time, they can become sticky, which doesn’t exactly help with getting rid of wrinkles on your clothes

Coated non-stick soleplate – it is great for gliding smoothly over the fabric and for removing wrinkles

How many watts do you need?

Power is important in any appliance and with irons you want to look for something that has at least 1500 watts, although 2000 watts are better, if you want an iron that can produce enough heat.

Heavy or light irons?

While heavier irons may feel less comfortable in hand, especially after a while, they are usually better in terms of ironing results, as they can press better and you don’t have to keep on coming back to the same spot over and over again. Lighter irons are easier to maneuver but you might have to repeat the movements a few times to get rid of all the wrinkles.

And while we are on the subject of comfort, you should also try to test the iron yourself if possible, to see how comfortable the grip is and how the controls work. Most irons have either digital controls (newer models), slides or dial controls.

Is the cord long enough?

Cord length may be overlooked at first, when shopping for the best iron. However, it is quite important if you want to be able to move the iron without restrictions. There are a lot of irons that have a 12 feet cord. Also, if possible, you should opt for an iron that has a retractable cord.

Are steam holes important?

Those little holes on the soleplate are important because that’s where the steam comes out from. The more holes, the more steam. Their position is also important, because it is important to have a uniform distribution of steam.

Water tank options

The water tank should be transparent or have a window that allows you to check the water level, so that you can know when it is time to refill.

Also on the subject of tanks, their capacity varies from 0.27 to over 2 liters. Depending on your ironing needs, you should opt for a smaller or larger capacity of the water tank. The bigger the tank, the fewer times you have to refill it.

What to know about the steam pressure of the iron?

When checking out the specs of the iron, you should look for the steam output. The higher it is, the better. The steam pressure of a steam iron is measured in grams and if you want to buy an iron that has a high output, look for something that has from at least 50 grams per minute and above.

What kind of features to look for in a steam iron?

There is a huge variety when it comes to the features of steam irons. Here are some of the most popular features to look for when buying an iron:

  • Spray feature: most irons nowadays include a spray feature, which is useful for making the clothes moisty before you start to iron them. The spray feature makes the ironing process easier and more efficient
  • Adjustable steam: while steam is a very useful feature to have in an iron, it is also useful to be able to adjust its power or even disable the steam feature altogether if you want to
  • Fabric settings and temperature settings for fabrics such as silk, cotton and so on
  • Burst of steam feature that gives you extra steam for those extra-wrinkly clothes
  • Anti-calcium feature: the calcium in the water can block the steam holes over time, so it can be a useful feature to consider, especially if you know you live in an area where this is a problem with your water
  • Automatic shut-off feature, which turns the iron off if left in a stationary position for a certain period of time