Steam Iron Buying Guide
Buying an iron may not seem like a very complex task; however, steam irons today come with a lot of different features and they can range in price from as little as $20 to as much as $200, making them a sizable investment should you be looking to purchase a more expensive model. Picking the right iron for your needs will save you time and money. Below are the features (including pricing and warranties) we consider to be most important when comparing different steam irons. We highly recommend that you take your time to study this list before you read our reviews. If you just want to see which irons we've rated the best in their respective categories click here or simply scroll down to the bottom of the page.
Steam helps to take stubborn wrinkles out of clothes and helps the iron glide over the fabric without snagging or grabbing. However, some fabrics require more or less steam than others do, and some things are best ironed steam free. When considering which steam iron to purchase, first consider the type of fabric you routinely iron and how much steam you normally require. For those ironing uniforms and clothes that require a professional looking press, getting an iron with a steam boost is recommended. For those whose ironing basket is full of assorted fabrics, an iron with a variety of steam options is best. For those who iron curtains and other hanging items, a vertical steam feature is a must have.
Heat is a very important aspect of ironing. Generally the more heat the better. Look for an iron that has at least 1500 watts of power and heats up quickly. Almost all irons say they get nice and hot, but only a few really do. Check customer reviews to ensure the iron gets as hot as the manufacturer says it does.
The soleplate is the bottom of the iron, the part that heats up. Generally soleplates come in a type of aluminum, stainless steel, titanium or are stainless steel plated. Stainless steel soleplates seem to be the best. Many manufacturers claim that their soleplate is non-stick, but studies have shown that non-stick soleplates seem to actually stick and drag more than normal soleplates do. In addition, when considering an iron, getting one with a precision or designer tip is a good idea, as it greatly helps ironing around buttons and in close areas. An additional feature that is great for a soleplate to have, is holes for steam release; this helps to distribute the steam better.
The majority of steam irons come with an auto shut off feature to help ensure there are no accidental burns or fires; however, a few irons do not. Some people find the auto shut off a headache when they are doing a lot of ironing, and some sewers who need to iron as they sew can find an iron with a auto shut off difficult to work with. However, for most people, auto shut off is an extremely important feature and is well worth the extra money.
All steam irons have a water tank: you need water to make steam. Water tanks range in size from around 8 ounces to 12 ounces. Generally the larger the water tank, the less times you'll spend filling it. However, even a large water tank can empty quickly if you are using a lot of steam. Some irons have a very small water tank hole that is hard to fill, while others have a large hole that makes adding water simple. Some irons specify the use of spring water only, while other irons are fine for tap water as long as it is not hard water. Also keep in mind that the larger the water tank, the heavier the iron will be when it is full. In addition, one of the most common complaints about water tanks is that their water level indicator is nearly impossible to read. Transparent water tanks are great for being able to see how full the tank is.
For the average user, look for a water tank that is about ten ounces large, is positioned well for easy fill, has a large water opening, can be filled with tap water, and has a water level indicator you can easily read.
Some steam irons have a normal electrical cord, some have a normal electrical cord with a 360 degree pivot, some have a retractable cord and some are rechargeable so they have no cord. Rechargeable steam irons sound great: having no cord to worry about would certainly make ironing faster and easier; however, they do not heat up as well as a corded irons do and are not worth the money. An iron with a normal electrical cord tends to get tangled far too easily and ends up being a big headache, so they are also not the best choice. The best electrical cords are either ones with a 360 degree pivot or retractable ones. However, between the two, a normal electrical cord that pivots is better, as retractable cords tend to snap back and some can break easily.
Generally steam irons weigh anywhere from 3-4 pounds. Too light or too heavy an iron can make the job much harder. Look for an iron that is a comfortable weight for you; most people like an iron that's about 3.5 pounds. All models of irons are designed differently. If possible, physically pickup and try the iron to ensure it fits well in your hand. Some irons have special features to make them more comfortable to use, such as a padded handle, thumb rest and ergonomic design.
Although a fabric setting is not a mandatory feature on a good iron, it certainly is nice to have. A fabric setting will make ironing much faster and easier, especially if you have a bunch of different fabrics in your ironing basket. Look for an iron that has an easy to read and set dial or control.
Steam irons range in price from $20-$200. Low end irons do not have a lot of special features and are best suited for those who only iron occasionally. High end irons are packed full of great features and offer a professional press; however, they are a waste of money for someone who only irons occasionally. High end irons are best suited for those who iron on the regular bases and for those with uniforms and such, that need to have a professional quality press. Midrange irons are best for those who use the iron several times a month, but not all the time. They offer most of the features that the high end irons offer, but have a far more affordable price tag.
WarrantyMost steam irons come with anywhere from a 30 day to a year warranty. Irons generally do not break down in the first few months of use, so a short warranty tends to be rather useless. Try to get one that offers a full year warranty. Many customers have stated that their iron broke down after 9-10 months of use, so a year warranty would at least cover them.
Below is a short synopsis of online steam iron reviews. Reading customer reviews and analyzing steam iron ratings is an excellent way to determine which steam iron is the best steam iron for you. Note that this is our updated list for 2014. You can find last our rankings of last year's top rated models at the bottom of this page.
#1 Best - Rowenta DW9280
If you're looking for a premiere steam iron, one that will last for years, work like a charm, and make the chore of ironing quicker and easier, then the Rowenta DW9280 might be perfect for you. This fantastic iron is jammed pack with great features that puts it a class above most other steam irons. The DW9280 has 1800 watts of power, steam pump injection, ready-temp and anti-drip systems, and a mist trigger to help get out stubborn wrinkles. It has a scratch resistance non-stick stainless steel soleplate that has rounded edges and precision shot zone. It also features a long seven foot electrical cord, automatic turn off to help save electricity and ensure no fires start by accident, and a full one year warranty. The DW9280 is a dream to use and makes ironing a pleasure to do. It has around a $130 price tag.
#2 Best - Oliso TG1050
Ironing clothes can be a bit of a tedious task, but with the Oliso TG1050 the job can be done quickly and expertly with very little fuss. This excellent steam iron offers 1600 watts, fast heat up, a long 8'8” electrical cord, a stainless steel soleplate with more than average steam holes, and a rounded detailer tip that makes ironing corners and cuffs a breeze. It features a large side fill water tank that is easy to fill and produces both vertical and horizontal bursts of steam. It also has an automatic eight minute shut off. However, what really sets the Oliso TG1050 apart from its competitors is its fantastic and unique iTouch Scorchgaurds that ensure you never accidentally burn or scorch your favorite clothes while ironing. This excellent iron retails for around $100.
#3 Best - Rowenta DW9081
Like all of Rowenta's steam irons, the DW9081 is made to give a professional quality press quickly and efficiently. The premiere feature of this excellent iron is its pump action steam force that pushes out 30% more steam than the average steam iron does. In addition to the steam force feature, it has a stainless steel soleplate that has 400 microsteam holes and a precision tip to make ironing quick and easy. It also has 1800 watts of power, one-touch steam and temperature controls, a fabric select dial with an easy to read LED screen, a large water tank, burst-of-steam and cool-spray-mist functions, and a 3-way auto shut off to prevent accidents. This fantastic iron comes with a year warranty and retails for around $130.
#4 Best - Rowenta DW6080
Finally we have an eco-friendly iron that still offers the power and features to do the job like a professional. Rowenta's DW6080 is their first eco-intelligence steam iron. It runs at 100% efficiency and uses 25% less energy than other similar irons do. It also has three steam settings, dry, eco and boost, so users can conserve water and energy by picking the right setting for the job. This excellent iron has 1700 watts of power, and heats up quickly. It has a scratch resistant stainless steel plated soleplate that has 400 microsteam holes in it and a 3D design that helps center and direct the steam to where it's needed most. The soleplate also has a precision tip which is perfect for ironing in tight places. This iron was made to last; it comes with an integrated Anti-Calc cartridge and self clean system, to ensure it stays at peak performance and lasts for years. The DW6080 is designed to be comfortable for both left and right handed people. It comes with a full year warranty and sells for around $90.
#5 Best - Panasonic NI-W950A
With its sleek and stylish appearance, excellent features and high quality make, the Panasonic NI-W950A is one of the most popular steam irons on the market today. This fantastic iron offers a larger than normal soleplate that makes ironing large items a breeze, and is dual tipped and multi-directional, making it excellent for ironing difficult items with lots of buttons, pleats or tight corners. The soleplate is also well vented and goes over any fabric smoothly, without catching or dragging. The NI-W950A also offers tons of great features such as a power shot anti-calcium and self clean system, adjustable steam control, temperature control, vertical steam, anti-drip, 10 ounce water tank and a very handy ten foot long electrical cord. Packed with great features and made with high quality material by a brand you can trust, the NI-W950A is a excellent iron worth a little more than a normal price tag.
While the irons above are outstanding, they do come with a hefty price tag. While investing in a professional grade steam iron might appropriate for quilters or people who need clothes that look fresh from the dry cleaners every day, paying more than $50 might seem a bit much for most. The following three steam iron irons are the best rated irons under $50 and any one of these irons is a great choice for the average consumer.
#1 Best - Rowenta DW2070
Rowenta has a reputation for making some of the best irons on the market today and the DW2070 is no exception. This excellent iron is not as expensive as their other models are, nor does it have all the bells and whistles; however, it is still made with the Rowenta high standards, and built to do the job excellently and to last for years. The DW2070 has all the basic Rowenta features: stainless steel soleplate with microsteam holes, precision tip, 1600 watts of power, integrated anti-cal and self clean system, 3-way auto shut off, steam adjustment and vertical steam. This excellent iron was designed with comfort in mind; it has a ergonomic design, is light weight, and has a thumb rest. The Rowenta DW2070 is the perfect blend of affordability, comfort and performance.
#2 Best - Black & Decker D2030
The Black & Decker D2030 is an excellent mid range steam iron. It offers all the regular features that more expensive steam irons offer for about half the cost. It has a non-stick stainless steel soleplate that glides over fabric, 1500 watts of power, a soft grip for comfort, a variable steam control function, and a motion sensitive auto shut off. It also has an easy to read mini LCD monitor that displays temperature and fabric settings digitally, and gives off an audible tone when it is ready to use. It also offers vertical steam that allows users to quickly remove wrinkles from curtains and hanging clothes. This excellent iron comes with a one year warranty. For the $40 price tag, this iron is a fantastic deal.
#3 Best - Panasonic NI-E200T
If you are looking for a good solid steam iron for an affordable price, then the Panasonic NI-E200T might be perfect for you. It does not have all the special features and extras that many of the more expensive irons have. Instead, it focuses on being comfortable and easy to use, and doing its job well. It has an unique u-shape for better steam circulation, plus a slightly curved soleplate to help it glide easily over any fabric. It has a non-stick titanium soleplate, adjustable steam, spray mist, temperature ready indicator and a 360 degree pivot electrical cord. It also offers a water tank that is simple to fill and a water level indicator that is easy to read. This sturdy iron is light weight, has a sleek attractive design, and retails for the low price of only $30. The Panasonic NI-E200T may not be the fanciest steam iron on the market, but it's sturdy, long lasting, comfortable to use and does its job extremely well. It's a fantastic iron for the price.
More Buying Tips
Even if you buy clothes labeled as “easy-care” or “wrinkle-free”, you still need a good steam iron to keep your clothes looking their very best. Clothes made from natural fibers such as cotton and linen especially need to be ironed. Steam irons have evolved greatly in the last twenty years. The simple irons you remember your parents using are a thing of the past. Irons now have several features that enhance both safety and performance. Here is a shorter list of some more features you should be looking for in the best steam irons.
- Automatic Shut Off – The days of worrying whether you turned off the iron or not are gone. Because irons that are left on are a fire hazard, manufacturers are now equipping the best steam irons with automatic shut off systems. These are timed and can be set anywhere from 10 minutes to 30 seconds depending on the position of the iron. Irons left in a vertical position are generally given several minutes before shutting off. Irons that are face down or have toppled over usually shut off in 30 seconds.
- Self-cleaning/Decalcifying – In areas where hard water is a problem, having an iron that decalcifies itself is a plus. Generally, the self-cleaning system forces ultra-hot steam through the steam holes to keep them from getting clogged with impurities in the water.
- Vertical steam – This is essential for steaming hanging garments or draperies.
- Micro holes –Many irons use smaller holes in the soleplate to help disperse steam more evenly and over a larger area. This allows the user to iron more quickly as more of the garment’s surface area is subjected to steam at the same time.
- Precision tip -This is a pointed tip that is useful for ironing out details near sleeve cuffs and collars, as well as making pleats look more crisp.
Last Year's Reviews
#1 Best - Rowenta DW9080 Steamium Steam Iron
Rowenta is widely regarded as the best manufacturer of steam irons, and the Rowenta DW9080 Steamium Steam Iron is generally considered to be the best steam iron on the market today. The DW9080 is a powerful iron at 1800 Watts. The scratch resistant sole plate has a thin coat of silicon and 400 holes for optimum steam distribution. It tackles stubborn wrinkles and creases with a powerful extra burst of steam, is self-cleaning, and features a three way automatic shut off. Reviews indicate that this iron is extremely easy to use. It is a little heavy, but its ergonomic design helps. The DW9080 is also lauded for being durable and reliable.
#2 Best - Rowenta DW8080 Pro Master Steam Iron
The Rowenta DW8080 Pro Master Steam Iron is the next best of Rowenta’s steam irons, and not surprisingly considered the second best steam iron available. It is slightly lighter and a little less expensive than the DW9080. It is also only slightly less powerful at 1700 Watts, which is still more powerful than most steam irons. The DW8080 has most of the same features as the DW9080, including a 400 hole sole plate, three way automatic shut off, and a self-cleaning system. The extra-large water tank allows this iron to deliver more steam without having to be refilled more often.
#3 Best - Rowenta DW5080 Focus Steam Iron
Rowenta makes the list three times in a row with the Rowenta DW5080 Focus Steam Iron. With the DW5080, you sacrifice some of the power of the other two models, but still retain most of the features. The 400 hole sole plate, three way shut off, and self-cleaning system are all present in this model as well. The water tank is slightly smaller still than on the DW8080, but this model provides a little less steam power so the smaller tank fits perfectly.
The Rowenta irons also have a vertical steam feature and use tap water. However if you have excessively hard tap water, you will need to use the self-cleaning system more regularly or else the holes will get clogged.
While the Rowenta irons above are outstanding, they are a little expensive. The following three steam iron irons were the best rated irons under $50 in last year's survey.
#1 Best - Black & Decker D2030 Auto-Off Digital Advantage Iron
According to customer reviews, the Black & Decker D2030 Auto-Off Digital Advantage Iron is the best iron available under $50. It uses 1500 Watts, which is powerful for this price range. One of its most popular features is the 360 degree pivoting electrical cord. This keeps the cord out of your way while ironing no matter if you are left handed or right handed. It also has a LCD monitor that digitally displays temperature and fabric settings. The D2030 has a self-cleaning system and motion sensitive automatic shut off just like the more expensive Rowenta irons, but is not as powerful.
#2 Best - T-fal FV4476 Ultraglide Easycord Steam Iron
The T-fal FV4476 Ultraglide Easycord Steam Iron is next on our list of the best steam irons under $50. The FV4476 has the same features as other irons at a more attractive price. It also features a patented anti-dripping system to prevent water leaking from the water tank or steam holes while the iron is getting hot. The sole plate has 64 steam holes and 37 micro holes to aid in steam diffusion. A three way automatic shut off and self-cleaning/anti-calcifying system is also included. Customers love that this iron is relatively lightweight and easy to use. The patented cord system keeps it out of the way just like with the Black & Decker model.
#3 Best - Panasonic U-Shape Steam Iron
Last but not least is the Panasonic U-Shape Steam Iron. This iron has a unique retractable cord that reels itself in when the iron is unplugged for easy storage. It uses 1200 Watts of power and does a great job ironing clothes. Customer reviews indicate that the vertical steam function of this iron is not powerful enough to do a great job on hanging garments or drapes. However, this iron is incredibly popular with the customers who choose to review it online. Three way shut off, self-cleaning/anti calcifying, and an ergonomically designed handle are also featured on this model.
A Final Word
Hopefully, these steam iron reviews have helped you to determine the best steam iron for your needs. There are many brands and models to choose from, but the irons in this review are considered to the best and most dependable by customers who reviewed them online