The latest irons promise to get the job done quicker, even on delicate fabrics and tricky shapes. Defeat the ironing pile with one of these hard-working hotties
Whether you tackle the pile in one go or only iron what you need, ironing has to be one of the most boring household chores. There are two main choices – a traditional steam iron or a steam generator. Scroll down, and you’ll see our key features to help you buy the best iron for the job but first here’s our pick of the best of both.
Best for value
This purple powerhouse is a bargain steam generator that boasts a bright, easy-to-read digital display and a Smart mode that chooses the best setting for your fabric. It also comes with a lime-collecting cartridge.
Weight 3.3kg, Power 2,600W (6 bar pressure) Capacity 1ltr in removable tank, Steam output 110g/min, Heat up time 1min
Buy now: Beko SGA7126P, £89.99, Hughes
Best for total control
Swan has squeezed a large water tank into the base of this generator. It produces a high level of continuous steam, while temperature can be adjusted manually. It comes with a 500ml cup and anti-calc filter.
Weight 3.6kg, Power 2,400W, Capacity 1.5ltr, Steam output 90g/min, Heat-up time 60 seconds
Buy now: Swan SI9051N, £69.99, Swan
Best for cordless design
Tefal, FV9965 Freemove
This battery-powered steam iron does away with the power cable, making it safer and easier to steam curtains and hangings. The battery charges in the dock, while the double anti-drip feature prevents droplets. It comes with a board clamp included.
Weight 1.4kg, Power 2600W, Capacity 250ml, Steam output 35g/min
Best for beating limescale
Bosch, ProHygienic TDI9080GB
Weighing slightly more than a basic iron, but with continuous steam, a soleplate that won’t leave shiny marks, and four anti-calc cleaning modes, this is a wise buy in a hard-water area. It comes with an Anti-calc solution.
Weight 2.1kg, Power 3120W, Capacity 400ml, Steam output 65g/min (220g/min steam shot), Heat-up time 2min 50sec
Best on a budget
An ideal iron for anyone who doesn’t want to fiddle with settings, this automatically provides the best steam and temperature for any fabric. It comes with a sole plate rest.
Weight 1.29kg, Power 2,500W, Capacity 270ml, Steam output 40g/min (150g/min steam shot), Heat-up time 1min
Buy now: Tefal FV4970, £39.99, Amazon
Best for sleek design
Philips GC7619/20 Pressurised Steam Generator
This easy-to-store steam generator has an ultra-light iron with a smooth soleplate and powerful 120g/min steam. It comes with a limescale catridge
Weight 3.19kg, Power 2,400W, Capacity 1.5ltr, Steam output 100g/min (200g/min steam shot), Heat-up time 2min
Best designer buy
Braun IS5042 E Carestyle 5
This award-winning design is not just good looking, it irons beautifully too, with a 100g/min continuous steam output and super-smooth soleplate.
Weight 4.8kg, Power 2,400W, Capacity 140ml, Steam output 100g/min (220g/m steam shot), Heat-up time 2min
Best for traditional style
Russell Hobbs 22522 Auto Steam Pro-Ceramic
Prefer a classic approach? This affordable option has manual temperature control, a spray nozzle to dampen stubborn creases and a decent level of steam.
Weight 1.5kg, Power 2,400W, Capacity 320ml, Steam output 45g/min (130g/min steam shot), Heat-up time 2min
Steam irons – a buyer’s guide
Irons have come long way since the days when you would leave your heavy lump of… ‘erh iron’, on the fire for hours to heat up. Nowadays the domestic versions are so high-tech they are not too dissimilar from professional laundry models. There are two main choices of iron on the market– the less expensive traditional steam iron that we are perhaps more familiar with or a more pricey, top-tech steam generator.
Steam irons versus steam generators
The basic design of steam irons has changed little, but modern versions are loaded with smart features and are best if you iron little and often. Look for the highest rate of steam output you can find, as it will help relax fabric and smooth creases. Prices start from £10, but it’s worth spending at least £20-£50. Steam generators have a large separate water tank –they generate high levels of continuous pressurised steam, which makes quick work of even the most crumpled shirts. Prices range from £60-£250, but you can find excellent models for around £10
Steam irons and steam generators – key features
Here are the main things to look out for when you’re choosing the best iron for the job.
Spray button Squirts water onto the fabric to help relax creases.
Power The higher the wattage (W), the faster an iron will heat up and the higher its temperature.
Button notch A gap at the tip of the iron to help get round buttons.
Capacity A larger water tank means less refilling. With steam generators, look for ‘continuous fill’ so you can top up while switched on.
Continuous steam The amount of steam (in g/min) your iron can generate – over 100g/min is great for a steam iron. For steam generator irons, also check the bar pressure – look for at least 5 bars.
Steam shot button This provides an additional burst of steam – look for the highest value (g/min).
Auto shut-off Some irons turn off automatically if they have been standing idle for 8-10 minutes.
Vertical steam This works best from either dedicated steam wands or from larger steam generators.
Sole plates Ceramic and non-stick coatings glide best over fabrics