Ironing is still a necessary evil, but the right steam iron can make the chore bearable
Unfortunately, the advent of permanent press fabrics has not done away with the need to occasionally haul out the ironing board and iron to crisp up a favorite blouse or re-crease those dress pants. And for sewers, quilters and other fabric hobbyists, a great iron is a must. The good news is that the right steam iron can help reduce the time, frustration and elbow grease needed to knock out those wrinkles.
A traditional, corded steam iron allows you to vary the steam setting so you have more steam for difficult wrinkled fabrics like cotton and less steam for more delicate fabrics. A number of irons have pre-set fabric settings to help the user choose how much steam is needed. Features often include a burst-of-steam setting that releases extra steam from the iron's soleplate to remove stubborn wrinkles. For irons with a vertical steaming feature, users can hold the iron upright and hit the burst setting to steam away wrinkles from curtains or other hanging fabric items. A spray mist feature sprays water on the fabric, the traditional method for increasing the heat ratio to make it easier to press out wrinkles. Most irons have an automatic shutoff in case they're left unattended.
Cordless irons are growing in popularity due to their convenience and ease of use. Instead of a traditional cord that tethers the iron to a wall socket, cordless irons have a power base that heats up. The iron sits on the power base until it reaches the desired temperature. While they're a bit of a throwback to the earliest irons, which were made of solid metal and heated on a stove or over a fire, today's cordless irons are high-tech marvels that many reviewers say have replaced their traditional, corded models.
Travel irons often have all the features of their full-sized brethren. The difference is that they are compact and lightweight enough to fit into a suitcase, but aren't wimpy when it comes to de-wrinkling. Most travelers already have access to irons and ironing boards in hotels, but they often prefer a small steamer over a travel iron for quick touch-ups. Actual travel irons seem to be most popular with quilters and sewers for toting to classes or conventions.
ConsumerSearch has analyzed dozens of professional roundups and hundreds of owner reviews to narrow down the best steam irons, cordless irons and travel irons by features, ease of use and performance. The result is our picks for the best steam iron for anyone, from the reluctant de-wrinkler to the most passionate presser.
A good steam iron makes a tedious chore go more smoothly
Some people love to iron, some loathe the chore. Regardless of your feelings about this household job, a top steam iron will make it easier to do and give you crisp, satisfying results every time.
Consumer reviewers often describe the Black & Decker Digital Advantage D2030 (Est. $45) as the best iron they've ever owned. Owners say it does an excellent job of pressing wrinkles out of their clothes, and also works great as a vertical steamer to get wrinkles out of curtains and other hanging fabric items. It's described as producing a lot of steam, heating up quickly and maintaining its temperature well throughout long ironing jobs. A few users complain that their model does not work well, but other reviewers advise following the instructions in the manual to solve their issues. The instruction booklet is available on the Black & Decker website for those who accidentally tossed the original.
The D2030 has seven temperature settings that owners say are easy to read and access. The setting number and fabric type flash on the digital display until the temperature is reached, and the iron beeps when it's ready. Users like the clearly audible signals and love the iron's affordable price.
Giving peace of mind to those who panic trying to remember if they shut off the iron before they left the house, the D2030 automatically turns off after being idle for 10 minutes. Its self-cleaning system flushes out minerals and lint. The D2030 weighs 3.2 pounds, which a few reviewers say is heavy but others describe as light. Our research shows that this is about in the middle of the pack for a full-size, corded steam iron.
The Rowenta Steamium DW9080 ($115) is usually the top pick in expert reviews and of professional fabric hobbyists, but we name it our runner-up for a reason. At more than double the price of the Black & Decker D2030, it doesn't get appreciably better reviews for performance, and there are a number of negative comments on the iron's durability. Several consumer reviewers say it stopped working within a year or two, and that they had the same issues with multiple versions of the product. Another big complaint is that you must press a trigger for continuous steam, which many users describe as tedious and tiring.
Those who don't have problems with a short life span praise the Rowenta for its professional results, ample steam and the 400-hole soleplate that glides easily along fabric. It's extremely popular with hobbyists such as sewers and quilters, who say it's the only iron they'll use -- even if they do have to replace it every year or so.
Expert and consumer reviewers agree: The 1,500-watt Black & Decker D2030 performs like a high-end iron but at a very affordable price. It carries a one-year limited warranty.