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For cordless irons, Panasonic is tops

One of the biggest hassles about ironing is the cord. If it's not getting in your way as you move the iron, it's dangling down where you can trip over it. Pets and small children can sneak up and grab it, possibly pulling the iron down and the ironing board with it. And when you're done ironing, you have to find some way to coil it up for storage.

Cordless irons do away with all these problems. Instead of a cord, they have a separate power base that heats up and transfers heat to the iron. While this sounds like a great idea in theory, cordless irons don't actually get many positive reviews. ConsumerReports.org doesn't rate them anymore, saying their performance has generally been "unimpressive." The one cordless model covered at Good Housekeeping, the Panasonic NI-L70, gets a mediocre 3-star rating.

That said, we did spot a cordless iron that fares pretty well in reviews: the Panasonic Cordless 360° Freestyle NI-WL600 (Est. $95). In addition to being cordless, this model has a special twist: instead of having a traditional triangular shape, it's pointed at both ends. This means there's no wide base to prop the iron upright, but it doesn't really need one, since you just pop it back on its power base whenever you're not using it. Owners say this "freestyle" design takes a little time to get used to, but once you get past the learning curve, it's a great time-saver. Because the double-pointed iron slides in both directions, you can make multiple passes over a garment without having to reposition either the iron or your clothing.

In addition to the NI-WL600's unique freestyle design, it's loaded with features. It has variable and vertical steaming functions, burst of steam and spray mist, auto shutoff, electronic temperature controls, self-cleaning vents, an anti-drip system, and a detachable water tank. It also includes a heat-resistant carrying case.

The NI-WL600 has more than 400 reviews at Amazon.com and HSN.com, most of them positive. Users —particularly men — love its unique design and say it actually makes ironing fun. Although most owners say this cordless iron heats up quickly, some of them say it doesn't get hot enough, or else doesn't retain its heat long enough. We saw some complaints from users who say it takes forever to get through a batch of laundry because the iron needs to be recharged so often. Some note that the tiny water tank holds only 4 ounces — about half as much as most steam irons.

Ironing boards run from basic to deluxe

Regardless of whether you opt for a corded or cordless steam iron, you'll want a good quality ironing board to get the best results. Reviewers say the best ironing board you can buy is the Brabantia Ironing Board with Solid Steam Iron Rest Size C (Est. $120). The "size C" part means that it measures 124 centimeters (about 49 inches) long by 45 cm (18 in) wide, making this one of the most generously sized boards available. As for the height, you can adjust it to any of four different settings between 77 cm (30 in) and 96 cm (38 in). This makes it convenient for users of all heights, including those who prefer to do their ironing while seated.

It may seem crazy to spend $120 on an ironing board, but reviewers agree the Brabantia board is worth the price. Its large work surface holds larger items with ease, reducing the need to reposition garments during ironing. The metal frame is incredibly stable and sturdy, and it includes two separate locking mechanisms: one to keep it from collapsing during use and one to keep it folded during transport. The board comes with a sturdy iron rest that attaches to the back to keep the iron out of your way between uses, a thick three-layer pad, and an impressive 10-year warranty.

Although most reviews on Amazon are glowing, a few users complain that the ironing board is wobbly. In most cases, the problem is minor, but users feel that an ironing board this expensive should work flawlessly. We also saw a few complaints that the adjustable frame is hard to reposition.

If you're looking for something more basic and less pricey, the Household Essentials Mega Wide Top (Est. $50) ironing board also gets generally positive reviews. Its top is the same size as the Brabantia's, but the ironing board is not quite as tall, with height settings varying from 26.5 to 36.5 inches. It has the same locking legs and iron rest found on the Brabantia, and the iron rest has a swing-out bar to hold hangers. Unlike the Brabantia, though, it doesn't come with a warranty.

The Household Essentials ironing board has a top made of Fibertech, an eco-friendly material made from plant fiber waste. Although Household Essentials brags that this fiberboard breaks down quickly in a landfill, some users at Amazon.com complain that it also breaks down too quickly before it hits the landfill. The most common complaint about this board is that the top warped or cracked after being subjected to the heat of the steam iron for just a few weeks or months. Other users say the ironing board was damaged when it first arrived, often having one leg that was bent and much shorter than the others. The majority of users, though, say this ironing board is a good value: sturdy and stable, with an adjustable height that's convenient for users of all sizes.

Elsewhere in this report:

Best Steam Irons | Best Travel Irons | Buying Guide | Our Sources

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Panasonic NI-WL600 Cordless Multi-Directional Iron, Stainless Steel Soleplate, Silver/Black
Buy from Amazon.com
from Amazon.com
New: $82.04
In Stock.
Average Customer Review:  
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Brabantia Ironing Board with Solid Steam Iron Rest, Size C - Moving Circles Cover, 346385
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from Amazon.com
New: $116.62
In Stock.
Average Customer Review:  
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Household Essentials Fibertech Wide Top 4-Leg Mega Pressing Station Ironing Board with Natural Cotton Cover
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from Amazon.com
New: $64.99 $41.99   
In Stock.
Average Customer Review:  

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