The best steam iron has

  • Multiple fabric adjustments. A range of fabric settings can safely and effectively handle the most delicate silk or the toughest linens.
  • Adjustable steam. Steam settings amp up the de-wrinkle factor, but like the heat settings, should be adjustable. There should also be an option to turn the steam off for the most delicate fabrics.
  • Burst of steam and spray mist functions. These features help to remove even the most stubborn wrinkles, or set permanent creases in pants or pleats.
  • Vertical steaming. This versatile setting allows you to use the iron as a fabric steamer, getting wrinkles out of hanging items from clothing to drapes.
  • A self-cleaning function. This feature cleans the iron as you use the steam function to prevent clogging and clear mineral buildup.
  • Auto shutoff. This turns off the iron after it has been idle for a short time, usually about 10 minutes.

Know before you go

What type of fabrics do you iron? If you press fabrics with difficult-to-remove wrinkles such as linen, denim or cotton, choose an iron with burst-of-steam and spray features.

How much weight can you wrangle? In the grand scheme of things irons are not very heavy, no more than 5 pounds or so. However, if you have any condition that makes it tiring to heft even that much weight, you need to buy the lightest iron that will do the job. You may even want to consider a compact travel iron or vertical steamer.

Can you see the controls easily? Irons have different types of controls, including dials, buttons and digital screens. Make sure you can read them easily. The same goes for the marker that indicates the water reservoir is full.

Do you prefer a steam iron or a clothes steamer? Both get wrinkles out of fabrics. Some consumers say using a clothes steamer is quicker and easier than using an iron. Iron enthusiasts say the steamer cannot produce the crispness or pressed look that an iron can. You might want to try both before you decide.

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