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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.

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