Steam Irons: Ratings of Sources
Editors at ConsumerReports.org test and rate steam irons on multiple criteria. Testers iron a linen tablecloth to rate ironing performance and steam fabric for ten minutes (three minutes for cordless models) to test steaming rate. They also evaluate ease of use based on several factors, including the ease of setting, filling, and emptying the iron, the visibility of water levels and other indicators, and how likely the iron was to leak.
Eric Hansen researches more than 100 irons for this report, using professional tests and interviews with experts to select the eight top picks. His team of testers put these eight irons through a series of a dozen tests, including ironing cotton sheets and dress shirts (both thick and delicate) and vertical steaming. Finally, Hansen subjects his top pick, the T-fal Ultraglide Easycord FV4495, to weekly use for a full six months.
Editors at the Good Housekeeping Research Institute evaluate steam irons to see how well they remove wrinkles on nylon, silk, wool, cotton, and linen. Testers rate each iron's steam production, fluctuations in soleplate temperature, ease of use, and safety features. They even call each manufacturer's customer service line to see how helpful it is.
There are tons of clothes irons sold at Amazon.com, though not all of them are steam irons. Some models only get a handful of reviews, but other steam irons get hundreds of reviews, and a few get thousands. Amazon reviews are based on real-world experience, so they provide useful information about durability, which laboratories can't test very well.
BedBathAndBeyond.com has a much smaller selection of irons than Amazon.com, and only a handful have positive reviews from 50 users or more. Products are rated by owners on a 5-star scale, and they can provide separate ratings for value and quality. Finally, reviewers can say whether or not they would recommend their iron to a friend.
Real Simple editors test 40 irons and name their top picks in 10 categories, including "Best All-Around," "Best Budget," and "Cordless and Nimble." However, they don't provide any information about their testing methods or criteria, and each winner gets only a brief write-up of one or two sentences. Also, the review is not dated, and several of the winners are discontinued.
HSN.com carries only a very smell selection of irons and ironing boards. We found only two steam irons with a significant number of reviews, and one of those is discontinued. However, the one product that earns 4-star ratings from nearly 200 owners is a Panasonic cordless iron, a type that doesn't get a ton of feedback elsewhere.
BestBuy.com lists more than 100 irons on its site, though most only get a little bit of feedback or none at all. Still, others are reviewed frequently enough that a visit is in order to get additional feedback about an iron you are considering.
Mary Marlowe Leverette, About.com's guide to laundry, recommends five travel clothes steamers — some of which are also irons — based on a comparison of their features. Each choice gets a paragraph or two discussing wattage, size and weight, cord length, tank size, continuous steam time, and warranty. She also mentions special features such as automatic shutoff and dual voltage for international travel. The review is not dated, and two of her picks are now discontinued.