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Best Steam Irons

By: Amy Livingston on November 30, 2016

Editor's note:
Ironing's a pain, but our research found some great corded, cordless and travel irons that that can make the task at least a little less painful. Panasonic models rocket to the top this year, though bargain hunters may want to look at a budget Black & Decker iron instead. We found a terrific ironing board as well, and an ironing board alternative that those short on space will find hard to resist.

Panasonic 360° Quick NI-W950A Review
Best Reviewed
Specs that Matter Power (watts) – 1700 watts Tank capacity – 10 ounces Weight – 4.4 pounds

Best steam iron

The Panasonic 360° Quick NI-W950A has pretty much everything you could ask for in a steam iron. In professional tests, it heats up fast, pumps out steam at an impressive rate, and gets through ironing tasks promptly. Its distinctive football-shaped soleplate allows you to iron in both directions, which can be a real time-saver when pressing shirts. Other features include well-labeled controls, an auto shutoff, and an anti-calcification system to clear out mineral deposits.

Buy for $92.94
Black & Decker Allure D3030 Review
Runners Up
Specs that Matter Power (watts) – 1600 watts Tank capacity – 6.7 ounces Weight – 3.1 pounds

Budget steam iron

For good performance without a high price tag, the Black & Decker Allure D3030 is worth considering. Both professionals and home users say it heats quickly, produces plentiful steam, and glides smoothly over fabrics. It's also fairly lightweight and boasts a 2-year warranty. This budget iron gets some complaints about durability, however, but fewer than most others in its price range. Its biggest weakness is the control dial, which some owners find hard to read.

Buy for $34.54
Panasonic Cordless NI-L70SRW Review
Best Reviewed
Specs that Matter Power (watts) – 1500 watts Tank capacity – 5.1 ounces Weight – 5 pounds (including base)

Best cordless iron

The Panasonic Cordless NI-L70SRW is one of the few cordless steam irons that can match the performance of a corded model. Its charging stand gets the iron hot enough to knock out tough wrinkles, and keeps it hot so long as you return it to the stand between presses. Its features include adjustable steam, a removable water tank, auto shutoff, a retracting cord on the base, and a carrying case that totes iron, base and all.

Buy for $61.97
Sunbeam Hot-2-Trot Review
Best Reviewed
Specs that Matter Power (watts) – 800 watts Tank capacity – N/A Weight – 1.5 pounds

Best travel iron

The Sunbeam Hot-2-Trot Travel Iron GCSBTR-100-000 is a compact iron perfect for travel or crafting use. It has all the basic features of a full-sized iron, including adjustable heat and a shot of steam, crammed into a small, 1.5-pound package. It also features a dual-voltage switch for international travel. Owners like this iron's fast heating and steam production, but they have some complaints about durability. Still, for $13, it's easy to replace if it breaks.

Buy for $17.99
Homz Durabilt Review
Best Reviewed
Specs that Matter Weight – 22 pounds

Best ironing board

The Homz Durabilt is the Cadillac of ironing boards. It's incredibly sturdy, with a generous work surface, adjustable-height legs, and thick padding. Its wide-spreading legs keep it from wobbling even a fraction of an inch, and the quick-release lever makes them easy to open, close, and adjust. Other nice features include the metal mesh top helps steam penetrate your clothes and the iron rest on the back end. Its only downsides are its bulky size and weight.

Buy for $89.97
Above Edge Magnetic Ironing Mat
Runners Up
Specs that Matter Weight – 0.66 pounds

Tabletop ironing mat

If you're short on space, the Above Edge Magnetic Ironing Mat makes a convenient alternative to a full-sized ironing board. This inexpensive mat allows you to iron on any flat surface. When it's placed on a metal surface, such as the top of your washer, magnets hold the mat in place to keep it from sliding around. It's a bit fussy to set up, but many users simply leave it in place on the washer full-time.

Buy for $10.96

A good steam iron makes a tedious chore go more smoothly

Sadly, 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.

Types of Steam Irons

Traditional Steam Irons

Traditional, corded steam irons can cost anywhere from $20 to $150. These days, even basic steam irons have features once limited to high-end models: variable steam settings, a "burst of steam" button to tackle the toughest wrinkles, and a vertical steam feature for steaming wrinkles out of hanging clothes or curtains. You can also expect a steam iron to have an 8-foot (or longer) cord, a UL or ETL safety certification, an auto-shutoff feature, and a one-year warranty. However, paying extra for a deluxe model can get you still fancier features, such as digital displays, specially shaped soleplates, retractable cords, and self-cleaning cycles to remove mineral deposits.

Cordless Irons

Cordless irons are a bit of a throwback to the very earliest irons, which were made of solid metal and heated on a stove or over a fire. Instead of heating up the soleplate (the steel base of the iron) through a cord that tethers the iron to a wall socket, modern cordless irons sit on a power base that heats up. Once the iron comes up to temperature, you can pick it up and use it with no cord to trip or entangle you. However, despite the convenience of this design, cordless irons don't get nearly as many reviews as traditional ones. The price range of available models is similar to that of a basic steam iron — usually between $50 and $130.

Travel Irons

For travelers who don't trust the irons in hotels, a small travel iron comes in handy for quick touch-ups. They're also popular with quilters and sewers for toting to classes or conventions. Travel irons are compact and lightweight enough to stash in a suitcase, and some have folding handles to make them even smaller. Travel irons are cheaper than their full-sized brethren, with prices between $10 and $40, yet often have the same features you'd find on a basic steam iron. However, these mini irons aren't widely covered in professional reviews, and users generally don't rate them as highly as the best steam irons.

Ironing Boards

Every good iron deserves a good ironing board. The best ones are sturdy, so they don't wobble, and easy to unfold and refold for storage. Other nice features include adjustable-height legs to accommodate users of different heights and an iron rest to keep the iron out of your way while you reposition clothes. Ironing boards can cost anywhere from $30 to $200, but the cheapest models tend to be flimsy. If you're short on space, a roll-up ironing mat is a good alternative to a board. These cost as little as $10 and can make any flat surface – a desk, a counter, or the top of your washing machine – suitable for ironing.

Finding The Best Steam Irons
Our Sources
"The Best Clothes Iron"
"The Best Ironing Board"
"Steam irons"

The best steam irons have to provide quick, even heat, loads of steam, and useful safety and convenience features. They should also be easy to use, with clearly labeled controls and indicators. We analyzed a handful of professional roundups, as well as hundreds of owner reviews from retail sites such as Amazon.com and BedBathandBeyond.com, to find the best steam irons for everyone from passionate pressers to reluctant wrinkle wranglers.

Best steam irons

If you're the kind of person who wants to look freshly pressed every single day, a high-quality steam iron is a worthwhile investment. The Panasonic 360° Quick NI-W950A (Est. $100) is pricey, but according to our sources, it's simply the best all-around performer there is. It heats up fast, provides abundant steam, and is packed with handy features. And, while nearly every steam iron on the market has some durability problems, this Panasonic iron appears to hold up much better than most others – even high-end competitors like the Rowenta Steamforce DW9280 (Est. $125).

The Panasonic NI-W950A has a wealth of useful features. Its anodized-aluminum soleplate has steam holes distributed around the entire edge to spread a large volume of steam evenly across a garment. To keep up with all this steam production, it has an extra-large 10-oz. water tank. The temperature-setting dial, located below the handle, is large and clearly labeled with the various fabric settings: Acrylic, Silk, Wool, Cotton, and Linen. Its auto shutoff activates in 10 minutes when the iron is propped upright, but in only 1 minute if it's lying flat or tipped over. The vertical steaming feature removes wrinkles from curtains and hanging garments, and the anti-calc system clears away mineral deposits. It also features an extra-long, 10-foot cord and adjustable steam settings.

However, the most notable feature on this iron is the shape of the soleplate. Instead of having a point at one end and a wide base at the other, the Panasonic's soleplate is pointed at both ends, like a football. Most users say this design really saves time when ironing, especially with shirts, because you don't have to keep repositioning the iron to slide it between buttons. The downside of the double-pointed plate is that there's no flat base to rest the iron on when you set it down. Instead, it sits on a sort of tripod formed by the handle and two narrow fins that stick out from the body of the iron. Some users feel this design makes the iron unstable, and others complain that the legs tend to catch on their clothes when they pull the iron backward.

Both professional testers and home users agree that this iron is a powerful wrinkle-fighter. It heats up quickly, produces loads of steam, and glides smoothly over fabric. It also isn't plagued by the leakage and spitting found with many cheaper irons. Some owners find the 4.4-pound iron too heavy, but others say that added heft is useful for pressing out tough wrinkles. Its real Achilles heel, according to many users, is the built-in water tank. Although it has a generous 10-ounce capacity and is easy to fill, many users complain that it's nearly impossible to view the water level through the iron's dark-tinted window.

For those want good performance but who aren't willing to invest $100 in an iron, the Black & Decker Allure D3030 (Est. $35) offers solid performance at a much lower price. In tests at TheSweethome.com, this inexpensive iron is second only to the pricey Rowenta Steamforce for steam production and wrinkle-busting power. Testers also say it heats quickly and its stainless-steel soleplate glides smoothly over fabrics. They also like its lighter, 3.1-pound weight, its comfort-grip handle, and its lengthy 2-year warranty – twice as long as the Panasonic's.

Despite all these benefits, TheSweethome.com does not recommend the Black & Decker Allure. The site named the Allure as its top pick in October 2016, but it withdrew the recommendation in November when its test model suddenly died after a year of use. It now recommends the Shark Ultimate Professional GI505 (Est. $45) as the best iron for buyers on a budget.

However, after looking at user reviews for both these irons, we still think the Allure is the better choice of the two. Most users at Amazon.com and Walmart.com like this Black & Decker iron, saying it heats fast, produces ample steam, and knocks wrinkles out fast. There are some negative reviews, but most of them have nothing to do with the iron's durability; users are more likely to complain that it's difficult to read the control dial or judge the water level on the 6.7-ounce water tank. Complaints about breakdowns pop up now and then, but the Allure actually has fewer than most irons in this price range, including the Shark Ultimate Professional. Plus, the two-year warranty is a good protection against product failure. And even if the iron eventually breaks, at $35, many can easily afford to replace it.

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Steam Irons buying guide

What every best Steam Irons has:

  • Fast, adjustable heat.
  • Smooth performance.
  • Powerful steam.

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