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Best Steam Irons

By: Amy Livingston on November 13, 2017

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. Rowenta and Panasonic make well-reviewed deluxe irons, though bargain hunters may want to look at a budget Black & Decker iron instead.

Rowenta Steamforce DW9280 Review
Best Reviewed
Specs that Matter Power (watts) – 1800 watts Tank capacity – 11.8 oz. Weight – 3.7 lbs.

Best steam iron

The Rowenta Steamforce DW9280 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 quickly. Its 400 tiny "microsteam" holes deliver steam evenly across a garment, and its extra-large water tank keeps the mist coming. It has five fabric settings, a vertical steaming feature, an auto shutoff, and an anti-calcification system to clear out mineral deposits.

Buy for $94.85
Black & Decker Allure D3030 Review
Also Consider
Specs that Matter Power (watts) – 1600 watts Tank capacity – NA 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, 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 360° Freestyle NI-WL600
Best Reviewed
Specs that Matter Power (watts) – 1500 watts Tank capacity – 4 oz. Weight – 4.4 lbs. (including base)

Best cordless iron

The Panasonic Cordless 360° Freestyle NI-WL600 is a cordless iron with a special twist: Its distinctive football-shaped soleplate allows you to iron in both directions, which can be a real time-saver when pressing shirts. Users say it heats up quickly, and its unique design actually makes ironing fun. Other 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 $94.00
Sunbeam Hot-2-Trot Review
Best Reviewed
Specs that Matter Power (watts) – 800 watts Tank capacity – N/A Weight – 1.1 lbs

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, 1.1-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 $6, it's easy to replace if it breaks.

Buy for $12.99
Brabantia Ironing Board Review
Best Reviewed
Specs that Matter Ironing surface -- 49" by 15" Height -- 27" to 38" Weight – 15 pounds

Best ironing board

Professionals and users agree that the Brabantia Ironing Board with Steam Iron Rest Size B is worth its high cost. It's incredibly stable, with multiple height settings that make it suitable for users of all heights – seated or standing. It also features a sturdy iron rest on the back to maximize your work space. When you're done, it folds up compactly for storage, and the locking mechanism on the legs keeps it from popping open.

Buy for $184.99
Also Consider
Specs that Matter Ironing surface -- 32" by 12" Height -- 6" Weight – 4.8 pounds

Tabletop ironing board

If you're short on space (or cash), the Honey-Can-Do BRD-01435 Deluxe Tabletop Ironing Board makes a convenient alternative to a full-sized ironing board. This inexpensive miniature board can be used on any flat surface. It's a bit flimsy, with a fiberboard base and non-removable cover, but users say its small size makes it easy to set up when you just need to do a quick touch-up. The pull-out iron rest on the back is a nice extra.

Buy for $20.64

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 a 7-foot (or longer) cord, an auto-shutoff feature, and a one-year warranty. Paying extra for a deluxe model can get you still fancier features, such as digital displays, specially shaped soleplates, retractable cords, and self-cleaning systems 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 $5 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, you can opt for a tabletop ironing board or a roll-up ironing mat. 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"
"These "Best of the Test" Steam Irons Are a Wrinkle's Worst Enemy"

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. To find the steam irons that did the best job of fulfilling those requirements, we analyzed a handful of professional roundups from respected resources such as Wirecutter and Good Housekeeping. Consumer Reports notes that it is not currently testing steam irons, but its earlier round of testing includes lots of current models and so it remains helpful.

We also looked at thousands of owner reviews posted at retail sites such as Amazon, Bed Bath & Beyond, Walmart, Best Buy and elsewhere. The result of our research is a consensus of what experts and users say are the best steam irons for anyone from passionate pressers to reluctant wrinkle wranglers.

Both high-end and basic steam irons perform well

For people who do a lot of ironing – such as quilters and anyone who wants to look freshly pressed every single day – a high-quality steam iron is a worthwhile investment. The Rowenta Steamforce DW9280 (Est. $110) is pricey, but according to professional testers, it's simply the best all-around performer there is. It beats every other iron in tests at Consumer Reports, with top marks for steaming rate, ironing performance, and ease of use. It's also recommended as an "upgrade pick" at Wirecutter, with editor Jackie Reeve saying its powerful heat and steam "beat every wrinkle we threw at it."

Reviews say the Steamforce lives up to its name. Its stainless-steel soleplate has 400 tiny "microsteam" holes to spread a large volume of steam evenly across a garment. The holes are especially concentrated at the tip, allowing for a concentrated blast of steam to flatten tough wrinkles. On top of this, it's equipped with a built-in electronic steam pump designed to force up to 30% more steam into the fabric. Rowenta says it can deliver up to 35 grams per minute of continuous steam, and its steam boost feature puts out a whopping 210 grams in one shot. To keep up with all this steam production, the Steamforce has an extra-large 11.8-ounce water tank with a wide-mouthed filling hole.

This 1,800-watt iron is packed with other features, as well. It has five fabric settings and automatically adjusts both the heat and steam level based on the fabric selected. A three-way automatic shutoff powers the iron down after 8 minutes if it's sitting upright, 30 seconds if it's left flat or tipped over. It includes an anti-drip system to prevent leaking and spitting at low temperatures and an anti-calcification system to clear out mineral deposits. There's also a spray button, vertical steaming, and an LED display that shows when the iron is up to temperature. Only a couple of features on this iron are disappointing: The power cord is only 7 feet long, for instance, and it comes with just a standard 1-year warranty.

We found more than 1,400 reviews for the Rowenta Steamforce at retail sites, including Amazon, Walmart, and Bed Bath and Beyond. Overall, owners are pleased with the iron, but their reviews are less glowing than we would have expected for an iron this pricey. Reviewers are impressed with the Rowenta's quick heating and steaming power, and they say the stainless-steel soleplate glides smoothly over fabric. And though the 3.7-pound iron is heavy, most users find it comfortable to use.

However, owners have a few grips about this iron's design. They say the position of the control dial (right below the handle) makes it easy to bump by accident, and the dark-blue cover on the water tank makes it hard to see the fill line. Also, many users complain that the iron leaks or spits, despite its anti-drip system.

Most troubling of all, this pricey iron appears to suffer from some durability issues. Several owners say their irons stopped heating within a few years, or even a few months, after purchase. Other weak points include the steam button, which stopped working on some irons within a few months, and the cover to the water tank, which often breaks or falls off after just a few uses. Even Reeve encountered this problem with the first Rowenta she used for her test – and while she says Rowenta promptly sent a replacement, other users haven't been so lucky. Owners who sought repairs complain that they had trouble getting through to customer service, and once they did, they were required to pay for the cost of shipping the iron to Utah and wait several weeks for a replacement.

Another strong performer, and a close contender for our Best Reviewed slot, is the Panasonic 360° Quick NI-W950A (Est. $95). At Consumer Reports, this 1,700-watt iron comes in a close second to the Rowenta, matching its steaming and wrinkle-fighting abilities but falling slightly behind on ease of use. And while it doesn't receive as large a volume of feedback from owners as the Rowenta, its overall ratings are at least slightly higher.

The Panasonic has many of the same features found on the pricier Rowenta – and a few it lacks. It has the same five fabric settings, but unlike the Rowenta, it also has adjustable steam so you can control the steam and temperature independently. It also has the same steam burst and spray buttons, vertical steaming, an anti-calcification system, and a 3-way auto shutoff. (It activates in 10 minutes when the iron is propped upright, but in only 1 minute if it's lying flat or tipped over.) Its soleplate is anodized aluminum rather than stainless steel, with steam holes distributed around the entire edge to spread a large volume of steam evenly across a garment. Another nice perk is the extra-long, 10-foot cord.

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 a few 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. We also saw a few durability complaints about this iron, though not as many as for the Rowenta; that said, keep in mind that the Rowenta has a lot more user feedback overall..

For those want good performance but who aren't willing to spend around $100 on an iron, the Black & Decker Allure D3030 (Est. $35) offers solid performance at a much lower price. In tests at Wirecutter, this inexpensive iron produces more powerful steam than some Rowenta models costing more than twice as much. Reeve says it heats quickly, as well, and its stainless-steel soleplate glides smoothly over fabrics. She also likes its lighter, 3.1-pound weight, its comfort-grip handle, and its lengthy 2-year warranty – twice as long as either Rowenta's or Panasonic's.

Despite all these benefits, Wirecutter relegates the Black & Decker Allure to runner up status over reliability issues -- their test unit stopped working after one year. The good news is that Black & Decker stood behind its two-year warranty and exchanged the iron for a new one.

Most users at Amazon and Walmart like this Black & Decker iron, saying it heats fast, produces ample steam, and knocks wrinkles out fast. Although there are some complaints about durability, they're no more common for this cheap iron than for much pricier irons, such as the Rowenta. Actually, users are much more apt to complain that it's difficult to read the control dial or judge the water level on the water tank. Plus, as Reeve found out, the two-year warranty is a good protection against product failure. And even if the iron eventually breaks, at $30, replacing it after a year to two won't hurt as much as having to replace an iron that cost three times (or more) as much.

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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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