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Nobody wants to look disheveled or rumpled. A fresh, clean look can level-up anybody’s appearance, even if your clothes are inexpensive. But, ironing takes time.
And if you’re on a budget, you just can’t afford to risk ruining clothes with flat-iron burns, or to purchase multiple irons for clothes of varying delicacy, all of which can leave you in a bit of a bind. Enter steam irons. Steam irons are fantastic little appliances you can use to keep any sort of fabric crisp and wrinkle-free.
This whole process makes steam ironing a much more quickly finished chore than traditional ironing. But which steam iron is right for you? We’ve organized this guide to help you figure out how to answer that, and what factors to take into consideration when meeting your personal steam iron needs.
- Our Recommendations for the Best Steam Irons
- Rowenta 8520 Perfect Steam Pressure Iron/Steamer
- Rowenta DW5080 Focus
- CHI Professional Steam Iron, 1700 Watts with Titanium-Infused Ceramic Soleplate & Over 300 Steam-Holes
- BLACK+DECKER Digital Advantage Professional Steam Iron, LCD Screen, Gray, D2030
- OraCorp Home and House 3 in 1 Spray, Steam and Dry Iron with Teflon Soleplate
- Why You Should Consider a Steam Iron
Our Recommendations for the Best Steam Irons
Essentially, there are three general price ranges when it comes to steam irons: $15-$30, $30-$100, and $100-$400. In general, the $100+ steam irons are overpriced– that is, they don’t offer much additional value for the extra expense.
So, our guide to the best steam iron only includes one $100+ steam iron, which seems to be the only model in that price range that’s a worthwhile investment.
The other steam irons we are going to talk about are in the inexpensive or moderately priced categories: two are under $20, and three are $40-$80. So, without further ado, let’s take a look at the five best steam irons, reviewed below from most expensive to most affordable.
Rowenta 8520 Perfect Steam Pressure Iron/Steamer
The Rowenta DG8520 Perfect Steam weighs a little over twelve pounds, and its dimensions are 17.5 x 11 x 13.6 inches. The main selling point of this model is its large water tank and its efficient pumping system. It can be used over the course of two hours, and potentially longer, without requiring a break to reheat water as it gets pumped from the boiler, nor breaks to refill the tank.
- 1800 watts of power
- 120 gallons/minute steam pressure
- 400 holes for steam
- 12 lbs
When you do need to refill the tank, safety features allow you to add more water without risking burns, even if the iron hasn’t had time to cool. The efficiency of the pump makes it one of the most eco-friendly models on the market, and compared to other similar steam irons, the Rowenta Perfect Steam Pressure Iron / Steamer is quiet when it pumps; the DG8520 model has very few reported pump malfunctions.
This model of steam iron is also phenomenally easy to clean. See, a big problem with steam irons is, if you don’t clean them regularly, mineral residue from the water will build up, tarnishing the machine. If you want your iron to last a long time, taking care of it by cleaning it regularly is vital. But, with other models, cleaning out the tank can be a hassle.
Fortunately, a big plus for people who use the Rowenta Perfect Steam Pressure Iron / Steamer is the removable water tank and front plate. It’s easy to disassemble to clean, which makes maintenance a breeze. Then, re-assembly for the next time you want to use it is just as straightforward.
Speaking of ease versus hassle, we’d like to bring you back to the highlight of the large water tank. The Rowenta DG8520 Perfect Steam makes the shortlist for best steam irons because it is the best model designed to iron a lot of clothes and sheets at once.
The flat steam option (the type of ironing typically done against an ironing board) uses a broad enough soleplate (the plate on the bottom of the iron with the holes in it) that you can steam a large swath of fabric relatively quickly. There is also a vertical steam option, which uses an attachment to steam hanging clothes, so many clothes can be ironed at the same time.
- Easy to clean and refill
- Good for large quantities of clothes
- Quiet pump
- Very Heavy
- Exceptional 5 bars of pressure ideal for removing wrinkles from hanging garments or drapes and or...
- Micro steam 400 Stainless Steel Soleplate. Power cord length : 1.9 meter
- Constant High Powered Steam - available at the touch of a trigger, the powerful steam makes ironing...
Rowenta DW5080 Focus
The Rowenta DW5080 is small and lightweight, clocking in at a mere 3 1/2 lbs. and 11 x 5 x 6 inches. The Focus is one of the most highly rated steam irons on the market, handily beating out several other, pricier brands.
- 1700 watts of power
- 100 gallons/minute steam pressure
- 400 holes for steam
- 3.4 lbs
What’s great about the Rowenta Focus is the micro steam technology. In essence, the Focus’ soleplate– remember, that’s the flat bottom of the iron that touches the clothes– is stainless steel and has 400 small holes to release steam, as opposed to the more typical iron designs which have fewer, larger holes.
The plethora of small holes means that steam is dispersed more thoroughly and evenly across the fabric, thus requiring less pushing from you, the user, while ironing. At the same time, the smoothness of the stainless steel reduces friction between the iron and the fabric.
This physical ease makes the Rowenta Focus stand out from the pack.
Having a stainless steel soleplate makes the product simple to clean and rust resistant. And, speaking of cleaning, the Rowenta Focus has a built-in self-cleaning system which routinely collects calcium and mineral buildup in the boiler, making flushing away the deposits a breeze.
This means you don’t have to waste time fussing with manual cleaning just to maintain your appliance. It also means it’s compatible with all types of water, including tap water and well water.
But, what about the more challenging aspects of ironing? After all, the chore isn’t just flattening sheets and cleaning the tank. Well, it turns out the Rowenta Focus has got you covered there too.
This steam iron has an odd, bud-shaped tip designed to improve precision ironing– for example, when you need to navigate between buttons or different varieties of fabric on the same cloth.
The tip lets you drive the iron like a wedge between disparate parts of fabric in a single fluid movement, rather than making you stop and try to flatten the fabric with your free hand. And, if a wrinkle is particularly set and challenging, a single button releases a powerful gust of steam to tame it.
Finally, the Rowenta DW5080 makes the grade because it is highly customizable. There are three auto-off safety settings: auto-off after 30 seconds of disuse when left sitting horizontally, auto-off after 8 minutes when left sitting vertically, and auto-off after 30 seconds when it’s tipped onto its side.
Auto-off can be turned off entirely if you’re working on a project where you’re going to be sewing and pressing simultaneously and constantly turning the iron back on would be stressful. Other customizable features include low-heat settings for wool, silk, and nylon, and a powerful vertical steam setting.
- Self Cleaning
- Customizable settings
- Easy Movement
- Stainless-steel soleplate with precision tip- Easy gliding across different garments, smoothing...
- 400 Plus Steam holes with 35 g/min of steam – provide excellent steam distribution
- Easy control thermostat knob – Easily select the ideal steam output based on fabric
CHI Professional Steam Iron, 1700 Watts with Titanium-Infused Ceramic Soleplate & Over 300 Steam-Holes
The standard CHI Professional Steam Iron is made by the same company that makes the Chi Professional hairstyling products; who knew they expanded into the laundry appliance market? But it makes sense– their cool hairstyling irons and curlers (both cool as in “low heat” as well as “trendy”) have demonstrated the company’s prowess in making safe, easy-to-use products for all the diverse, beautiful textures of hair people want to rock.
Why not apply that same technology to our clothes?
- 1700 watts of power
- N/A gallons/minute steam pressure
- 300 holes for steam
- 2.9 lbs
Their standard steam iron is a steal at typical prices. While it doesn’t have quite so many holes as the Rowenta Focus– the CHI Professional Steam Iron has 300 holes, compared to the Focus’ 400– it makes up for it with a soleplate created out of their patented titanium and ceramic alloy.
This technology makes the glide incredibly smooth, while at the same time keeping the product durable.
As with their hair products, CHI designed their steam iron with comfort in mind. The handle grip is well suited to different sizes of hands, and the material makes it easy to hold. A lever on the handle lets you adjust the level of heat and steam as you go, letting you make adjustments as they become useful.
Another feature that promotes comfort is the 10 ft. retractable cord.
It’s a decent length, long enough to set up a bit away from an outlet and still have room to move the iron, without being so long that you’re tripping over extra cord loops.
Similarly to the Rowenta Focus, the CHI Professional Steam Iron has auto shut-off features, for safety. However, they’re not customizable. The iron will shut off after 60 seconds when laid down on its side, and it will shut off after 30 minutes if it’s left standing vertically.
Now, the biggest drawback of this iron is that it does seem to be a bit of a hassle to clean. Many customers advise using distilled water most or all of the time, since clearing off any calcium or mineral buildup can be frustrating.
Another drawback of this model is the frequency with which you need to refill the water. While any steam iron would need to be refilled more often the more you use the steam function, it seems as though this model doesn’t use the water completely efficiently, and thus runs through a tank faster than other brands.
- Easy to use
- Very durable
- Difficult to clean
- Uses water rapidly
- Made With Chi Flat IRON Technology. Designed Using the Same Titanium-Infused Ceramic Soleplate...
- Powerful Steam for Effortless Ironing. With Over 300 Steam Holes, This IRON Delivers Powerful Steam...
- Fabric Guide. Choose Your Fabric Type and the IRON Sets the Temperature Accordingly, Eliminating the...
BLACK+DECKER Digital Advantage Professional Steam Iron, LCD Screen, Gray, D2030
Nothing tells you that you’re in the 21st century better than a steam iron with a digital LCD screen. Back in the day, LCD screens were just for giant televisions; now they’re on mid-range steam irons? This is the future.
- 1500 watts of power
- N/A gallons/minute steam pressure
- 67 holes for steam
- 3.5 lbs
And, actually, the LCD screen on the BLACK+DECKER Professional Steam Iron is pretty nifty. It’s a pretty clear picture, and it tells you what fabric setting you’ve selected, what the iron’s current temperature is, and it flashes “READY” when it’s all heated up and ready to go.
It’s got six heat settings to choose from (three dry and three wet), vertical steaming options, “mist” versus “blast” steam modes to tackle difficult wrinkles, and a stainless steel soleplate.
While it isn’t self-cleaning, the stainless steel soleplate is rust resistant and makes cleaning easy. And, in case you’re unobservant, the display helpfully reminds you when the iron needs a good cleaning. It’s also lightweight, measuring a slight 11 x 4.6 x 5.6 inches and only weighing about 3 lbs.
There are downsides, of course. It’s really only got a few holes, about 29, and they aren’t scattered across the whole soleplate; instead, they mark the edges of the base. That means you might need to go over a piece of fabric a few times to make sure it gets thoroughly steamed.
The BLACK+DECKER Professional Steam Iron also doesn’t have a long or retractable cord (it’s only 7 ft.), which can make ironing a large piece awkward. It holds 10 oz. of water, which might not be enough depending on the volume of fabrics you want to iron, although it might be plenty, in which case the small tank lets the appliance stay lightweight.
- LCD screen
- Vertical steam/mist options
- Stainless steel soleplate
- Not many steam holes
- Short cord
- High Steam Rate - Blast away wrinkles efficiently with customizable digital settings that deliver...
- Digital Temperature Control - The clear-view LCD screen makes it easy to customize fabric and steam...
- Variable Temperature and Steam Controls - Independent steam and temperature controls give you the...
OraCorp Home and House 3 in 1 Spray, Steam and Dry Iron with Teflon Soleplate
The Home and House 3 in 1 Spray, Steam and Dry Iron comes in a fiery red and a sleek black, making this one of the most stylish steam irons on the market today. This guy ranks as one of our Best Steam Irons because it kicks ass for less cash.
- 1200 watts of power
- N/A gallons/minute steam pressure
- N/A holes for steam
- 2.5 lbs
It’s 2 1/2 lbs., 12.4 x 6.1 x 5.1 inches, meaning it’s pretty easy to transport. It’s Teflon plated, so there’s practically no risk that the iron will stick to fabric when gliding and either accidentally burn it or, in the case of polyester, melt it.
The Teflon also works as a self-cleaning mechanism, as calcium and other minerals don’t stick to it, and thus don’t build up and clog the steam pores.
The OraCorp Home and House 3 in 1 Spray, Steam and Dry Iron ranks high when it comes to durability. It has a manually adjustable thermostat so you can vary the heat level to suit your needs, and as the product name suggests, it can iron dry, with light steam, or with a spray suitable for vertical ironing.
At the same time, safety features, including auto-shut-off, ensure that the iron can’t overheat by accident. There are five preset temperatures, and an indicator light lets you know when you reached your selected preset temperature.
The grip is comfortable for most customers, and while the aesthetic is suitably manly (for all you lumberjacks out there who want your flannel crisp) the lightweight nature of the product makes it easy to use for less muscular laundresses as well.
There are relatively few downsides to the Home and House 3 in 1 Spray, Steam and Dry Iron. One is the color of the water tank. It’s not opaque, but the plastic is translucent rather than transparent, which can make it a touch hard to see when the water levels are getting low.
The other is the fact that the water tank is not detachable. Now, not everyone wants a detachable tank, but if that’s an important component for you, it’s a good thing to keep in mind.
- Teflon soleplate
- Relatively durable
Why You Should Consider a Steam Iron
Steam irons boil and disperse water at different temperatures and pressure settings so that they can be readily adjusted for different kinds of fabrics. After being heated, the water vaporizes when it pours through the holes in the surface plate, also called the soleplate, relaxing the threads and minimizing the potential risk of damage when compared to a flat iron.
There are three key reasons to get a steam iron: you’ll save time, you’ll save money, and most importantly, you’ll stay safe.
In an informative how-to article over at WikiHow, professional cleaners recommend a steam iron, explaining that steam ironing can relax and de-wrinkle fabrics in half the time it takes to use a flat iron.
After the water heats up, which should only take 2-3 minutes, the steam iron never needs to be turned off to rest or cool during an ironing session. A shirt may well take 2 minutes to iron and 5 minutes to dry, whereas traditional ironing may take up to 15 minutes per shirt.
The time it takes to clean your iron impacts your overall time constraints. Some steam irons are self-cleaning, or they’re made of stick-resistant materials like Teflon or rust-resistant materials like stainless steel, which make maintaining your iron easier.
Additionally, steam irons with vertical capabilities don’t require you to set up an ironing board: you can iron clothes as they hang, as well as iron drapes and upholstery. With these kinds of devices, you save even more time.
The cost of steam irons ranges from very affordable (less than $20) to pricier and more durable models. At the same time, using a steam iron protects clothes from the kind of damage that can come from misusing persnickety flat irons.
Steam irons are less likely to overheat and burn fabrics, and the fabric guidelines on the appliances are clear, which means accidental damage to delicate clothing is unlikely. So, your savings are twofold: save money by purchasing an inexpensive product, and save money by keeping clothes well maintained for longer periods of time.
Anytime you work with heat, you run the risk of getting burned; it’s just as important to follow the safety guidelines that comes with your iron as it is to follow kitchen safety rules when cooking, or to wear protective gloves when soldering electronics.
Having said that, when correctly used, steam irons are much safer than traditional flat irons. Mechanisms like an automatic shut-off mechanism when an iron has stopped moving, and a wise placement of valves to prevent steam from rushing upward and burning someone’s skin, make burns a much rarer occurrence with contemporary steam irons than they are with flat irons.
Keep an eye on the water levels, and make sure to refill the water tank only when the iron is cool. If you do, you should be fine. Overall, using a steam iron is a very safe experience.
Steam irons might include features like a design that helps with precise movement among diverse fabrics in a single garment, or a long cord that enables easy set up further from a wall with an outlet.
Features related to making refills infrequent, enabling eco-friendly electricity and water use, and providing clear, user-friendly preset temperatures are all important to different kinds of people. These features are rarely present with typical flat irons. Keep an eye out for the features that appeal to you.
There’s certainly a lot to consider when purchasing a steam iron. Figuring out what features to prioritize is entirely up to you; you know your space, your values, and your style better than we ever could. Hopefully this guide has given you somewhere to start when it comes to getting a steam iron that suits your needs and gets all those wrinkles out of your life.