When you want that pressed-from-the-dry-cleaner look, you need a powerful steam iron to get your dresses, shirts and pants crisp and wrinkle-free. Although garment steamers are capable of getting the job done, it is the heat and weight (plus the support provided with your ironing board), that will ensure you get the smooth results you desire.
Ironing is now much easier than it used to be. The best models heat quickly and are equipped with electronic controls that allow them to maintain a safe and precise temperature. This prevents burning and scorching. They steam quickly and easily with large, transparent water tanks that can be removed and retractable cords.
These are the top-rated steam irons according to Good Housekeeping Institute testing:
- The Best Overall Steam Iron
- Best Value Steam Iron: Black + Decker Vitessa Iron
- Conair ExtremeSteam Pro Iron is the fastest steam iron
- Best Cordless Steam Iron – Sunbeam VersaGlide Cordless/Corded Iron
- Amazon’s Most Popular Steam Iron
- Best Travel Steam Iron: Reliable Ovo Portable Steam Iron
- Reliable Velocity Iron: Best Smart Steam Iron
- Rowenta Steam Care Steam Iron is the best steam iron for beginners
- Rowenta Perfect Steam Station is the best steam iron for professionals
- Best Steam Ironing System: Miele FashionMaster Ironing System
- Conair Turbo ExtremeSteam Steam & Iron 2-in-1 is the best handheld steam iron
How to choose an iron
Make sure the iron is the right size. You will be more comfortable ironing if the iron is easy to hold. To ensure it isn’t too heavy, check the steamer and clothing iron weights at the store. A soleplate that’s not too small will allow you to cover more area in one pass. You don’t need to have more holes in your soleplate to get steam. Are you able to do a lot of ironing in a single session? A larger water tank, especially one with a see-through cover, may be a good idea.
Look out for high-performance features. It’s hard to determine the steam output of irons, but we found that irons with the highest performance are typically between 1700 and 1800 watts. A removable water tank is useful for frequent refills. Irons nowadays automatically shut off when they are tipped or knocked. We prefer irons that can turn off quickly when the soleplate is tipped. According to our Lab experts, a retractable cord is better for storage. An iron with bright digital controls is easier to read.
You should choose based on the material you are using and your ironing requirements. You should ensure your iron has a steam burst or spray feature if you iron linen, denim, and heavy cottons. Vertical steam features are great for smoothing out drapes and bed skirts. Steamers can be difficult to achieve crisp creases and well-pressed dresses shirts. Steam ironing stations can be useful for quilters or people who use steam to iron large quantities of clothing.
How to test the best irons
The Good Housekeeping Institute Cleaning Lab had to spend at least 10 hours testing each iron in its most recent evaluation. We tested 15 irons and spent over 150 hours on a hotboard to test them.
We test irons on 14 factors. These include the steam production rate, temperature of the soleplate at different settings, temperature swings at each setting, and the heat of the handle and body. We measure how heavy the irons are and time how long they take to heat up. We evaluate how easy it is to use the sprays and controls, as well as how easy it is to refill the water tank.
Then, we roll up and ball cotton, linen, wool and nylon, and let the creases set for a night. Each swatch is then ironed on the correct setting. We rate each one on a scale from 1 to 5 for smoothness using the Textiles industry standard guides.