Irons buyer's guide
For neat and tidy clothes that will last you longer, ironing is an essential household job.
Picking the right iron can save you time and effort – especially if you have a mountain of clothes to work through – and a good-quality iron should last for many years.
So make sure you pick a suitable model for your needs with our guide to what’s available:
The traditional steam iron hasn’t changed too much over the years; it’s simply got better. A basic steam iron helps to smooth your clothes by using steam to loosen the fibres and straightening them with the pressure from the iron.
Steam generator irons
The sports-editions of the ironing world, with a separate water tank to produce higher volumes of steam. This enables you to power through your ironing in as little as half the usual time, as the steam pressure is so much higher. They are, however, larger than standard steam irons so will require more storage space.
By offering an increased level of steam pressure and a larger pressing area, steam presses help to reduce ironing times by as much as 50 per cent, simply by ironing more fabric at once.
Key features to look out for:
A soleplate could perhaps be described as the ‘face’ of the iron; it is the area that actually comes into contact with the clothing. It's important, therefore, to get the right kind of plate – from the five types available – depending on what you plan to use your iron for.
Aluminium conducts heat well, but is hard to clean and scratches easily. Non-stick options glide across fabric better than aluminium, but are also prone to scratches; palladium demonstrates similar properties. Stainless steel is more hard-wearing, and also glides well. Ceramic glides excellently over clothes, distributes heat well and is very hard-wearing and easy to clean.
This feature is ideal for suits, dresses and other delicate fabrics. Usefully, it also removes creases and wrinkles from your curtains without the need for you to take them down first.
Shot of steam
This is a burst of steam that blasts through a layer of cloth; the amount is measured in grams per minute – ranging from 30g/min on basic irons up to 130g/min for steam generators.
The amount of water the iron can hold, this measurement effectively tells you how often you’ll need to fill up your iron. A basic iron will provide a capacity of around 300ml, going up to 1.5l for steam generators. Some irons enable continuous fill so that they can be topped up without being turned off.
Measured in Watts, this indicates how quickly the iron can heat up water. For standard steam irons, this will range from 1400W up to 2000W, and up to 2400W for steam generators.
The build-up of scale can affect steam generators as well as basic irons. Anti-scale devices prevent this from accumulating, increasing the lifespan of your iron.
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Trade in any old iron or steam generator in store and get up to £10 off a new iron.