Last updated: August 5, 2021

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Just about everyone has one at home: the iron. More and more people are opting for a steam iron. For those who find ironing with a conventional iron too cumbersome and ineffective benefit from the functions of a steam iron. This works with escaping water vapour, which penetrates deep into the clothes and thus smoothes even thick fabrics and stubborn creases.

Steam irons make ironing much easier, save time and are also very effective. If you are looking for a suitable steam iron, then you have come to the right place. We explain everything you need to know about steam irons and introduce you to different models and buying criteria to make it easier for you to choose a steam iron that suits you.




The most important facts in a nutshell

  • Steam irons are operated with steam instead of just heat and therefore have many advantages over other irons. They are gentle on the textiles and the steam can penetrate deeper into them and thus smooth them more thoroughly.
  • When buying a steam iron, you should pay attention to various criteria such as the steam output and the steam shock. The soleplate can be made of different materials and have different properties.
  • In itself, using and cleaning a steam iron is very easy. If you use a steam iron, you should also buy an ironing board specially designed for it. The steam iron should also be decalcified from time to time.

The Best Steam Iron: Our Choices

Buying and evaluation criteria for steam irons

To help you choose the steam iron that is right for you, we have worked out some criteria that you should consider when buying. Based on these points, you can compare the different models and make your choice easier.

In the next paragraphs, we will show you the buying criteria that will help you choose your steam iron.

Steam output

If you are looking for a steam iron, the first thing you should look for is the steam output. Manufacturers usually specify the continuous steam output per minute in watts. If you want to know the steam output of a steam iron, you should take a close look at the wattage.

This also tells you how long the steam iron needs to heat up. It can be said that for people who use the steam iron only occasionally, a steam output of 2000 watts is sufficient. However, if your steam iron is used regularly and often, you should consider a model with more power.

Steam output

A key factor in choosing a steam iron is the amount of steam it emits. This is measured in grams per minute and generally speaking, the more steam produced, the more effective the ironing performance.

So the better the steam output, the better the steam iron can smooth even heavy fabrics.

Good steam irons usually have a value of 30 to 60 grams of steam per minute, although the steam bursts at the touch of a button can have a value two and a half to four times as high. This makes them particularly suitable for smoothing very thick fabrics such as jeans.

Weight

Steam irons usually weigh between one and two kilograms. The following applies: The lighter the steam iron, the easier it is to handle. The amount of water in the steam iron's tank adds to its own weight. A full steam iron that weighs more than two kilograms can quickly cause tired arms and should be avoided.

However, you should also make sure that the steam iron is not too light, because then you have to use more force to smooth the laundry. It is best to choose a medium weight that you can handle well so that ironing does not become an ordeal.

Iron soleplate material

The main work of the steam iron is done by the soleplate, which smoothes the clothes. This oval plate can be made of ceramic, aluminium or stainless steel. A special coating is then applied to the soleplate of the steam iron. Below we have briefly described the advantages and disadvantages of the different materials:

Material Advantages Disadvantages
Aluminium Very inexpensive Poor gliding properties, rough surface
Stainless steel Good gliding properties, scratch-resistant Very difficult
Ceramic Good gliding properties, mostly self-cleaning, light material Susceptible to scratches, expensive

Again, the choice depends on how you use your steam iron and how much you value the quality of the soleplate. For less frequent use of the steam iron, a cheaper aluminium soleplate might be sufficient. If longer durability and higher quality are important to you, you could opt for a stainless steel soleplate.

For an optimal ironing experience, a ceramic soleplate is the best choice. Besides the material, the number of holes in the soleplate also plays an important role. The more holes there are, the more steam can escape and the smoother the laundry can be ironed.

Length of the cable

The length of the cable should also be taken into account when buying a steam iron. Make sure that the cable is long enough so that you can work with it comfortably and have enough freedom of movement. Most cables are around 2 metres long, but steam irons with shorter or longer cables are also available. The length of the cord you choose depends on what is most comfortable for you.

Steam irons also often have a flexo joint that gives you extra freedom of movement. There are also cordless steam irons that are equipped with a rechargeable battery. This is charged by a charging station. However, since steam irons have a comparatively high energy consumption, the battery needs to be charged frequently. So far, experience has shown that cordless models can hardly keep up with steam irons with a cord.

Guide: Frequently asked questions about steam irons answered in detail

In the following, we answer the most important questions about steam irons so that you get a deeper insight and no questions remain unanswered.

Who is a steam iron suitable for?

A steam iron emits steam and therefore has several advantages over a non-steam iron, which only works with heat:

  • Shorter ironing time
  • More effective smoothing
  • Gentler on textiles
  • Easier to use
  • More comfortable and safer
  • Quick readiness for use

The steam protects your laundry from damage caused by excessive heat and thus also helps to preserve its colour and shape. The steam of the steam iron softens the textile fibres and makes them conform better.

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The operation of a steam iron is not complicated. Once you know all the moves, ironing with a steam iron is a snap for anyone.(Image sources: C Technical / Pexels)

However, there is one special feature that should be taken into account: If you use a steam iron, you should definitely get an ironing board suitable for it. The steam would quickly wet the cover of a conventional ironing board, which is why ironing boards for steam irons are equipped with a suction function.

An integrated draught also ensures that the steam can penetrate the fibres better. It turns out that the advantages of a steam iron clearly outweigh the disadvantages. With the right equipment, ironing with a steam iron pays off considerably and is gentle on textiles.

What does a steam iron cost?

Of course, the price of steam irons always depends on the model and the scope of additional functions. The cost of steam irons ranges from the low-price range to the high-price range. The following table provides a brief overview of the price ranges.

Price range Available products
Low-priced Usually fewer functions and weaker performance or older models.
Medium-priced Solid performance and quality, usually already some additional functions
High-priced Many additional functions, high-quality ironing soleplate, very light and classy design

Our ranking shows that high-quality steam irons are also available in the mid-price segment. These irons are convincing in terms of performance and include all standard functions. However, depending on the model, special additional functions can also be found in this price range.

Which price range you ultimately choose always depends on your individual needs. A large family that uses the appliance a lot may choose a different steam iron than someone who lives alone. In addition to price, try to look at the performance of the steam iron, after all, you want it to last a long time and serve its purpose.

How do I use my steam iron?

If you have never used a steam iron before, you may wonder how to use it. Therefore, we have listed the individual steps below in a comprehensible way.

  1. Fill the water tank: In order for steam to be generated, water must first be filled into the tank of the iron. There are many irons that have an anti-scale function and can be filled with tap water. However, if you want to be sure, you should use distilled water.
  2. Setting the steam control: Before you plug the steam iron into the socket, the steam control should be set to zero. Now wait until the indicator light goes out, indicating that the iron is hot enough. Now you can adjust the steam output. When the steam starts to come out, you can start ironing.
  3. Ironing: When all preparations have been made, your steam iron can be used. Simply proceed as you would with a conventional iron. It is important to note that the temperature must be adapted to the textile in question. Iron synthetic fibres at a low temperature, cotton and linen at maximum temperature. Normally, the different textiles and their corresponding temperature are indicated on the steam iron's control dial. If you are not sure, you can refer to the label on the garment.
  4. Use a steam burst: If your laundry has very severe creases, you can use steam shock. You do this by pressing the appropriate button on the steam iron. The pressure generated ejects steam, which penetrates deep into the layers of fabric and smoothes them thoroughly. Remember to refill the water if it has already evaporated completely.
  5. The follow-up: When you have finished your work, you should return the controller to its original position and disconnect the power supply. Afterwards, tip the remaining water out of the tank and clean your appliance if it has any dirt on it.

If you follow these steps, nothing should go wrong when using your steam iron. If you are still not sure how to use your steam iron, read the manufacturer's instructions before use. However, there are not that many different methods of use.

How do I descale and clean my steam iron?

Over time, limescale deposits will appear on the soleplate of your steam iron due to the steam. To prevent these stains from appearing on the laundry, it is advisable to decalcify the steam iron from time to time. Lemon or acetic acid is suitable for this purpose. If possible, keep your hands off chemical descalers, as they could damage the steam iron.

There are also steam irons that have an integrated anti-calcification system and thus prevent limescale deposits through a filter, even if you use water with a high limescale content. If you have a steam iron without this feature, limescale can be avoided by using distilled water.

Lemon juice and vinegar can help descale your iron. (Image source: pixabay / stevepb)

However, if you still want to use descaling agents, you can find them in liquid and powder form in drugstores, for example. The agent is mixed with tap water and added to the tank of the steam iron. Then heat the steam iron and press the steam button until the descaler has spread over the entire soleplate.

After everything has been left to work for an hour, the tank should be rinsed out thoroughly several times. However, if you are already using descaler, make sure it is of good quality. To remove dirt from the pipes of your steam iron, simply heat it up to operating temperature and spray steam out. You can also add a little lemon juice to the tank for better cleaning.

Be sure to rinse thoroughly afterwards if you don't want your clothes to smell of lemon. Soiling of the soleplate by burnt-in fabric residues can also occur. Simply mix water with a little vinegar and clean the soleplate of the steam iron with a cloth. Again, be careful with cleaning agents, as some ceramic soles are very sensitive.

Why does my steam iron drip?

From time to time, the steam iron may leak liquid. Most of the time this is the dirty water. This is annoying and may contaminate the freshly washed laundry. In the following, we have listed possible reasons and solutions for your steam iron leaking liquid:

  • Fabric residues: It could be that fabric residues have accumulated on your steam iron. The steam then forms condensation on the fabric remnants, which then runs down when you operate the iron. To remove the fabric residues from the steam iron, heat it slightly and rub the underside with an eraser. Then let the steam iron cool down and clean the eraser residue from the soleplate.
  • Descale: If the pipes and nozzles of the steam iron are calcified, the liquid may leak out. Therefore, the steam iron should be decalcified and cleaned regularly so that water can no longer collect at the nozzles.
  • Temperature: If the steam iron is permanently used at too low a temperature, no water vapour can form. You can see this when ironing because only water comes out, but no steam. In this case, you should simply set the steam iron to a hotter temperature.
  • Dirty water: If you notice brown water on your clothes when using your steam iron, the water tank could be dirty. A little hot water and a thorough cleaning of the tank will help.

If the dripping does not stop despite all the tips mentioned above, your appliance may be defective. In this case, unfortunately, the only solution is to have it repaired or to buy a new steam iron.

Conclusion

A steam iron has many advantages over a standard iron without steam, as the steam ensures that the laundry can be ironed more gently, effectively and quickly. The hot steam escapes at the touch of a button, thus moistening the textiles and considerably enhancing the smoothing effect. The operation and cleaning of a steam iron are also very simple.

If you want to buy a steam iron, you should pay attention to various purchase criteria. The decisive factors are the amount of steam generated, the steam output of the appliance and the quality of the soleplate. Comfort should not be neglected either, and when choosing a steam iron you should make sure that it is comfortable to use. However, it all depends on what you want your perfect steam iron to be and what needs it has to meet.

Image source: cottonbro / Pexels

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