At Ironing Lab we dedicate ourselves to helping you make ironing easier, faster and more fun with the best advice, tips and gear reviews. We buy and test the very best steam irons on the market to help you make the best choice.
We test our top-rated irons for everything, including power, steam output, build quality, comfort, ease of operation and even leaking…. all this while keeping value for money and affordability in mind.
Best Steam Iron for Clothing and Home Use 2020
The best steam iron for clothes needs to be powerful and easy to operate with high steam output, quality design and much more! We’ll cover everything in the article below.
But if you’re not in the mood to read and just want the results, then, without a doubt…
Our absolute winner is the Rowenta Steamforce DW9280
It has incredible steam output and heats up in seconds with very high-quality design and comfortable feel in your hand. If you want an excellent iron that can do everything you need with minimal effort, this is the perfect choice!
Need more options? We’ve tested some noteworthy competitors too… Here are our most popular, top-rated clothing irons.
1. Rowenta Steamforce DW9280 – Best Choice
Although the Rowenta Steam Force is 9280 is pricey, it’s one of the most impressive irons I’ve ever used. It has incredible steam output thanks to the built-in steam generator and the anti-drip stainless steel soleplate has a “precision tip” design which helps you iron tight corners. The large electronic heat setting display on the side makes it incredibly simple to monitor the temperature and therefore, the easiest iron to use. A smart motion sensor turns off the steam when the iron stops moving which saves electricity and cuts down on refills. Overall, it’s the best quality iron with the highest power and most comfortable feel. Full Review
- 65 grams per min variable (regular) steam output
- 210 grams per min burst
- Combined steam and temperature dial
- Steam saving motion sensor
- LED temperature display
- Large 12-ounce water tank
- High 1800 watts, so it heats up in seconds
- Best high-pressure steam iron
- A little pricier
2. Rowenta Focus DW5080 – Great Value
This is an incredible steam iron. It has all the features of its big brother except the steam output is less and there’s no temperature display on the side. However, you’ll be getting an ultra-reliable iron with that unbeatable Rowenta craftsmanship at a good price. Full Review
- Excellent build and value for money
- Super easy home iron and comfortable to use
- 35 grams per min variable steam output
- 100 grams per min burst
- No digital temperature display
3. Black & Decker – Good Budget Option with Digital Display
This is a fantastic price for a budget clothes iron that includes an LCD display, audible ready alert and performs well for such a competitively priced laundry iron. It doesn’t have that top-notch feel that you get from the Rowenta’s, but if budget’s a concern, this is the best of the cheaper irons we’ve tested. Full Review
- Good budget option for home use
- Audible alerts when ready
- LED temperature display
- Large 12 ounce water capacity
- Fair build
- Fair steam production
4. T-fal Ultraglide with Ceramic Soleplate
I didn’t love the ceramic soleplate, it claims to make ironing “faster” but we didn’t feel the difference. The 12 foot power cord could be helpful to some compared to the average 8 feet of the others in this review. Full Review
- Fair build and value for money
- 35 grams per min variable steam output
- 100 grams per min burst
- No Digital Temperature display
5. Sunbeam Steammaster with Retractable Cord
The Sunbeam Steam Master lightweight and has a retractable cord which I thought would be cool, but it feels weak and low quality when you work with it so it doesn’t get my vote. My recommendation would be to spend a little more and to get better value for your money. Full Review
- Retractable cord
- No digital temperature display
- Poor build quality
6. Oliso Pro Smart Steam Iron
If you love gadgets and feel like spending on something unique, this iron has two smart features that are new to the ironing game. Scorch guards, and an iTouch handle that lifts the soleplate from the ironing surface. This helps avoid burns and reducing the number of times you even have to lift your iron. Full Review
- Scorch guards preventing accidental burns
- Expensive for what you get
- Scorch guards take getting used to, some people end up deactivate the feature
7. Rowenta First Class
The Rowenta First Class offers high performance for such a compact appliance. This is ideal for students, young bachelors who don’t do much ironing. If you travel, it’s also the perfect size to simply throw in your travel bag, plus its dual voltage capabilities mean you can use it anywhere in the world. Full Review
- Perfect for people who only iron occasionally
- Dual-voltage capabilities for travel
- Compact, flat-folding handle & storage pouch
- Vertical steaming capabilities
- Small water capacity
- Ideal for ironing only a few items at a time
8. Panasonic Multi-Directional Cordless Iron with Carry-case
This is a good fit for quilting and sewing classes as well as home use. I love the convenience of a carry case and a cordless iron… it’s a welcome convenience. The tapered front and back of the soleplate may take some getting used to as does resting the iron on its base instead of its heel. Full Review
- Cordless freedom and convenience
- Multi-directional ironing
- Portable for classes, sewing retreats, and even mobile homes & camping
- Heat resistant carry case means you can pack it away even when hot
- Double-sided detailing soleplate
- Small 4 ounce water capacity
Full Review Video
Every year, we round up the most popular irons and run them through some real-world tests. Check out the video for an in-depth look at the results.
Check Out Our Other Reviews
Not every iron works perfectly in each situation. What about Quilting, Travel or Commercial Use? That’s why we spend hours on each iron, testing it for different uses. Check out our articles below for the top performers in each category.
- Best Iron for Quilting and Sewing
- Best Mini Travel Iron
- Best Steam Generator Iron
- Best Rowenta Steam Iron
- Best Cheap Iron Under $50
- Best Heavy Duty Industrial Iron
- Best Cordless Steam Iron
- Best Stainless Steel Iron
- Best Ironing Boards
Best Iron to Buy for Clothing – What to Consider
With 5 top sellers to test, how did we choose, and what makes one steam iron better than the next? All steam irons are the same, right?
Well not exactly, and this is where we can all do with a little guidance when handpicking the one that works best for your specific needs.
Although we rated the Rowenta Steamforce DW9280 as our number one favorite professional steam iron, we were also impressed with the Rowenta Focus DW5080 and the BLACK+DECKER Digital Advantage. Here’s an overview of our findings in the following categories.
First, let’s look at how they compare on paper. Here are the specs.
|Product||Rowenta Steamforce||Rowenta Focus||Black+Decker||T-fal Ultraglide||Sunbean Steammaster|
|Model||DW 9280||DW5080||D2530||FV4495||Series 2|
|Key Feature||Highest Steam & Quality||High Quality||Digital Display||Ceramic Soleplate||Retractable Cord|
|Weight||3.85 lb||3.4 lb||3.9 lb||3 lb||2.9 lb|
|Variable Steam||65g/min||35g/min||25g/min – TBC||35g/min||21g/min – TBC|
|Steam Burst||210g/min||100g/min||Not confirmed||100g/min||Not confirmed|
|Soleplate||Stainless Steel||Stainless Steel||Stainless Steel||Ceramic Coated||Stainless Steel|
|Water Volume||12 Ounces||10 Ounces||12 Ounces||9 Ounces||8 Ounces|
|Auto Shut-off||8 minutes||8 minutes||10 minutes||8 minutes||15 minutes|
|Time to Hot||0.45 seconds||1.40 minutes||1.16 minutes||1.19 minutes||2 minutes plus|
|Power||1800 watts||1700 watts||1500 watts||1725 watts||1400 watts|
|Cord Length||8 feet||8 feet||8 feet||12 feet||8 feet|
|Warranty||1 Year||1 Year||2 Years||TBC||3 Years|
Steam Output of the Best Ironing Machines
The most important factor when it comes to choosing an iron is the amount of steam output. There are two types of steam, variable steam which is the normal steam the iron creates while ironing and the steam burst, which is designed to blast away wrinkles in stubborn fabrics.
The average variable steam is around 35 grams per minute and the average steam burst measures at about 100 grams per minute. The Rowenta Steamforce’s professional steam burst produces double that, making it without a doubt the superior wrinkle removing iron. It is the only iron in our selection that has an automatic built-in steam generator that produces this strength of pressurized steam.
The Rowenta Steamforce is the best high-pressure steam iron on the list. The higher the amount of steam output, the faster you’ll get through your ironing load and that makes investing in the best ironing machine a huge time saver.
Note that there are very different temperature settings for ironing fabrics like polyester or wool, than for cotton or linen. Having to struggle with ironing temperature adjustments can be a pain in the neck.
You’ll want to be sure that your iron has easy-to-use temperature adjustment. A clear dial accompanied by a large, easy-to-read display, like on the Rowenta Steamforce, is best… and this is one of the reasons it’s our best rated iron in this best steam iron review.
|Linen||445 °F (230 °C)|
|Cotton||400 °F (204 °C)|
|Viscose||370 °F (190 °C)|
|Polyester||300 °F (148 °C)|
|Wool||300 °F (148 °C)|
|Silk||300 °F (148 °C)|
|Acrylic||275 °F (135 °C)|
|Lycra||275 °F (135 °C)|
Best Clothes Iron on a Budget
The Sunbeam is the most affordable, yet it lacks terribly when it comes to power and design.
The BLACK+DECKER may cost a few dollars more but it is the best of the budget irons. If cost is a factor and the Rowentas are priced outside what you’re willing to spend, then the BLACK+DECKER is our recommendation. It’s a durable choice that will last, as well as be a pleasure to work with its collection of features.
We have included a travel iron to the list for those of you with less traditional ironing needs. If you only iron the occasional item or need something compact for travel, then the Rowenta First class will be a good fit. It’s about the same price as the budget irons, only a lot smaller and with dual voltage capabilities for traveling abroad.
Type of Soleplate: Stainless Steel or Ceramic Coated
Stainless steel is so much less maintenance and easier to clean. A non-cratch stainless steel soleplate offers excellent glide that is hard to top, however. T-fal claims to have the fastest iron because of its ceramic-coated soleplate, but when testing the two head to head, we didn’t feel it made much… if any difference.
I’ve had experience in the past where coated soleplates aged and were particularly hard to clean. Some easily damage after cleaning and lose that smooth ironing glide.
Stainless steel allows you to glide smoothly over the surface of your clothing without snagging and prevents damage to the fabric.
Top Rated Iron Soleplate – Size, Shape, and Holes
Larger coverage means you get more ironing done in a single stroke. This is also ideal for larger items like bedsheets and pillowcases. A small surface area on your ironing plate will mean significantly more work. All irons tested have a conveniently large soleplate surface area.
The tip of the soleplate should narrow to a point to make ironing collars, pleats, and spaces between buttons effortless. The narrowed front tip makes it much easier to handle precision work like sewing and quilting. The Rowenta irons both have the signature soleplate with the tapered tip that we love so much.
The 400 steam holes on the bottom of the Rowentas also creates an even distribution of steam through the holes and into the fabric.
Leakproof Irons with Anti-Drip Design
Not only have we tested the irons ourselves, but we’ve researched online to see which irons are prone to leaking and get poor reviews so you don’t have to battle with a poor quality iron down the line.
All our irons have been tested for leaking and spitting while ironing. An iron that spills water can be a massive irritation because depending on the fabric you’re working on, even when the spill dries, some watermarks can look like stains.
The Rowentas outperformed the competition with their anti-drip, design and easy pouring.
Required Water Type and De-Scaling Options
Most modern irons use tap water which is super convenient because it’s easy to come by. However, some areas have hard water which is when the mineral content in the water is high and this can cause a buildup of these particles in your flat iron for clothes (or iron box, as they are also known in some parts of the world). A de-calc system allows you to rid the appliance of the “limescale” buildup and this ensures it continues to work as it should.
In hard water areas, it is advisable to dilute your water with 50% distilled water. Click here to learn more about what water to use.
Best Rated Steam Iron for Comfort and Ease of Use
We tested our above selection for comfort and ease of use while ironing. For the average-sized hand, the grips felt natural and allow easy access to the buttons and dials. Adjusting the settings on dials or pushing buttons was especially easy on the Rowentas which have a very solid build quality, but on the cheaper budget irons, you can pick up that dials can feel a bit lose.
LED Panels are a great way to check your heat settings at a quick glance when working on different fabrics. This is a great feature to help avoid accidentally scorching clothing.
The iron should also safely and comfortably rest on its heel to make placing the iron down a natural movement and avoid accidents.
Weight of the Iron
You want an iron that’s not too light, so you don’t need to apply down-pressure and also, not too heavy so your arm doesn’t get tired moving it around.
All the irons weigh between 2.9 and 3.9 pounds (without water), we categorize these as medium weight. This is the ideal weight for gliding effortlessly across the surface of your fabric while allowing the natural downforce to help smooth out creases.
Electric Iron Power Cord Length
All models, except the Sunbeam Steammaster and the T-fal, have a multi-directional cord swivel, which makes them perfect for both left and right-handed people. Additionally, this ball bearing cable connection lets you move smoothly without having to reposition yourself, and your ironing board, around a frustrating cable.
The T-fal has a 12-foot line, which is helpful if the area where you’re ironing requires a longer one. All the other irons have 8-foot cords which we feel is more than adequate.
The Sunbeam’s retractable cord uncoils on the right so it makes it challenging for left-handed users. I’m dubious as to how long it will work as the overall quality of the Sunbeam is pretty low.
All iron models in our selection can be stored flat (once cooled) or stand comfortably on their heel.
The Sunbeam Steam Master has an automatic, retractable power cable that coils away out of sight. Above the obvious convenience of this feature, it also avoids kinks so the 8-foot connection is perfect at the start of every ironing session. However… after testing our new, out-the-box Sunbeam Steam Master, the cord did not recoil fully after the 3rd use. With a little tugging and gentle feeding into the casing, we finally got it in, but this left me thinking it’s less of a benefit and more of a novelty.
The poor quality outweighs this novelty so rather invest your money in a better made and better-performing iron.
Visual Indicators on a Reliable Iron
The Rowenta Steamforce DW9280 has a large LED display on the side which lets you know exactly which material your iron’s temperature is set for.
At a glance, you can confirm you’re on the correct heat setting. When changing between temperatures, the displays make it effortless to check when the iron is ready.
The BLACK+DECKER has an LCD Screen which also shows the material-temperature but it’s a little harder to read since it’s been abbreviated on the LCD display.
All the other irons rely on a primitive single light system that either flashes when it’s adjusting to the right temperature or shows a solid light when it’s ready.
Large Water Capacity for Maximum Steam
It’s the Rowenta Steammaster and the BLACK+DECKER who have an impressive 12-ounce water tank capacity. This is great if you’re planning to do lots of steaming without taking too many breaks to top-up the tank.
The Rowenta DW 5080 Focus is a close second, holding 10 ounces, which is more than adequate for the average home. That, along with its superior professional steam distributing, 400 hole soleplate, and beautiful German craftsmanship makes it the more affordable investment when compared to the Steamforce.
High Wattage for Improved Speed and Power
The higher the wattage of your electric iron, the quicker it will heat up so you can start tackling that laundry pile. Should the automatic shut-off power the iron down after a few minutes, interrupting your session, a more powerful iron will heat right back up in seconds.
The automatic steam output will also be improved on the more powerful machines.
Variable Heat and Steam Settings
A quality iron will allow you to adjust the heat and steam to suit the fabric you are ironing. You should also have the option of steam and/or dry ironing. All the irons above include this feature.
Steam ironing is faster at removing creases compared to dry ironing, but it can also change the shape of some delicate fabric fibers. Additionally, steam can cause newly dyed items to bleed or fade and crafters require dry heat pressing for iron-on transfers and patches. This is where dry ironing is preferable. (Always refer to your garments clothing label to ensure you’re treating it with the correct temperature.)
Although not designed specifically for vertical steaming, the above selection can all be used to steam hanging garments and drapes without leaking.
Auto Shut-Off and Safety Systems
Electric irons can be a fire hazard if left on accidentally. All the above irons have an auto shut-off of between 8 and 15 minutes if the iron is left inactive.
If the iron falls on its side or is left face down, it will switch off after 30 seconds. All the irons, except for the Black+Decker and the Rowenta First Class mini iron include this feature.
Most warranties are limited to manufacturer defects and this is usually something you’ll pick up in the first few times using the product.
The T-Fal includes a limited, lifetime warranty on its ceramic soleplate only. The Sunbeam’s 3-year warranty is also substantial, being that we are used to the standard 1-year backup.
Rowenta seems to have the best warranty in relation to product quality and customer support.
If you iron regularly or professionally and experience breakdowns that need repairs and replacements every few months, a warranty might save you on parts and replacements.
Vertical Steaming with a Laundry Iron
Most flat iron or steam ironing machines for clothing include vertical steaming as a feature, however, the performance is fair at most. For professional vertical steaming, you may want to invest in an appliance specifically designed for the task. That said, all the irons can be used for vertical steaming if your curtains or drapes need a little refreshing.
How We Test the Best Machine for Ironing?
We personally test and review each and every iron in detail. If you’d like to know more about each product in the above lineup, click on the link next to the image. We cover all the features of each of the models, as well as the pros and cons of the home and professional steam irons we review.
We welcome any updates and feedback from our followers.
In Conclusion, What is Best Steam Iron for Clothes?
More than the brand and cost of the appliance, it’s about how effectively it works. Most agree that ironing is a grudging chore, but being that neatly pressed clothes are essential to looking groomed and creating a good impression, it simply needs to get done.
If you’re asking us what iron should you buy? Without a doubt, the undisputed best seller and the overall winner is the Rowenta Steamforce DW9280.
Steam output, quality, comfort, and ease of use are all first class. It’s a powerful ironing machine that stands out way above the rest. It was the top performer in all areas. Yes, it comes with a slightly higher price tag, but you are getting so much more iron for your money and this translates into way less time spent ironing.
If budget is a concern, the Rowenta DW5080 Focus is a close second. It may not have the temperature display on the side or the same steam output, but it has everything else that the Rowenta Steamforce has, only at a more affordable price.
Where to buy an iron, you ask? These are without a doubt some of the best steam irons in the world and they are all available online through Amazon and can be delivered right to your front door.