To lay claim to the title of the best stainless steel iron required more than quality, comfort and durability. In the article below, we’ll explain which irons we felt outperformed the competition and why.
We made sure that the stainless steel soleplate itself was high quality and designed with efficiency in mind. Furthermore, we tested various cleaning methods on the stainless steel to see how easily it cleans. Here’s the list of factors we compared in each iron:
- “Glide” ability of the Soleplate
- Durability and Resistance to Scratches
- Steam Hole Design
- Steam & Power
1. Rowenta SteamForce – Best Non-Stick Stainless Steel Soleplate
The Rowenta SteamForce 1800 Watt stainless steel steam iron has what we consider to be the absolute best non-stick stainless steel soleplate money can buy. It has 400 steam holes and a perfectly smooth design that glides effortlessly over any fabric. The famed Rowenta precision tip makes it remarkably easy to “get into” tight corners like seams and cuffs, or around shirt buttons. Even though they are quite similar, the Rowenta Steamforce stainless steel soleplate has a slightly more matt finish with a slightly smoother glide than the Rowenta Focus below.
It has also won the title of the Best Iron overall!
At 1800 Watts, it’s much more powerful and has a far superior steam output over other irons and pumps out an incredible amount of steam. Another large difference is the large LED Heat Display on the side of the iron. It makes selecting the right heat setting an absolute breeze.
- Trusted Rowenta build
- Massive 65 grams per min variable (regular) steam output
- LED Heat Setting display
- Highest Power (1800 Watts)
- 400 Steam Holes
- Tapered Solepate
- Pricier than the Focus
2. Rowenta DW7180 Everlast – Great Value
This is an incredible steam iron and loves smoothing out wrinkles. It has all the features of its big brother except the steam is less and there’s no temperature display on the side. It does however have a removable anti-calc filter which ensures a longer lifespan in hard-water areas. You’ll be getting an ultra-reliable, top rated iron with that unbeatable Rowenta craftsmanship and stainless steel soleplate with extra steam holes at a good price.
- Excellent build and value for money
- Removable anti-calc unit!
- Super easy home iron and comfortable to use
- 150 grams per min burst
- No digital temperature display
3. Black & Decker Digital Advantage
This, lighter, cheaper and super comfortable stainless steel iron has something no-one else has… an LCD display on the top of the iron. It shows which temperature setting you’re on and when it reaches the desired temperature.
The stainless steel soleplate has a slightly tapered tip that still gets in where you need it, even though it’s not as “pointy” as the Rowentas. The primary reason for choosing the B&D over a Rowenta would be the price. It comes in quite a bit lower than the Rowenta Focus and much lower than the Rowenta Steam Force. You’ll feel a slight difference in the weight and quality overall, and the soleplate doesn’t have the 400 evenly spread steam holes, but as far as a good budget stainless steel iron, this is a really good choice. Check out the full B&D review.
- Excellent Price & Value for money
- Audible alerts when ready
- LED temperature display
- Large 12 ounce water capacity
- Fair build
- Fair steam production
4. Panasonic NI-WL600
In short, the Panasonic NI-WL600 is a more expensive, cordless, Black & Decker with a multi-directional soleplate and carry case. Despite the massive differences, their performance is practically on par.
It has the same 1500 Watts of power and the stainless steel soleplate has an equally smooth glide. The overall build quality and weight in your hand feels about the same and the steam output is surprisingly similar.
The major differences are that it’s cordless and the soleplate points in both directions. This makes it more versatile “in theory” and easier to use than the Black & Decker. Unfortunately, the cordless technology raises the price significantly and you should only be looking at this option of mobility is a primary consideration for you. Also bear in mind that cordless only means it has no cord… you still have to continually recharge the iron in its base while you iron. Additionally, it has a pretty tiny water capacity. See the detailed Panasonic NI-WL600 Iron review.
- Cordless design
- Multi-directional soleplate
- Small 4 ounce water capacity
5. Rowenta DG8520
Don’t forget about steam generator irons. If you’re looking to iron large loads and want the most steam output without running out of water every 7 minutes, the Rowenta DG8520 is a fantastic stainless steel steam generator iron with a smooth glide and ultra-lightweight design. (Because you’re not moving around the water tank with every ironing stroke, you save a ton of energy and it all feels like much less work. You will have to fork out 3 to 4 times the price of a normal stainless steel iron though. See our in-depth Rowenta DG8520 Perfect Steam review.
- Massive 47 ounce water tank
- Excellent steam output
- Lightweight, stainless steel glide
- Expensive (compared to a normal iron)
Stainless Steel Sole Plate Irons Advice
Why Choose Stainless Steel Sole Plate Irons Over Ceramic
Okay, before we start… let’s be honest, this is just my humble opinion and there is no scientific reasoning supporting my opinion… it’s just my opinion.
I feel that the trend in hi-tech, coated and ceramic soleplates with fancy names like Ultra-Glide, do not actually glide as smoothly as plain ol’ stainless steel. Believe me, I’ve used a LOT of irons. I currently have about 30 in our studio and I swear the stainless steel ones just feel nicer.
Also, because of the fancy ceramic coatings that can damage very easily, you constantly feel like you’re “being careful” when using the iron. The slightest nick or scratch can sometimes damage the coating and it basically impossible to repair. We’ve had iron’s delivered where the ceramic soleplate was already damaged just during delivery.
Cleaning it is an even bigger consideration if you want to protect the delicate coating. Stainless steel on the other hand, cleans like a dream and is very easy to maintain for years.
I know the marketing says otherwise, but I honestly feel that the manufacturers who claim that ceramic is better, are trying to add yet another unnecessary feature to their packaging to try and outsell their competitors, rather than looking at if it actually helps you as a consumer.
In the end, the choice lies with you, but if you’re reading this article, I already know which way you’re leaning. Good luck!