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.
In a separate article, we discuss in detail which is the better soleplate and whether you should be choosing a stainless steel or a ceramic soleplate for your iron.
How We Chose Our Winner
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
We Test Everything
Many websites claim to have tested their irons without having ever touched them. We put our irons through rigorous testing and have used them extensively checking for comfort, performance, leaking and much more. Let’s dive right in and see our winners!
1. Rowenta Focus – Best Non Stick Stainless Steel Soleplate
The Rowenta Focus 1700 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. See the detailed Rowenta Focus review.
It may not be as powerful or have the same steam output as the Rowenta Steam Force below, but it performs extremely well in every situation we’ve tested. If you absolutely need more steam and power, check out the next entry below.
- Superior Rowenta quality
- Good value for money
- 400 Steam Holes
- Tapered Soleplate
- 35 grams per min steam output
- No digital temperature display
2. Rowenta Steam Force
Even though this Rowenta Stainless Steel Iron won our title of best iron overall, we believe that the soleplate on the Rowenta Focus is slightly better. Believe it or not, there is actually a slight difference.
Both have a stainless steel soleplate but the Steam Force has a slightly “dulled” or “matt” finish over the soleplate which makes it ever so slightly harder to clean than the Focus. That being said, at 1800 Watts, it’s much more powerful and has a far superior steam output over the Rowenta Focus. 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. Bear in mind that it’s also quite a bit more expensive than the Focus. Check out the detailed Rowenta Steam Force review.
- 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
3. Oliso Pro
The Oliso has an automatic “Scorch Guard” feature which raises it up off the ironing board when your hand isn’t on the handle. This protects garments from accidentally burning. It’s actually quite useful once you get used to it, but I’m not sure that this feature alone justifies the higher price tag.
As far as the soleplate goes, it’s great… it matched the Rowenta Focus in terms of glide and ease of cleaning but, due to the smart scorch guard technology, it is much more expensive and I was forced to place it 3rd on our list.
If you’re still considering the Oliso despite the price, you won’t be disappointed. With 1800 Watts of power, the Oliso has the same winning power output as the Rowenta Steam Force and is a real dream to use. It also has the largest water tank at 12.7 ounces. See the full Oliso Iron review.
- Automatic Scorch guards prevent accidental burns
- Smooth Glide
- Easy to Clean
- Highest Power (1800 Watts)
- Largest Water Tank
4. 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 also beeps 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 D2530 review.
- Excellent Price & Value for money
- Audible alerts when ready
- LED temperature display
- Large 12 ounce water capacity
- Fair build
- Fair steam production
5. 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
6. 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!