Updated September 2023!
It is our goal to make ironing easier, faster and more fun. That’s why we tested the following irons for well over 100 hours and we have our winners! Our criteria is based in the most important facters that actually matter when ironing.
What Makes a Great Steam Iron?
Ironing itself is tedious enough to not have to read through tons of specifications and features when choosing to buy one. So, let’s break it down into its simplest parts:
- Power (measured in watts) speeds up the time it takes to get hot and ready for ironing.
- Steam is what removes wrinkles to steam output plays a huge role in cutting down ironing time.
- Good design ergonomics makes the task more comfortable.
- Larger water tanks reduce the need to refill but also add weight when full.
- Buying quality often ensures less leaking.
- Soleplates matter. Stainless steel cleans the easiest and works like a charm.
- Extra features like a large temperature display and auto shut-off are very helpful.
- Everything else is basically irrelevant marketing mumbo-jumbo
Now that you know what’s really important, here are our absolute winners!
1. New Rowenta Steamforce – Highest Steam Output
We’ve always loved the SteamForce! It’s been upgraded to a 1850 Watt Steam Machine with all the bells and whistles of the previous generation.
1850 Watt Rowenta DW9540 Steamforce is the most powerful when it comes to heating up speed and its steam production is unbeatable. The easy-to-read temperature display panel makes selecting the right heat setting a breeze. It’s also comfortable, has a large 11.8 ounce water capacity and it looks great.
Steam volume is what reduces ironing time. So if you want the task of ironing to go much quicker and easier, the SteamForce is the perfect choice. It houses a steam generator, similar to that inside an ironing station or an industrial iron. So it pumps more steam than any hand-held steam iron we’ve ever used!
The weight is hefty and helps press the clothes while ironing. You don’t notice it though since the soleplate easily glides over the fabric while the 400 micro steam holes evenly distribute the steam across the ironed area.
Did I mention it’s powerful? In fact, it’s easily one of the most powerful irons you can find today. Why would you need that? Well, it takes seconds to be ironing-ready, whereas other models can take up to two minutes!
With the elegant feel and all the benefits like a large temp display, this iron is our absolute favorite by a mile. You will not be dissapointed.
- Best Steam Output
- Very Powerful (Ready in Seconds)
- Highest Quality Design
- Leak Proof Technology
- 5 Heat Setting LED Display
- Large 11.8 ounce water capacity
2. Oliso – Pricey but Good
The Oliso Smart Iron is the pinnacle of ironing safety. It has 1800 watts which means that it heats up to the desired temperature much faster than the average iron. It performed excellently during our leak test and the overall quality is superb. We were all highly impressed!
There are automatic scorch guards that lift the soleplate off the ironing surface to avoid accidental burns. The ergonomics are great for longer ironing sessions and the dials are super intuitive and easy to operate. Besides that, it comes in Turquoise, Purple, and even Pink.
It is a little overpriced as far as irons go, but the extra safety features might be worth it.
- Scorch guards prevent accidental burns
- Very powerful (Warms up quickly)
- Very comfortable
- Extremely easy to operate
- Cool color options
- Scorch guards take getting used to (but the feature can be deactivated)
3. Reliable Maven – Easiest to Use
Steam Generators (irons with a separate water tank) or “Ironing Stations” as they are sometimes called, makes ironing several times easier! In fact, it’s hard to imagine why anyone would still choose a traditional iron.
Steam generators can hold much more water and are much lighter since you don’t move around the entire water tank with each stroke. By separating the water tank from the iron, the following is achieved:
- The weight is drastically reduced making it much easier to iron
- The water capacity is increased 3 times, for less re-filling and more steam
- Leaking is practically eliminated
The automatic anti-calc unit is also located in the water tank unit, reducing the weight even further. You’ll even find less buttons and dials, making it a smoother, simpler user experience.
An extra benefit is that you have the perfect place to rest the iron when it’s hot by simply placing it back onto the water tank unit.
This year, we can confidently say that this is the best option for anyone who wants to make light work of any ironing load. It’s still a new kid on the block, so it has fewer reviews on amazon.com but will quickly become a favorite. Be sure to check out the 1.5 liter model if you need even more water capacity.
- Super Light Weight (Iron is separated from it’s water tank)
- Easy to clean built-in anti scale cartridge
- Ready in under 30 seconds
- Digital Temp Mode Display
- Ceramic Soleplate
- Similar tapered soleplate as Rowenta for precision ironing
- Massive Separate 1 Liter water tank (34-Ounces)
- 1500 watts
4. Rowenta Everlast – Anti Calc Filter
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
5. Panasonic Cordless Iron – Very Portable
The Panasonic 360 Cordless iron is built for convenience and portability. Not only is the iron completely cordless, but the soleplate is also multi-directional, meaning that it has a tapered tip towards the back as well. You can iron almost anywhere and in any direction. It even has a easy-to-carry storage case for quilting and sewing retreats. It has similar anti-calc features of the other irons and a super-long 30 minute auto shut-off time. The only downside is that it doesn’t have the power to handle very large loads. It is however perfect for students, small households and light loads as well as quilting enthusiasts.
- Cordless freedom and convenience
- Multi-directional ironing thanks to the double-tip soleplate
- Portable for classes, sewing retreats, and even mobile homes
- Heat resistant carry case means you can pack it away even when hot
- Smaller water tank
6. Chi Steam Iron – with Retractable Cord
The main reason to consider the Chi Steam Iron is it’s retractable cord which automatically rolls back and makes packing it neatly away much easier. It doesn’t make much difference while ironing though. Overall it’s still a powerful 1700 watt iron at a good price with its unique Titanium-Infused Soleplate and ergonomic design. It’s a durable and popular iron with excellent steam distribution from its 300 hole soleplate (Similar to the Rowentas!)
- Easy retractable cord
- Unique titanium infused soleplate
- Easy and precise steam adjustment settings
- Comfortable texture grip handle
- 300 Steam holes
- Added size due to the cord housing
7. Beautural – Ceramic Soleplate Iron
The Beautural is a high-powered 1800-watt steam iron with a unique double-layer ceramic coated soleplate, This ensures even heat distribution while ironing. It has a conveniently located temperature button on the side of the iron so you can adjust the settings with one hand without having to stop ironing. Additionally, its digital display LCD screen makes it so easy to check heat settings at a glance. This is a pretty large benefit for users with slightly poorer eye-sight. It performs fine and has pretty standard build quality.
- Double-layer ceramic soleplate
- LCD Display
- Good value for money
- Comfortable grip handle
- OK build quality
- Filling can be a little tricky
8. Rowenta – Travel Iron
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 but want to stay wrinkle free. 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. It’s light body makes it extremely easy to use. 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 tank
- Lower power (1000 Watt)
- Ideal for ironing only a few items at a time
9. Sunbeam Iron Steamer
The Sunbeam Steam Master is lightweight steam iron with stainless steel soleplate that has a retractable cord and a mirror-like design. We were quite excited to use this iron, but unfortunately, it was quite a disappointment. It is overall poorly made with a thin plastic casing and flimsy buttons. Even the highly reflective casing is very thin and “plasticky” It also has a limited number of steam holes. Our recommendation would be to spend a little more and to get better value for your money. Full Review
- Retractable cord
- Poor build quality
Helping You Choose
Steam output is the most important feature to look for in a professional steam iron It’s the powerful steam that ultimately removes the wrinkles. You should consider both the regular steam while ironing and the burst of steam feature that’s designed to target more stubborn creases. The more powerful the steam, the more effective the ironing process is at removing wrinkles, resulting in the test being done much faster. The average steam production for an iron is around 35 grams per minute and steam bursts are around 100 grams per minute.
The higher the wattage of your electric iron, the quicker it heats up. Should the automatic shut-off power the iron down, interrupting your session, a more powerful iron steamer will heat back up in seconds. Steam volume is also improved on the more powerful machines.
Variable Heat and Steam Settings
While all the best irons allow you to adjust the temperature of your iron, you should also have the option of steam and/or dry ironing to remove wrinkles from clothing or other items. Each iron above include this feature. Some will include a digital display to show the current heat setting. This isn’t all that necessary though.
A 12 ounce water tank is about the biggest you’ll find. It makes ironing larger loads much easier since you don’t need to refill as often. For even bigger loads, you could opt for an ironing station. These tanks can easily reach up to 1.5 liters or 50 ounces).
The irons we bought and tested performed well and did not leak when used correctly. Most leaking issues come from overfilling. Where we picked up issues, the problem was due to the steam iron not being hot enough and the steam setting set too high.
The Sunbeam Steammaster was the most likely iron to leak when stored flat. As a rule, all ironing should be stored empty and in an upright position unless their design dictates otherwise. Why does an iron leak?
Water Type & De-Scaling
The above steam irons use tap water which is super convenient because it’s easy to come by. However, if you iron in hard water areas, it is advisable to dilute your water with 50% distilled water. Click here to learn more about hard-water what water to use. A de-calc system allows you to rid the iron of the “limescale” buildup and this ensures it continues to work as it should. Each iron above is equipped with calc-cleaning systems.
A Stainless steel soleplate is so much less maintenance and easier to clean than Ceramic Coated. A non-scratch stainless-steel soleplate offers excellent glide that is hard to beat. In the past, coated soleplates were prone to aging and were particularly hard to clean, but with developments in recent years, they perform well and improve heat distribution over the surface of the soleplate. Larger coverage means you get more ironing done in a single stroke. This is also ideal for larger items like bedsheets and pillowcases. The tip of the soleplate should narrow to a point to make precision work like ironing collars, pleats, and spaces between buttons effortless. The more steam holes, the better the distribution of the steam overall and the pentation into the fabric.
I the iron easy to use? The overall comfort of a steam iron is vital to ensure ironing is not unnecessarily taxing. We’ve looked at several aspects that impact on the user. LED Temperature Display display 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 fabrics with your iron when switching between polyester, wool, or cotton.
Each iron steamer above is categorized as medium weight, the ideal ironing weight for easy ironing glide. They’re light enough to move around without your arm getting tired, but heavy enough so that you don’t need to apply excessive downforce to smooth out creases. For the average-sized hand, the grip should feel natural and allow easy access to the buttons and dials. Adjusting the settings on dials or pushing buttons was especially easy on the top irons which have a very solid build quality, but on the cheaper budget irons, you can pick up that dials feel a bit lose.
Buttons, dials and overall feel of the iron is much better in the more expensive irons. Cheaper irons may look the same, but when you finally start using them, you quickly notice the flimsy dials and low-quality workmanship.
The iron should safely and comfortably rest on its heel to make placing the iron down a natural movement and avoid accidents. A sturdy ironing board plays a large role here. Power cords vary between 6 and 12 feet, however, this makes little difference to the ironing experience. More importantly, is how the cord connects to the iron. Most of these products use a multi-directional cord swivel which helped keep the cord out the way while ironing.
We’ve also 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 is the ideal fit. It’s about the same price as the budget irons, only a lot smaller and with dual voltage capabilities for traveling abroad. You can even get away with using a small table or countertop as an ironing board. The cordless Panasonic in its heat resistance carry-case is also a convenient travel iron for sewing classes and RV’s.
Even the best irons can be a fire hazard if left on accidentally. The above irons vary from 8 to 30 minutes. Longer shut-off times are better for more professional users like seamstresses and people with larger ironing loads.
Most warranties are limited to manufacturer defects and this is usually something you’ll pick up in the first few times using the iron. 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. Note: If your iron falls off an ironing board, it may very well need serious repairs as the electronic components may have taken some damage.
Check Out Our Other Reviews
Not every steam iron works perfectly in each situation. What about Quilting, Travel or Commercial Use? That’s why we spend hours on each best rated iron, testing it for different uses. Check out our articles below for the top performers in each category.