How Does a Steam Generator Iron Work?

There are several home appliances that have made history for how they have changed the way we live and run a home, and this is without a doubt one of them. A Steam Generator iron sounds like such a high tech, industrial appliance. Although it performs like a professional level machine, it’s really simple and easy to use… but how exactly?

How does a steam generator ironwork? Water is stored in a large tank, separate from the iron. The water is pumped from the tank into a high-pressure boiler which heats the water and converts it into high-pressure steam. The pressurized steam effortlessly removes wrinkles.

When the steam trigger on the iron is activated, pressurized steam is released through the steam hose into the iron and released through the steam holes of the soleplate. The steam released by a steam generator iron is much more powerful compared to traditional steam irons and can penetrate several layers of fabric in a single ironing stroke.

How Do You Measure the Strength of a Steam Generator Iron?

There are 2 factors to consider:

  • Electrical Power (Measured in Watts)
  • Steam Output (Measured in Grams per Minute)

The power (in Watts) indicates how fast the iron heats up, while the steam output indicates how much steam can be produced. BOTH of these factors can make the task of ironing significantly faster and easier! If you’re looking for a machine with a powerful steam output, check out our review of the Best Steam Generator Irons.


You should be looking for a steam generator with at least around 1800 Watts of power for rapid results.

Steam Output

A good steam generator iron produces around 80 grams per minute while a great one can produce up to 120 grams per minute. The higher the output, the more steam penetrates the fabric and ironing time is drastically reduced.

Why Use a Steam Generator Iron?

If you have large amounts of ironing every week or even every day, a steam generator is the perfect tool for the job. Here are the top reasons why to use a steam generator iron.

Large Steam Output Speeds Up Ironing

Steam is the magical ingredient that drastically helps cut down your ironing time. The more steam, the faster the wrinkles will be removed.

Less Time Spent Refilling the Tank

A normal iron also needs to have its water tank refilled repeatedly through your ironing session. With a steam generator, the average tank can hold anything from 30 to 60 ounces depending on the model you choose. They are designed to use tap water so you don’t have to bother adding distilled water to your shopping list. Check out ironing water types if you’re unsure.

Easy to Clean

Steam generator irons generally suit homes or businesses where there is a larger ironing load, and because of this, more water cycles through the system and results in limescale buildup.  This is when the minerals in the water form a chalky layer around the heating elements.

Steam generators have built-in, self-cleaning systems that have a calc collector that can easily be removed and cleaned. Some modes have an indicator light which will let you know if the machine needs a clean.

Better Vertical Steaming

The increased steam pressure also makes it ideal to be used for vertical steaming. If you have drapes or furniture that needs to be freshened up, you can apply the steam to touch up these areas. (Again, the higher the bar pressure, the better the results.)

Garments can also be vertically steamed while still on their hangers.

If you’re still on the fence, deciding between the steam generator and the conventional iron, check out this article where we compare the two back-to-back.

How to Use a Steam Generator Iron

Using a steam generator iron is much like using a traditional iron. Here are the simple steps…

  1. Place the steam generator on a firm, secure surface.
  2. Before you start ironing, make sure you’ve filled your water tank.
  3. Plug it into a power source and switch it on.
  4. Wait for the indicator light to show that it’s ready.
  5. Remove the safety latch that secures your iron to its base and start ironing.
  6. Ensure the temperature setting suits the fabric you’re working with.
  7. Place the iron back on its base while changing or moving the clothing.
  8. Clean the iron’s limescale collector to keep it functioning at its best. Never use a de-scaling agent in the steam generator as this could cause damage.

Note: Because of the amount of steam generated by the machine, you may notice condensation on the underside of your ironing board. Ensure your ironing board allows the steam to pass through and does not get trapped on the ironing board surface, or your ironing board will become damp.

In Conclusion

Even if you love ironing, there’s no reason for it to be more difficult or time-consuming than it needs to be. Using a steam generator is like using a snowplow instead of a shovel. Let us know if you’ve made the move to a steam generator iron and how it has changed your perspective on ironing.