Choosing whether to get a steam press or an iron can be tricky. It depends on a myriad of factors like budget, size of the workload and what you’ll be ironing most.
We’ve done some serious research to give you an unbiased comparison of which one is better in which situation.
Steam Press Advantages (Over an Iron)
You can press a shirt in less than half the time it takes to iron it.
2. Lower Risk of Damaging Clothing
Clothing presses remove the risk of accidentally scorching items or marking them with a dirty soleplate.
A clothing steam press is a much safer appliance in general because the heated surface areas are covered in a padded material while an iron’s soleplate is exposed. This is the reason that steam irons are a common cause of burn accidents and even possibly household fires.
4. Better Suited to Larger Items
Because of the large surface area, bed linen like sheets and duvet covers as well as tablecloths and large pillowcases require much less effort
Steam Iron Advantages (Over a Steam Press)
A good steam press starts at around $200 whereas a decent iron costs around $60.
2. More Versatile
It can handle intricate areas like collars and cuffs much easier than a large flat steam press.
3. More Compact
An iron is much easier to store. It can be packed away easily in a cupboard while a steam press is much larger and harder to find storage space for.
While in use, they actually take up very similar amounts of space because of the need for an ironing board but this can be mitigated by using an ironing mat over an existing table or countertop.
What You’ll Use it For
It’s important to remember that these are two very different methods of ironing.
A steam press is lightning-fast and can handle large items like sheets, tablecloths, duvet covers and pillowcases and duvet covers like a dream.
It can even handle smaller, more intricate items like dress shirts quite easily but gets a little trickier around collars and shoulders.
Here’s an example of how quickly a shirt can be pressed.
Steam irons, on the other hand, are much cheaper and much more compact. They can also iron out wrinkles in more complex places like cuffs and collars.
If you’re in a 2-4 family household with an average ironing load, you should be just fine using a steam iron.
A high-quality steam iron cost around $60 while a decent steam press starts at around $200.
That’s about four times more expensive… is it really worth it?
The initial financial outlay for a steam press seems prohibitive at first, yet it tends to save you money in the long run (after about two years or so).
This cost-saving is not in electricity, but rather in saving on dry cleaning, wear and tear on your iron’s ceramic surfaces and the possibility of accidental iron scorch marks ruining some clothes.
That being said, an expensive steam press is not indestructible either… most only come with a 2-year warranty.
In terms of electricity usage, both steam presses and irons fall into roughly the same wattage range, so you won’t necessarily be saving money on electricity.
It really is a matter of preference here.
The way I see it is, if you can happily afford a steam press, then you should also be happy to pay someone else to do your laundry and ironing anyway.
Speed & Efficiency
Using a steam press cuts ironing time down to about a quarter compared to ironing. Especially for larger items like bed sheets and table cloths. (Perfect for running an Airbnb or small guest house.)
With a bit of practice though, you can get fast results with an iron
Certainly, when using a steam press, the amount of time and focus spend on each area of clothing is less than an iron, as it uses two large, flat surfaces to heat, steam, and press – and does it well – so you don’t have to flip the garment over to iron the other side.
Ironing takes a lot more time and effort, going over areas a couple of times to make sure they’re wrinkle-free.
However, getting around garments such as skirts are a bit of a problem with a steam press because the board and lid are attached to each other at the back of the press.
Another issue with a steam press is dealing with the more fiddly areas of a garment, such as creases, buttons (plastic and metal), seams and decorative zippers, etc.
It is easy to maneuver around these areas with an iron, but with a steam press, they can damage either the roof of the press, your garment or both.
For this reason, you’ll find that those who invest in a steam press, will not get rid of their iron as it allows for excellent maneuverability and control.
Both steam presses, irons, and ironing boards can be set up and put away, but the majority of steam presses come with a stand to ensure their safety.
It is best to have a designated area to set up your steam press permanently as setting it down on a coffee table is only an option for much smaller models.
When it comes to safety, every steam press has an automatic shut off, with some models including sound alerts if the temperature is too high.
While irons generally don’t have sound alerts, many models incorporate the automatic safety shut off after a certain time period.
The potential for accidentally burning yourself increases with a steam press, namely inside the roof of the press. This is because some models only allow the lid to open so far.
When it comes to the laundry load, the steam press can do more on one tank of water purely because it’s bigger, so the need to keep refilling drops substantially.
Both irons and steam presses are effective in removing wrinkles.
However, some irons require more effort in having to go over and over the same place to remove stubborn wrinkles.
This is eliminated by a steam press.
The surface area is larger making the amount of heat, steam and press action more effective.
The benefits of steaming your garments are not only effective for wrinkle release – it disinfects your clothes killing germs too.
Many washing detergents are designed to be activated only with cold water which is definitely the eco-friendly option but – a cold wash will not disinfect your clothes.
Bacteria such as E. coli, Staph bacteria, and Salmonella and other nasties such as dust mites and bed bugs are only killed with temperatures of at least 212°F.
While both conventional irons and steam presses produce heat and steam – up to temperatures of 428°F, there is a much greater intensity with a steam press.
Check out our (link) for a more in-depth discussion.
The Right Choice
Taking into consideration all the different aspects we’ve compared, you may feel that one option outweighs another while still leaning towards something you feel comfortable with, and that’s okay.
There’s an abundance of different irons or steam presses to choose from that will suit you and your needs perfectly.
We know you’ll make the right choice – for you.