Steam irons: How to buy the best steam iron Ironing boards
A good ironing board is a home essential. Get it wrong and you could find yourself ironing creases into clothes instead of out.
With so many boards on the market, it can be tricky to find the definitive one. So we asked three ironers of varying ability to try out a selection using a steam iron and a generator. Here’s what you should look for – and what you should avoid.
Type of ironing board
Mesh is the board of choice for our ironing experts. Happily, this type is also the most common on the market. The mesh allows the steam to pass through, delaying the inevitable soggy cover so you won’t end up ironing your twentieth shirt in a pool of water.
Ironing board covers
Thick padding gives a smooth surface for ironing and the top cover is less likely to slip. Look for a metallised cover: it will reflect some of the heat, helping to press the underside of your clothes while you iron on the top side.
Covers may be completely metallised, have a metallised underside, or a metallised layer in the middle.
Attaching the cover
The cover should fit the ironing board snugly without moving around. Elastic straps under the centre of the board will keep the cover taut – just be careful they don’t catapult when you detach or reattach them.
Size and shape
A narrow or short board has one basic drawback: you’ll need to reposition a garment more often during ironing. Larger boards are simply easier to use for larger items.
On longer boards you’re more likely to place the iron directly on the board (rather than the rest) when working at the pointed end, which adds to wear and tear on the cover. The ironing area of boards in our test varied from 33cm x 96cm, to 44cm x 145cm.
Look for a board with a narrow point if you want to iron into tight corners, like the shoulders of a shirt. The Vileda Park & Go ironing board has an asymmetrical point that’s particularly helpful if you iron right-handed.
Ironing board legs
Scissor-action legs are the norm. Look for a wide footprint for stability, especially if you’re ironing with a generator at one end.
Feet that form a T, or are joined by a bar at the bottom, are less likely to splay over time under the weight of a heavy steam generator. The longer the bar, the better the board’s sideways stability – handy if you’re ironing duvet covers.
Not every ironing board copes under the weight of a heavy generator as well as it does with a steam iron.
Metal iron rests are common, but some droop under the weight of a generator. Boards with a ‘parking area’ in place of a metal rest are sturdy and provide a longer surface to iron on.
If you always place the iron on the cover you may find the fabric wears over time. Some boards have a removable iron rest for versatility – sparing your cover when in use, but providing extra board space for ironing if you prefer.
Ironing board extras
Good for storage in a small space – and with the Argos Large Folding Board that we tried, you couldn’t detect the fold while ironing. Setting up was rather laborious, though, requiring lots of unfolding, turning and clipping of the various parts to make it ready for use.
There’s space for you to sit at the ironing board, as the legs curve away from your knees. But you’ll need to iron with the iron rest on your right.
A crude device, but it does the job. A ball fits over the release lever, holding it in place so the lever can’t be activated.
Cables on irons can be shorter than two metres. A board with an extension attached means you can iron further from the wall socket.
If you’re the only one in the house who does the ironing, this is handy. Open the board to your desired height and screw the marker into position. Whenever you open the board, it’ll drop to your set height.
Ironing boards can come with sleeve boards, shelves for ironed clothes, rails or notches where you can hang ironed clothes, and cable holders to keep the cable out of your way while ironing. We found their benefits negligible, but if they interest you, look out for them.