Steam irons: How we test steam irons
Best irons for removing creases effortlessly
Which? reviews and rates all the latest irons and stream generators to rigorous standards. Our extensive tests sift out which irons are best at removing creases, and the work begins even before we plug in the first iron. Our expert team have devised a series of product tests, which are rigorous, repeatable, and relevant to the way our members use the products at home. For example, we have designed and built a customized ironing rig to ensure maximum consistency and fairness. Which? tests harder, so you can buy better.
First, we wash and tumble dry the clothes, then store them in a linen basket overnight. This helps to remove any fabric coatings which may have been present, and ensures consistency.
We then give the hard slog to a professional ironer. Our specialist steams through a stack of shirts, skirts and linen trousers, covering a range of fabric types and awkward shapes. She rates how quickly and easily she can iron each item, and how satisfactory the results are.
We also ask three regular ironers to tackle their usual loads with each of the irons and tell us how easy the irons are to use.
Testing how long steam irons last
We test the descaling functions on each iron to see how successful they are at making the irons as steamy as new.
Not many of us enjoy ironing, but you certainly don’t want your iron to start flagging before you do. This is where our custom-built rig comes into action.
We put the irons on full steam, measure the steam rate, and then fix them to our rig. This rocks them at timed intervals to simulate the ironing motion.
Water is fed to the tanks continually, to ensure continuous steam output, with each iron steaming for two hours and then taking a one hour break to cool down. We repeat this process eight times then measure the steam rate to see whether it’s dropped.
Each iron steams for another four cycles, by which time each iron would have been producing steam for a total of 24 hours – simulating three months of ironing.
We then follow the descaling method recommended by the manufacturer before steaming the irons for a further two hours. The steam rate is measured again and compared to the rate achieved when the iron was new.
We also record whether any bits of limescale come out of the iron during the last two hours – so you can avoid getting flecks of loosened scale on your clothes.