Steam iron reviews: FAQs
What's the best way to iron a shirt?
Our professional ironer can press the perfect shirt in just three minutes. Follow her step-by-step guide for the best-pressed shirt.
- First iron the collar then the yoke (the part at the back of the shoulders)
- Take one sleeve and iron the cuff open as you would the collar, then iron the sleeve. The perfect shirt should have a crease along the outside of the sleeve. If you suffer from tramlines (where the sleeve already has a crease which is slightly offset from the new crease), spray with a little water before you iron
- Repeat for the other cuff and sleeve
- Iron the main body of the shirt by first ironing one half of the front, then the back, then the remaining half of the front
- Hang immediately on a wooden hanger with the top button done up to keep creases at bay
- For best results use starch and steam (specified iron temperature permitting). If you're not overly keen on starch, just use it on the collar and cuffs.
General ironing tips
- If you intend to vertical steam a garment, it's advisable to iron it on the board first for a better, more professional finish
- For stubborn creases, spray with water and starch before ironing, and always allow garments to cool before folding
- For general use any type of hanger will do, but if you want to keep shirts pristine, shaped wooden hangers are highly recommended to hold the shape of the shirt
- See our how to iron video guide for more advice to help you spend less time ironing.
Do 'non-iron' and 'easy iron' shirts live up to their claims?
Shirts need to be well-ironed to look good, but this is often hard to achieve because of the various fiddly sections. With this in mind, you may have been tempted by the alluring claims of ‘non-iron’ or ‘easy iron’ shirts.
We were too, so we bought a selection of easy (cotton) and non-iron (cotton/polyester) shirts to try.
First, we washed them at the recommended temperature of 40°C, gave them a light tumble-dry and hung them up for inspection. The results were quite encouraging.
The three non-iron shirts were sufficiently crease-free to be wearable and can easily be touched up using an iron on its cool setting if you’re a stickler.
The two easy iron shirts gave mixed results. One shirt had a noticeably glazed finish which helped the iron glide over its surface, while the other proved less satisfactory, needing more effort than we’d expect to make it crease-free.
What type of ironing board should I get?
It's all very well having the best iron for the job, but unless you thrive on vertical steaming you'll need an ironing board too.
There are a number of different boards to choose from, but for stability our professional ironer favours a split-bar board rather than one with a bar at the top. There's a variety of materials too; for steaming, manufacturers and professionals alike recommend a mesh board which provides better ventilation.
You'll still need a cover on your board; our ironing pro recommends one with a reflective underside to reflect the heat. However, despite trials of numerous boards and covers, the professionals still suffer from soggy boards after an hour's heavy steaming.
How should I clean my iron?
To clean blocked steam holes, switch the iron off then use a cotton bud to loosen the limescale. It’s always worth keeping a clean soleplate as dirt can transfer to clothes.
Wipe the warm (unplugged) iron with a damp cloth, using a nylon scouring pad and a limescale remover if necessary.
My iron has an anti-calcium cartridge - where can I get replacements and how much will they cost?
Replaceable anti-calcium cartridges are more common in steam generators than steam irons. The frequency with which you'll need to replace them depends upon the hardness of the water in your area and how frequently you iron.
Replacement cartridges can't normally be found in high-street stores – you'll probably need to ring the customer services phone number of your iron's manufacturer to order a new cartridge. This phone number will be listed in the iron's instruction manual.
Prices of replacement cartridges also vary. Some come in multiple packs, others can purchased individually. As a guide, you can expect to pay £6 for an individual cartridge or £12 for those sold in packs of three – this price is likely to include postage and packaging.
How should I lift a heavy ironing board?
Ironing boards are cumbersome because of their unwieldy shape, so be practical about storage.
If yours is kept in a cupboard, don’t obstruct it with clutter. And when lifting it out, hold it close to your body: keep your shoulders in line with your hips so that you're not bending or twisting awkwardly and you shouldn’t hurt your back.
I like to sit down to iron. Why do my shoulders ache?
Sitting while ironing isn’t ideal, as you can find yourself hunching forward. It’s best to iron standing up with your board at navel height. But if you need to sit, try not to bend forward.
A board with legs that curve away from your knees might help, but they're often better suited to people who iron right-handed because of the position of the iron rest.
How can I stop fabrics from going shiny?
If you iron a garment with too much pressure, or heat, it can burn the fibres, causing a shiny effect. This is particularly true of synthetic fabrics.
But you shouldn’t have to press down hard on your iron to get a good result. Ironing clothes when they’re damp (or with steam) makes it easier to remove creases, especially on heavy fabrics like denim. This is because the fibres are still ‘open’ and deep creasing has not occurred.
Should I iron clothing straight from the washing machine?
The watchword with ironing is ‘damp’ – ironing clothes when they’re ‘wet’ may scorch the fabric.
Similarly, you shouldn’t steam iron anything labelled ‘dry clean only’ as it may scorch or burn the fabric, or remove special finishes such as waterproofing.
How should I iron delicates?
Delicate fabrics such as silk should be ironed inside-out on a low heat. A silk that’s mixed with a synthetic fibre, or one that’s not finished properly, may experience differential shrinkage, causing it to ripple when ironed. Use a white cotton press cloth so that your iron’s not in direct contact with the garment.
I've noticed that the online test scores and ratings of some irons are a little different from those in articles I've previously read in Which? magazine. What's changed?
Since August 2008 we've adjusted our scores to place a higher importance on how your clothes look after ironing – after all, there's no point spending time ironing your clothes if the end result is below par. This really highlights those models that don't iron well.