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Are cheap steam irons any good?

Our latest tests pit a £10 steam iron against one that costs 12 times as much. Can you get away with a budget model, or are premium irons worth the extra spend?

The steam irons we’ve tested range from as little as £8 up to £120, or over £300 for a premium steam generator. So do you go for cheap and cheerful or is it worth splashing out? Our tests reveal all.

The latest collection of irons to be put through their paces at the lab included the Logik L200IR17, below, which costs a mere £10. It’s a basic model, but has a steam boost for ousting creases, a comfortable rubber handle and a wide tank hole for splash-free filling.

If you only ever iron the occasional shirt, a budget-friendly iron like the Logik might appeal.

Is it the bargain it seems, though? Low steam levels and high susceptibility to limescale are common complaints with cheap steam irons. Combine that with a soleplate that sticks and drags, or that’s easily scratched, and a cheap iron may not be as appealing as it initially seems.

Read our review of the Logik L200IR17 to find out how well it performs. Then, head to our steam iron reviews to compare it against more expensive models. 

Philips GC4938/20 Azur Advanced steam iron

At the other end of the scale, Philips’ GC4938/20 Azur Advanced steam iron, £120, below, is the most expensive model we’ve tested. If you’re after a premium iron from a big brand, this one might appeal.

It comes with plenty of promising sounding features: a ‘SteamGlide’ soleplate for smooth, scratch-resistant gliding; a ‘Quick Calc’ system for blasting away limescale and ‘OptimalTEMP’ technology, a single steam and temperature setting designed to work on all ironable fabrics.

Plus, a 3.1 metre cord means you won’t have to set up your ironing board right next to the plug socket.

But, at 12 times the cost of the Logik, is this Philips a worthwhile investment or an unnecessary expense? Head to our Philips GC4938/20 Azur Advanced steam iron review to find out whether all these features actually boost its performance.

Mid-range steam irons

There are plenty of mid-priced irons available – and bear in mind that iron prices tend to jump around a lot, so you might be able to pick up a pricey model in the spring sales in the next few months.

With rose-gold accents, crystals set into the control dials, a diamond-print motif and a glossy finish, Breville’s DiamondXpress 3100w (right), £60, certainly stands out. More serious features include a long 3 metre cord and a large tank that’s easy to see into and fill. But are you paying for style over substance? Read our Breville VIN401 DiamondXpress 3100w review to find out.

At £40, the Bosch TDA2670 B1 Quick Fill (right) is a bit more budget-friendly. It doesn’t have many frills, but it does have what Bosch calls a ‘3AntiCalc’ system, designed to keep steam levels up. It gets from cold to steamy in just 30 seconds too – handy for last-minute ironing.

There’s only one way to find out which irons see off the stubbornest creases – head to our steam iron reviews

Irons to avoid

Two of the irons we reviewed recently only narrowly avoided the Don’t Buy stamp. Limescale took hold quickly in both in our tests, making ironing much harder work.

In some cases, regular cleaning will restore steam flow – but there are plenty of irons around that need much less frequent maintenance.

In the case of one of the irons that clogged up in our test, cleaning had no impact on steam flow at all – buy this iron and you’ll be stuck with a tediously slow ironing pile in no time.

To avoid an inferior iron, head straight to our pick of Best Buy steam irons

Latest steam iron reviews for 2018:

Steam generator reviews:

Prices correct as of 26 February 2018.

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