Best steam irons for 2021
The best steam irons help you fly through the laundry pile, heating up quickly and removing creases with ease. But not all models are up to scratch – some take ages to steam, and show signs of limescale build-up and soleplate damage after just a few uses.
We've also found three models that are so dreadful, we think you should avoid them no matter how good their prices might seem.
Best steam iron
Best steam generator iron
Best cheap iron
Best cordless iron
Best lightweight iron
Table last updated: June 2021.
Three irons to avoid
The worst irons make ironing even more of a chore. Our tests have uncovered models that snag on fabrics, drip dirty water and struggle to make even the slightest difference to crinkled clothes. See below for three mediocre models to avoid.
Table last updated: June 2021.
Buying an iron: what to consider
We've tested irons ranging from £10 to several hundred pounds, but you don't need to spend a huge amount for a great iron – we've discovered budget options that are as good, if not better, than much more expensive models.
Whatever you're willing to spend, here are three things to consider when buying an iron:
1. Steam iron or steam generator
We test two types of irons: steam irons and steam generator irons.
Steam irons have an internal water tank. They tend to be cheaper and easier to store, but produce less steam and need refilling more often.
Steam generator irons have an external water tank. They produce more steam, making it easier to smooth creases, but are usually more expensive – and because they come in two parts (the iron and the tank) can be too heavy to sit on a normal ironing board.
2. Cord length
If you enjoy ironing in front of the TV, or just like being able to move freely as your iron, you'll need a model with a longer cord. For steam irons, we'd consider anything over two and a half metres to be long.
Steam generators irons are slightly different as there are two cords: one from the plug to the tank (the main cord), and another from the tank to iron. For a main cord, anything near the two-metre mark is long.
You can also get cordless irons, but they tend to disappoint in our tests. Some models work for just 30 seconds at a time, then need to be recharged for another 30 seconds – and because the charging base has to be plugged into the wall, you're bound by many of the same restrictions that come with a corded iron.
You might not associate irons with high-tech features, but some models have handy features that make them easier to use and maintain. Look out for:
- Anti-drip systems
- Auto-shut-off systems
- Limescale filters
- Self-cleaning functions
- Single-temperature settings
- Steam triggers
- Tapered soleplates
Our ironing tests
Each year, we put dozens of models through our meticulous ironing tests. We measure how well the iron removes creases from crumpled clothes, whether its soleplate is durable enough to withstand the test of time, and how much limescale builds up inside the iron over 48 hours.
And because our reviews are independent – we don't accept freebies from manufacturers or retailers – and based on decades of experience, you can trust them to be rigorous and impartial.