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Home & garden.

1 November 2021

Best steam irons for 2021

From the best steam generator iron to which cheap iron is best, we recommend the top models to buy in 2021
JP
Joseph Perry
Man steam iron ironing board

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.

To help you avoid a dud, we've handpicked our favourites from our full list of the Best Buy steam irons, including our top steam generator iron, the best budget option and the one to buy if you want to go cordless.

We've also found two models that are so dreadful, we think you should avoid them no matter how good their prices might seem.

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Best steam iron

  • 84%
    £59.99

    This is the best steam iron we've tested under our current test programme. It removes creases with ease, resists limescale well and barely picked up a scratch in our soleplate durability tests. And although it doesn't have a self-cleaning function, it's easy to keep clean: just rinse out the anti-calc filter every three months.

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Best steam generator iron

  • 87%
    £215.99

    If money is no object, look no further than this steam generator iron. It smooths wrinkled clothes with ease, and has no problem navigating delicate details such as embroidery and shirt buttons – plus its generous 1,650ml tank produces enough steam to iron for over an hour at a time.

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Best cheap iron

  • 76%
    £40.46

    This budget steam iron works just as well, if not better, than some far more expensive models. It has a '3D' soleplate capable of ironing in all directions and one of the best anti-limescale functions we've seen. The only snag is you've got to initiate the anti-scale feature twice a week, which is twice as regularly as most irons. For less than £40, it's an absolute steal.

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Best cordless iron

  • 73%
    £32.99

    It isn't a Best Buy, but there's lots to like about this cordless iron. It glides smoothly, gets rid of creases with little effort and won't clog up with limescale anytime soon. Plus, it's easier to charge than most cordless models: just place it on the circular base while you adjust your clothes on the board.

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Best lightweight iron

  • 75%
    £24.99

    At 1.4kg, this isn't the lightest steam iron we've tested – some steam irons weigh less than a kilogram – but it's the best of the featherweight bunch. It heats up in less than 30 seconds and makes light work of deep creases – not bad for an iron that weighs little more than a bag of sugar.

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Table last updated: November 2021.

Not found the right iron for you? See all our steam iron reviews.

Two 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 two mediocre models to avoid.

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  • 45%
    £16.99

    It doesn't take long for limescale to build up inside this steam iron. And because there's no self-cleaning or anti-limescale function, there's little you can do to stop the build-up – if you live in a hard water area, this iron is a complete non-starter.

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  • 53%
    £169.99

    This steam generator iron isn't built to last. Not only did an alarming amount of limescale develop within two days of us first using it, the soleplate was irreparably damaged during testing. At this price, you should expect far better.

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Table last updated: November 2021.

Opting for a well-known brand won't guarantee you avoid a lacklustre iron. See our full list of Don't Buy steam irons for the models to steer clear of.

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.

3. Features

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

For more on what these features do and whether you need them, see our guide on how to buy the best steam iron.

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.

The results tell us which irons are worth recommending and which are Don't Buy steam irons to avoid.

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.

To find out more, check out our guide on how we test steam irons.