Easy-to-use steam irons
By Georgia Wilson
Using a steam iron that’s heavy to handle, uncomfortable to hold, or difficult to fill and store can be a daily annoyance, particularly for older people or those with reduced strength or dexterity.
There's no need to put up with a nightmare iron, though. We’ve found irons in our tests that feel light to hold, are comfortable to grip and, to top it off, are great at ironing any fabric.
The best steam irons for you
To help you find the very best iron that’s both excellent at the job it’s designed to do and easy to use, we’ve assessed all the steam irons and steam generators we've tested since 2008 for our steam iron reviews - and rounded up the best models in the table below.
All the steam irons and steam generators we've recommended score more than 75% overall, and have been rated highly when it comes to ease of use. This means we’ve considered not just how much steam it produces, but other areas such as how heavy the iron is, how comfortable it is to hold, and whether it has good grip. We look at factors such as how easy it is to fill up the water tank, descale it and store it away tidily when you’re finished.
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Easy to use steam irons
This iron belts out good amounts of steam, making light work of ironing. The large 331ml water tank means it won’t run out of water too quickly, but when it does the tank is easy to remove and the large water hole makes refilling simple. Plus the extra-long 3.2 metre power cord gives you ultimate convenience to move around the board as you need.
Breville says that its Powersteam Aero Ceramic VIN393 steam iron will make your ironing 'less of a chore' - but we don't believe the hype until we've checked it for ourselves. Does its bright green soleplate glide smoothly over crumpled cotton and can it get in tightly under buttons? Find out by reading our full steam iron review.
Steam irons vs steam generators
Steam irons have a built-in water tank, while steam generators have an external tank that is a lot bigger.
Steam irons tend to be heavier than the irons on steam generators, as they hold water inside. But while filling and carrying a steam generator tank may be too much for those with reduced strength, you won’t really lift the tank once it’s in place - we’ve found ones that can steam for more than 30 minutes, compared with around 15 minutes for regular irons.
Steam generators are generally more expensive than irons, but they do tend to be more powerful - so you could be ironing for longer without needing to refill the tank.
Read our guide to buying a steam iron to find out more.
Choosing an easy-to-use steam iron
To help you pick the best iron for you from our selection - and choose between a steam iron and steam generator - we suggest that you visit a shop to try out the irons. Consider these points when you go:
Is the iron light and comfortable to hold?
The lighter the iron is, the easier it will be to use and hold - check you are happy with the weight of the one you've chosen.
You can get irons that weigh as little as 1.1kg. But we haven’t found many Best Buys in this category, as you often have to press harder to get out the deep creases.
Irons on steam generators tend to be lighter, as the tank sits in the steam-generating base unit.
Check that the handle is a comfortable shape for you and that you’re able to grip it easily. The iron should also feel well balanced.
Are the controls easy to see and operate?
Make sure that the controls and markings are large enough for you to see - a good contrast between them and the background should make life easier.
See whether you find the dials and buttons easy to grip or press with little force. The controls should also be in a logical and easily reachable place - this is true for many of the models in our table - especially if you sometimes have swollen joints.
You should also check that the controls aren't close together, so you don’t select something accidentally.
If you have difficulty with your sight, check to see whether the indicator lights are bright enough for you to see and whether some of the buttons and markings are raised.
Is it easy to fill, empty and descale?
Some irons come with a jug to help with filling, which is useful as it means you don't have to hold it under the tap in an awkward position. And some steam generators have a removable tank, so you don’t have to hold the large tank under the tap.
Make sure you find it easy to see the water level - a light to indicate when it's getting low is also useful.
Other useful features
Irons that steam for a long time are also useful, as you won't have to keep stopping to refill them. Sometimes irons that have a longer steaming time only dish out steam quite meanly though, meaning you have to press down harder to get a result. High steam power is key, so make sure to check our reviews to find an iron that pumps out steam powerfully.
It's also worth looking for an iron with auto shut-off, which means it will automatically turn off if it isn't used for a while.
For irons, the longer the power cord the better, as it means you have more flexibility in where you can put the iron - more than two metres long is good.
Easy-to-use steam irons and steam generators - our research
To select the easiest-to-use irons and steam generators for people with reduced strength, dexterity or sight, we looked at all those models that scored more than 75% overall and have been awarded three or more stars for ease of use, and more than four for overall performance.
We then looked for models that have scored highly for using the controls and filling the tank - the things you'll have to do most regularly.
Next we looked for the lightest models weighing less than 2kg. Only the irons and steam generators that meet all of these strict requirements are listed in the table above.