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. Our tests have uncovered irons that feel light to hold, are comfortable to grip and are great at ironing any fabric.
Our lab tests are independent, so you can trust our results and use them to easily find the best iron for you.
In this article:
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This steam iron takes very little effort to eliminate creases, and you won't be troubled by limescale. It handles well and it's easy to store away when you've finished. The handle is comfortable to hold, and has a rubber underside that helps you to keep a firm grip on it as you work through your ironing pile.
You don’t have to press down hard or put in much effort with this iron. It’s a little heavy, but glides smoothly and produces plenty of steam to banish creases with minimum effort, even when on thick fabrics such as linen. It also has an extra-long 3-metre power cord, so you won't have to set up your ironing board right next to the plug socket.
It’s not cheap, but this steam generator gets an almost perfect score in our tough ironing tests for ease of use and how well it irons. It weighs next to nothing but that doesn’t mean you’ll have to push down harder, as creases disappear with incredible ease. There are lots of handy features - including one- temperature technology, a removable water tank with large filling hole, a carry lock to fix the iron to the base for easy carrying and storage compartments for both cords.
The one-size-fits-all temperature setting on this steam generator means you can iron on all fabrics without having to worry about fiddling with the controls mid-ironing. It pumps out copious amounts of steam to make ironing easy. You can easily see the water level while ironing, and the large filling hole makes it easy to refill when it does run low. You can also rest the iron on its heel - handy for when you need to adjust the position of a garment on the ironing board.
This steam generator comes with three preset ironing levels that set the steam and heat level for different fabrics, so there aren’t too many settings to get used to. It’s a really steamy generator, blasting away creases with minimum effort. The removable water tank will save you lugging the whole thing to the sink each time. It's very easy to store, as there are compartments for both cords and the iron locks to the base to make it easier to carry.
How we choose the best easy-to-use steam irons and steam generators
These models have been awarded four or more stars out of five for ease of use, and more than four stars for ironing performance.
This means as well as being comfortable and intuitive to use, these irons will get your shirts and skirts wrinkle free in no time.
Find out more on what we look for when measuring ease of use and performance - see how we test steam irons.
Here are the main points to consider when buying an iron:
Is the iron light and comfortable to hold?
The lighter the iron is, the easier it will be to use and hold. See our section on lightweight irons below for more information.
Check 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 markings are large enough for you to see. A good contrast between them and the background should make life easier.
If you have difficulty with your sight, check to see if the indicator lights are bright enough for you to see and whether some of the buttons and markings are raised.
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, even when ironing. If you’re left-handed, check the buttons are in a central place you find easy to reach.
You should also check the controls aren’t too close together so you don’t select something accidentally.
Is it easy to fill, empty and descale?
A large filling hole will make it easier to fill up each time.
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
- Auto shut off: automatically turns off the iron if it isn't used for a while.
- Long power cord: gives you more flexibility in where you can put the iron - more than two metres long is good.
- Large water tank: a bigger tank should mean you’ll need to refill less often.
- Cord storage compartment: helps keep the power cord(s) tidy when carrying it and when in storage.
Read our guide to how to buy the best steam iron for more information on features to look out for.
Heavy irons can make ironing feel like twice as much work. So it’s not surprising that more of you value an iron being lightweight over steam power*.
We weigh each iron with a full tank of water to see how tiring they are in reality to use. We've found they range from 0.9kg, similar to a loaf of bread, to more than 2kg, the weight of a two-litre bottle of water.
The average weight is 1.7kg when full, so look for an iron that weighs less than this if you don’t want something too heavy.
It’s worth bearing in mind that light irons tend to have slightly smaller tanks so might need refilling more often, although some lightweight irons do have surprisingly large water tanks.
The extra weight of heavier irons can help press out creases, but many lightweight irons we’ve tested are brilliant at ironing without having to press down. If you’re looking for a lightweight iron, make sure you go for one of the best steam irons that’s been recommended by us.
Steam generators are usually lighter (see below), but cost quite a bit more.
*(Online survey of 1,189 Which? members in February 2019.)
Lightweight irons - our top picks
These steam irons are light as well as being brilliant at shifting creases.
Not only is this iron a dream to iron with - gliding smoothly and pumping out heaps of steam to make creases disappear effortlessly - it also weighs just 1.5kg so shouldn’t be tiring to hold. Our tests found it won’t clog up with limescale too quickly and the soleplate doesn’t pick up scratches easily, so it should make ironing easy for years to come.
One of our lightest Best Buys, this bright green iron weighs just 1.4kg so you should be able to iron for longer sessions without too much arm ache. It has a comfortable rubber handle that doesn’t get too slippery when wet and pumps out plenty of steam to smooth out creases without you having to press down too hard.
This budget iron is our lighteston test, weighing a tiny 0.9kg (although it’s not as light as some steam generators). It’s not the easiest to use, and the soleplate scratches fairly easily. But it irons impressively and is a fantastic light option if you’re an occasional ironer.
Lightweight steam generator
Steam generators don't tend to weigh as much as irons but this model is light even for a generator, weighing just 0.8kg. It also comes with a huge 1.8L water tank, so you should be able to get through giant piles of laundry without stopping. As well as being ultra convenient, it’s impressive ironing skills and limescale resistance make it a clear Best Buy.
How we choose the best lightweight irons
To choose our top lightweight irons we looked at steam irons that weigh less than 1.5kg with a score of more than 70%.
Steam irons have a built-in water tank, while steam generators have an external tank that is a lot bigger. Therefore steam generators are generally much lighter to iron with.
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.
As the tank is larger, you should be able to iron for longer before you need to refill the tank.
Steam generators are generally more expensive than irons, but they pump out far more steam, making ironing quicker and easier.
Read our guide to the Best steam generators to buy in 2019 to find out more about the features and brands to look for.