How to buy the best steam iron
By Christina Woodger
Considering that all irons are designed to do the same basic job, there is a staggering variety of models to choose from. From cheap no-frills options to pricier irons adorned with advanced steam-pumping technology and hi-tech soleplates, you could be forgiven for wondering which bells and whistles are genuinely worth paying for.
We've tested irons from every corner of the market to find out, and the good news is that our steam iron reviews prove you don't necessarily have to spend a lot to get a great-quality model - and fancier features don't always mean quicker, easier ironing.
Read on and watch our video to find out more about what you should look for when choosing a steam iron - and then take a look at our steam iron Best Buys to discover the models that Which? recommends.
Buying the best iron for you
Not sure what type of iron you need? Our interactive tool walks you through the key features of each type to help you choose.
How much should I expect to pay for an iron?
You can buy a steam iron fairly cheaply these days. Prices for basic models start at less than £10 and go up to more than £100 for top-of-the-range ones. Some of the best steam irons are available for less than £30 - but you need to shop carefully as there are also a lot of dud models at the cheaper end of the market, too.
A steam generator iron will belt out lots more steam for you to work with but the extra steam power comes at a price – a premium steam generator iron could set you back by more than £300.
You can find out whether a steam generator is right for you by reading our steam generator buying guide.
We've also come across premium irons which have an internal pump for pumping out pressurised steam, giving you extra oomph to get through tough creases. They can be a good compromise if you don’t have the space or budget for a full-on steam generator. They tend to be bulky and expensive compared to traditional irons though. And we've found some traditional irons that can deliver just as much steam power.
Which steam iron features should I look out for?
The amount of steam your iron produces can be severely hampered by the build-up of limescale over time. Most irons come with a built-in limescale filter, but some don't, and our tests show that these scale up really quickly. It's therefore worth checking whether an iron has a scale filter before you buy it.
Some handles can rub uncomfortably after you've been ironing for a while. The best handles are soft or smooth to grip and not too wide so you can hold it comfortably. Check that it doesn't have hard ridges or seams in the plastic that could dig into your palm.
Thin and tapered soleplate
Look for a thin soleplate that tapers at the nose, as these are easy to slide under buttons and into tight pleats. Chunky soleplates tend to snag on buttons and zips.
If possible, choose an iron with a light-coloured or transparent water tank as it can be difficult to see the water level on dark tanks. Look for a wide filler hole and clearly marked maximum fill markings – otherwise you'll end up with water glugging back out when you're filling it.
Irons with this feature will switch off automatically if they're not used for a while. This is a useful safety feature, and if you've ever worried whether you've forgotten to switch off the iron it will give you peace of mind.
What are the key steam iron brands?
Bosch, Morphy Richards, Philips, Rowenta, Russell Hobbs and Tefal are all household names associated with steam irons, but you'll also find own-brand steam iron models available from big supermarkets, such as Adsa, Sainsbury's and Tesco, and stores including Argos and John Lewis.
You can find out more about the models on offer from these brands by reading our guide to the best iron brands.
Now find the perfect steam iron for you by checking out our steam iron reviews.