PerfectCare Elite GC9650/80
Considering that all irons are designed to do the same basic job, there's a huge variety to choose from.
From cheap no-frills models to pricier irons adorned with advanced technology and hi-tech soleplates.
The good news is that our tests 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.
Watch our video, below, for our expert tips on how to choose the best iron for your needs and budget.
There are two main types of iron to choose from: steam irons – including cordless steam irons – and steam generators.
These differ in features and performance, but also in price, so the amount you want to spend may well influence your decision.
You'll also want to consider where you plan on storing your iron, as steam generators are considerably more bulky than traditional steam irons.
Regular steam irons use a combination of steam and heat to smooth out creases. Prices range from less than £10 to more than £100 – more expensive irons tend to have fancier features and higher steam power.
An ordinary iron will suit you if you mainly iron smaller loads of laundry, purely because the water tanks tend to be on the small side.
They're a little heavier when in use than steam generators, but most are still light enough that you shouldn't have any issues and small enough that they're easy to store.
The one major downside of steam irons is that they generally produce significantly less steam than the larger generators, so you may have to work harder to get the creases out of your clothes.
Cordless steam irons are still a relatively new concept, but we're starting to see more and more pop up as they increase in popularity.
They're designed to make ironing quicker and easier thanks to the lack of a restrictive power cord, giving you more freedom to move around the ironing board.
Cordless irons come with a baseplate that has to be plugged in during use. You need to periodically place the iron back on the baseplate while ironing to keep it hot and steamy.
Unfortunately, most cordless models use non-replaceable lithium-ion batteries. Once yours gets to the point where it no longer recharges properly between uses, you'll need to buy a new iron.
Steam generators are designed to produce vast amounts of steam for longer, to make light work of large piles of ironing.
They're typically able to hold around three times as much water as a regular steam iron, so you won't have to stop to refill as often. They're also lighter to hold when you're at the ironing board because the water is held in a separate tank,
The best steam generators undoubtedly make the ironing experience faster and easier, and will leave you with flawlessly smooth clothes. However, they are expensive and won’t be right for everyone.
It’s worth investing in a steam generator if you regularly iron big piles of laundry and large items, such as duvet covers and sheets, and if your priority is to get through the ironing as quickly as possible.
Our tough tests have uncovered fantastic Best Buy models for less than £30. But we've found there are also a lot of dud models at the cheaper end of the market, too.
A steam generator iron will produce lots more steam for you to work with, but comes at a price – a top-end steam generator iron could set you back more than £300.
We've also come across premium irons which have an internal pump for producing 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.
These premium irons tend to be bulky and expensive compared with traditional irons, though. And we've found some traditional irons that can deliver just as much steam power.
There are two basic types of steam generator to choose between:
These are typically the cheapest type of steam generator. They work in a similar way to standard irons, but produce more steam.
The large separate water tank means you won't have to refill it as often.
These blast high-pressure steam deep into fabrics, making it even easier to smooth creases. They're more expensive than non-pressured generators.
A pressurised generator could be a good investment if you regularly iron lots of laundry, as a good one will whizz through your pile of ironing quicker than any other type of iron.
We've tested all the top steam irons, ranging from budget supermarket models to pricier steam irons with extra tech.
Below, we've listed the key specs and features for some of the more popular steam irons.
This all-in-one steam iron uses the same low temperature to iron everything - so you don't ever need to change the setting, unless you want to.
The long, 3.1-metre cord means you can set your board up well away from the plug socket, which is handy if you like to watch TV while you iron.
Steam irons don't come much cheaper than this. For your money you get vertical steaming to help freshen up curtains and a self-clean setting.
It's very light, too - 1.7kg is the average weight of the steam irons we've tested.
The Philips’ Azur iron range is generally powerful and steamy, costing upwards of around £50.
This Philips Azur GC4537/86 comes with premium features, such as a SteamGlide soleplate that's designed to glide easily across all fabrics.
This Philips Azur iron also has an extra-long 2.4-metre power cord, so you’ll have more freedom over where you set up your ironing board.
Click to see our reviews from each key brand:
You'll also find own-brand steam iron models available from big supermarkets, such as Asda, Sainsbury's and Tesco. Plus stores including Argos and John Lewis & Partners.