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Best steam irons 2022: Which? Best Buys and expert buying advice

Need a hand deciding which steam iron to buy? We explain what you need to look for to find the right iron for your needs and budget.
Rebecca Jakeman

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 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.

Only logged-in Which? members can view our recommendations in the table below. If you're not yet a member, join Which? to get instant access.

Best steam iron

    • best buy
    • Ironing performance
    • Convenience

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Best steam generator iron

    • best buy
    • Ironing performance
    • Convenience

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Best cheap iron

    • best buy
    • Ironing performance
    • Convenience

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Best cordless iron

    • Ironing performance
    • Convenience

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Best lightweight iron

    • best buy
    • Ironing performance
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Last updated: February 2022

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

Video: how to buy the best steam iron

Watch our video, below, for our expert tips on how to choose the best iron for your needs and budget.

Which type of steam iron should I choose?

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.

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.

Steam iron pros

  • Far cheaper than steam generators
  • Easy to store and carry
  • Can be used on a normal ironing board
  • Very quiet during use

Steam iron cons

  • Produce less steam than a steam generator
  • Will need refilling more often
  • Can be heavy with a full water tank

Cordless steam irons

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.

Cordless steam iron pros

  • Freedom to move round the ironing board
  • No power cord to snag your freshly ironed clothes
  • Tend to be lighter than corded irons

Cordless steam iron cons

  • Gradually lose heat during use
  • Batteries can't be replaced
  • Not many models to choose from

If you want to find out if making the move to a cordless iron is right for you, check out our cordless iron reviews.

Steam generator irons

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. 

Steam generator pros

  • Produce much more steam than a regular iron
  • Smooth creases quickly and effortlessly
  • Lighter than most irons
  • Won't need refilling as often

Steam generator cons

  • More expensive than a standard iron
  • Bulky to store and heavy to carry
  • Noisy
  • Some are too heavy to sit on a normal ironing board

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.

But there are big differences between the best and worst steam generators. Our tests show that some are actually less steamy than the best regular irons, so check out our steam generator reviews before you buy.

How much do I need to pay for a good 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. 

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. 

So you need to use our steam iron reviews and shop carefully. 

Are steam generator irons better?

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. 

You can find out whether a steam generator is right for you, read our steam generator iron reviews.

Pressurised vs non-pressurised steam generators

There are two basic types of steam generator to choose between:

Non-pressurised steam generator

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.

Pressurised steam generator

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. 

Steam irons compared

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.

Morphy Richards Turbosteam Pro 303131, £45

  • Auto shut-off
  • 2.1kg

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.

But before you buy, there's something you need to know about this iron - see our Morphy Richards Turbosteam Pro 303131 review.

Philips Azur GC4537/86, £65

  • Auto shut-off
  • 2.4-metre power cord

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.    

Models from the Philips Azur range have had mixed results in our tests. Can this iron easily get creases out of your clothes? See our Philips Azur GC4537/86 review to find out.

What are the key steam iron brands?

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.

You can find out more about the models on offer from these brands - go to the best iron brands.

Best steam iron features to look for

  • Limescale filter It's worth checking whether an iron has a scale filter before you buy it. The amount of steam your iron produces can be severely hampered by the build up of limescale over time, which is why you need to clean your iron
  • Self-cleaning system This helps you get rid of any limescale that does form. But we've found some systems take lots of time and effort, such as soaking the filter in lemon juice for four hours, so check our reviews.
  • Comfy handle The best handles are soft or smooth and not too wide. Some handles can rub uncomfortably after you've been ironing for a while.
  • Thin, tapered soleplate This type of soleplate is easy to slide under buttons and into tight pleats. Chunky soleplates tend to snag on buttons and zips.
  • Auto shut-off This turns off your iron if it's not used for a while, which is handy if you're ever worried about whether you've forgotten to switch it off.
  • Easy-to-fill tank Look for a wide filler hole. Also check it has clear maximum fill markings – otherwise water will glug back out.

Our tough tests reveal the irons that will help make ironing a breeze and those that don't, so check our steam iron reviews before you buy.