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21 December 2020

Top cordless irons for 2021

We recommend the cordless steam irons that will help you spend less time behind your ironing board
Cordless irons_advice main 487329
Rebecca Duff

At first glance, cordless irons seem like a convenient option, allowing you to eliminate creases from your clothes without getting tangled up in the cable. 

If you dread the thought of tackling your ironing pile, you may be thinking of making the switch to a cordless model to make the job a little easier. But, while there are certainly benefits to ditching the power cord, it won't solve all your problems.

Plus, we've found that cordless irons could have a shorter lifespan than their corded counterparts thanks to their irreplaceable batteries. 

In our table below, we recommend the cordless irons that performed better than the rest in our rigorous lab tests. None of them have hit Best Buy criteria (yet!), but if you want one, these are the best we've tested so far. Or read on to find out more about the pros and cons of cordless irons.

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

Top cordless steam irons

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Not only is this iron lightweight and very easy to use, it’s also one of the cheapest cordless models you can get your hands on. Even if you use it on a regular basis it won’t lose steaminess over time, meaning less time spent behind your ironing board. The soleplate glides nicely over all fabrics so you’ll find creases disappear with very little effort.

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This cordless iron pumps out enough steam that you won’t need to iron over the same area multiple times, but the soleplate tends to drag a little on heavier fabrics. It's quite slow and laborious to use and you’ll need to pop it back on the base to recharge every 30 seconds or so, too.

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Pricing, recommendations and test scores correct as of 30 April 2020.

Not found the model for you? Go straight to our steam iron reviews to see our full list of recommendations. 

How do cordless irons work

Depending on the type of cordless iron you choose, they can work in a couple of different ways. 

Cordless irons with rechargeable batteries

Most cordless irons use rechargeable batteries, specifically lithium-ion batteries, to retain their heat. They work in much the same way as the kinds of batteries you might find in phones or power tools. 

The battery is located within the iron itself, and you charge it up by attaching it to a base unit. Most irons only take a few seconds to recharge between garments, but how often you need to do this will depend on the model of your iron, as well as the heat setting you’ve selected. 

This type of cordless iron isn't completely free of wires, as the base unit needs to be powered somehow. This means you still need to be within reach of a plug socket, otherwise you’ll be running back and forth to recharge your iron during use. 

Cordless irons that use boiling water

You can also find cordless irons that retain heat and produce steam with the help of boiling water rather than rechargeable batteries, but we are yet to test any that work in this way. 

There’s no concrete evidence to suggest that one type is more effective than the other, but the first type is a lot more widely available.

If you're not quite ready to give up the power cord but wouldn't mind a more lightweight model, take a look at our round-up of easy-to-use steam irons

Should I buy a cordless steam iron?

Choosing between a corded and cordless steam iron is almost entirely a matter of personal preference. 

The main benefit of opting for a cordless model is that they’re generally easier to use due to the lack of power cord, giving you more flexibility around where you set up your ironing board. 

This isn’t to say cordless irons are without their issues though. They’re usually powered by non-replaceable lithium-ion batteries, which are a problem for the environment and your pocket.

Pros of cordless steam irons

  • No power cord - This means you don't need to worry about the cord snagging your freshly-ironed clothes and forcing you to start all over again. It also gives you a little more freedom to move around your ironing board to try and get the job done more quickly.
  • Lightweight - Although this isn't the case for every model, most cordless irons tend to be lighter than their corded counterparts. Even if you end up ironing for longer than you intended, your arm shouldn't get too tired or achy.

Cons of cordless steam irons

  • Heat retention - Cordless irons gradually lose heat during use, so you'll need to pop yours back onto its charging base regularly to ensure it's as hot as possible. This means if you need to iron large items, like bedsheets, you may need to pause a few times to reheat your iron.
  • Irreplaceable batteries - Cordless models tend to have a shorter lifespan as, once the batteries expire (so that they can no longer be effectively recharged), there's no way of replacing them. Not only is this bad for the environment, it also means you'll have to buy a new iron sooner rather than later.
  • Limited selection - Cordless irons account for less than 10% of all the irons we've tested, so if you do decide to opt for one you'll have far fewer to choose from. That being said, due to their recent increase in popularity, it's likely that more manufacturers will begin to produce cordless models in the near future.

If you end up deciding a cordless iron isn't for you, take a look at our Best Buy steam irons to see which corded models performed best in our tests. 

Cordless vs corded iron test performance

There isn’t actually a huge difference between how well cordless and corded steam irons eliminate creases. 

The only real difference we’ve seen in our tests is how resistant each type of iron is to limescale. On average, corded models achieve a much higher star rating than their cordless counterparts in our limescale-resistance tests, meaning they’re typically likely to last longer. 

Limescale build-up will cause your iron to lose steaminess over time, making the task at hand a lot more difficult. Our results indicate that this may be more of an issue with cordless irons, especially if you use yours regularly. 

With ease of use, again there’s not a significant difference from one type of iron to the other. As cordless irons tend to be on the lighter side, however, they're generally a little easier to iron with.

Unsure on what you're really looking for in a new iron? Check out our guide on how to buy the best steam iron for some useful hints and tips. 

Why Which? iron reviews are better

Every steam iron we rate and review undergoes thorough testing to check just how well it will smooth out the creases in your clothes. We also test how well each iron resists limescale build-up, how easy it is to fill and empty, plus how robust the soleplate is.

All the steam irons we recommend produce lots of steam and should maintain these high levels no matter how often you iron. Reading our reviews ensures you won't end up buying a dud that you'll need to replace just a few months down the line.

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