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Best steam generator irons to buy in 2020

By Georgia Wilson

Find out which is the best steam generator iron for you, plus what you need to know to buy the best steam generator.

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The best steam generator irons pump out lots more steam than a standard iron, making ironing quicker and easier. 

But a steam generator iron can be expensive and bulky, and not all live up to the manufacturer's claims.

Our expert guide looks at the key things to consider when choosing a steam generator. From how much to spend, to which features to look out for, we’ll help you choose the best model - and avoid the worst.

In this article:

Just want to find out which steam generators performed the best in our tough tests? See our full list of the best steam generator irons.  

Top five steam generators

We’ve picked out the top five steam generators that will steam through your ironing and leave laundry wrinkle-free. Each model scores highly when it comes to how well it smooths creases from clothing, as well as how easy and quick it is to use.

If you’re not already a member, join Which? to unlock the steam generator recommendations below and get instant access to all of our reviews - including our steam generator and steam iron reviews. Which? members can simply login.

Top 5 steam generator irons

87%
£386.72
Reviewed

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.

81%
£299.99
Reviewed

This top-of-the-range steam generator iron pumps out a high level of steam that gets deep into the fabric, banishing creases quickly and easily. The soleplate is scratch resistant, so you don't need to worry about damaging it if you need to wipe it down or you accidentally brush it against a zip. Its limescale defences work well too so it should stay steamy for a while.

81%
£250.00
Reviewed

Not only is it easy and comfortable to use, but this generator pumps out more than enough steam to eliminate the most stubborn of creases - even on difficult fabrics such as linen. It resists limescale brilliantly, too, and clearly deserves our Best Buy recommendation.

80%
£169.00
Reviewed

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.

80%
£250.00
Reviewed

This premium steam generator iron comes with a whole host of extras aimed to make ironing easy. You can choose from six different steam settings and the soleplate glides easily over all fabrics. The large water tank means you won't need to make lots of trips to the sink, plus the iron itself is incredibly lightweight so your arm won't get tired.

Want to see more of the Best Buy steam generators revealed by our tough tests? Go to our full list of the best steam generators and steam irons.

And here's three to avoid...

Steam generators should make ironing quicker and easier, but some don’t produce enough steam or take ages to heat up, making them worse than a regular iron.

54%
£89.99
Reviewed

This steam generator is more affordable than most steam generators but don’t buy it because of its price. It doesn’t produce much steam and the soleplate scratches easily, which isn’t ideal for delicate clothes.

53%
£136.00
Reviewed

While this steam generator pumps out lots of steam at first, it soon drops off. It doesn’t have a limescale filter, so it clogs up quickly and is extremely difficult to clean.

50%
£150.00
Reviewed

Don’t fork out on this steam generator. It’s not bad initially, but it loses steam power drastically over the first few months. The water tank can’t be removed, making it a pain to empty and refill.

Video: how to buy the best steam generator 

Watch our video for expert advice on what you need to look out for when buying a steam generator. 

Will I have to wait long before I can start ironing?

The best steam generators are ready to go in two minutes, but with some you have to wait for pressure to build before you can start ironing, which can take more than 10 minutes. 

These models usually have to cool and depressurise before you can refill the water tank. If you need more than one tank of water to get through your laundry pile, this will really add to the time it will take to finish the job.

Use our steam generator reviews to find out whether you'll have to wait for steam to form and/or depressurise with the steam generator you have your eye on, before you buy it.  

Is limescale a problem for steam generators?

The amount of steam your generator produces can seriously tail off if limescale builds up inside. However, steam generators tend not to clog up as quickly as steam irons. 

Nearly all steam generators come with in-built cleaning systems to try to flush out limescale, as with steam irons. The cleaning process can range from a few quick and simple steps, to more complicated procedures involving shaking the boiler over the sink or soaking parts in lemon juice for four hours. 

We test each steam generator to see how easy it is to clean and whether cleaning returns steam levels to full power. You can see which are the best for this in our steam generator iron reviews

Steam generators and antiscale cartridges  

Some steam generators come with anti-scale cartridges that claim to prevent limescale forming and should keep steam powerful. These cartridges need replacing every few months and cost around £5 each. 

If you don’t have a replacement to hand, you should be able to iron with distilled water in place of tap water. But you might find this a hassle that gets in the way of your ironing routine – and some models won’t function if the cartridge needs replacing.

Why Which? steam generator reviews are better

Which? is completely independent – so you can trust our reviews to give you the full, honest and impartial truth about which steam generators are best.

Every steam generator iron we review has been through exhaustive testing in our lab. We go further than anyone else to make sure our reviews are comprehensive and easily comparable, taking the guesswork away when it comes to you making a decision. 

We'll tell you how well each iron smoothes out creases, if it resists lime-scale build-up, how easy it is to fill, empty and clean, and how robust the soleplate is – so you can buy the best steam generator for you. 

Find out more about how we test steam irons and steam generators.

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