Which steam iron brands to buy in 2021
We’ve surveyed thousands of people who own steam irons from brands such as Philips, Morphy Richards, Tefal, and Bosch to find out which brands you can trust.
Our survey has revealed some brands are far more likely to develop faults such as the iron leaking limescale or problems with the soleplate. And the most expensive brands aren’t always the most reliable.
Read on to find out which brands are most likely to have problems early on and which are most popular among those who own them.
How we find the best and most reliable steam iron brands
We've compiled an at-a-glance expert overview of how the various iron brands compare, including average test scores and our exclusive Which? reliability ratings.
For each brand, our table reveals:
- Average test score – find out which brands consistently release new steam irons that impress our lab experts.
- How reliable it is – we uncover the brands making irons that are likely to let you down.
- How owners rate it – steam iron owners reveal whether or not they'd recommend a brand to a friend, so you can see how impressed you’re likely to be with its performance overall..
- Our overall verdict – our testing data gives each brand a final score.
Best vs worst steam iron brands compared
|Brand||Average test score||Reliability score||Customer score||Our verdict|
This top-selling brand is rated well by customers compared with other brands. A respectable 76% of customers would recommend it so you're likely to be happy with your choice. It's one of the most reliable brands, with only 10% of its irons developing a fault in the first eight years. Its irons tend to do well in our lab tests and it even has a few Best Buys to its name.
Our top pick
This brand does the best all round, picking up the highest average test score. It comes highly recommended too, with customers rating it higher than any other brand. It was also by far the most reliable, with an impressive 95% remaining fault-free after eight years. Most of the faults that did develop were minor and didn’t occur until a few years down the line.
Second most reliable
Only 10% of irons from this brand developed a fault in the first eight years. But whether or not you love yours might depend on the model, as its irons vary a lot in performance and it only gets an average customer score overall. It has produced several brilliant top-scoring models as well as some that are so bad we almost gave them a Don’t Buy.
Highest Best Buy rate
With almost half of those we’ve tested impressing us enough to reach the Best Buy mark, this brand has highest proportion of Best Buys out of all the brands on this table. You're unlikely to be disappointed if you choose from this brand, as it also scores highly for customer satisfaction.
But before you rush out to buy, it’s worth noting it's one of the least reliable brands, with a high proportion developing faults in the first couple of years.
Lowest average test score
While they tend to be cheap, irons from this brand get the worst average test score. We haven’t given any of its irons a Best Buy label, and a couple were bad enough to be Don’t Buys. You're likely to be just as unimpressed, as it gets one of the lowest customer satisfaction scores. However, it does OK for reliability and occasionally produces a decent model, so could be an OK option if you want something cheap that won’t break down - but check our reviews first to see which models to avoid.
Popular, cheap brand
You could be pleasantly surprised if you choose an iron from this brand. 76% of customers say they'd recommend it, which is impressive for a cheap brand. This is despite being in the bottom tier for average test score and reliability. Cheaper brands aren’t usually rated highly with their customers, so if you’re looking for an affordable iron it could be worth a look.
Least popular brand
This brand produces fairly low-performing irons that don’t last as long as other brands. It has one of the lowest average test scores and comes joint last for reliability. Not surprisingly, it's also the least well-liked brand according to our survey so you're unlikely to be blown away by one of its irons. However, it is the cheapest brand we looked at and has produced a couple of high-scoring budget models that will do an impressive job in the short term.
This brand comes out slightly below average for reliability and customer satisfaction. While it's not the worst brand in our survey, it's still unlikely to be the most well-loved iron you've owned, or the most long lived. When it comes to our lab tests, it is a bit of a mixed bag, producing a few affordable Best Buys as well as some expensive models that failed to impress.
Reliability ratings and Customer Scores are based on feedback from more than 2,700 Which? members who own an iron, surveyed in April 2019. Table last updated with average test scores in July 2019.
The most reliable steam iron brands
While irons are in general pretty reliable, there’s a big difference between the best and worst, and how customers rate them.
The most reliable brand scored a remarkable reliability rating of 97%, one of the highest ratings given to any small appliance brand, with only 5% of their products experiencing any issues. The least reliable brand had 15% faulty products at the end of the eight years, with many of these being serious.
But, as you can see from the chart below, reliability doesn’t always mean they’re rated highly by their owners. One of the brands that does best on our tests was given a high recommendation from customers, despite being one of the least reliable brands.
Steam iron brands compared
Our survey also revealed you don’t have to go for one of the expensive brands to get a long-lasting iron. While the more expensive brands are slightly more reliable on average, we’ve found cheap ones can do brilliantly. But customers seem to prefer more expensive brands, being more likely to recommend them to a friend.
What makes a great steam iron?
A great steam iron should:
- Steam strongly, smooth out creases and leave you with a neat and tidy laundry pile in no time
- Steam levels shouldn't tail off due to limescale build-up and, if they do dip a little bit, cleaning should restore the iron's full power
- The soleplate should have a tapered nose for slipping under buttons and into hard-to-reach places, but shouldn't be so delicate that you can damage it by scratching it against a zip
- The iron shouldn't be a hassle to fill, empty or clean
- The power cord should be long and flexible enough for you not to have to stand right next to the electrical socket.
Ultimately, you should be happy to recommend the brand you've bought to others. Our reviews take a whole range of factors into consideration, to ensure we only recommend the very best models and brands.
Are steam irons generally reliable?
Whichever brand of steam iron you buy, it’s unlikely to need replacing too soon. Steam irons are impressively reliable compared with other small appliances, with around 90% still faults free after eight years. Any problems that do develop are likely to be minor, and the chances of a complete breakdown is very small.
They're even exceptionally reliable when compared with steam generator irons, which despite the extra cost actually came out as one of the least reliable appliances in our survey.
However, people were happier overall with their steam generators. Our tests have found that in general steam generators give a superior ironing performance and are often easier to use. So if you iron regularly and want whatever makes the job easiest and gets the best results, you might want to consider spending extra on a steam generator.
Common steam iron problems
As part of our recent survey, we asked members which common steam iron problems were proving a real pain. While some members reported minor issues with leaking water, others were hit with broken heat controls and completely unresponsive irons.
Of those that reported a fault with their steam iron, the issues that topped the list in this year's survey were:
- 42% steam iron leaks or spits water and/or limescale
- 11% problems with the soleplate
- 7% damaged power cable or plug
- 7% not producing any steam
- 7% spray boost stopped working
Reduce the likelihood of your iron having issues by descaling regularly, wiping the soleplate down and avoiding ironing over zips to prevent scratches.