An Iron is designed to smooth creases out of clothes, there are two types.
A dry smoothing Iron heats the cloth using pressure to flatten it.
A steam Iron blasts steam into the cloth, softening the fibres, making the cloth easier to flatten.
Yet there are thousands of Irons on the market, all claiming to do the same job and loaded with different features (steam pumps, fabric sensors, high-tech soleplates etc...) to make them more appealing.
How do you choose which one suits your needs?
Tip: Always buy a steam, not dry, Iron as most steam Irons can be used dry as well.
My Grandmother used to fill her iron with hot coals, if she wanted steam she sprinkled water on the clothes.
Modern ones, no matter how technologically advanced, still do the same job, get hot and smooth out creases.
Before you start shopping around think about your wardrobe and what you need your Iron to do.
If you are a jeans & T-shirt person and only press the odd dress or shirt for an 'occasion' your needs are going to be different from someone who has to 'dress for the office' every day.
Your iron will depend on the amount and type of laundry you have to deal with
These are the functions any Iron you buy should have:
Stay away from:
Unnecessary Fancy features like wi-fi connectivity and smartphone apps. These do not mean better Ironing, they just mean paying more, and more to go wrong.
The longer the better, all our Recommended Best buys have a minimum 2-year guarantee
An Iron needs to get hot enough to turn water to steam quickly and the higher the wattage the faster the heat up time.
We recommend between 2000 & 3000 watts as a good balance between performance and running costs.
Variable steam control :
With a continuous steam output (it puts out steam constantly, not in short bursts) and a 'power steam burst' button which can pump out a high-pressure steam jet to help with stubborn creases.
Steam delivery is measured in grammes per minute ( g/min ), the higher the g/min the more steam pumped into the fabric making it easier to iron your clothes.
Good quality thin soleplate :
Scratchproof and with a tapered nose, as these are easy to slide under buttons and into tight pleats. Thick soleplates snag on buttons & zips and can rip pleats.
Ceramic soleplates are the best, then stainless steel.
Nonstick and palladium soleplates glide easily but also scratch easily,
Aluminium is the cheapest but they scratch easily and are hard to clean.
Some manufacturers call their soleplates by weird and wonderful names, diamond, Saphir etc... but they are usually made of one of the materials we've just mentioned.
All our best buy irons have ceramic soleplates.
Vertical use :
This means you can use the iron upright to iron curtains while they are still hanging and run the iron over suits and dresses on their hangers
Getting out the wrinkles and creases without taking them to the Ironing board.
A limescale filter :
Limescale builds up really quickly and will kill your Iron in under a year, most manufacturers guarantees do not cover this, some advise you to use distilled or demineralised water.
Most UK tap water is hard to very hard so a well-manufactured iron will have a decent limescale filter or descaler. See more about limescale in our Guide To Buying Steam Generator Irons.
Easy fill see-through water tank :
With a wide filling hole and a max fill mark. A wide filling hole stops water spraying over you as try to fill the Iron.
A max fill mark stops excess water running out of the filling hole when you try to use it and with a transparent tank you can see how much water you have left.
A Soft comfortable handle :
You may be holding your Iron for some time, you don't want a hard uncomfortable handle which can give you blisters or hard ridges that irritate or cut into your palm.
Anti Drip :
The water coming out of the bottom of your iron should be turned to steam, not dripping onto your clothes.
All our best buy irons have the above features
Additional useful features:
Auto shut off :
This switches the iron off if it is unused for a certain time, no more wondering if you've turned off the Iron when your halfway through your journey.
This lets you top up the Irons water tank without switching it off.
Pre-set programming :
Tell the Iron which fabric you are using and it automatically sets the correct temperature, this reduces the risk of scorching or melting fabrics.
Our Recommended Irons
For general everyday Ironing a decent quality steam Iron with the features mentioned above should do see our Recommended Best Buy Steam Irons for one to suit your ironing regime.
Every PainFee Shopping Best Buy Steam Iron is selected for quality and durability, all the Steam Irons in our best buy range use tap water, have variable heat & steam control, steam burst, ceramic soleplates, see-through reservoirs with fill markers, vertical steam ability, good descaling systems and are an easy fill.
Best Buy Steam Iron for normal domestic use (1-2 loads a week) is our No.1 selling Steam Iron the Russell Hobbs 21370 Steamglide Professional Iron.
Our Recommended high-performance Steam Iron for heavier loads or if your washing every day is the Morphy Richards Turbosteam Pro Pearl, this puts out loads of steam and has an extra easy glide coating on its ceramic soleplate.
For more intense Ironing and bigger loads, a steam generator Iron is preferable, they do cost considerably more. See our Guide To Buying Steam Generator Irons.
For really high volume or for those who cannot use a conventional iron, then a clothes press would be the choice ( these can be used sitting down). See our Guide to buying Clothes Presses
For the office worker or daily trouser suit wearer, a trouser press may be a good investment. See our Guide to buying Trouser Presses
From about £20 for a decent quality budget steam iron with a minimum 2-year guarantee to over £400 for a 'professional-grade' Steam Generator Iron
A clothes press will cost from under £150 to over £300 depending on size.
For most people requiring an everyday domestic Iron which will last for a few years expect to pay around the £30 - £50 mark.
If you're going to a lot of laundry then look to the upper end of our recommended range
Be wary of cheap Irons, with many the soleplate can overheat and burn or melt fabrics, water will drip onto your laundry and limescale build up will render them useless in a few months.
To go straight to our best buy range of Steam Irons click here
These are lightweight Irons you take on holiday, they are not for everyday use and cannot be used as a substitute for a proper household Iron.
Even if you have auto shutoff always remember to plug your Iron out when not using it.
Never leave a hot Iron where children, vulnerable people or animals can touch it.
Do not use the vertical steam function to iron clothes while they are being worn!
Do not plug an iron into a light socket, today's irons use so much power they will blow the fuse or in the worse case melt the wires in the lighting circuit and cause a fire.
Take a look at our Recommended Best Buy Steam Irons. each has a short review on the product page