Clothing irons combine the powerful combination of steam and heat to give garments a crisp, clean look. With new models that include everything from self-cleaning settings to an automatic shutoff, the best irons come in more choices than ever before. This guide breaks down some of the best irons to help you find the perfect tool for keeping your clothes fresh.
- BEST OVERALL: PurSteam Professional Grade 1700W Steam Iron
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: BLACK+DECKER Steam Iron
- BEST CORDLESS: Panasonic Contoured NI-L70SRW Cordless Steam/Dry Iron
- BEST FAST-HEATING: Maytag M400-SpeedHeat Steam Iron & Vertical Steamer
- BEST SMART IRON: Maytag Digital Smart Fill Steam Iron
- BEST STEAM IRON: Rowenta DW5080 1700-Watt Micro Steam Iron
- BEST TRAVEL IRON: Steamfast SF-717 Mini Steam Iron
- BEST IRONING SYSTEM: Miele FashionMaster Ironing System
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Iron
When looking for the best iron, consider all the various characteristics and styles. While most irons are effective, some have bonus features to make the chore easier. Some can even work their magic without a cord. Other models offer impressive safety features. Keep reading to learn about the most common features and product details to look for in a new steam iron.
Corded vs. Cordless
Cordless irons give more freedom of movement, and they’re often more lightweight. The cord is on the charging base, which plugs into an outlet. When the iron is on its base, it heats up to the selected temperature. However, the iron begins to cool down as soon as it’s removed from the base, so it won’t stay hot as long as a corded iron. Typically, the heat lasts long enough to iron a single garment.
Corded irons are the most common type available. However, today’s iron cords can run up to 12 feet long to provide more freedom of movement. Some irons feature retractable cords that make storage easier.
The soleplate is the bottom part of the iron that glides across the garment. When choosing an iron, look for one with evenly spaced steam holes to allow the most consistent steam distribution possible. As long as the holes are evenly spaced, it doesn’t matter how many are in the iron.
Most steam irons come with stainless steel soleplates because the smooth surface makes it easy to skim across clothing. Another popular option, ceramic-coated soleplates, have a similarly smooth surface that evenly distributes heat and eliminates static. Some newer models feature lightweight titanium soleplates, which provide optimum heat distribution. They’re also easy to clean and corrosion-resistant, so rust stains on your clothes are a thing of the past.
Soleplates are both tapered and untapered. The shape is a simple matter of preference; it doesn’t affect the function of the iron.
Temperature and Steam Settings
Many irons come with multiple temperature settings and at least one option to give clothes a burst or spray of steam. More expensive, “smart” irons know how much steam to dole out based on the chosen fabric setting. Make sure the settings are easy to read and adjust.
To avoid having to refill a steam iron constantly, look for one with a large water tank. Not only will a large tank—one that’s at least 10 ounces—hold more water, but it also offers a longer, more continuous steam time. The only downside of a large water tank: The iron weighs more.
Steam irons with smaller water tanks—up to 7 ounces—require more frequent refills and won’t produce as much steam. But they’re lighter and more comfortable to hold.
Weight and Portability
Larger irons are heavier, of course, while smaller, travel-sized irons are lightweight and portable. Irons with larger water tanks are usually the heaviest.
“The heavier, the better” is the traditional rule of thumb for irons. But today, some of the latest lightweight models can be just as effective as the heavyweight versions as long as they’re capable of high-watt power. And they’re easier to store, too. In general, though, a heavier iron may hold heat longer, and its sheer weight may help flatten wrinkles faster.
Like any electrical appliance that gives off heat, safety features are an essential consideration. Many of today’s irons have at least one automatic power-off setting to help prevent injuries and fires. Some irons shut off after a period of inactivity, while others power down if the device is left on its side or tips over. More expensive models include multiple automatic power-off settings, such as three-way auto-shutoff. This feature powers down the iron if it tips over or if it’s idle for a few seconds after it’s plate-down or a few minutes while upright. Regardless of their automatic safety features, the best irons should sit upright and not tip over too easily.
Many irons come with other features that might appeal to your needs.
A self-cleaning function flushes out dirt and impurities that can accumulate in the iron, which means less maintenance. An anti-calcium system and anti-limescale settings or cartridges collect calcium from hard water in the tank to help the iron run more efficiently.
A few of the more expensive irons bring smart technology to this traditional household appliance. Touch-sensitive handles power up the iron at the touch of a hand. Some double as garment steamers.
Our Top Picks
The best irons feature multiple settings, heat up quickly, and flatten even the toughest wrinkles.
Choose the best iron from these reputable brands that use the latest smart technology and modern features to help keep your wardrobe polished and pressed.
Thanks to its rapid heat technology and 1700 watts of power, the PurSteam Professional Grade Steam Iron cuts ironing time in half. Crafted with a stainless steel soleplate, this top-quality iron comes with a large water tank, an 8-foot cord, burst and spray steam settings, an anti-drip feature, and anti-calcium and self-cleaning options.
With perfectly aligned steam holes and fabric-based temperature control settings, users can customize the iron to their preference. The PurSteam Professional Grade Steam Iron, which doubles as a garment steamer, includes a three-way automatic shutoff to prevent injury or accidents.
Easily one of the most affordable irons on the market, the BLACK+DECKER Steam Iron offers many of the same settings found on the more expensive models. However, it doesn’t include an automatic shutoff or some of the more advanced technology in more expensive irons. Still, its steam and temperature controls allow users to customize the settings to the fabric. The nonstick soleplate is suitable for all iron-safe materials.
This compact iron is portable and lightweight, so it stores and travels well. The pivoting cord allows freedom of movement while ironing.
If cords drive you crazy, check out the Panasonic Cordless Portable Steam/Dry Iron. This handy 1500-watt iron, which reaches its max temperature in 2 minutes on the charging base, features options for vertical steaming, spraying, and misting. Its anti-calcium system keeps the steam vents clear. The stainless steel soleplate seamlessly curves and glides over garments.
The Panasonic Cordless Portable Steam/Dry Iron also comes with an anti-drip system, touch-button variable temperature and steam settings, an auto safety shutoff, an automatic cord reel on the charging base, and a heat-resistant carrying case.
When ironing multiple garments at once, keep returning the iron to its charging base to maintain its heat.
The Maytag M400-SpeedHeat Steam Iron heats up quickly. Faster than many of the irons available, this model reaches its maximum temperature in less than a minute and takes only 3 seconds to regenerate steam and remove wrinkles.
It allows for vertical steaming, and its precision thermostat offers precise temperatures for specific fabrics. This iron also includes self-cleaning, anti-calcium, and anti-scale functions, which make it low maintenance and long-lasting. The Maytag M400-SpeedHeat Steam Iron offers 1500 watts of power and comes with an 8-foot cord.
With a water tank that holds just over 8 ounces, which is on the smaller side, refilling will occur more often.
The Maytag Digital Smart Fill Steam Iron has more than just one smart feature. First, it reaches its max temperature in under a minute. In addition, its digital interface allows for precise temperature control. Select from four fabric types to find the perfect temperature for your garment. The removable water tank allows you to refill while the iron stays hot. Other features include consistent steam distribution from the ceramic soleplate to the automatic shutoff.
With a 100g/minute steam burst and 400 aligned steam holes, the Rowenta DW5080 1700-Watt Micro Steam Iron provides some of the most regular steam distribution available. The variable steam settings and vertical option are just a bonus.
Crafted with a smooth, stainless steel soleplate, this iron’s precision tip glides across garments and smooths hard-to-reach wrinkles. The appliance features an automatic three-way shutoff system, an anti-drip lid, a large, translucent 10-ounce water tank, and 1700 watts of power. Keep in mind that the large water tank may make it heavier and more cumbersome than smaller models.
While it may be small, the Steamfast SF-717 Mini Steam Iron packs quite a punch. With over 400 watts of power and a 1.4-ounce water tank, it heats up in only 15 seconds. This iron has a one-touch steam control setting and three temperature options that work with a wide variety of fabrics.
This travel iron has a passport, too. The dual voltage option means it can work anywhere in the world. The 7.5-foot power cord provides plenty of slack for ironing in hotel rooms. However, its light weight may not steam out the toughest creases.
Whether you spend a good part of the day pressing garments or simply want to turn all your ironing tasks from a chore to the best possible experience, take a look at the Miele FashionMaster Ironing System.
With its 3.5-bar steam pressure, adjustable height, and active board, users can iron a pile of clothes with a setup that’s customizable to the fabric. This system distributes steam evenly across the entire honeycomb-structured soleplate at a constant volume of 100g/min. Plus, the steam-activated board with built-in fans uses inflation and suction to hold garments tight on the board and help users easily smooth out wrinkles.
The system comes with other intelligent features, such as an automatic cool-down function and an extra-large, removable 1.25-liter water tank.
Because of its large size, it’s not portable and requires extra room to store. However, its wheels and 1-2 lift system make setup and takedown simple.
FAQ About Irons
Now that you’ve learned about the best of the best in irons, it’s time to answer some remaining questions. Keep reading to find everything else you need to know about irons and the best options available to smooth out wrinkles.
Q. Which is better, a stainless steel or ceramic soleplate?
While both can be useful, stainless steel soleplates are easier to clean and last longer.
Q. Is ironing good for clothes?
For most clothes, ironing is essential for maintenance. However, you don’t need to iron wool, denim, rayon, polyester, spandex, or knits.
Q. What’s the proper way to iron clothes?
The best way to iron clothes is to spray them with water until they’re slightly damp and then glide the iron back and forth to smooth any creases.
Q. What’s the difference between pressing and ironing clothes?
Ironing refers to the back-and-forth motion of sliding an iron across your clothes. Pressing means placing an iron on the fabric, holding it there, and then removing it.