Find the iron that's right for you
Thanks to canny marketing and shifting attitudes, ironing is now something blokes are more than happy to boast about doing.
Today's modern gent wants to look sharp, and his trusty iron is on hand to help. As with most mens' gear, the modern iron is expensive, sleek, powerful, and adorned with lots of inexplicable buttons and knobs.
If you are looking for the best steam iron to buy this year, then look no further, as we have rounded up everything from travel wonders, to full blown domestics wizards and all in between.
Apart from washing the dishes, doing the laundry, stacking the dishwasher, emptying the dishwasher, polishing the furniture, doing the vacuuming, emptying the bins and mowing the lawn, is there a more mundane household task than ironing?
Today's irons are a far cry from what granny once used. None of that metal-lump-on-the-cooker-hob nonsense. These days it is all about steam pressure and easy-glide soleplates married to futuristic supercar-style designs. The current trend is towards pricey but hugely efficient two-part steam generator irons that produce enough vapour to power a locomotive.
Steam generators are more bulky and take longer to warm up, but because most of the work is performed by the steam and not your arm, they really are effortless to use and ideal for daunting laundry piles.
Rest assured, though, that even your common-or-garden modern steam iron will make a very decent fist of flattening clothing.
Philips PerfectCare Elite Steam Generator
This elegant Which?-awarded steam generator is just the ticket for anyone regularly faced with a Matterhorn-sized pile of laundry.
The PerfectCare Elite – the most expensive model in the Philips range – is comprised of a large 1.8-litre water reservoir that continually pumps high-pressure steam (120 g/min at a whopping 6.7 bar) to a comfortable and ultra lightweight iron unit that glides over tricky cotton-rich fabrics like an air hockey puck.
But that’s not its chief USP because, unusually for an iron, the Philips has no temperature controls at all. Instead, it uses the company’s ingenious OptimalTEMP technology to control the heat of the soleplate. And that means no more ‘Oh my God I’ve just scorched your Hermés chiffon shirt’ moments.
Indeed, you can leave this iron facedown on any fabric and it will not burn it. Add Philips’ effective Easy De-Calc Plus lime descaler function and you can be sure this smooth operator will remain gunk-free for years to come. Apple-like simplicity alone guarantees this cool, futuristic and extremely efficient pro model an unequivocal high five.
£320 | Philips
Braun CareStyle 5 IS5043
Just like the Philips, the BraunCarestyle 5 is steam iron. Perfect for large piles of laundry and delicate clothing.
Braun's CareStyle 5 range comes with a number of new crease battling technologies. First off is iCare, which uses smart textile protection to set the right temperature for every fabric. No more worrying about your delicates!
The steam distribution is powerful and even (6 bar steam shot), with an Eco-mode fo those saving the planet (and cash).
Maybe the most useful innovation is the Eloxal 3D BackGlide soleplate, which consists of lovely smooth, rounded edges, allowing the iron to almost glide over fabrics forwards and backwards. It's also durable, so you can iron over zips and buttons without needed to worry about scratches.
We found it heats up in a mere two minutes, with a reservoir of 1.4 litres. That's a smaller tank that the Philips, but this is lighter and more portable, taking up less space in a cupboard in your house.
The best thing about this steam iron? It has a click-in lock mechanism that's faintly reminiscent of loading a magazine into a gun.
£229.99 | Braun
Tefal Ultimate Anti-Calc FV9630
Limescale can be a fiendish little upstart. Not only will it eventually clog up your iron but there’s every likelihood it will spit out a dollop of annoying brown stuff all over your shirt just as you’re about to leave for a posh dinner party.
This Tefal model comes with a self-cleaning feature that doesn’t require any aftermarket spares. Simply unscrew the Anti-Calc Collector every few months and empty the calcified pellets. The Tefal is quite a weighty unit but its Ultraglide Diffusion soleplate coasts effortlessly and its 350ml water tank is large enough to reduce the need for regular trips to the tap.
The plastic temperature-setting nipple feels a bit stiff and flimsy in operation but in the main this is a well designed and sturdy iron that’ll scythe through the average household’s laundry horde with steamy aplomb.
£56 | Tefal
Breville Steam Advanced
The dashing Breville costs a wee bit more than the similarly specced Morphy Richards Breeze but then it does feature a ceramic soleplate which is more slippery than plain steel while distributing the same level of heat.
This 2600-watt model sports a constant steam rating of 45g/min and an ample 170g steam shot for rebellious creases. Its soft grip handle is comfy to hold while the extra long cord is a boon for those with a power outlet some distance away. Like so many modern irons, it also comes with a self-cleaning function.
Finally, anyone who’s burned their finger tips testing to see whether the iron is cool enough for storage will appreciate this model’s excellent Safe-Store system. When the illuminated heat-sensitive red panel on the sidewall has finished fading, it’s time to put the iron to bed. Nice touch.
£30 | Breville
Morphy Richards Breeze Pink Steam Iron
This opaque pink bulky blob only costs 20 nicker but it’s pretty much all you need if all you ever iron is a few shirts, a pair of jeans and the odd pillowcase. The Breeze is equipped with 2600 watts of oomph which means it heats up really quicky – an especially handy attribute for those in a rush.
Its stainless steel soleplate is hardly the be-all and end-all of iron tech but it glides well enough when combined with the iron’s 45 grams of constant steam. And when you hit those stubborn creases around the waist and pockets of your 501s, simply press the power shot button and all is smooth and wrinkle free.
The Breeze also features a self-cleaning function for the elimination of spits and drips and it comes with a surprisingly generous three-year guarantee.
£20 | Morphy Richards
Bosch Sensixx'x DA5070 EditionRosso
The awkwardly named Sensixx’x has a power output 3050 watts which means it heats up extremely quickly. It also features an easy-glide CeraniumGlissée soleplate and a 50 g/min continuous steam output for fuss-free pressing.
The Sensixx’x is comfy in the hand, well balanced and one of the lightest irons on test. The anti-calc cleaning system is a major plus though the ample 300ml tank is too dark to see the remaining water level. A worthy contender, nonetheless.
£81.50 | Bosch
Rowenta Silence Steam DG 8960
Rowenta is widely considered the Rolls Royce of iron manufacturers. This steam generator model’s their Silver Cloud and it comes with a price tag to match. The Silence Steam’s 1.5-litre reservoir is an ungainly beast but it delivers an industrial-strength 260g/min steam shot guaranteed to iron the wrinkles out of anything, possibly even corrugated roofing.
If God wanted to flatten the Himalayas, this is what he’d use.
Morphy Richards Comfigrip Steam Ionic TriZone
This Ferrari-esque steam model comes saddled with a tranche of shampoo-style jargonistic features like ‘TriZone Ionic Soleplate Technology’ – for static-free crease removal – ‘Comfigrip’ design – for, er, a comfy grip – and a ‘unique dual-steam chamber’. All you need to know is that it ticks most boxes and irons stuff with little to no fuss.
£37.56 | Morphy Richards
What makes one iron stand out from another? Panasonic would like to draw attention to its HydroPower Multi-Directional ceramic soleplate for easy-glide ironing, continuous steam at 40 grams per minute and its three-way cleaning system for the reduction of limescale. It also works vertically which is good for steaming the creases out of a suit. Keen price, too.
Russell Hobbs Steamglide Travel Iron
There’s one sure-fire occasion when you really do need an iron. On holiday. Although it’s not as small as you’d expect, this travel model won’t take up much luggage space and is just the thing to rehabilitate your T-shirts which, having been thrown ad hoc into the suitcase, now resemble a pile of dish rags. Shame it doesn’t come with a set of interchangeable travel plugs, mind.
Swan 1800W Purple Iron
Here’s proof that you don’t need to fork out a fortune if all you iron is a couple of ties and a T-shirt or two. This simple dry/spray/steam model features a bog-standard stainless steel soleplate, a 160ml water tank and overheating protection. It’s suitably ample for modest laundry piles but you wouldn’t want to be lumbered with a full household’s worth.