10 best steam irons 2018 to flatten the living hell out of furrowed garments

Irons and steam generators to get your clothes as smooth and unrumpled as you

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Iron-ically, 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. The modern iron is sleek, powerful, and either adorned with lots of inexplicable buttons and knobs, or totally lacking in them, because the iron does all the thinking for you.

The best steam iron

Our iron of choice is the Philips Azur Elite (scroll down for full review). This steamy operator takes most of the hassle out of pressing clothes as it has just one temperature setting and cannot burn fabric – you can leave it, plate-down on clothes and they won't get singed. 

This feature is by no means unique to Philips – the Bosch Sensixx’x DA70 has a similar one-temperature function, for instance – but it serves it up in the most straightforward, satisfying, idiot-proof way. Not that I'm calling you an idiot.

If you’re on a budget or just have a less frequent need to iron, the Breville PressXpress iron is much cheaper but still effective. If cordless irons are your kind of thing, perhaps give the slightly flawed Russell Hobbs Freedom a whirl.

Best steam generator

If you're really serious about ironing, we recommend a different Philips model: the PerfectCare Elite Steam Generator (scroll down for full review). This very nearly achieves the unlikely feat of making ironing almost fun – again, there's no temperature gauge, no possibility of burning clothes, and thanks to the large water reservoir and powerful pump, enough steam to get rid of even the most testing creases.

How to buy the best iron for you

If you iron a lot of clothes, paying more for a really good steam iron is money well spent, in my opinion. Look for one with the largest possible water reservoir and, if you live in a hard water area, either use filtered or distilled water, or look for an iron with an effective de-calc function. 

Modern irons with auto-sensing tech are also a fantastic choice. It means you don't have to worry about setting the correct temperature for different fabrics.

If you are really serious about crease removal, but don't want to devote many tiring hours to it, a steam generator could be for you. They are more expensive, bulky and can take longer to warm up, but because most of the work is performed by the steam and not your arm, they are near effortless to use – ideal for daunting laundry piles.

If you are looking for the best steam iron or steam generator to buy this year, look no further. We have rounded up everything from cordless wonders to full blown domestic wizards…

The best steam irons you can buy

1. Philips Azur Elite GC5039/30

The best iron you can buy today

Key features: one temperature, auto steam, easy descale
Power: 3,000 watts
Tank capacity: 350ml
Continuous steam: 75g/min
Steam boost: 260g
Reasons to buy
+No-burn ironing tech+Excellent steam functions +Easy to use
Reasons to avoid
-None, really
Today's best Philips Azur Elite GC5039/30 deals

Philips takes ironing to new heights with this sensational new model by applying the same groundbreaking OptimalTEMP technology it uses for its award-winning steam generators. 

You won’t find any temperature setting dials on this amply powerful iron because it doesn’t need any. Instead it cleverly optimises the temperature no matter what you’re ironing, whether it’s heavy denim or fine silk. Indeed, this tech is so bewilderingly brilliant you can even leave the iron facedown on delicate fabrics and it won’t burn or leave any marks. Yes, fellas: no more scorched chiffon disasters. Phew.

The Azure Elite also comes with three steam modes: DynamiQ, Max and Ionic. DynamiQ uses a motion sensor to detect the iron’s movement and switches the steam off as soon as it comes to a stop, resuming once the iron is moving again. This saves water in the 350ml tank and reduces the number of trips to the tap. The Max setting is as it suggests – a full constant blast for flattening heavy creases. Ionic provides intermittent bursts ‘rich with silver ions for more hygienic ironing’, whatever that means. I haven't used that mode much.

Spec-wise, this iron delivers an industry-leading 75g per minute of constant steam and an impressive 260g steam boost when sh*t gets real. The SteamGlide soleplate does indeed steamily glide over fabrics with consummate ease. 

Add a doddlesome anti-calc system, a comfy handle and a three-metre cable and you have the most streamlined and practical iron on the market. 

2. Philips PerfectCare Elite Steam Generator

The best value steam generator you can buy today

Power: 2,400 watts
Tank capacity: 1.8 litres
Other features: auto-shutoff
Dimensions: 23.3 x 28.5 x 45.3cm
Reasons to buy
+High pressure steam+Superbly simple ironing
Reasons to avoid
-A bit of a wait for it to warm up
Today's best Philips PerfectCare Elite Steam Generator deals

At the risk of seeming like T3 is on Philips' payroll, I also think the best steam generators come from its factories. 

Steam generators have long been the best option if you are regularly faced with mountainous piles of laundry, although the most cutting edge steam irons are now catching up. This elegant, Which?-awarded steam generator was the most expensive model in the Philips range but now seems positively affordable compared to the likes of the PerfectCare Elite Plus and Elite Silence.

As with all such appliances, it comprises a large, detachable 1.8-litre water reservoir that continually pumps high-pressure steam (120 g/min) to a comfortable and unbelievably lightweight iron unit. This glides over tricky cotton-rich fabrics like an air hockey puck. 

If you hit a troublesome patch, double tap the button for a whopping 470g steam boost.

Making things even simpler, the Philips PerfectCare has no temperature controls at all. Instead, the ingenious OptimalTEMP technology controls the heat of the soleplate so you can swap from silk to denim without having to fiddle with different temperature settings. 

A remarkable side effect of this system is that you can leave the iron face down on fabric – even silk – without burning 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. 

Yes, you will do to wait a little longer for it to reach operating temperature, and pay more for the privilege, but seriously, if God wanted to flatten the Himalayas, this is what he’d use.

2. Bosch Sensixx’x DA70 i-Temp TDA7060GB

The best mid-price iron you can buy

Key features: one temperature, easy descale
Power: 2,900 watts
Tank capacity: 380ml
Continuous steam: 50g/min
Steam boost: 200g
Reasons to buy
+No temperature dial+Pretty affordable+Decent steam output
Reasons to avoid
-Not as good as the Philips
Today's best Bosch Sensixx’x DA70 i-Temp TDA7060GB deals

Lower down the price scale to the Philips machine is the quite horrifically- spelled Sensixx’x. It is a quite fantastic bargain, and ideal for those who iron a bit less frequently, or simply have less money to burn.

It heats up pronto and features a similar one-temperature system to the Philips irons. Bosch calls it iTemp and, although it’s not quite as sophisticated, it does mean it’ll iron all fabrics on a single setting. 

Whether you can leave the iron face down on a silk shirt without it burning a hole – as you can on Philips' machines – is open to debate. It does certainly, however, switch off when put it down, then heats up quickly again as soon as you pick it up.

The Bosch’s easy-glide PalladiumGlissée soleplate and 50 g/min continuous steam output make light work of even the most rebellious fabrics and even if you do reach a crease too far, simply hold in the 200g boost button and it’ll flatten it in a thrice. 

I've got to say this iron isn’t quite as easy as the Philips to get a handle on, partly because there are a few more buttons to tackle. However, it’s comfortable in the hand and comes with a large 380ml tank and an excellent descaling system. It’s a steal.

4. Tefal Smart Protect FV4970

Great value, easy-to-use iron

Power: 2,500 watts
Tank capacity: 0.27 litres
Other features: auto-shutoff
Dimensions: 34.4 x 17.8 x 14.4 cm
Reasons to buy
+Smart auto-off+No setup+Keenly priced
Reasons to avoid
-Small tank
Today's best Tefal Smart Protect FV4970 deals

If you're on an even tighter budget, this slightly older Tefal won't let you down.

Like the Philips and Bosch, the Tefal Smart Protect has just one fixed, no-burn heat setting for all fabrics, so switching between silks and linens is a breeze. 

The Tefal makes the most of its 40 g/min steam output by way of a smooth-running Durilium Technology soleplate fitted with extra steam holes at the tip and on the edges. 

A 150g/min blast is good for stubborn creases and an Eco mode reduces energy consumption by 20%. A great budget choice.

5. Braun CareStyle 3

Best budget steam generator

Key features: one temp, 3D BackGlide soleplate
Tank capacity: 2 litres
Continuous steam: 120g/min
Steam boost: 310g
Reasons to buy
+Very reasonably priced+Ultra smooth BackGlide Soleplate
Reasons to avoid
-Iron unit is a bit clunky
Today's best Braun CareStyle 3 deals

Braun's Carestyle 3 is pretty keenly priced for a steam generator, and comes in three variants, each with a slightly different steam output. This particular 3041 model produces a continuous output of 120g/min and a perfectly adequate steam boost of 310g/min. It’s an ideal model for medium-sized piles of laundry though its ironing unit is pretty chunky – nothing like as sleek as the more expensive Philips PerfectCare models. 

Its iCareTec system, rather like said Philips model, utilises a smart textile protection system to set the correct temperature for every fabric. And that, in theory, means no more scorched delicates.

Possibly the most useful innovation here is the slippery, Eloxal-coated 3D BackGlide soleplate, which consists of a smooth, rounded rear section that allows the iron to hover over fabrics whether its moving forwards or backwards. That means no more reverse snagging and bunching, especially when ironing lighter fabrics. It’s also durable, so you can iron over zips and buttons without needing to worry about scratches.

The generator heats up in a respectable two minutes and comes with a two-litre reservoir – one of the largest on the market – and a great cord storage facility. Arguably, the very best thing about this steam iron is that it has a click-in lock mechanism that’s faintly reminiscent of loading a magazine into a gun. Clack clack! Yes, sorry, that is very childish.

6. Breville PressXpress VIN339-01

Best low-cost steam iron

Key features: easy fill reservoir
Power: 2,800 watts
Tank capacity: 400ml
Continuous steam: 40g/min
Steam boost: 180g
Reasons to buy
+Large water reservoir+Easy to fill
Reasons to avoid
-You’ll need to know your fabrics
Today's best Breville PressXpress VIN339-01 deals

The keenly-priced 2800-watt PressXpress uses a wide ceramic soleplate which is more slippery than plain steel while distributing the same level of heat. It also has a precision tip which is good for navigating around the shoulder blades of shirts and between pleats on blouses, etc.

It provides a constant steam rating of 40g/min and a not-too-shabby 180g steam shot for unruly creases, and it can also be used vertically for flattening suits, dresses and curtains. 

Unlike on more costly models there is an olde worlde temperature dial, with all the usual suspects – linen, cotton, wool, synthetics, silk. There’s a not-especially-tactile, sliding steam-strength switch on top, along with buttons for steam boost and fine spray. Like most modern irons, it does have a self-cleaning function.

Finally, those who have trouble filling their iron without splashing water all over the place will greatly appreciate this model’s extra wide opening which allows you to fill the huge, industry-leading, 400ml reservoir from a running tap or wide-rimmed glass. Nice touch.

7. Tefal Ultimate Anti Scale FV9740

Great iron for hard water areas

Key features: easy descale
Power: 2,800 watts
Tank capacity: 350ml
Continuous steam: 55g/min
Steam boost: 200g
Reasons to buy
+Great anti-scale feature+Soleplate remains stain free
Reasons to avoid
-Quite heavy/clunky
Today's best Tefal Ultimate Anti Scale FV9740 deals

This Tefal model comes with an excellent self-cleaning feature that doesn’t require any aftermarket descaling solutions. Simply unscrew the calc collection module every few weeks and empty the calcified pellets. 

Its Durilium Airglide Autoclean Technology ensures the soleplate glides over fabrics like a curling stone and doesn’t stain, so it won't suddenly spit out a dollop of annoying brown stuff all over your shirt, just as you’re about to leave for dinner.

It’s quite a weighty unit, mind, partly due to the large 350ml water tank. This iron sports a continuous steam output of 55g/min and a 200g steam boost for heavier fabrics like denim and linen sheets. You can also use it vertically to steam suits and shirts on the hangar. The soleplate’s tapered tip is great for dealing with tricky shirt cuffs and pleats

The Tefal comes with the usual gamut of temperature controls – if you can’t really tell your silks from your cottons, look at the single-temp likes of the Philips and Bosch irons instead.

8. Russell Hobbs Freedom Cordless 23300

Best cordless steam iron

Key features: cordless
Power: 2,400 watts
Tank capacity: 300ml
Continuous steam: 40g/min
Steam boost: 135g
Reasons to buy
+Ready for use in 30 seconds+Five second recharge
Reasons to avoid
-Not great for large laundry piles
Today's best Russell Hobbs Freedom Cordless deals

For fuss-free cordless ironing, this is a great choice. The battery adds some extra bulk and the circular power dock that constantly tops up the battery is a bit fiddly to engage but cable-free pressing remains a boon. 

The Freedom sports a 135g boost and 40g/min of continuous steam and you can also use it vertically for curtains and delicate garments like suits and dresses.

You should get through a shirt or possibly two before the Recharger Reminder sounds an audible alarm to tell you put it back on its base. However, while charge top-ups usually only takes about five seconds to complete, this can amount to quite a bit of waiting around if you have a mountain of laundry to attend to. The cordless approach is great for small amounts of clothing but not so good if you have a large family and very little patience.

9. Hoover AirFlow

If you can't stand the heat…

Power: 2,600 watts
Tank capacity: 0.35 litres
Other features: fan to blow out hot air, self-clean
Dimensions: 37.1 x 19 x 16cm
Reasons to buy
Reasons to avoid
-Cooling fan a bit gimmicky
Today's best Hoover AirFlow deals

This Hoover iron uses a fan to cool the air around your hand and offers a very decent 190g/min steam boost to tackle your stubborn creases, and 45g/min of continuous steam. 

With a ceramic soleplate, a raft of steam settings, an anti-scale device and nice wide legs for wrapping up the cord, it's a textbook example of the modern-day iron. It's also got a super-long power cord at 2.5 metres.

Meanwhile, its cool air blower allegedly, ‘lowers the temperature around your hand by up to 50 percent’. So that's nice.

10. Swan 900W Travel Iron

Best for travel (obviously)

Power: 2,700 watts
Tank capacity: 0.1 litres
Dimensions: 9.3 x 8.4 x 17 cm
Reasons to buy
+Small, portable, cheap+Actually quite powerful
Reasons to avoid
-Tiny tank
Today's best Swan 900W Travel Iron deals

This cheap, dinky travel companion is a small and packable steam iron for those who simply must maintain an immaculate appearance even when ostensibly letting their hair down. 

Key stats: 900W, 1-litre tank, 500g in weight, about 10 quid. And it comes with a 'travel pouch', too. 

Mmm, travel pouch.