Whether you're looking for the best steam iron or the best steam generator iron of 2023, we've hopefully got what you need right here. We're not sure anyone 'enjoys' ironing, but if you must do it – which you should if you don’t want to look like you’ve just rolled out of bed – you want it out of the way as sharply and crisply as possible. That's why you want the BEST iron or even the BEST steam generator!
For today’s modern gent or lady who wants to look sharp, the 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.
Homewares are a popular product category so you're likely to save a bit of cash on your crease destroyer of choice. And there are already plenty of discounts to be had – you'll find the best of them further down the page as we check prices at thousands of retailers every day to ensure you get the flattest prices and don't end up steaming over a bad purchase. A good additional purchase to consider now is something from our best water filter jug guide – it'll help stop your iron from scaling up.
The best steam irons & the best steam generators in 2023
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Best steam irons
Philips takes ironing to new heights of creaseless pleasure with this sensational 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 what it suggests – a full constant blast for flattening heavy creases. Ionic, meanwhile, 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.
Lower down the price scale to the Philips machines is the quite horrifically spelled Sensixx’x. It is a decent bargain and ideal for those who iron a bit less frequently, or simply have less money to burn. But it's not terribly attractive to look at. In fact it’s white ugly.
The Sensixx’x heats up pretty pronto and features an easy-glide Ceranium-glissee soleplate with precision tip and a 40 g/min continuous steam output that makes light work of most rebellious fabrics. And should you reach a crease too far, simply hold in the 210g boost button and it’ll flatten it in a thrice. It also comes with an easy-to-fill 320ml water reservoir and an excellent three-stage anti calc system to keep scaly spurts at bay.
This 2,850 watt model doesn’t feel too heavy in the hand and is generally easy to use though the handle is quite small which means the three-metre power cord tends to rub against the hand which is a bit irritating.
Best steam generators
The Perfectcare Elite pales slightly in comparison with the new 8000 Series below but this older and considerably cheaper Philips steam generator is still a formidable performer. The hefty, removable 1.8-litre water reservoir delivers a continuous flow of steam at a suitably high-pressure of 135 g/min. The iron part of the combo is as light and elegant as the pump is hefty and businesslike, gliding over clothes like an air hockey puck. The button-fired 470g steam boost is enough to flatten any creases in even the toughest textiles.
The Philips PerfectCare system involves no temperature controls, flattening everything from silk to denim (not that you should iron jeans, but you get my drift) without having to change the temperature setting. Even more magically, you can leave the iron face down on any fabric – even a silk nighty – and, somehow, it will not burn. This writer actually tried this and I'm still married, so big result there.
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. For what it offers, this steam generator is very reasonably priced and, compared to some more recent additions to the Philips canon, it feels like a steal.
This new copper-coloured flagship model is the most expensive steam generator in the Philips range and for very good reason because, not only is it equipped with Philips’ hallmark no-burn OptimalTEMP technology, it also comes with some tantalising new features that make domestic – and to some degree professional – ironing a smooth, easy-going experience.
Take Speed mode, for instance. This clever inclusion adapts to the speed of your ironing by automatically boosting or reducing its continuous steam flow while its built in sensor cleverly detects whether iron is moving or at a standstill, and adjusts the steam flow accordingly.
Like most of its high-end steam generators, the Series 8000 coms with a large, detachable, 1.8-litre water reservoir and an excellent Easy De-Calc Plus descaler that continually collects limescale before depositing it into its easily-cleaned limescale channel. It also features a vertical steaming mode for decreasing curtains, suits and other dress wear.
This stunning beast continually pumps out steam at a whopping 170g/min which is about as good as it gets. When you need a bigger blast, a double tap of the button unleashes an industry-leading 700g boost of Icelandic geysir proportions.
As with all PerfectCare models, this high-end option has no temperature dials. Instead, it uses the company’s ingenious OptimalTEMP technology to control the heat of the soleplate so you can swap from delicates to heavy cotton without having to fiddle with any temperature dials. So remarkable is this system that you can leave the iron face down on your favourite silk shirt without burning a dirty great hole in it. Needless to say, many other manufacturers are now employing their own single-temp tech in an effort to catch up, but the Philips system remains best.
Any niggles? Well auto shut-off is a bit too short for my liking (about four minutes) and my test machine does spurt a little water out of the ultra-light soleplate the first time you use it. Hence, I would advise holding the soleplate away from your fabrics until the steam settles. I should add that this is quite a common anomaly with steam generators where condensation collects under the soleplate and in the hose.
Simplicity alone guarantees this supremely efficient, albeit pricy, model an unequivocal high five. The fact it comes with so much other tech and steam-boost specs that rival the Flying Scotsman only serves to compound just how incredible this steam generator is. If you iron mountains of laundry or sew stuff for a living, put this model way up the list.
A T3 feature guide with one company hogging most of the top spots is a rarity outside of the drone market, but the simple truth of the matter is that, right now, Philips is producing far and away the best irons and steam generators on the market. We’ve already thrown accolades at two other Philips steam generator models in this roundup but – hold your horses – here comes that third.
This keenly priced Compact model differs in a few areas from its pricier and higher specced stablemates, but it’s almost as efficient and, in many ways, much more practical for day-to-day ironing duties. Despite being the same size, the hand unit is slightly heavier than the others (1.2kg as opposed to around 0.8kg) but not ungainly so. Also, the non-detachable reservoir holds 1.5-litres of water instead of 1.8-litres and both the continuous steam and boost outputs are somewhat lower but still more than capable enough for the job in hand. Crucially, the whole package is small enough to sit on an average ironing board cradle – something you can’t confidently do with other steam generators.
As is the case with the majority of Philips steam generators and irons, this model also comes with OptimalTemp technology which uses just one temperature setting for all types of fabric, whether it’s heavy denim or fine silk. The system is so perfectly dialled that you can safely leave the iron unit face down on the ironing board without having to use the main unit’s cradle. Needless to say, the iron will automatically shut down after a period of inactivity.
If you’re keen on trying a steam generator but don’t want to blow a huge wad or put aside a quite large area of storage space, then this pukka pink product is the one for you.
Other top irons & steam generators
Picture the scene… You’re about to go to a wedding and you have your favourite shirt – possibly your only shirt – ready on the ironing board. You have just minutes to spare, so you turn on your steam iron, place it on the shirt, pull the steam trigger and – holy mother of pearl – a spurt of limescale splatters itself all over the front. We’ve all been there. Well, the clever bods at Tefal appear to have solved this ridiculous peculiarity by fitting a MicroScale filter to this classy iron that removes 100% of any scale in the steam chamber before it reaches the soleplate. We like that, a lot.
The Ultimate Pure has some other great features, too, like 60g/min continuous steam, a Philips Azure Elite-matching 260g/min steam boost, a large 350ml water tank with big filling hole and a fancy Durilium Airglide soleplate with a stain-reducing Palladium coating that is said to provide 33% more glide than its predecessors. We can’t be sure it’s exactly 33% smoother but we do know it skims over cloth like a hockey puck on ice.
Like the majority of steam irons, the Ultimate Pure comes with an easy-to-use sliding temperature scale that runs from low heat (for silks and other delicates) to bloody hot (creased linen). It tackled everything we laid in its path with the flattening prowess of a steamroller. Despite excelling in all departments, it’s a pretty weighty thing in the hand, so bear that in mind if you’re a little frail in the arm muscle department.
Yes, it’s another Philips, but that’s because Philips makes very good irons: they’ve dominated the likes of the Good Housekeeping Institute’s best buys for years and garner consistently excellent reviews from customers. And us. The Azur shares the faintly videogame-y design of our current favourite, the Azur Elite, but dials down the power a wee bit and costs a little less as a result.
It’s not as mad as the Elite but it’s still blooming powerful, with a 250g steam boost, 50g/min steaming for crease removal and a 2,600w heating element. However, it’s considerably lighter: 1.5Kg compared to the Elite’s two-plus kilos.
If you’re slender of frame or don't have great grip, that weight difference means a lot when it comes to comfort during longer ironing sessions. The lesser weight does make it a little less effective on really creased garments, but we think it’s a worthwhile trade-off.
Funky by name, funky by nature, this updated home-grown retro cloth presser is arguably one of the most striking irons on the board and is a choice par excellence for Smeg and Dualit fans, or indeed anyone into the ’50s thing.
However, it’s not all style over substance since it comes with pretty much everything you’d expect of a decent quality iron. It doesn’t have a steam shot function but then its 45g/min continuous steam output is ample enough even for the most obstreperous heavyweight denim. Rather handily, it features three continuous steam output settings, from gentle to geyser.
At 1.3kgs, the Funky is weighty in the hand but thankfully its ceramic soleplate coasts across fabric like skates on ice so it’s easy enough to push about. It also has a large 450ml water tank, a decently long three-metre power cable and a basic self-clean feature. The complimentary heat-resistant silicone pad for resting the soleplate on the surface of an ironing board is a thoughtful addition.
The Funky Iron is available in three new perspex-like finishes – Rose Gold, Pale Blue and Grey – and performs ironing duties without fuss, though its bulbous shape does make it impossible to wrap the cord around for storage. It’s not the cheapest iron on the board either. Oh, and in case you’re interested, the Funky Appliance Company also produces a set of matching kettles and toasters.
The Russell Hobbs Supreme Steam is a great standard issue iron that not only comes in a rather fetching purple colour, it works a treat too. There’s a stainless steel soleplate, which makes it nice and solid to use, while 2400 watts of power gives it plenty of operating muscle.
In terms of the quality of the ironing, this model turns out to be very good, with 40g continuous steam and a 110g shot of steam when you need it. The fact that it is anti drip is also a boon, to save splashes on your favourite garments. The feature set includes Dry, Steam and Spray and Burst, which covers most bases while the 300ml water tab means you only need to refill occasionally.
Things are rounded out with a neat, practical design, which features a soft touch handle and dial. Admittedly, the 2-metre cord could to with being a little longer for some ironing scenarios. However, for general day-to-day use on a standard ironing board it’s absolutely fine.
The Braun CareStyle 7 steam generator is perfect for medium piles of laundry and delicate clothing though it’s not as attractive or intuitive as the Philips PerfectCare range – it is somewhat cheaper, mind.
This model comes with an iCare mode, which, rather like the Philips models, utilises a smart textile protection system to set the correct temperature for every fabric. And that, in theory, means no more scorched delicates.
But maybe the most useful innovation here is the slippery Eloxal-Plus 3D soleplate, which consists of a smooth, bevelled rear section that allows the iron to hover over fabrics whether its moving forwards or backwards. And that means no more reverse snagging and bunching, especially when ironing lighter garments like blouses and thin, easily-wrinkled T-shirts.
This steam generator heats up in a respectable two minutes and comes with a large 2-litre reservoir. It’s powerful, too, with a continuous steam output of 125 g/min and a commendable boost figure of 500 g/min.
If you fancy a model other than a Philips that performs almost as well, consider this sturdy option for all your ironing needs.
Best travel iron
This compact 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, will likely resemble a pile of dish rags.
It comes with a stainless steel soleplate, variable steam output, temperature control, a water spray function, a small 80ml water reservoir and a manually operated dual voltage switch (110v to 240v) so it can be used in any country on planet Earth. Okay, you’re not going to get through a mound of laundry in record time with this iron, but for a nicely pressed shirt or two when required, it passes much muster.
If you’re holidaying for more than a week or on a business trip and need to look spick and little bit span at the conference meeting, then a small travel iron of this stature might just save the day. It’s cheap as chips, too.
Best handheld steamer
This portable hand steamer is perfect for the travelling business bod, or indeed anyone who has ever tried to borrow an iron at a hotel. You know the scenario. Either another guest has already nabbed the only iron in existence or the iron they’re able to loan you resembles something your great grandma might have used. And then there’s the hassle of trying to fit the ironing board in the tiny space between the end of the bed and the obligatory writing desk that no one ever uses.
Frankly, I never expected this product to make much impression on my heavily creased, hand-held T-shirt but blow me down with a feather if it didn’t remove all the creases without the hot metal plate even touching the fabric. It did so very quickly, too, and without producing any significant amounts of steam; certainly nothing like the geyser-like blast of your average iron.
The lightweight Fridja takes about 45 seconds to warm up and is capable of providing up to 14 minutes of continuous steaming. The whole system is comprised of a hand unit, a 260ml water tank, a flat plastic collar stiffener, a collapsible clothes hanger, a soft fabric guard for delicates and a nice velvet pouch to put it all in. In a stroke of minor genius, it also comes with a space-saving adaptor that allows you to use any standard plastic drinks bottle instead of the main water tank.
If you do a lot of business-based travel with suits, shirts, skirts and blouses then this small, eminently packable package will get you out of a tight fix. After all, who wants to turn up at the investor’s meeting looking like a corrugated scarecrow?
How we test steam irons
The life of a steam iron reviewer is not an easy one. Derek Adams and our other iron specialists have no other way to test irons than to use them at home. As a result, our reviewers are always very crisply turned out, but a bit bored of ironing. Good thing we pay them such a princely sum for their efforts!
Want to know more? Discover how we test at T3 (opens in new tab).
What is a steam generator?
Steam is a crease’s arch adversary, so it stands to reason that the more steam you have at your fingertips the easier the task.
Steam generators work in the same way as bog standard irons, only they’re a lot more powerful and therefore faster, easier and more efficient for ironing large amounts of laundry. Unlike a standard iron, a steam generator is comprised of a separate unit containing a water reservoir, boiler and pump that connects to a lightweight iron via a length of insulated rubber hosing.
This separation of components allows steam generators to produce far greater volumes of continuous high-pressure steam and, in most cases, stupendously powerful steam boosts for tricky fabrics and heavy creases. For instance, where a common or garden iron kicks out around 55 grams per minute of continuous steam, a good steam generator is capable of discharging between 120g/min and a whopping 165g/min. And when it comes to giving your laundry a steam boost, the best steam generators can output between 280 and 600g of steam in one short crease-flattening blast.
However, steam generators do have a number of disadvantages. They’re more expensive than irons, they take up to three minutes to warm up, and their base units are quite heavy and bulky and ideally need to be used on a steam generator-specific ironing board (Brabantia produces an excellent range of sturdy models). They also tend to make a buzzing noise while the steam is being pumped from the main unit to the iron.
However, if you regularly deal with a lot of laundry, a steam generator will certainly make life much easier. Obviously, if you only iron shirts for weddings and funerals, they could be slight overkill, in which case, a bog-standard steam iron is the device for you.