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11 best steam irons

Tackle stubborn creases and power through your pile of clean laundry with an effective appliance

Not just any old iron ( )

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Doing the ironing is the household chore Britons hate the most, according to YouGov. So if the sight of your growing laundry pile gets you about as excited as heavy rain, you’ll be pleased to know that there is a way to make the task both easier and quicker – and that’s investing in a decent iron.

First things first, you need to work out if you want a steam generator iron or a more traditional steam iron? While a steam generator iron pumps out copious amounts of steam continually, don’t assume they’re always superior. For one thing, they tend to be much bigger and more expensive and actually, some smaller steam irons can be just as effective, especially if you have smaller ironing piles or iron as you go.

There are two types of steam iron – those with varying temperatures, which you select from a dial according to the fabric you’re pressing, and those with a one-temperature-fits-all approach. Whichever one you go for, the soleplate should ideally be thin and tapered, as well a scratch-resistant, and there should be a steam shot button within thumb’s reach for extra bursts of steam when you need them.

Your dream steam iron won’t be too heavy or uncomfortable to hold, especially if you do all your ironing in one go. It should be easy to see when the water level is running low (better still, it should have a warning light when it’s running dry) and easy to fill up the tank. Most steam irons have self-cleaning systems and anti-calcium functions to stop limescale from building up and clogging the steam vents – you’ll want these to work well if you live in a hard water area. The cord shouldn’t be too short or get in the way while you iron, and should be easy to tidy away afterwards. Do you need an auto shut-off feature? Would it be helpful to have a vertical steam feature for curtains and hanging clothes? Do you need it to be really quick to heat up, for instance if you’re a last-minute ironer? Sadly, no one iron ticks all these boxes, so choose your priorities and go from there.

Philips Performer Plus GC4526/87: £58, Amazon

Weight: 1.57kg
Tank capacity: 300ml
Cord length: 2.5m
Steam output: 50g/min
Power: 2600W

This transforms crumpled clothes into super-smooth fabrics that stay crease-free even when you’ve hung them up, all without the need for any real elbow grease or (importantly) the need to go over the same spot again. You don’t even have to use the boost button very often, if at all. There’s no need to worry about limescale, either, as the filter is effective and it’s easy to see when it needs filling up with water. It’s on the heavy side, but because it does its job so quickly, you notice it less.

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Beko SPA7131 Hybrid Steam Iron: £44.99, Amazon

Weight: 2.38kg
Tank capacity: 350ml
Cord length:  2.5m
Steam output: 60g/min
Power: 3100W

No need to fiddle with the temperature dial as you switch from one fabric type to the other, as this iron doesn’t have one. The heat/steam ratio is made to work on all materials and we were impressed how it kept delicate materials looking like new, as well as racing through more troublesome fabrics – although we had to use the steam shot button a lot for more stubborn wrinkles. It heats up very quickly, in less than 30 seconds, and it’s good for hard water areas, as limescale doesn’t seem to build up. But it’s quite heavy and a bit fiddly to fill the water tank.

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Hoover TIF2601 AirFlow: £24.96, Amazon

Weight: 2.04kg
Tank capacity: 350ml
Cord length: 2.5m
Steam output: 45g/min
Power: 2600W

The stand-out feature with this great-value iron is a fan that provides a cooling breeze around your hand – an inspired invention for those who are prone to getting hot and sweaty from all the steam involved in ironing. Other advantages include impressive limescale resistance and the durable, scratch-resistant soleplate that won’t be ruined by rogue zips. But the fan does add to the overall weight and you have to press a bit harder than with some, especially when it comes to more stubborn crinkles.

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Bosch TDA3022GB Steam Iron: £49, Amazon

Weight: 1.8kg
Tank capacity: 320ml
Cord length: 3m
Steam output: 40g/min
Power: 2850W

This will blitz through even the tallest pile of laundry in no time thanks to the smooth-glide soleplate and sheer steaminess. Bosch claims it’s all down to a special steam system that’s engineered to penetrate deeper into fabrics. Whatever it is, it seems to work and it’s ready to use in half-a-minute. It’s got a long cord and is limescale-resistant, quiet and comfy to hold, thanks to the ergonomic shaping of the handle. The vertical steam function had our curtains looking fabulous, but the soleplate won’t slide under thinner buttons and, as with so many irons, it’s difficult to see the water level – there is a dry tank alert, which goes some way to remedying this, however.

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Breville VIN393 Auto Ceramic Steam Iron: £29.96, Amazon

Weight: 1.4kg
Tank capacity: 250ml
Cord length: 2m
Steam output: 40g/min
Power: 2400W

You won’t have much trouble locating this in your cupboard, thanks to its bright green soleplate. And you won’t be disappointed with its performance either, as it’s ready to go within just 30 seconds and coasts over crumples with its scratch-resistant soleplate. It doesn’t get clogged up with limescale and unlike with many irons, the water level is easy to see. We love the non-slip handle and it feels lightweight. The cord isn’t all that long, though, and can get in the way while ironing. The soleplate is too thick to reach under buttons too.

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Tefal Smart Protect FV4970: £39.99, Amazon

Weight: 1.3kg
Tank capacity: 270ml
Cord length: 2m
Steam output: 40g/min
Power: 2500W

Here’s another model with a single temperature and steam setting that saves you having to change the dial according to whether the fabrics are durable or more delicate. Don’t be put off the continuous steam – it’s all part of the magic. And while it’s not quite as tough on limescale build-up as some other irons, it’s marginal. But as with other models, the soleplate won’t reach under buttons, the cord is on the shorter side and a full water tank only lasts 10 minutes.

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Rowenta DW9230 Steamforce: £92.97, Amazon

Weight: 1.6kg
Tank capacity: 300ml
Cord length: 2.5m
Steam output: 50g/min
Power: 2750W

We balked at the price-tag too – it almost stopped us including it in our round-up. But it is a sound investment for anyone who’s prone to remembering that a shirt needs a good going over when you’re already late for dinner, as it heats up in 30 seconds and the steam boost is particularly powerful, while the single temperature setting means no mucking about with dials. The soleplate is thin and tapered enough to reach into the tightest spots and your hand is ergonomically shaped. But it’s on the heavy side and it’s hard to see the water level in the tank – a regular grumble, we know.

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JML Phoenix Copper Pro: £49.99, Amazon

Weight: 1.64kg
Tank capacity: 370ml
Cord length: 2.65m
Steam output: 45g/min
Power: 2200W

Copper is on-trend when it comes to kitchen appliances, but does it really add anything to a steam iron? JML claims the copper-ceramic-coated soleplate heats up extra fast and retains heat longer and while we’re not convinced about the former claim (it takes around a minute-and-a-half), the heat didn’t taper off even after using the iron for a long time. Expect oodles of steam and a slim-tipped and scratch-resistant soleplate. It also won us over with its strong limescale resistance. But the handle feels a bit awkward after long periods and, you guessed it, the water tank level is hard to view.

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John Lewis Power Steam: £24.95, John Lewis 

Weight: 1.5kg
Tank capacity: 350ml
Cord length: 1.9m
Steam output: 50g/min
Power: 2400W

We love the easy-to-reach function buttons on the top of the handle of this iron, and its whizzy LED digital display (which will also remind you when it needs cleaning). It tackles large amounts of wrinkled laundry easily and it doesn’t clog up with limescale. The vertical steam function works well – suits came up a treat. But yet again, it isn’t easy to see the water level and for really entrenched creases, we think other irons are superior. 

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Morphy Richards Comfigrip 303127: £89.99, Morphy Richards

Weight: 1.7kg
Tank capacity: 400ml
Cord length: 2m
Steam output: 70g/min
Power: 2800W

If you live in a hard water area, this iron isn’t for you, as is scales up quickly and the self-clean process isn’t great. But it’s fantastic purchase for those in softer water areas as the steam, which the manufacturer attributes to the tri-zone base plate with three areas – one for regular steam, one for steam boost and one without steam vents to dry up moisture, sails through your ironing pile. The water level is hard to see, though, and the cord is on the shorter side.

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Russell Hobbs Plug and Wind: £42.99, Amazon

Weight: 1.5kg
Tank capacity: 300ml
Cord length: 2m
Steam output: 45g/min 
Power: 2400W

Only the lightest touch is required to banish creases with this iron, even though it’s not all that steamy. You won’t have to worry if you need that shirt in a hurry as it’s quick to heat up (around 30 seconds) and it’s a cinch to store away due to the innovative cord storage system that allows you to wind the cord around the bottom of the iron and plug into the base (hence the name). But it needs regular cleaning, which we found to involve lots of spitting.

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The verdict: steam irons 

The Philips Performer Plus GC4526/87 doesn’t do everything on our wish list, but it’s the best of the bunch and is a fabulous all-rounder. For those that don’t want to bother with a temperature dial, we think your best buy is the Beko SPA7131 Hybrid Steam Iron.

IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.

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