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There’s nothing like a steady burst of steam to banish even the most stubborn wrinkles, making a reliable steam iron a household essential. Most steam irons work the same way, but if you’re serious about steam, look for models with steam burst functions, more steam holes, and high-capacity water reservoirs that mean you won’t have to fill up so often. Other helpful features include vertical steaming for hanging garments and curtains, self-cleaning or anti-calcification settings that help banish mineral buildup, and self-adjusting steam levels.
Don’t forget safety when you shop for a steam iron. Some cheaper models don’t include an automatic shut-off feature that can cut power if you walk away from an iron that’s still on. These features work especially quickly if the iron is left on its soleplate or side, which can pose a bigger fire risk.
Here are six of the best steam irons out there:
01 of 07
Best Overall: Rowenta DW5080 Focus Steam Iron
The best-selling Rowenta DW5080 manages to do a lot of things well, and thousands of owners say they’re happy they made this their go-to iron. This German-made model gets particular raves for its impressive steaming abilities, wide range of features and sturdy build. It’s also not quite as pricey as other high-end irons, so you’re getting a lot of bang for the buck.
This 1700-watt iron’s stainless-steel soleplate includes 400 steam holes, and the auto-steam feature self-adjusts output depending on the heat settings. There is a precision tip for collars, seams, buttons and other tough-to-iron areas; an anti-calcification system; vertical steam; and self-clean. The water tank holds 10 ounces, making it one of the larger-capacity options out there. Owners say this iron wows them by heating up quickly, gliding smoothly and providing more than enough steam for tough wrinkles. There are some reports of leaks, and it is on the heavier side at over 3 pounds, but many owners feel that the extra weight helps banish wrinkles compared with lighter irons. An automatic shut-off kicks in after 8 minutes when the iron is left sitting vertically, or 30 seconds on its side or soleplate.
02 of 07
Best High-End: Rowenta DW9280 Steam Force LED Display Iron
If you need a serious steam iron and have a little more to spend, reviewers say the Rowenta DW9280 Steam Force is the clear choice. Rowenta says the steam pump injects 30 percent more steam into clothing than irons without a pump – up to 220 grams a minute – and experts give it top marks for a its steaming rate, ironing ability and ease of use.
This 1800-watt iron features a steam pump, stainless-steel soleplate with 400 steam holes, a one-touch LED digital display, five fabric settings, self-clean and vertical steam. The water tank holds an impressive 10.8 ounces of water. Owners praise the Steam Force for its ability to glide ever-so-smoothly over any fabric, and they say the abundant steam can banish wrinkles from even the heaviest fabrics. But some reviewers complain of leaks, and others note that this is a serious iron with some heft – at 3.7 pounds, it’s definitely no lightweight. An automatic shut-off kicks in after 8 minutes when the iron is left sitting vertically, or 30 seconds on its side or soleplate.
03 of 07
Runner Up, Best Overall: T-fal FV4495 Ultraglide Steam Iron
Buyers hoping to spend a bit less on a steam iron that doesn’t sacrifice performance should take a close look at the T-fal FV4495 Ultraglide, which receives raves from experts for its steaming rate, ironing performance and ease of use despite the lower price point. Unlike most irons with stainless-steel soleplates, the T-Fal has a scratch-resistant ceramic plate that owners love, saying it glides smoothly and doesn’t stick to clothes.
Other features on this 1725-watt T-fal include steam burst; a cord-exit system that ensures the extra-long power cord stays safely out of the way; an anti-calc system that prevents buildup; and a soft-grip handle. The water reservoir holds 9 ounces – enough for typical use without requiring too many annoying fill-ups. Owners say dozens of steam holes make quick work of wrinkly clothing, and they appreciate the long power cord, which makes it easier to set up the ironing board in a convenient spot. There are some complaints of leaks. An automatic shut-off kicks in after 8 minutes when the iron is left sitting vertically, or 30 seconds on its side or soleplate.
04 of 07
Best Budget: Black+Decker IR03V Easy Steam Iron
If you’re on a truly limited budget, it doesn’t get a whole lot cheaper than the Black+Decker IR03V. This best-selling iron still manages to satisfy the majority of its owners despite the low, low price, and it still keeps the most important features a steam iron needs, including a steam-surge option for tough wrinkles.
Though you might not expect it on a cheaper iron, the IR03V also includes a vertical steam function that can banish wrinkles from hanging garments. There are six heat settings, a stainless-steel nonstick soleplate, and a translucent 7.7-ounce water tank that makes it easier to check the water level. While some reviewers complain that the iron and water tank are too small for bigger jobs, others say the size makes it easier to manage. They also appreciate that it’s light at under 2 pounds. While most users report minimal issues, leaks are a problem for some. Be sure to note that there is no automatic shut-off feature.Continue to 5 of 7 below.
05 of 07
Best Cordless: Panasonic Steam Iron with Carrying Case, Cordless
Cords can be a hassle when trying to iron, so this one cuts the cord. Instead of plugging it into an outlet, just charge the iron on its charging base (included), and then it’s ready to go. The charging base does require electricity, but the cord is retractable, so you can store it neatly when it’s not in use. It also comes with a heat-resistant carrying case, so you can take it with you on the go.
The iron comes with all sorts of other features and functionality that find in traditional irons including an auto shut-off, electronic temperature control and spray-mist button for extra-tough wrinkles. A vertical steam feature lets you can attack wrinkles in hanging garments or curtains too. Customers, particularly quilters, love it and rave about the ease of ironing without a cumbersome cord.
06 of 07
Best Ease of Use: Panasonic Concept 360
You might not think that a simple steam iron will impact your energy bill or the environment, but every little thing adds up. Save some money and help out the earth by choosing an energy efficient iron like the Panasonic Concept 360. Since irons don’t suck up that much energy, the best thing to look for when it comes to energy efficiency is an intelligent design. The iron should give you options when using it.
The Concept 360 makes this easy by providing the tools and features you need to save time. The unique soleplate design makes it easy to move the iron backwards and sideways, saving you up to 25% of time while ironing. In combination with the different steam settings, you can tailor this iron to the amount of steam you need without wasting water or energy.
07 of 07
Best for Vertical Steaming: SAG-11 Garment Steamer
If you want to give your ironing board the boot, this vertical steamer is the way to go. Just like a pro, you can rid all your clothing and linens of wrinkles with ease. It has a large water tank, which will allow you to steam for up to 55 minutes. It also promises to kill 99.9 percent of germs and bacteria that are living in your fabrics (eww!).
The steamer is mounted on wheels and is lightweight (just about 12 pounds), so you can move it from closet to closet or wherever you want to do your steaming. Customers say it heats up quickly and does a great job getting rid of wrinkles. One reviewer noted, however, that they wish the cord was longer so it would work on curtains as well.
Still can't decide on what you want? Our round-up of the best irons and clothing steamers can help you find what you're looking for.