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Whether you're ironing dress pants for a day at the office, quickly de-wrinkling everyday clothes, or prepping fabrics for your next crafty project, reach for a steam iron. Preferably, a steam iron that'll heat up quickly and glide over fabrics with ease. We tested 30 steam irons in The Lab in Des Moines, Iowa, to find which ones were worth buying. We ironed satin, linen, and cotton fabrics and rated each iron on effectiveness, thoughtful design, portability, heat up time, and overall value.
Our favorite steam iron is the BEAUTURAL 1800-Watt Steam Iron with Digital LCD Screen because it was ready to use in 10 seconds, ironed out the creases of almost all of our testing fabric in one pass, and features an interactive display that's extremely helpful.
Here, the best steam irons, according to our rigorous testing.
Best Overall: BEAUTURAL 1800-Watt Steam Iron with Digital LCD Screen
Heats up in 10 seconds
Removed most wrinkles in one pass
Helpful display screen
Has an auto shut-off feature
Steam setting didn't perform as well on cotton
Only available on Amazon
Who else recommends it? House & Beyond and People also picked the BEAUTURAL 1800-Watt Steam Iron with Digital LCD Screen.
What do buyers say? 90% of 13,600+ Amazon reviewers rated this product 4 stars or above.
Our top pick is the BEAUTURAL 1800-Watt Steam Iron with Digital LCD Screen. Beginners will love how the display screen walks you through which setting to use, while professional ironers will love how quickly this iron heats up and removes wrinkles.
This steam iron scored a perfect 5-star rating for its heat up time because it was ready to use in just 10 seconds. Our tester appreciated that the display screen noted whether the specific fabric should be wet or dry. (You don't have to do any Google research when you're using this device.) Plus, the display does an excellent job of walking users through which setting to choose, so you get the most out of your time spent ironing. The iron also earned a perfect score for both design and portability. Its ceramic soleplate is large enough to iron everyday fabrics with ease, and the grip handle is perfectly designed for hours of ironing. (This is ideal if you're a quilter working on a lengthy project or a parent tackling laundry.)
In our testing, when ironing satin materials, the BEAUTURAL iron only took one to two passes to remove all wrinkles and was able to remove a crease in one pass. It performed similarly with linen, on both the dry and steam setting, removing all wrinkles and a crease in one pass. With cotton, this steam iron removed all creases in one pass on the dry setting, but the steam setting took several passes and used a good amount of water to remove them all. However, it still removed a crease in one pass.
Notably, this iron is decked out with several safety features, which makes it really user-friendly and our top pick. The iron has an automatic shut-off feature that'll kick in if it's idle for too long. The water fill area has a splash guard that helps prevent leaks or accidental spills onto your clothing, too. Ultimately, all of the features and design elements of this steam iron are simple but thoughtful, which is why it's our top pick for beginners and experts alike.
Best Budget: Sunbeam Classic 1200-Watt Mid-Size Anti-Drip Non-Stick Soleplate Iron
Easy to distinguish between settings
Heats up quickly
Easy to grip
Did not work well on linen
Awkward spray nozzle placement
If you want to spend a little bit less on your steam iron, opt for the Sunbeam Classic 1200-Watt Mid-Size Anti-Drip Non-Stick Soleplate Iron. As the name suggests, it packs a ton of good features for an affordable iron and earned an overall 4.6-star rating because it was so quick to heat up and easy to use.
In our testing, this Sunbeam iron heated to 450 degrees in less than a minute. Our testers loved that it was light and easy to maneuver, and they only docked half a point for portability because the 8-foot cord is not retractable. When it came to ironing multiple fabric types, this iron performed well on both satin and cotton, getting all of the wrinkles out in just a few passes. It took a little more effort to get the wrinkles out of linen.
Our tester loved that the iron is straightforward, and it's easy to distinguish between the settings. (The "off" setting is very obvious.) They also noted that the iron is easy to grip, but the spray feature is a little awkward to use due to its placement. Even with this minor inconvenience, they noted that it's a "solid basic iron." This option is for you if you're looking for an affordable and reliable iron to add to your routine.
Best Splurge: Rowenta DG8624U1 Perfect Pro Station Iron
Large water tank
Our splurge-worthy pick is the Rowenta DG8624U1 Perfect Pro Station Iron because it delivers professional-grade results and comes with its own docking station. If you're someone who irons often or values the feel and design of a top-notch product, this is an excellent choice. The large water tank and smartly-designed pointed tip made this pick stand out in our testing, but we're aware that it's a more expensive choice that's maybe more suitable for everyday ironers or quilters who are after extra precision.
During testing, this iron breezed through satin, linen, and cotton fabrics, and the steam was particularly spectacular at removing creases and wrinkles. This iron is heavier than others on the list, which can be an asset if you need to apply pressure to a garment or seam, but it might seem more like a burden for everyday use. Katie Berry, The Spruce's Cleaning Review Board member, stresses that "it's 12 pounds without water." It wouldn't be suitable for someone with arthritis or weaker hands. Also, while the design is eye-catching, this iron does take up a good amount of space, so you'll want to make sure you have somewhere to store it safely.
Best Cordless: Panasonic NI-L70SR Cordless 1500W Steam/Dry Iron
Easy to use
Comes with a carrying case
Great for beginners
Bulky charging base
Did not work well on linen
If you are looking for an easy-to-use, cordless steam iron, consider the Panasonic NI-L70SR Cordless 1500W Steam/Dry Iron. This cordless iron had our testers in love because it has a comfortable grip and doesn't drip. Not to mention, the iron heats up quickly, and the heat settings are simple enough for beginners to use.
This iron was hot and ready to use for cotton and linen fabrics in under a minute, although it took a little bit longer for the satin setting to achieve its heat level. Our testers loved that this iron includes a carrying case but noted that it's a little bulky, resulting in a 4-star rating for portability. The iron itself is cordless, which is excellent for tackling projects that require a lot of twisting and turning. While it de-wrinkled the cotton and satin fabrics quickly and effectively, it struggled on linen. Our testers noted that the linen napkin still showed wrinkles even after several passes.
Best Heavy-Duty: Vremi 1800-Watt Steam Iron for Clothes
Dial display allows for in-between settings
Did not perform well on cotton
If you're looking for a heavy-duty iron to tackle big projects and tough fabrics, opt for the Vremi 1800-Watt Steam Iron for Clothes. It removed wrinkles in one swipe on satin and performed similarly on linen. It took a little longer to get the wrinkles out of cotton on the dry setting, so it was docked a point for that. Plus, at 3.1 pounds, this steam iron is a bit heavier than other irons on this list. However, with an 8-foot cord and heavy build, it's built for use on bulkier fabrics where you may get tired applying pressure yourself.
Our testers noted that this iron had a more "old school" dial setting. They had to adjust it to the wool setting to reach their desired heat level, but they liked that you could put it in between individual settings for a more customized experience. It turned green when ready, adding to its ease of use. The clear reservoir helped our testers easily see the max fill line, too, and they also loved the ergonomic handle design that made the steam iron more comfortable to hold.
Best for Travel: Sunbeam Hot-2-Trot Travel Iron
Large water opening to prevent spills
Irons armholes easily
Tiny heat dial
Difficult to sit upright
If you're looking for a travel steam iron, try the Sunbeam Hot-2-Trot Travel Iron that our testers deemed "small but mighty." It effectively de-wrinkled all three fabrics we put it up against, and our testers specifically noted that it's the perfect size to iron armholes and more delicate, hard-to-reach places.
This tiny steam iron heated in under a minute, although our temperature gauge said it wasn't quite as hot as it reported. While it's lightweight, our testers noted it's likely only good for someone with smaller hands as the features are quite small. They found the heat dial tiny and the puff steam button hard to click on. If you have long nails or larger hands, you might have difficulty using this iron. It was also difficult to sit the iron upright due to where the cord meets the iron.
However, they loved the large water opening and could quickly fill up the reservoir without spills and noted that it holds enough water for small projects. Ultimately, this would be a great iron for traveling or crafting but opt for a more heavy-duty steam iron if you iron a lot, tough seams, or larger quilts.
Best for Sewing: Rowenta DW9280 Digital Display Steam Iron
Easy to use
Great tip for ironing difficult designs
If you're an avid sewer looking for an iron to complement your craft, the Rowenta DW9280 Digital Display Steam Iron is an excellent pick. This iron was ready to use in under a minute, and our testers were very impressed with several features of this iron. First off, it was extremely easy to use. The controls were simple and easy to understand, and there is a clear indicator for when the water is at the fill point. Also, the tip makes it a great pick for ironing delicate designs like embroidery.
This iron earned a 5-star rating for effectiveness because it breezed through all of our testing fabrics, removing wrinkles in one or two passes and creases in seconds. But, the safety features really impressed our testers. This iron has an automatic shut-off and anti-drip system that our testers confirm worked as promised. It's also self-cleaning, which is a bonus to help remove any mineral buildup after hours of ironing. While it is on the more expensive side, these features make it a great pick for someone who irons often and prioritizes precision.
Best with Retractable Cord: BLACK + DECKER ICR2020 Vitessa Advanced Steam Iron with Retractable Cord
Large water reservoir
Vertical steaming feature
No "ready" light
Cotton and linen fabrics are on the same setting
If you're looking to save space in your laundry room or makeshift ironing area, opt for an iron with a retractable cord. The BLACK+DECKER ICR2020 Steam Iron is our favorite in this category because it's incredibly effective at removing wrinkles and easy to store when you're done with your chore. It also has a vertical steaming feature, which is optimal for de-wrinkling hanging garments.
Besides having a space-saving retractable cord, this steam iron was incredibly effective at removing wrinkles. It was able to smooth out all fabrics in just one to two passes, and our tester actually said, "That was awesome," when it immediately removed the wrinkles from the linen fabric. For cotton and linen, the iron heated in two minutes, as advertised. For satin, it was ready in 30 seconds. Our testers didn't love that there is no "ready" or "not ready" light, but they did love the detailed setting information on this iron, even though cotton and linen were included in the same setting. They also noted that the water reservoir was large, which is great when you have a lot of laundry to get through.
Our top pick for a steam iron is the BEAUTURAL 1800-Watt Steam Iron with Digital LCD Screen because it's easy to use, effective at quickly removing wrinkles, and features a helpful display screen. If you want a cheaper option, opt for the Sunbeam Classic 1200-Watt Mid-Size Anti-Drip Non-Stick Soleplate Iron. This steam iron is easy to grip, heats up quickly, and clearly distinguishes between different heat settings.
Other Options We Tested
Conair EZ Press 800-Watt Handheld Steam Iron: Our testers liked that this iron was lightweight and had an indicator light showing when it was ready to get to work. However, they noted that it might be a better choice for travelers or college students who only iron every now and then. The stopper covering the water area felt cheap and dripped during the ironing process. The soleplate was also pretty small, so this wouldn't be a great choice for someone ironing larger items.
Panasonic NI-E660SR Dry and Steam Iron: This steam iron is lightweight and has a retractable cord. Overall, it performed relatively well, but our testers noted that a few areas needed improvement, so it didn't make our top picks list. While the steam iron was easy to use, our testers noted that it's easy to overfill the water tank. It also didn't perform well on linen fabric. For the price point, there are better options available, but if this steam iron is on sale, it would be worth snagging.
How We Tested the Steam Irons
We spent one day thoroughly testing 30 irons to find the best ones. In The Lab in Des Moines, Iowa, we tested each iron’s effectiveness on cloth napkins in three different fabrics—satin, linen, and cotton—to see how they removed wrinkles. The irons were tested on each fabric on both their non-steam and steam setting (if equipped), except for the satin—that fabric type should never be steamed. We made sure the wrinkles were set by wetting and then balling up each napkin and securing it with a rubber band. We then let the napkins sit for a couple of days until dry. The day of the test, we timed how long it took each iron to remove the wrinkles from each type of material. We purposely added ironed creases to each fabric and then tried to remove them.
While ironing, the testers made detailed observations on each device’s portability, noting how heavy the irons were when their water reservoir was full and how comfortable the iron was to maneuver across the ironing board. They also looked at each model’s cord length to evaluate how much flexibility users would have in the distance of their iron from the outlet where it’s plugged in.
We measured the heat time of each iron, using a stopwatch to see how long it took to heat to the appropriate temperatures for ironing satin and delicates, linen, and cotton, noting if the time seemed quick, average, or unreasonably long. We also used a thermometer to make sure the soleplate’s temperature remained consistent and reached the advertised and desired temperature.
Throughout testing, we also paid attention to the design of each iron. Testers observed the device’s overall temperature, noting if the handle or body of the iron seemed uncomfortably hot. They looked at whether or not the water reservoir leaked water droplets, the ease of filling the reservoir, built-in safety features, the comfortability of the handle, how easy the controls were to operate, and the overall aesthetic, so you know exactly what to expect.
After testing all 30 irons, we used our experience and the price tag to come up with an overall value score. All of the testing data was boiled down by our editors to this list of the best steam irons.
What to Look for in a Steam Iron
Temperature control is important when picking out a steam iron. Different fabrics need to be ironed at different temperatures to ensure they aren't scorched or damaged. "Certain fabrics are sensitive to higher heat, says Stefan Bucar, a cleaning and organizing expert based in Lewisville, Texas. "Ideally, a good quality iron should have a precise temperature gauge where you can easily switch to a lower heat when required."
It's also important the iron heats up to its advertised temperature in a reasonable amount of time. Some irons can heat up in 30 seconds, while others can take minutes to reach the desired temperature.
Steam output is measured in grams per minute, and typically, the higher the grams per minute, the more effective the iron. Some models offer more than 200 grams of steam per minute, while others produce a less generous 35 grams per minute.
In addition to a powerful steam output, some irons have a vertical steam feature that allows them to steam and de-wrinkle hanging clothes, much like a traditional steamer. Katie Berry, The Spruce's Cleaning Review Board member, notes that you just want to ensure an iron with a vertical steam feature also has anti-drip safety features, so the extremely hot water doesn't leak out and cause harm. Whether vertical or horizontal, it's important that the steam output is powerful, since that's what distinguishes a steam iron from a dry iron.
If you have adequate space to keep your ironing materials on display in a laundry room, then having a portable iron may not matter to you. But, if you often put away your ironing materials after your chore, choose an iron that's lightweight or cordless. A cordless iron is more convenient than a corded iron because you can flip clothing and get into twists and turns of unique fabric without having to worry about a cord tangling in the process. However, cordless irons come with a charging station that's often bulky. Another option is to select an iron with a retractable cord so you can iron traditionally and then retract the cord for easy storage.
You should also take into account the weight of the steam iron. A lightweight iron may be easier to use and put away than a heavier iron. So, if you're only using your steam iron to complete craft projects every now and then, or if you have limited mobility and would benefit from using a lighter iron, take that into consideration. Bonus points if the handle has a comfortable grip, too!
You should always look for the safety features your iron offers. Common safety features include an automatic shut-off feature or anything that prevents water from dripping. Each model's automatic shut-off feature is a bit different. Some models will automatically shut off if not used after a certain period of time, such as 15 minutes. Some will begin cooling down once left in an upright position for a set amount of time. You should always unplug your iron when it's not in use, but a safety shut-off feature is still a plus.
You should also look for an anti-drip feature. This keeps the iron from dripping water out of the soleplate. Dripping water obviously isn't safe around electrical cords, and it also can create frustrating water stains on your garments.
Cordless steam irons sometimes come with a bulky charging base, but corded steam irons can be difficult to store without tangling or damaging the cord. A retractable cord offers the best of both worlds. You get the power that comes from a corded steam iron but the space-saving capabilities of a cordless option. Simply iron, retract the cord and store it away until your next laundry day.
Many new steam iron models feature a digital screen that displays heat settings, temperature, and other helpful information. If you're investing in an iron with a digital screen, make sure it enhances your ironing experience by showing details such as exact temperature. If it only populates the heat setting, there are other, simpler ways for an iron to do that.
"When purchasing an iron, you'll be tempted by the latest technology, but you need to see whether that’s the most important aspect or not," says Richard Zi, founder of ZW Cables, a manufacturer that makes iron parts for steam irons. "Instead, you need to check the reviews of the models to see how many years each machine may last as it’s a daily-use item."
It's important to clean your iron on a regular basis to prevent mineral deposits from building up and blocking the steam vents. Some irons now come with a self-clean option that takes care of this chore for you. While each model is different, in order to use the self-cleaning function, place your iron over a sink and hold down the self-cleaning button until all the water has drained from the soleplate. Once the water reservoir has emptied, release the self-cleaning button.
Can you use a steam iron without steam?
Yes, you can use your steam iron without steam. This is known as a dry iron. Dry irons work well on satin, silk, and wool. To use your steam iron as a dry iron, empty the water reservoir or dial it to its "dry iron" setting and iron as usual.
Can you leave water in a steam iron?
For optimal performance, empty the water from the reservoir when you're done ironing. This will help prevent mineral buildup inside the iron. It will also prevent any accidental spills or leakage when storing your steam iron.
How long should a steam iron last?
The life of a steam iron will vary based on the quality of iron as well as how often you use your iron. A top-notch steam iron can last 10 years, while cheaper ones might decrease in effectiveness after a few years.
Why Trust The Spruce?
Erin Johnson is a commerce editor focusing on appliances, organization, and cleaning products for The Spruce. She has previously tested and reviewed multiple vacuums, mops, and other household appliances for Real Simple, Better Homes & Gardens, and Southern Living. For this article, she took insights and feedback from in-lab testers to curate the list of our top picks. She also interviewed iron parts manufacturer Richard Zi of ZW Cables and Stefan Bucar, a cleaning, organizing, and design expert based in Lewisville, Texas.