Definitive Guide On How To Buy A Steam Iron

how to buy a steam iron

Are you having trouble selecting which steam iron is best for your ironing needs? With all the different models to choose from and all the different features there are, it can all get a bit confusing.

You don’t have to worry because our clear and easy-to-understand definitive guide on how to buy a steam iron will provide you with all the information you need when it comes to making your purchase.

Why Should You Buy A Steam Iron?

Gone are the days when an iron was just a device that heated a flat metal plate that pressed onto materials. Over the years, technology has developed to the point where ironing clothes is easier than ever, but still a chore nonetheless.

The addition of water and steam has played a huge role in developing the iron into a much more versatile device, and one that also has a lot more functions. Removing creases have become much easier, and you no longer have to press to iron, because the steam allows you to remove creases from fabrics vertically or horizontally.

Factors To Consider

There are many different factors to consider when buying a steam iron, but not all of them will be of a high priority for you. However, there are certain important features that will benefit everyone.

How Convenient Is it For The User?

When you’re doing your ironing, you want it to be as stress free and comfortable as possible, especially if you have a lot to do, or if you have hand/wrist problems. When it comes to comfort and convenience, the following factors are the most important.

steam iron cord

Cord Design – If your mains socket is far from your ironing location, then you need to cord that’s more than long enough to reach. It’s also a good idea to get a cord that can pivot 360 degrees at its base so that it’s easier to manoeuvre around. For extra convenience, there are steam irons that have retractable cords.

Size & Weight – Hand and wrist problems can pose difficulties when doing the ironing. If this is the case for the user, then you’d probably want an iron that’s not too big in size or heavy in weight. There isn’t a huge difference from model to model, but if you’re doing a lot of ironing, then that little difference will have a big impact on your comfort level.

vertical steam

Vertical Steam – Many steam irons have this feature which allows you to remove creases by holding the iron a short distance away from the fabric in a vertical position. This is ideal for hanging fabric such as curtains, suits and jackets. It’s also better for delicate fabrics as you don’t have to worry about the damage from high temperature from the soleplate.

water refill tank

Water Tank – The bigger the better, especially if you’re using a lot of steam. It will save you from constantly refilling it. Some water tanks are even detachable to make refilling easier.


Auto-Off – Many steam irons nowadays will automatically turn itself off if it remains stationary (either standing on its base, laying on its soleplate or side, or all three of them) for a short period of time.

How Well Does It Perform?

The performance of a steam iron depends on powerful a steam iron is and the design of its soleplate. The more powerful it is, the quicker it is for you to get the ironing done. So what makes a steam iron perform well?

Wattage – The higher the wattage, the quicker the iron heats up and the hotter it gets, and as a result, you would usually get your ironing done quicker.

Heat Up Time – The quicker it takes for the iron to heat up to optimum temperature, the less time you’ll have to wait around to do the ironing efficiently. 2-3 minutes is a good time, but any longer than that is considered to be too long.

steam output

Steam Output – Steam helps to remove creases easier, and an iron that has a higher steam output (measures in grams per minute), the better it is at removing creases.

Steam Distribution – The structure of the soleplate with the number and design of the steam vents determines how effective steam distribution is, and the more effective it is, the easier it is to remove creases from a larger area.

variable steam

Variable Steam – Some of the more advanced steam irons allow you to change the settings of the steam, such as the direction, power and humidity to suit the type of fabric you’re ironing.


Soleplate – This is the hot metal plate that presses onto the fabric. Most soleplates are stainless steel or ceramic, and providing the soleplate is non-stick, then it should glide smoothly when you’re doing the ironing.

How Easy Is It To Maintain?

When it comes to cleaning and maintaining your steam iron, you need to ensure that it’s properly done to increase the lifespan of it. Fortunately, many good steam irons now have self-cleaning features that consists of the following:


Anti-Calc/Scale – A build-up of calcium carbonate in water leads to a chalky white substance known as limescale, and when water is heated, it becomes very hard to break down. This will clog up your steam iron unless it’s cleaned out. Certain models will have an anti-calc/scale feature that will automatically remove the build-up usually by letting off a strong burst of steam, so you don’t have to clean it manually.


Anti-Drip – A good steam iron will expel very little unwanted water, and some models will have an anti-drip feature that prevents leaking and spitting of water even if you were to overload the steam function by mistake.

Is There An Extended Warranty?

All steam irons would normally come with a one year standard warranty, but certain brands/models would offer 2 years to show customers that they’re more confident in their product. However, that’s not to say that it’s any better than others. Certain T-Fal steam irons even offer a lifetime warranty on their soleplates.

Final Conclusion

Now that you know the main points to consider when buying a steam iron, the last thing you need to factor in is your budget. If you do have a tight budget, then here are plenty of great steam irons for under $50.

Granted, many of them will not have the higher end features (e.g. more powerful, self-clean, variable steam options etc.) that you would get if you were to spend a bit more around the $70-$100 range, but they are still highly rated nonetheless.

Just be sure to highlight all the features that you absolutely must have and you’ll get a good idea how much you should be spending. It’s always better to spend a bit more on something that does everything you want it to do. Fortunately, we have a range of comparisons and product reviews to help you select the best steam iron.

Recommended For You
- Top 10 Best Steam Irons Comparison Chart 2016
- Top 5 Best Steam Generator Irons Comparison Chart
- Top 10 Best Ironing Boards Comparison Chart