Discover which Irons are best and which Irons are right for you.
Learn about what Irons can do, the key features of Irons and what to look for when buying Irons.
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Although many people hate ironing, it is a necessary chore and just about every household in the U.K. owns an iron. Choosing a new one depends on how often you will be using it and the volume of ironing that you will be doing.
There is a wide range of irons on the market, and the prices between models can vary considerably, but a few simple criteria will help you to make the right choice.
This is the most basic type of iron and also the cheapest. The user plugs it in, sets the required temperature and it heats up. The advantage is the cost, but the disadvantage is that it does not perform nearly as well as a steam iron. These are now less common than steam irons and many manufacturers do not offer them.
These are more expensive than a dry iron, but are far more efficient at getting the creases out as they use both electrical heat and steam action. The user fills a small reservoir with water in the iron and sets the steam as required. There is usually the ability to set it to produce continuous steam or the user can also control it manually so that the steam is released in short bursts for extra-stubborn creases.
Many steam irons also have a spray at the front of the iron to provide an extra shot of water for very dry clothes.
Some steam irons also have a vertical steam feature which means that the iron can be used vertically to steam-iron curtains or clothes which are hanging and this can be a very useful feature.
Most manufacturers measure the pressure of the steam in grams. Different pressures for steam irons might be in the range of 30 grams per minutes (g/min) to 40 g/min for continuous steam and 80 g/min to 180 g/min for a shot of steam. Obviously, the higher the pressure the more powerful and efficient the steam action will be. Some irons have a variable steam feature so that the user can adjust as required.
Some models have a transparent water tank for easy checking. Check the size of the water tank - a larger one will mean that it has to be filled less often but it will make the iron heavier when full. A tank is usually in the range of 300 ml to 400 ml.
Some also have illuminated tanks which change colour according the type of fabric selected.
Steam Generator Irons
These also use steam to produce better results but are far more powerful than steam irons, and more suitable for those households who produce a lot of ironing. The iron itself is attached to a separate steam generator by a steam hose for continuous and powerful steam ironing, and due to the higher pressure, the ironing time is halved as the iron handles both sides of the item at the same time. They often have faster warm up times compared to steam irons. Another advantage is that as the steam generator is separate from the iron, it is often lighter than a conventional steam iron.
The steam pressure is measured in bars which might range from 4.5 to 5 bars.
Water tanks are usually in the range of 0.8 to 1.6 litres and they are often detachable for easier filling.
These are small lightweight irons suitable for packing in suitcases.
The main criteria for choosing an iron are:
There are four types of plate and it is advisable to buy the most advanced type that you can afford.
- Aluminium - this is the most basic type of sole-plate and although the most inexpensive type, it can stick to clothes. Irons with aluminium sole plates are less common now although some manufacturers do still supply them.
- Coated non-stick - these are much better than aluminium sole-plates and do not tend to stick to clothes. Price-wise, they are the next step up from aluminium sole plates.
- Stainless Steel - these are better than non-stick sole plates in terms of glidability but they can scratch easily. They are usually used on mid-range irons .
- Ceramic - these tend to be smoother than other types of sole plates and are the most efficient type of sole plate. They are used on the most sophisticated irons and some have additional coatings on the ceramic for extra glidability and to protect the clothes.
The design of the sole plate in the case of many irons means that the user can only iron in one direction, but there are some ceramic models which have multi-directional ironing.
Some sole plates are designed to offer additional protection to prevent burning clothes or leaving shiny marks on them.
Weight is very important as the user must be able to handle the iron comfortably for long periods of time. However the very light-weight irons will not work as efficiently so try to find a good balance.
A larger iron may be more cumbersome to use, but again, one that is too small may not iron as well.
Although the shape of an iron is fairly standard, some have a slim ironing tip, useful for ironing seams and between buttons. Some also have a special 'steam tip' so that the steam reaches into smaller areas.
Others are designed so that the cord is kept neatly out of the way while ironing.
Steam generator irons are more powerful and efficient that steam irons but they do also take up much more space (and are much more expensive!) so only buy one if the volume of ironing warrants it.
Generally speaking the more powerful an iron is, the better it performs in terms of quick warm-up times and the amount of steam that it produces. The watt can range from 1800 for more basic models to 2400 watts for the more sophisticated models.
This is a useful feature to have on an iron, as steam irons, as with many domestic appliances, are susceptible to a build-up of lime-scale. In the case of an iron, lime-scale will prevent it reaching its full temperature and working at maximum efficiency.
Some steam generators have replaceable anti-scale cartridges but this can work out expensive on a long term basis.
Other features may include:
- Easy grip handle
- Auto shut-off after a period of inactivity for both energy saving and safety
- Self-cleaning - some irons run a cycle to remove impurities from the water while others have a self-cleaning sole plate.
- Eco-settings to save energy
- Anti-drip to prevent water escaping from the iron onto the clothes at lower temperatures.
- Audible dry tank alert to warn the user when the water tank is empty
- Digital LCD display
- Irons now come in many different colours which may or may not be a factor in your decision.
- Some manufacturers have more generous warranty terms than others.
- Some steam generators have a 'lock and carry' system for safer carrying around the home and others have integral automatic cord storage.
Popular Irons Brands
||Bosch Irons Bosch - this German manufacturer offers a wide range of steam irons and steam generators.
||Breville Irons Breville - this extensive range of irons includes steam irons with non-stick, stainless steel and ceramic sole plates as well as steam generators.
||Morphy Richards Irons Morphy Richards - they manufacture a wide selection of steam irons including those with a 'ComfiGrip' handle as well as steam generators.
||Philips Irons Philips - their range includes both dry and steam irons as well as steam generators.
||Russell Hobbs Irons Russell Hobbs - they have a wide range of steam irons and steam generator irons in different designs and colours.
||Tefal Irons Tefal - they manufacture an extensive range which includes basic models up to professional steam generator irons.
Sole Plate Sole Plate - this is the flat metal surface on the bottom of the iron that comes into contact with the clothes