Best Overall Iron
CHI Steam Titanium
Ease of Use8.5
Steam Output: 110g | Average Temperature: 325°F
REASONS TO BUY
Smooths deep wrinkles
Excellent steam output
REASONS TO AVOID
Difficult to fill without spilling
The CHI Steam Titanium performed well across all our testing metrics and is available at a fair price, making it a great value. It has an ergonomic handle and glides across most fabrics with ease. Emitting plenty of steam, it makes quick work of wrinkles, even deep-set ones, in hard-to-work material, like silk. The extra spray on the front is one of the most mist-like options we tested, adding moisture without going overboard. These features make this iron a breeze to use, as does the retractable cord, which speeds up the clean-up process and allows you to pack up without waiting for the iron to cool completely.
While the retractable cord makes things easier, we sadly can't say the same for filling the water tank. A little flap inside the fill hole frequently gets in the way of the water stream and causes a good amount of spillage. The nose plate is also not as tapered as some of the other models in our lineup, and the retractable cord compartment shifts the balance back away from the nose, making detail work a little more challenging. Still, we're impressed with the steamy performance of the CHI Titanium, even on challenging fabrics, and we'd recommend it to just about anyone needing a versatile iron.
Read more: CHI Steam Titanium review
Best Value for Big Jobs
PurSteam Pro 1800W
Ease of Use6.5
Steam Output: 105g | Average Temperature: 335°F
REASONS TO BUY
Great steam capability
Leaves garments crisply smoothed
Large water reservoir
Excellent digital display
REASONS TO AVOID
Not great for detailing
Bulky and heavy to maneuver
For the pure satisfaction of seeing crisp sheets after as little as a single pass, the PurSteam Pro 1800W quickly became one of our go-to options for blasting through big jobs. It has a large soleplate, holds plenty of water, and puts out enough steam to easily dispense even the deepest set of wrinkles. We love its large, easy-to-read digital display, adding to its user-friendliness and functionality. To top it off, this iron is not only one of the top-scoring models in this review — it's also one of the most affordable.
As much as we love this iron for large jobs, it's not the best at navigating small spaces. It's large and bulky, with a fairly wide soleplate that's more difficult to maneuver around button holes and tight corners. But if you often find yourself tackling sheets, curtains, or large projects, the PurSteam Pro is an excellent choice for making big jobs feel smaller and faster.
Read more: PurSteam Pro review
Black+Decker D3030 Allure
Ease of Use7.0
Steam Output: 87g | Average Temperature: 328°F
REASONS TO BUY
Powerful steam spray
Narrow tip for precision jobs
REASONS TO AVOID
Just average heat
Could be steamier
The Black+Decker D3030 Allure is easy to use and offers great performance at a price we almost can't believe. Running hot, the Allure sailed over all the fabrics we tested with a superb front spray feature that works wonders. Its tapered nose makes precision work a breeze, and an 8-foot cord handily reaches just about wherever you need. We appreciate the matte finish of the handle and the large, obvious controls. Though this isn't the lightest model we tested, it feels light in hand and glides across fabric with ease, making it easy to maneuver around complicated corners and sensitive areas.
The Allure doesn't have the most impressive steam output compared to many of the models we tested and utilizes just 23 holes around the perimeter of the soleplate. It also only hits average temperatures for products in our review, not wowing us with high heat. Still, though the numbers are lower, we didn't find this to impact how well it irons even synthetic fabrics. We greatly enjoyed using this product on small projects that needed a lot of maneuverability to straighten their details.
Read more: Black+Decker D3030 Allure review
Best High-Heat Performance
Rowenta DW2459 Access
Ease of Use5.9
Steam Output: 53g | Average Temperature: 361°F
REASONS TO BUY
Consistently hot temperatures
REASONS TO AVOID
Small water tank opening
Extra spray doesn't go very far
The Rowenta DW2459 Access is a high-performing model that scored near the top of the pack and wowed us with its high temperatures. It's smooth and glides easily over even the most delicate fabrics. Hitting some of the highest temperatures of any in our lineup, it has no problem getting wrinkles out of any fabric. The narrow nose makes detailing around buttons and armpits a breeze, and the retractable cord is the icing on the cake — no more tripping as you wait for your iron to cool.
The flaws of the Access are relatively few. The chamber for the retractable cord pulls its center of gravity back a bit, forcing us to tip it forward at times when doing detailed work. The opening for refilling the water chamber is also rather small, with a slope often resulting in water shooting off to the side rather than funneling in. And the extra spray button doesn't shoot water very far — a detriment when ironing large swaths of fabric. Still, if you're searching for a top-notch option that's built for high-heat jobs, this is the model we recommend.
Read more: Rowenta DW2459 Access review
Not Recommended: Worrisome Leakage Complaints
Rowenta DW9280 SteamForce
Ease of Use7.2
Steam Output: 138g | Average Temperature: 328°F
REASONS TO BUY
High and efficient steam output
Tapered nose for precision work
REASONS TO AVOID
Many complaints of extreme leakage
When the Rowenta DW9280 SteamForce works properly, it easily removes stubborn wrinkles from most fabrics with its impressive steam output. There is no need for additional steam or moisture while ironing cotton and linen, but a quick press of the steam button helps eliminate wrinkles on difficult-to-work-with materials like silk and polyester. The massive amount of steam is released through hundreds of strategically-placed steam holes found on the soleplate, and the iron runs nice and hot, ensuring no moisture is left behind. This iron works quickly and effectively, and its pointy nose helps get into most nooks and crannies, making it very versatile.
However, not only is the SteamForce by far the most expensive model we've tested, but it also has tons of reports of leakage. Across thousands of online user reviews, this iron proves to be a polarizing product. While many people use and love it, hundreds of consumers report it leaks badly after little to no use. While this may be a worthwhile gamble for a lower-priced product, as one of the costliest options, the SteamForce is a questionable investment. Our experience using the one we have over the past several years has been overwhelmingly positive — but there's no guarantee that you, too, won't end up with a deeply flawed iron that spews water all over your garments every time you use it.
Read more: Rowenta DW9280 SteamForce review
Why You Should Trust Us
Over the past several years, we have spent hundreds of hours using the irons in this review, carefully measuring their steam output, timing their heating cycles, and assessing their user-friendliness. The cornerstone of our testing process focuses on the ironing performance score. Each iron undergoes numerous specific ironing tests, evaluating how well each model removes wrinkles from cotton, linen, silk, and polyester. Additionally, we critique how well each iron works on details (like between buttons on a shirt) and the uniformity and effectiveness of the spray feature. We also evaluate all the little details, like glide smoothness, handle feel and balance, cord position and storage, and evenness of heating.
Our in-depth testing process of steam irons is broken down into five rating metrics:
- Ironing Performance (40% of overall score weighting)
- Steam Output (25% weighting)
- Heating (15% weighting)
- Detailing (10% weighting)
- Ease of Use (10% weighting)
Jessica Riconscente, Maggie Nichols, Michelle Powell and Hayley Thomas have put their heads together to take on this steam iron testing. The four have collectively spent over a dozen years testing home and other products for GearLab. Over the past six years, our team of experts has carefully researched the top models on the market and tested several dozen products covering a wide range of price points. We purchase all the test units at full price to keep our reviews unbiased, never accepting free or discounted sample units from manufacturers.
Year after year, we take iron testing seriously.
Analysis and Test Results
Irons tend to all look pretty much the same, and, on the surface, at least, they might seem to function the same, too. However, you start to notice the subtle differences that can significantly impact the chore of an ironing session once you've spent months ironing every fabric imaginable with many different irons. No matter your needs or budget, our test results represent an effort to make this task as pleasant as possible.
The top performers in our lineup all come with reasonable price tags that make them all high-value products for different types of ironing. The CHI Titanium performs well across the board, making it a great well-rounded option for folks who iron a variety of fabrics and types of tasks on a frequent basis. The PurSteam Pro is one of the most affordable of this bunch. While it falls short on detailing work, we adore using it for large swaths of material that need to be smoothed quickly and efficiently. The Black+Decker Allure also performs well across the board and is highly maneuverable, making it a great choice for detailing work. The Rowenta Access is another solid choice. Despite a few annoying little details that lower its Ease of Use scoring, this very hot model is our go-to when we need high temperatures for stubborn fabrics.
An iron's ability to smooth out wrinkles is non-negotiable. While all the irons we tested will eventually get out wrinkles, some did it in a single pass, while others required more effort. To uncover the sometimes subtle differences between models, we ironed huge swaths of different types of fabrics to see how many passes or extra bursts of steam we needed for the most stubborn wrinkles.
The Black+Decker Allure, PurSteam Pro, and Rowenta Access had the best ironing performances in our testing. The tapered nose of the Allure allows for easy navigation around hard-to-reach spots. Its fast-working, ergonomic soleplate removes most wrinkles with a single swipe at high heat and just three swipes over more delicate fabrics like silk and satin. A powerful steam burst and misty water spray help significantly with deep wrinkles and folds without dampening the garment.
The PurSteam Pro powered through all types of fabrics, never needing more than a momentary hover to get out even the toughest of wrinkles. It may not have the highest number of steam holes, but they're well-distributed and very effective, helping us achieve that satisfying flatness only a good iron can produce. The Rowenta Access has a silky glide and hundreds of tiny steam holes distributed across the soleplate to put steam anywhere you need. It, too, had no problems dispensing with stubborn creases and can achieve the high heat necessary to work with challenging fabrics.
The CHI Steam Titanium isn't far behind in ironing performance, performing admirably on cotton and linen. It took more time, effort, and steam boosts to rid silk and polyester of wrinkles, but it still managed the job. High levels of steam and a very effective additional blast feature help this model tackle tough projects.
The next best irons we tested are the Sunbeam Hot-2-Trot, Rowenta DW7180 Everlast, and the Rowenta Focus Excel DW5280. The tiny, travel-sized Hot-2-Trot achieves marginally above-average scores here by being exceptionally hot. It has very few steam holes and, instead, relies on its soaring temperatures to remove wrinkles. The Everlast and Focus Excel both performed very well on cotton and linen, but each struggled to remove creases from difficult to work with fabrics like silk and polyester.
The Rowenta SteamForce deserves a special callout in this metric. We first tested this iron several years ago, and it has performed flawlessly for us ever since. It sails across fabrics, dispelling wrinkles and creases with exceptional ease. It has hundreds of steam holes that effectively push steam into the fabric as you need it. However, this iron appears to have serious manufacturing flaws and inconsistencies. Though ours worked perfectly, over the years, we have read a growing number of user reports that the SteamForce is an extremely leaky model. Some users report it leaking from day 1, others after a year. Ultimately, there are hundreds of complaints about this particular iron having or developing severe leakage issues. So while the one we tested worked almost flawlessly, it has become clear that buying the SteamForce is a risky and expensive endeavor.
How effectively an iron puts out steam affects how straightforward and painless your overall ironing experience will be. The amount of expelled steam is a large part of this, but how it is dispensed is also essential. We measured the actual amount of steam each model released over a measured period of time. We also noted how many holes each model has for the steam to escape and their size and configuration. And we evaluated the effectiveness of delivering the steam where and when we needed.
The Rowenta SteamForce excels in this category, living up to its name. It's one of several models with hundreds of holes for steam to escape, strewn across the surface of the soleplate. Here again, the SteamForce we tested was an absolute beast of a steamer, both in quantity and quality. However, we are extremely cautious about extrapolating our experience to this product as a whole based on the hundreds of user reviews reporting leakage issues.
The CHI Steam Titanium, PurSteam Pro, and Rowenta Everlast aren't far behind regarding steaminess. Over 5 minutes, we measured these impressive contenders releasing 110 grams, 105 grams, and 120 grams of steam, respectively. The CHI Titanium and Rowenta Everlast both have around 400 steam holes, while the PurSteam Pro manages efficient steam output with just 64 medium-sized holes with directional V-shaped channels. The next best model we tested is the BLack+Decker Allure, which we measured emitting 87 grams of steam from its 23 holes.
The faster a model heats, the sooner you can get your work done, and the more evenly it heats up, the more effective it is. While all irons get hot, and all the models we tested eventually take out wrinkles, differing heat levels are required for different types of fabrics. The ability to get hot enough for some materials can make all the difference in being able to remove stubborn creases and press-out wrinkles.
The hottest iron we tested was the Sunbeam Hot-2-Trot. This travel-sized unit averaged soleplate temperatures of 380°F, with its hottest point on the left side, at 418°F. The Rowenta Access was the next hottest model in our lineup, though it came in about 20° lower than the Hot-2-Trot, with an average temperature of 361°F. Its hottest area was its nose — ideal for detailing work — which we measured at an impressive 430°F.
Compared to the average temperature among all irons we tested (329°F), the PurSteam Pro and Panasonic NI-L70SR Cordless are also above-average performers. The PurSteam Pro averaged 335°F fairly evenly across its entire soleplate. Impressively, it's also one of the few we tested that didn't experience a temperature dropoff after the initial heating process. The Panasonic Cordless was nice and hot when freshly pulled from its heating base. After 30-45 seconds of being passed over fabric, though, its temperature drops, and it needs to be returned momentarily to its cradle to get hot again.
While the ability to remove large wrinkles is most important, small creases around collars and buttons can make or break the overall look of a garment. We tested each model's ability to maneuver around complicated details, into tight spaces, and across oddly shaped areas. We noted how the shape of the soleplate factored into detailing ability and how easily each model can change directions. We also considered the comfort of the handle, the weight of the product, and the overall balance of each contender, insofar as how it affected our overall detailing experience.
The Panasonic Cordless is an exceptional detailer, sliding around fluidly and feeling lighter than it is. Without a cord to get in the way, the maneuvering needed to iron small accents and fabric details is much easier. The nose effectively banished wrinkles between buttons. This model felt like it was made for detailing — partly because it's good at it, but also partly because it doesn't stay hot for long before needing to return to its cradle to reheat. The Rowenta Focus Excel is also a superb detailer. Its accentuated nose easily reaches into narrow spaces, and it feels excellent in hand.
The Rowenta Everlast, Rowenta SteamForce, and the Sunbeam Classic GCSBC also all offer great detailing performance. The Rowenta models have accentuated noses that make it simple to fit into small spots. The Sunbeam Classic is a mid-sized iron that's thinner than many, light, and with good glide across fabrics.
The Black+Decker Allure, Black+Decker Easy Steam IR40V, and the Rowenta Access also do solid detailing. The Allure and Easy Steam have accentuated noses for reaching those hard-to-get spaces. The Allure has great balance and a smooth glide, making it a joy to slide around across any quilting project or dress shirt. The Access also has an accentuated nose, though it took a little more effort to smooth out wrinkles than similar models.
Ease of Use
Ease of use may be less critical if you're more concerned with performance attributes like steam output, but it's still an important consideration in the overall experience. When testing for this metric, we considered several factors, including cord length, indicator lights and sounds, ease of filling the water tank, and the effectiveness of extra spray features.
A few models we tested have retractable cords, including the CHI Steam Titanium and Rowenta Access. Though it seems like a small feature, we always appreciate it when a model has this, as it stops the cord from being a tripping hazard while you wait for your iron to cool. The Panasonic Cordless takes it a step further. As its name suggests, the handheld portion of this unit is cordless. The heating base plugs into the wall, though, and it has a retractable cord for easy transportation.
One of the models we tested is built to head with you on your vacations and outings, easily slipping into your suitcase or duffel bag: the Sunbeam Hot-2-Trot. While it's not a great all-around iron, its ability to travel with you can make it appealing. The Panasonic Cordless is another solid travel option. Though it's too large to easily toss in a bag, it comes in its own carrying case that doubles as its heating element, making it simple to put in the backseat as you head to a wedding or formal event.
The PurSteam Pro has a fully digital display located on the top of the handle that is clear and easy to use. It beeps to indicate when it's heating up and flashes before it's ready for use. The large, crisp text is easy to read, and the settings are simple to navigate. It's by far our favorite display, putting all the other sliders and dials to shame.
When it comes to having an extra spray function, not all irons are created equal. Though most of the models we tested have this feature, the Rowenta Focus Excel is our favorite of the bunch. It covers a much larger area than most of the rest, meaning you don't have to press it continuously when you have a lot of ground to cover. The Sunbeam Classic also has a nice misting spray with an adequate spread.
Our goal is to help you identify a reasonably priced model that provides the functionality and features you need. We are always striving to make chores less painful, and we know there are many features and a lot of information to sort through. We hope our test results can help you zone in on the attributes that matter most so you can find your perfect iron.