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Best irons: Steam, budget and lightweight ironing devices

The T-fal FV4495 was the best overall iron, coming out on top in our testing because of its many safety and convenience features. It heats up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit, reaching higher temperatures than any other iron we tested so it can handle a wide range of tasks. The FV4495 also is well balanced and relatively lightweight, reducing fatigue on your arms and wrists as it runs smoothly over any type of fabric. 

Best Overall

T-fal FV4495

T-fal FV4495

Very hot
Relatively lightweight
Automatic shut-off
Above average for price
Relatively short warranty
Lacks digital display

Some fabrics require serious heat, and the T-fal FV4495 is capable. It uses 1,725 watts to get up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit, making it the hottest iron we tested.

This iron is ideal for working with unyielding fabrics or steam touchups. It has an impressive 64 steam holes and an easy-to-use dial to control steam intensity. If the iron is on but unused for 8 minutes, or if it’s on and tipped down on its face for 30 seconds, it automatically shuts off. These safety features make this powerful iron nearly foolproof.

It has a good set of convenience features to go along with its strong safety features. The soleplate is scratch resistant and nonstick. It also has the longest cord of any iron we tested. Construction is solid, but this iron still only weighs 2.5 pounds so your arm shouldn’t get too tired, even if you have a big ironing pile to get through. The self-cleaning function helps keep this iron working its best, too. The FV4495 has a helpful light that lets you know when it has reached its target temperature. Keep in mind that it does have a relatively short warranty. That’s a little surprising since it is above average for price, though not by a lot. Still, we would expect more coverage with a pricier product.

Best Value

Maytag SmartFill M800

Maytag SmartFill M800

Removable water tank
Heats up in under a minute
Steam regenerates in three seconds
Handle isn’t ergonomic
Smaller reservoir
No anti-scale system

When it comes to choosing an iron, you can go cheap, but you’ll most likely end up replacing it within a year with constant use. We chose the Maytag SmartFill M800 as our best value because it is an affordable option, has good performance and quick heating speed, and comes with a two-year warranty.

One of the features that really sets the SmartFill M800 apart from regular irons is the detachable water reservoir. This makes it easier to refill your water without the hassle of sticking a hot iron under the faucet or having to use a funnel to refill. The stainless steel soleplate has 34 steam holes, a standard number for steam irons, and it only takes 10 seconds for the steam to regenerate after you release a few bursts.

The Maytag SmartFill M800 only weighs 2.76 pounds, helping you iron longer. Additionally, it has a swivel cord to help keep the cord out of your way for the most part. If you leave the iron on in an upright position, it will automatically switch off after eight minutes. We were disappointed that the handle isn’t ergonomic, but for the price point and features, this steam iron is a great value.

Best Digital Display

Black & Decker D2030

Black & Decker D2030

Large 12-ounce reservoir
Independent steam and temperature controls
Tone alert when temperature reached
8-foot cord is shorter than most irons
No horizontal or tip automatic shut-off
No shut-off button – you have to unplug it

Most irons have a dial to control the temperature, leaving you to fiddle around with it to get the precise temperature that works best with your clothes. Fortunately, with the digital display on the Black & Decker D2030, you can set the desired temperature setting to the exact fabric you are working on, eliminating the guesswork.

The LED display shows a large number that corresponds to the fabric type shown on the chart under the handle.

Our testers enjoyed working with this iron, and they were impressed with the individual heat and steam controls. This enabled them to add or reduce the amount of steam easily, although some reviewers noted that their fingers would sometime bump the steam switch.

Running out of water when using the steam function doesn’t happen very often with the Black & Decker D2030 thanks to its 12-ounce water reservoir. This is one of the largest water tanks of all the irons we tested, and our testers remarked on how nice it was to not have to worry about refilling as often.

One of the great things about the D2030 is that you can use it as a vertical steam iron, which is great for quick touch-ups on clothes that are on hangers. And because the iron heats up quickly, you don’t have to wait long for the steam to recharge between bursts.

Best for Cotton

T-fal FV4495

T-fal FV4495

Very hot
Water reservoir is mid-range in size

Working with cotton requires some serious heat but the T-fal FV4495 is capable.

It uses 1,725 watts to get up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit, making it the hottest iron we tested. This is ideal for working with unyielding fabrics or steam-touchups. This iron has an impressive 64 steam holes and an easy-to-use dial to control steam intensity. The 9.25-inch soleplate is nonstick and scratch resistant and the whole package weighs 2.5 pounds, so arm fatigue isn’t much of a problem. If the iron is on but unused for 8 minutes, or if it’s on and tipped down on its face for 30 seconds, it automatically shuts off. These safety features make this powerful iron nearly foolproof.

Best for Professionals

Shark Ultimate Professional GI505

Shark Ultimate Professional GI505

176 steam holes
Short cord

If you work with clothing for a living, the Shark Ultimate Professional GI505 is a great the machine.

The 9.38-inch soleplate reaches 150 degrees Fahrenheit to get the winkles out of any fabric. The anti-calcium and anti-scale systems in the iron help deal with mineral deposits and the massive 12.1-ounce reservoir holds enough water for repeated use without refilling. The whole thing weighs a little over 3 pounds, giving it the feel of a high-end piece of machinery. If it goes unused for 4 minutes, it automatically shuts off. This fast-acting safety feature is vital when working with a lot of different fabrics. An unattended iron could spell disaster around flammable material. The Shark Ultimate Professional has a ton of steam holes, 176 to be exact, and you only have to wait 7 seconds between each steam burst, making this a great iron for continual use in a professional setting.

Why Trust Us?

Over the past three years, Top Ten Reviews has tested more than 30 irons from a dozen brands. We’ve tested each one on a variety of fabrics, including cotton, polyester, denim and silk. Our expertise with these laundry appliances has grown with each test, and we’ve learned what to expect from the best irons.

We've also asked people who know irons to help us understand what matters for this type of product. Quilters use irons during their creative process and they need one that works well on lots of different fabrics in order to get the ideal finished product.

"A regular iron just won't cut it. I have to have a top-quality iron," said Brooke Johnsen, a Utah-based quilter and member of the Modern Quilt Guild.

Johnsen said if the fabric is not creased by the iron correctly she has to redo her sewing, so she looks for a heavy iron with even heating across the whole surface. Bonnie Browning, executive show director with American Quilter's Society, agreed that heft and even heating are what counts for the precise ironing that quilters do.

"When we quilt we really just press – lifting the iron up and setting it down, letting the iron do the work," Browning said.  

Even heating combined with steam capabilities is important for everyday ironing, according to Matt Kosloske, senior product marketing manager with Spectrum Brands, which includes Black & Decker and Russell Hobbs.  

"All irons heat up, steam is what makes the difference," Kosloske emphasized.

Kosloske indicated that the right sole plate and water tank size matter, too. If you are ironing a lot it might be worth it to invest in easy-glide ceramic, but stainless steel will work fine if you iron less often. Those who iron every day need larger water tanks. 

How We Tested 

We meticulously inspected and compared the most important features of each iron, such as steam output, weight, heating time and cord length. We found that the best steam irons have safety features that turn off the iron if it’s left unattended for a short amount of time, or tip over, and have easy-to-read controls you can adjust easily. The comfort of the handle was also a serious consideration in our testing.

In our evaluation process, we tested each iron's steaming, ironing and safety capacities. We used the clothing irons on a variety of everyday fabrics and some nicer fabrics, such as silk, and looked for good performance. For steaming, we noted how well the steam controls worked and whether they could remove wrinkles as well as a vertical iron. We also checked to see if each iron engaged its timed safety shut-off feature when tipped or upright, as claimed by the manufacturer.

How Much Does an Iron Cost?

We tested irons that cost an average of $43 and come with large water reservoirs, responsive steam settings and quite a bit of power. There are irons available for closer to $10, but they usually have fewer features and don’t work as well on delicate fabrics.

Performance: High Wattage & Steam to the Rescue 

If you find a steam iron with high wattage, you may suddenly find yourself doing less work when it comes to ironing clothes. More power means more efficient ironing, a higher steam capacity and less work for you per garment. An iron with a large number of steam holes can also produce fuller steam bursts. Additionally, adjustable steam gauges let you have control over how much steam you use at a time, if any. If you plan on using a lot of steam, you will want to look for units that have short steam regeneration times between bursts.

There are multiple kinds of soleplate shapes as well, the most common of which are the standard U shape or a tapered shape, which makes it easy to iron around buttons, collars and other tricky areas. It is also important to have irons with nonstick soleplates that stay clean or are at least easy to clean. Look for a self-cleaning function, as well as anti-calcification and anti-scale systems, all of which work to reduce and remove impurities from the inner soleplate area of your iron.

Ease of Use: Let Convenient & Easy Work for You 

The best irons feature a long cord, providing you more freedom of movement as you iron, which is especially important if you are doing a sewing or quilting project. It should also have additional helpful features, such as a temperature alert to let you know when the iron is ready to use, and, for digital irons, an intuitive interface that is easy to figure out and adjust.

It is important to find the right balance of weight, size and usability. While it is true that a slightly heavier iron lends itself well to smooth passes over fabric, an iron that is too heavy or bulky is difficult to use, especially if you have a lot to iron. Whether you just need to touch up a dress with a steamer or do your whole family's ironing, your iron should be comfortable to hold. Look for an iron with an ergonomic grip so your hand and arm won't get as tired as you work. A great iron has all of its buttons and dials within easy reach of the handle so you don't have to strain yourself.

An iron with a water reservoir of at least 8.5 ounces, like the Black & Decker D2030, lets you keep ironing for longer between refills. And when you do go to refill your iron, it shouldn't be yet another chore. A quality steam iron is easy to fill, with wide water ports, a transparent reservoir and accurately marked fill lines.
Safety: Don't Get Burned 

It can be easy to forget you have an iron plugged in if you get an unexpected phone call or are watching a gripping TV show while ironing your favorite T-shirt, but most modern irons have you covered. Make sure you consider irons with safety features, such as automatic shut-off. Most irons are programmed to shut off in about eight to 15 minutes if left unused in the upright position, or in 30 seconds if left tipped over or face down. This feature can prevent you from having a burnt garment or worse damage.

Warranty: Irons Should Work as Hard as You Do 

You need a clothing iron that can stand up to everyday use. Even if you don't use it that often, you should still look for one that comes with a manufacturer's warranty in case of damage. Some irons come backed by a comprehensive five-year warranty, while others only offer a short one.

More Laundry Guides:

ProductPriceOverall RatingPerformanceEase of UseSafetyWarranty & SupportPolyesterWool BlendDenimLinenSilkCottonEasy-to-Fill ReservoirLength (inches)Intuitive InterfaceWidth (inches)Cord Length (feet)Temperature-Ready AlertDigital DisplaySelf-CleaningHeight (inches)Transparent ReservoirSealed Reservoir CoverErgonomic HandleReservoir TypeReservoir Capacity (ounces)Swivel CordAnti-Drip SystemWeight (pounds)Soft GripUpright Auto Shut Off (minutes)Horizontal Auto Shut Off (seconds)Soleplate Auto Shut Off (seconds)WarrantyLive ChatOnline ManualFAQPhoneEmailMaximum TemperatureSteam-Circulating SoleplateSteam BurstOpen SoleplateScratch-Resistant SoleplateSoleplate ShapeSteam Regeneration Time (seconds)Anti-Calcium SystemVertical SteamPower (watts)Steam HolesAnti-Scale SystemAdjustable SteamSoleplate Length (inches)Fabric Option QuantityHeating Speed (seconds)Soleplate Material
T-fal FV4495View Deal5/5109.89.89.3AAB-A-AA11.15.312Light-5.9Built-In92.5830301 Year-500-U101725649.25624Ceramic
Shark Ultimate Professional GI505View Deal5/59.59.81010B+A-B+B+A-A12.44.58Light-6.8Built-In12.13.18430305 Years150--Tapered718001769.38632Stainless Steel
Singer Expert FinishView Deal4.5/ Years-190--U101700238.75926Stainless Steel
Black & Decker D6000View Deal4.5/ Years--170--U10-150026-9.63745Stainless Steel
Maytag SmartFillView Deal4.5/ Years151--U10150034-9.38755Stainless Steel
Black & Decker D2030View Deal4/588.878.8BB-CCB-A-11.54.98Tone6.3--Built-In12-2.9410--2 Years--160--U7-150031-9.25740Stainless Steel
SteamFast Home & Away SF-717View Deal3.5/57.384.39.3C+C+C-C-B-B+5.22.998Lilght--3.07Built-In1.4--.968--1 Year360---UN/A--4204-5.13515Ceramic