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Irons & Steamers Buying Guide

Do you need an iron or a clothes steamer? Both will de-wrinkle your clothes, but you have to decide which is best for you.


Keeping your apparel wrinkle-free is optimal in ensuring you look and feel your best. Even if you keep your clothes in a pile on the ground, you can ensure they will look crisp and clean with an iron or garment steamer, both of which will get the job done quickly and easily. Which one will suit your needs better, though, will depend on what you’re using it for, and how often.

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An iron is a basic household appliance that is great to have around, even if you’ll rarely use it. You never know when you may need to iron an outfit or suit for a job interview or special event. You'll be glad to have it when the need arises. An iron varies in price greatly – from under $20 to over $200. A basic $20 iron won’t feature many of the bells and whistles that the $200 one will have in abundance, but it may suit your needs perfectly. There are several key elements to keep in mind when deciding on what iron to purchase. The benefits of an iron are their portability and affordability. They are also more energy efficient and are ready to use just moments after you turn them on.

Steam Setting
Steam is the best way to soften stubborn wrinkles, so it’s in your best interest to ensure your iron features some sort of “steam blast” as a way to make your ironing tasks easier.

Water Reservoir
The water reservoir holds the water that will be heated and turned into steam. Ensure that it’s see-through (so you know how much water is left), and has a large capacity (so you won’t be refilling it too often).

Heat Settings
Cotton, corduroy, lace, linen, nylon, polyester, silk, wool and many, many more fabrics all may require ironing at different temperatures. If the iron’s too hot it will melt or burn your clothes. Therefore, you’ll want an iron with adjustable heat/fabric settings. Luckily, most have this feature with the fabrics listed right below the heat setting.

This is purely a “nice to have” feature. It’s quite convenient not having to worry about the cord getting in the way or having to ensure you’re always near an electrical outlet.

The weight of your iron is a bit of a double-edged sword – you may want it on the heavy side to help smooth the wrinkles, but on the other hand you’ll want it lightweight to ease the fatigue on your hand and wrist. Your best bet is to choose something in the middle, and err on the side of lightweight as the heat/steam should handle most of the de-wrinkling. And test-drive (if possible) before buying.

The comfort of your iron is connected to the weight, but you’ll want to make sure the iron is comfortable to pick up and hold because there’s a chance you’ll be using for extended periods. Look for and iron that features an ergonomic handle.

The metal underside of your iron is called the soleplate, and you’ll most likely want a non-stick one, which are the easiest to clean and often have the same non-stick surface as cookware. Stainless steel or aluminum also transfer heat well but may need to be scrubbed to remove built-up starch or other caked-on or melted-in materials.

To start, always read the owner’s manual as it should explain proper use and maintenance. In general, clean your soleplate regularly to remove any residue, especially if you use starch. Non-stick surfaces can be cleaned with plain water or a mild cleaner. Stainless steel or aluminum surfaces can be cleaned with harder abrasives like steel wool, but be sure to follow the manufacturer's directions.

Safety Features
You should definitely keep safety features in mind. Many irons now have safety features like an alert system or auto shut-off if your iron has been left on and face down.