When you want that pressed-from-the-dry-cleaner look, you need a powerful steam iron for clothes to get your clothing fabrics crisp and wrinkle-free. Sure, garment steamers can get the job done, but it’s the heat and weight of a steam iron (plus the support provided by your ironing board) that assure you get the super smooth results you crave.
Thankfully, today’s irons are making this once onerous job easier and quicker to do. Top models heat up quickly and have electronic controls to more accurately hold precise and safe temperature to prevent burning and scorching. They steam without dripping and are easier to use with large, see-through and removable water tanks and retractable cords.
- How we test irons
- 1. CHI Steam Iron for Clothes with Titanium Infused Ceramic Soleplate, 1700 Watts
- 2. Conair CNRGI300 ExtremeSteam Pro Steam Iron, White
- 3. Sunbeam (GCSBNC-101-000) Versa Glide Cordless/Corded Iron, Black
- 4. Sunbeam Steammaster Steam Iron
- 5. Reliable Ovo 150GT Steam Iron – Portable Iron And Garment Steamer with Heat-resistant
How we test irons
When the Good Housekeeping Institute Cleaning Lab evaluates irons, we measure the amount and rate of steam they produce, the temperatures of the bottom soleplate at various settings, the temperature swings (highs and lows) at each setting, and how hot the handle and body get, for safety. We time how long the irons take to heat up and we weigh how heavy they are. We assess how easy the controls and sprays are to use, how easy the water tank is to fill, and how likely the iron is to tip over if placed on a wobbly board.
Finally, we wrinkle and ball up cotton, linen, wool, nylon and other synthetic fabrics and allow the creases to set overnight. The next day, each swatch is ironed on the appropriate setting and we rate it on a scale of one to five for its smooth appearance using the standard guides that are part of the Textiles industry testing methods. All in all, we spent more than 150 hours testing over a hot board to evaluate 15 irons. These are the top recommended steam irons from Good Housekeeping Institute tests:
1. CHI Steam Iron for Clothes with Titanium Infused Ceramic Soleplate, 1700 Watts
You may be familiar with the CHI brand from its hair styling tools, and, thankfully, what CHI has done for hair they are now doing for what you wear. This CHI model not only smoothed tough-to-iron fabrics like linen and heavy cotton superbly, but it also had the most powerful steam burst of any iron in our test. It’s comfortable to hold and use and once you’ve turned the fabric selection dial, the illuminated display makes it easy to see that you’ve made the right choice. The water chamber is large and easy to fill and the retractable cord means it takes up less storage space. We found the scratch-resistant ceramic soleplate especially easy to glide across fabrics. This iron is such a lab favorite that whenever someone comes in to borrow an iron, we hide this one away!
2. Conair CNRGI300 ExtremeSteam Pro Steam Iron, White
The Conair ExtremeSteam Pro GI300 Iron has a heat-up time of less than 60 seconds, even at the max heat setting. It also had top scores in our steam producing tests, so you can count on it to get your clothes wrinkle-free. This iron has rubber feet to help keep it stable and make it less likely to tip over. The transparent water tank helps you see exactly how much water is in the reservoir. (Tip: Avoid drips by only filling it up to the max line.)
3. Sunbeam (GCSBNC-101-000) Versa Glide Cordless/Corded Iron, Black
Use the Sunbeam Versa Glide to get out those pesky winkles without the hassle of the cord or use it with the cord for longer periods of steam and heat without placing it back on the base. The base actually attaches to the rear of the iron. It isn’t bulky and it’s still very light relative to other irons we tested, even with the base attached. Plus, it’s one of the best deals around, especially for a 2-in-1 product! The vertical steam function is very strong and all of the controls were intuitive and easy to use.
4. Sunbeam Steammaster Steam Iron
Amazon reviewers loved this Sunbeam iron for its price and performance and Sunbeam irons and steamers have done well in our previous GH Cleaning Lab tests. This inexpensive iron has high-end features like a retractable cord (making it super convenient when putting it away!), a 3-way (side, flat, and upright) auto shut-off for safety and vertical steam.
One reviewer said “Being a professional seamstress, I use an iron daily. This is the best iron I have ever used!! I have had about 10 irons during my years of sewing professionally and this one is the best iron I have purchased, hands down!!!”
5. Reliable Ovo 150GT Steam Iron – Portable Iron And Garment Steamer with Heat-resistant
Good things do come in small packages: The palm-size Ovo will smooth out wrinkles at home and on the road. It’s the tiniest iron we’ve seen, but it’s the perfect size for touch-ups. And at only 1.6 lbs, this iron islightweight and easy to use. Plus, the steam is continuous. We love the storage bag that’s also a resting pad. If you can use a computer mouse, you can use the Ovo!