Steam Iron Buying Guide UK 

By  Enda McLarnon

Thanks for taking your time to read our detailed and extensive steam iron buying guide, that is written specifically for readers in the United Kingdom. This is a long and detailed guide, but we believe that if you have all the knowledge, then you can make a much better buying decision.

Like many people, I used to dread ironing day. My old iron sputtered, stuck on delicate fabrics, and left me feeling frustrated. Then I discovered the benefits of a good steam iron. My clothes look crisp, the process is smooth, and I even have time for a cup of tea in between."

If you want to experience the same, then my guide is packed with my hard-won wisdom and expert tips to help you find the perfect iron for a happy laundry life.

We have broken this guide into easy to read sections to make your reading experience a little bit easier.

laundry basket overflowing with wrinkled clothes

Understanding Your Ironing Needs

Each person will have slightly different needs. It's best to ask a few questions to try and identify your exact ironing needs.

  • Ironing Frequency - How often do you have to do ironing? Is this a daily task, are you a weekend warrior, or do you just iron as and when you have to?
  • Fabrics - What types of fabrics do you have to iron? Are there a lot of silks and woollens, or are cotton shirts and denim your biggest workload? It's important to understand that the main fabric types you have to do will guide your soleplate choice and steam output needs.
  • Time - Are you a "quick crease, out the door" kind of ironer, or do you have time for longer ironing sessions with time for adjustments and precision? This will influence factors like water tank size and temperature controls.

Type of Ironing

My Recommendation

Frequent Ironer

A lightweight compact iron with a decent-sized tank will be your best friend. Consider a ceramic soleplate for its glide and scratch resistance.


For delicate materials like silk, a smooth ceramic or anodised soleplate with precise temperature control is crucial. Look for irons with low, adjustable steam settings to avoid scorching.

Time restrained

A powerful steam output ensures fast wrinkle removal, while a large water tank minimizes refills. An auto-off feature adds peace of mind, especially for the hurried ironer.

Remember, there's no one-size-fits-all steam iron. By assessing your ironing needs and preferences, you'll be well on your way to finding the perfect fit for a better ironing experience!

Key Features of Steam Irons

Many of the brands advertise their irons in certain ways which can lead to some confusion. Just below we have identified those key features that you should pay attention to.


This is probably the single feature that causes more confusion than anything else for potential buyers. This is the part of the iron that touches your clothes. In simple engineering terms it is a metal plate with holes in it that allow the steam out.

Most good quality steam irons will have a ceramic plate or a steel plate infused with ceramic. The reason ceramic is used is to help the iron glide smoothly over your clothes. It also gives a smoother finish to the sole and this prevents snagging of the clothes.

Manufacturers talk a lot about the soleplates and their gliding properties. They used to give problems but the process has become very refined and soleplates are all very good in almost every iron.


The choice of soleplate significantly impacts ironing performance and garment compatibility. Popular options in the UK include:

  • Ceramic: Better for exceptional smoothness, scratch resistance, and even heat distribution, making it ideal for delicate fabrics.
  • Stainless Steel: A widely used option due to its affordability and quick heat-up time. However, it can be prone to scratches and less forgiving on sensitive materials.
  • Anodized: An enhanced stainless steel variant, offering improved smoothness and scratch resistance compared to its parent material, catering to a broader range of fabrics.

Steam Output - Constant Steam and Steam Boost

Steam output usually comes in two ways. The first is a continuous steam rating and the second is a steam shot, sometimes called a steam boost.

There are dry irons on the UK market which don't use steam at all, and some people prefer to use those as it does keep the clothes drier.

The majority of irons use steam as a quick means of ironing out wrinkles and creases.

With steam irons there is usually a continuous steam and also a steam shot.

steam boost

Continuous Steam

The continuous rate of steam produced by an iron has a technical measurement known as grams per minute. (g/min) Usually this varies between 30-50 grams per minute. It is simply the amount of steam an iron can produce. The higher this is the better as it is steam which is very effective in removing wrinkles quickly.

Steam Shot (Steam Boost)

A steam shot is also measured in grams per minute. This will always be a higher measurement and is usually between 100 to 150 grams. At the higher end this can get up to 200 grams per minute.

This shot is used for very stubborn creases in material like jeans or linen. It can be very useful and again the higher this number is the better.

A strong and consistent steam output is really important for effective wrinkle removal. Consider these guidelines:

  • Light Ironers: For occasional touch-ups, a continuous steam output of approximately 25g/min is sufficient.
  • Regular Ironers: For most ironing tasks, a steam output between 30g/min and 40g/min will provide efficient performance.
  • Heavy-Duty Ironers: For tackling thicker or heavier fabrics and stubborn creases, go for a steam output exceeding 50g/min. Additionally, explore the functionality of steam shots for targeted wrinkle removal.

Water Tank Capacity

These can vary in size quite a lot. A typical steam iron has a 300 millilitre water tank. That will last for about an hour of normal ironing before it needs to be filled up again.

Some models will have a 400 ml water tank so will last about 90 minutes.

Be aware though, that the larger the tank, the heavier the iron will be. A larger tank will also take slightly longer to heat up.

One thing worth noting is that some models of irons have what is called an "easy fill option." That basically means they have a wider opening than most models, and this allows you to fill the iron faster.

steam iron water tanks

Tank size selection should be based on ironing frequency and the number of garments you have to iron. Compact options with capacities around 200ml are ideal for travel or occasional use, while larger tanks (300ml+) cater to frequent ironing sessions and bigger laundry loads. Anti-calc features are highly recommended to minimise limescale buildup and protect the iron's lifespan.

Temperature Control and Material Selection

This is another area of complexity. Different materials react differently to heat. For example a pair of jeans will take a high heat whereas a silk blouse would burn at the same temperature. That is why there are different temperature settings on an iron.

By selecting the appropriate temperature you can be sure that is the right one to use for a particular material.

The temperature adjustment is usually a simple dial.

It is worth noting that by adjusting the temperature, you are actually changing the temperature of the soleplate. This can take up to 30 seconds to change so always be aware of that.

adjustable heat on an iron

Proper temperature control ensures the very best garment care by accommodating the varying heat tolerance of different fabrics. Look for irons with variable temperature settings, while advanced models with fabric sensors or preset modes offer added convenience and precision.

Wattage and running costs

All steam irons have a boiler inside them that heats up the water and turns it into steam. Watts are a unit of power and the higher this number is, then the faster your iron will heat up.

The majority of steam irons will use around 2,400 watts of power to heat the boiler, and the iron will be ready to use in about 45 seconds to a minute.

Some irons will have a higher wattage such as 2600, 2800 and as high as 3100 watts, so these will heat up faster.

steam iron watts and power

You should also be aware that the higher the wattage is the more electricity it will use. Electricity is measured in a unit known as a Kilowatt Hour (Kwh) A Kilowatt hour is classed as one unit of electricity. It is based on an appliance using 1,000 watts of power for one hour.

The average cost of a unit of electricity in the UK is about 14p. (Rates vary qite a lot)

  • So a 2400 watt steam iron being used for one hour would cost about 33.6 pence to run
  • And a 3100 watt steam iron being used for one hour would cost about 43.4 pence to run

This is not a big issue for most people but we thought it was worth noting.

Limescale Prevention

If you look at kettles or irons you will often see signs of a white residue at the bottom of the product. This is limescale and it happens when water meets with a heating element of any kind. Certain particles in the water react with the heat and form limescale.

This can be really bad in areas that have what is called hard water. (It is essentially any water that comes from soft rock areas of limestone)

Over time this can build up, and will eventually reduce the efficiency of the iron, and ultimately stop it from working altogether.

During the build up, the first signs are usually water spluttering and spitting out what look like rust spots. That is exactly what they are, and it has ruined many a piece of clothing. These spots come from dirty water in the boiler pushing out through the holes in the soleplate of the iron.

anti calc in an iron

During the build up, the first signs are usually water spluttering and spitting out what look like rust spots. That is exactly what they are, and it has ruined many a piece of clothing. These spots come from dirty water in the boiler pushing out through the holes in the soleplate of the iron.

If the damage has not gone too far, you can descale the iron, and also clean up the soleplate. However, if the damage is permanent, then the iron will have to be replaced. This is what ruins most irons.

Automatic Cut Off

This is an important safety feature that we believe every iron should have and all of the better quality irons do. If left unattended, and let's face it that does happen, then the iron turns itself off.

Usually there are two features of this, one when the iron is left with the soleplate down, and one when the iron is left in the upright or vertical position.

  • When left with the soleplate on the surface most irons will cut off after 20 seconds
  • In the vertical position this is usually a few minutes

We think you should be certain that your iron has this as a feature.

steam iron automatic cut off

Anti-Drip Features

This features is actually a bit of a gimmick. No iron should rip otherwise it is pretty useless. When manufacturers advertise this they are talking about the iron not dripping if toppled over.

They mean that the iron will not spill out the water that is already in the tank, or they mean that the tank is easier to fill as it has a wider spout.

The better manufacturers are however referring to the small holes that you find in the soleplate, and how those holes are actually designed.

This helps stop water drip, especially from the tip of the iron, when the iron is held at an angle.

anti drip feature

Ergonomics and Ease of Use: Prioritising Comfort and Efficiency

You should also consider a lightweight design, comfortable handle, and long cord as these all contribute significantly to user comfort and movement freedom. Additionally, consider safety features such as auto shut-off to prevent accidents, and spill protection to safeguard garments and surfaces.

Remember, the optimal feature combination depends on your individual needs and preferences. Carefully evaluate your ironing habits, budget, and fabric types to make an informed decision and navigate the technical battlefield with confidence, ensuring a smooth and efficient ironing experience.

Which Brands Make Steam Irons?

The main household names make most of the steam irons that are currently available on the UK marketplace. These include:

  • Tefal - Known for their innovative technology and user-friendly designs, Tefal offers a range of irons, such as the FV9845, FV5872 and the FV 5696. Read more about Tefal steam irons here.
  • Philips - Another leading brand, Philips offers irons with features like SmartFlow technology for consistent steam output, and OptimalTEMP technology for automatic temperature adjustment. Their popular models include the Philips Azur 8000 series and the Philips PerfectCare Elite Plus steam irons. Read more about Philips steam irons here.
  • Morphy Richards - Renowned for their reliability and value for money, Morphy Richards offers irons with features like vertical steaming and anti-calc systems. Their popular models include the Morphy Richards Power SteamElite 332014 and the Morphy Richards 302000. Read more about Morphy Richards Steam Irons here.
  • Russell Hobbs - Providing a range of budget-friendly options alongside premium models, Russell Hobbs offers irons with features like glide-on ceramic soleplates and variable steam settings. Their popular models include the Russell Hobbs One Temperature iron and the Russell Hobbs Freedom Cordless iron. Read more about the Russell Hobbs steam irons here.

There are a few lesser known brands such as:

  • Quest
  • Laptronix
  • Dcenta
  • iTvanila

All of the major brands have wide ranges of steam irons. The better ones will offer 2 year warranties such as Philips and Morphy Richards. They will also have a UK based customer service team who can be reached using a local UK telephone number. Spare parts are also easier to get.

Budgets and costs UK

At the cheaper end you can find steam irons for around £15. At the higher end these can average out at around £50-60 for a steam iron packed with features.

The average cost that you should expect to pay though is around £30 for a good quality iron with reliable and consistently good buyer satisfaction ratings.

Most steam irons last around 2 years before they start to give problems that become irritating enough to make you consider buying a new one.

The better brands give you a 2 year warranty so overall expect to spend around £30 every couple of years on a new iron.

Some buyers prefer to buy a cheaper one at around £15 and replace it every year.

There are entry-level options that begin around £20, offering basic functionality for occasional use. Mid-range models, ranging from £50 to £100, are a better choice for regular ironers. These irons typically have enhanced steam output, larger water tanks, and variable temperature controls, catering to a broader range of fabrics and ironing frequencies.

For those of you where efficiency and garment care is your main focus, premium irons exceeding £100 have a multitude of advanced features such as fabric sensors, powerful steam shots, and ergonomic designs.

  • Frequent ironers should prioritise robust steam output, sufficient water tank capacity, and precise temperature control.
  • Occasional ironers may find basic models with adequate wattage and comfortable handles sufficient. A scratch-resistant soleplate material like ceramic ensures fabric protection and longevity.
  • Regular ironers or those with larger families should prioritise precise temperature control and soleplate compatibility to ensure the best care for delicate and diverse materials. Anti-calc features can further mitigate maintenance concerns.

Ultimately, your final decision is best made by considering your own individual needs and ironing habits. While investing in a higher quality iron will deliver smoother ironing, improved garment care, and time savings, there is higher associated costs.

Cordless Steam Irons

Almost every single steam iron has an electrical cord, and most of them are shorter than they should be. Like many other appliances some manufacturers are now making cordless steam irons.

They are slightly more expensive than the corded models. That said, more and more people are starting to use them in the UK.

Many buyers prefer these as they are also lighter than a standard steam iron.

We have written a full article about these which you can read by clicking on the link below.


My Final Thoughts

I know this is a long guide but it has given you information on features, budgets, and popular brands. Prioritise the features that resonate most with your own ironing habits and the variety of garments you have to iron.

Feel free to contact us with questions, specific concerns, or further guidance.

Enda McLarnon

About the author

I hope that you find my How to articles helpful as I know that laundry can be a real chore. On this website, I have tried to help out with buying guides and reviews for the many forms of ironing and other laundry issues.