UK Steam Iron Buying Guide

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.

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

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:

  • Philips
  • Morphy Richards
  • Russell Hobbs
  • Breville
  • Tower
  • Bosch
  • Tefal

There are s 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.

How Much do Steam Irons Cost?

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.

cost of a steam iron

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.

cordless

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.

Wattage

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.

Water Tanks

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

Soleplates

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 s 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.

soleplates

The soleplate is also where the temperature of the iron impacts. I have explained that part in more detail in the adjustable temperature section just below.

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.

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.

Adjustable Temperatures 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

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

Steam Irons vs Steam Generator Irons

As a general rule a steam generator iron will cut your ironing time in half, when compared to a normal steam iron. That said, these are a lot more expensive to buy, and they are much larger.

The iron itself is not heavy, but the base unit that holds the water has a much higher capacity, and is much bulkier. You will also most likely have to buy a larger ironing board as well, as the generator style iron will not fit on a standard ironing board.

Most buyers who make the switch from a steam iron to a steam generator iron are amazed by the difference is speed, and how fast they can accomplish the boring task of ironing.

Steam Irons vs Ironing Presses

The steam press is mainly used in retail shops, some factories and in many professional ironing companies who do commercial ironing. They are also used in many hotels, some guest houses and some B&Bs.

Some people, and especially those with larger families will use an ironing press as a household appliance. They are very fast at ironing items such as table cloths, sheets, curtains. They are also very efficient at putting the creases into trousers and for ironing dress shirts.

The lower part of an ironing press is about the same size and shape of a small ironing board. The top of the ironing press is the same shape and acts just like a big iron. The actual surface area of the ironing press is much larger than a regular steam iron so it takes much less time to iron your clothing.

Iron presses are not that useful for detail such as collars or pleats.

Ironing Boards for Steam Irons

One thing you will definitely need for your steam iron is a good quality ironing board. Manufacturers of these make them in five different sizes. These are referred to as standard sizes, however you will also find sizes slightly different to these as well.

The standard sizes are usually labelled as A, B, C, D and E.

Size

Dimensions (cms)

SIZE A

110 x 30

SIZE B

124 x 38

SIZE C

124 x 45

SIZE D

135 x 45

SIZE E

135 x 49

The brands Minky and Brabantia make the best ironing boards. They are made from good quality materials, and they are adjustable in height and don't rock on the ground.

Accessories for Steam Irons

There are not a great deal of accessories for a steam iron. There are however a few and we explain your choices in this section.

Steam Iron Holder

Storing any type of steam iron can be a bit of a pain. The vast majority of these don't have cable storage. Most people end up wrapping the cord around the iron and storing it on a shelf somewhere.

Steam Iron Cleaners

There are several useful cleaning options for your steam iron.

Some of our popular articles

Check out these articles below