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Top Steam Irons - Updated December 2014

Our extensive analysis of the best steam irons and our pick for your best bet.

Best of the Best
Rowenta DW8080
Singer Expert Finish 1700W
Black & Decker D2030 
Panasonic NI-E650TR
Best Bang for your Buck
Sunbeam GCSBSP-201
The Good
Exhales a consistently abundant volume of steam and is extremely user friendly.
An absolute speed demon - heats up in less than 8 minutes.
Heats up quickly in less than 10 minutes.
Sports a convenient retractable cord.
Offers unbeatable value for the pice.
The Bad
A bit on the higher end of the price spectrum.
Occasionally leaks when the reservoir is overfilled.
Has a tendency to leak when set to steam mode.
Takes longer to heat up - usually around 12 minutes.
Takes slightly longer to warm up.
The Bottom Line
Surpasses its competitors in almost every front - ironing quality, steaming rate, and feature set.
A good buy if speed and an LCD display is important to you. Otherwise, pick the Rowenta.
A solid deal if you are budget-conscious.
If you are looking for an economy buy, we recommend the Sunbeam instead.
Half the price of other models but no noticeable difference in quality.
Steaming Rate
How quickly the iron warms up and the rate at which it can exhale water vapor are two of the biggest differentiators between models, so it’s critical that you consider these factors as you make your purchase. The steaming rate is directly determined by the wattage of the iron. Most low-level irons are around 1,300 watts, while higher quality irons are in the 1,600 watt range. The speed is also affected by the rate at which the iron can spew water vapor from its flat bottom. Lower quality irons put out just a couple of grams of water vapor per minute, while premium irons can exhale up to 30 grams per minute. While the steam rate is not a metric that is publicized by iron manufacturers, it can make the difference between finishing a fully-pressed dress shirt in 8 minutes and struggling for more 20 minutes while getting a worse result.
Ironing Quality
Ironing quality is all about consistency. It’s essential that the iron holds its temperature evenly and that it spits out steam uniformly throughout the ironing process. Poor-performing irons can have wild temperature swings and can sometimes leak water abruptly from the steam holes, leaving you with a big puddle on your favorite shirt.
Features
Virtually all irons have the same basic features, such as: variable steam control, temperature and fabric settings, a stainless steel soleplate, a “surge of steam” option, a light that activates when the iron has heated-up, motion sensitive auto-off control, and a seven foot long cord. Premium irons, however, have a few bells and whistles that can really enhance the user experience: digital LCD monitor/display, back legs so that you don’t have to manually stand up the iron, cordless or retractable cord, and extra soft/moldable grip.
Price
Steam irons can range in price from $30 to well over $80. Surprisingly, we found that some of the lower priced models are actually superior to their higher priced competitors. Find out which steam iron is worth the price and which you stay away from.
The biggest advantage of the Rowenta is its ability to exhale a consistently abundant volume of steam, in part due to the copious amount of steam holes located at the base of the iron.
Black & Decker D2030 Auto-Off Digital Advantage Iron
The D2030 doesn’t disappoint on the speed front. It heats up like lightning and is ready to go after 8-10 minutes. The iron spits out steam at a strong and consistent rate and doesn’t let up throughout the ironing process.
Rowenta DW8080 Pro Master Auto-Off Steam Iron with 400-Hole Stainless Steel Soleplate, 1700-Watt, Blue
This iron warms up in less than 10 minutes – almost as fast as the
D2030. The biggest advantage of the Rowenta, though, is its ability to
exhale a consistently abundant volume of steam, in part due to the
copious amount of steam holes located at the base of the iron. Almost every owner we surveyed raved about this standout feature of the Rowenta.
Sunbeam Steam Master Iron with Retractable Cord, GCSBSP-201
The Sunbeam takes slightly more time to warm up than the other models, and this is partially due to its lower wattage. However, the volume of steam it is
able to produce is on par with its competitors, allowing you to finish
the job quickly and efficiently once it gets going.
SINGER Expert Finish 1700 Watt Anti-Drip Steam Iron with Brushed Stainless Steel Soleplate, LCD Electronic Settings and Smart Auto-Off
Heating up in less than 8 minutes, the Singer Expert Finish is a speed demon. Coupled with a strong, continuous stream of water vapor that is exhaled as you iron, the Singer Expert Finish is the ultimate choice for speed and efficiency.
Panasonic NI-E650TR Steam/Dry Iron with U-Shape Titanium Coated Soleplate
Perhaps the underdog in the group, the NI-E650TR is only 1200 watts and
does take a little longer to heat up – usually around 12 minutes. The
smaller amount of steam vents also limit the amount of water vapor that
the iron spits out, lengthening the ironing process. If you often find yourself ironing when you're in a pinch for time, you may want to consider going with another model.
The 'burst of steam' button on the Rowenta should be renamed an 'explosion of steam,' as it simply doesn’t compare to its competitors.
Black & Decker D2030 
We found that the D2030 has a tendency to leak when it is set to steam mode and when the temperature is dialed up to the maximum notch. However, in all other settings, the iron blows out steam perfectly and consistently.
Rowenta DW8080
The Rowenta DW8080 has a unique steam hole pattern which allows it to exhale lots of steam consistently and uniformly. The “burst of steam” button should be renamed to an “explosion of steam,” as it simply doesn’t compare to its competitors. Somehow, the Rowenta manages to spread the large volume of water vapor evenly and consistently, significantly cutting down the ironing time.
Sunbeam GCSBSP-201
The Sunbeam has very reliable, high-volume steam bursts, which make it extremely efficient and effective. There is the potential for water to leak out of the reservoir if it is overfilled, but if it is filled up correctly, leakage is not an issue.
Singer Expert Finish 1700W
Spitting out powerful gusts of steam and holding its temperature uniformly for as long as it is turned on, the Singer is a leader when it comes to consistency and quality. However, it simply can’t compare to the gobs of steam that the Rowenta is able to put out. There have been occasional reports of the Singer leaking, but we found this problem to be isolated to situations when the reservoir is overfilled with water.
Panasonic NI-E650TR
The NI-E650TR struggles to keep up with its competitors in terms of the sheer amount of steam it can spit out. However, it maintains its temperature evenly throughout the duration of the ironing process, and we found it to produce fabulous results for anyone that is not pressed for time.
The holes near the front tip of the Rowenta are extremely helpful in getting the “hard to reach” areas, such as the buttons on a dress shirt.
Black & Decker D2030 
We found the D2030’s auto shut-off feature can be quite annoying. Even when you are in the middle of ironing, the iron has a tendency to power off after
10 minutes. Although it does turn on again instantly after a few
shakes, it can really take you out of your rhythm as you rush to your
Monday morning meeting.
Rowenta DW8080
The holes near the front tip of the Rowenta are extremely helpful
in getting the “hard to reach” areas, such as the buttons on a dress
shirt. The sleekly designed nose also helps it knock out
the extra tough wrinkles that most irons can’t get to, and the 7 foot cord with 360 degree pivot makes it extremely easy to move around the ironing board. It is obvious that the engineers at Rowenta have put a great deal of thought into maximizing user friendliness with the iron's design.
Sunbeam GCSBSP-201
The Sunbeam lacks an auto shut-off feature, which can either be a good
or bad thing depending on whether you like the extra precautionary
measures that come with most other irons. The Sunbeam is extremely
light and has a very effective cleaning button which allows you to get
rid of the build-up that has been trapped inside.
Singer Expert Finish 1700W
The Singer has a patented Anti-drip technology which prevents leaking and dripping when the iron is set to a low temperature setting. The LCD display is also first in class, providing a multitude of information about the iron’s temperature and fabric settings. The richness of detail displayed on the LCD is almost too much for anyone that doesn’t have hours to play around with it, but it does offer more bells and whistles than any of its peers.
Panasonic NI-E650TR
The iron sports a convenient retractable cord that is a blessing when it is working properly but a curse when it gets damaged. Many users have reported cases of the cord constantly snapping back in, making it a huge hassle to deal with. While we weren't able to actually reproduce this, we can see how this could be a possible issue as the cord begins to wear down.
Owners of the Rowenta swear by its durability and longevity, so in the long run this purchase may end up saving you money as well.
Black & Decker D2030 
At $35, the D2030 is reasonably priced and is a solid buy if you are on a tight budget. Its steaming rate and consistency rank high among the irons that we reviewed, rivaling those of some of the much higher priced models. From a feature perspective, however, the D2030 is more limited than the premium irons on the market. This is where paying a slightly higher price may make a difference in your overall experience.
Rowenta DW8080
On sale for $99, the Rowenta is a bit higher priced than the other irons on our shortlist, but we think the few extra dollars are well worth it. This model surpasses its competitors in almost every front - ironing quality, steaming rate and consistency, and feature set. We surveyed dozens of owners of the Rowenta who swear by its durability and longevity, so in the long run this purchase may end up saving you money as well.
Sunbeam GCSBSP-201
At $31, the Sunbeam is the lowest priced model out of the irons we reviewed. While the lower price is most noticeably reflected in its limited feature set, the iron actually performs exceptionally well in terms of ironing quality and consistency. If you are in the market for a lower-priced model that will get the job done reliably, this is your best bet.
Singer Expert Finish 1700W
The Singer retails for $48 and is on the higher end of the price range. While we were impressed with its steaming rate and ironing quality, the biggest differentiating factor of this iron is its LCD display, which is the main driver of the higher price. If this feature is not important to you, we suggest going with one of the other models.
Panasonic NI-E650TR
At $35, the NI-E650TR is one of the lower priced steam irons, and this became obvious when we put it side by side with the Rowenta and the other more premium models that we reviewed. While the Panasonic does a great job once it gets going, its slower warm-up time greatly limits its convenience. If you are looking for an economy buy, we recommend the Sunbeam over the Panasonic.
The Rowenta DW8080 is the best all-around steam
iron in today’s crowded marketplace.
The Rowenta DW8080 is the best all-around steam iron in today’s crowded marketplace. While the Singer edges it out in terms of sheer warm-up speed, the Rowenta is unparalleled when it comes to maintaining a high volume of steam exhalation and spreading the vapor out consistently and uniformly. Its brilliant steam-hole pattern and its sleek design make it extremely user-friendly and, coupled with its astounding performance and quality, the Rowenta DW8080 stands at the top of its class. It earns our highest recommendation as the best steam iron on the market.
Our Top Choice
Rowenta DW8080
Rowenta DW8080
When we compared the Singer side by side to the higher priced models, it hung tough and even beat out most of its rivals.
The $31 price of the Sunbeam comes as a shock to us. When we compared this iron side by side to the higher priced models, the GCSBSP-201 hung tough and even beat out most of its rivals. This steam iron does take slightly longer to warm up compared to premium models like the Rowenta, but once it gets going, it is very hard to beat. If you are in the market for an efficient, inexpensive steam iron that will have 85% of the features that you will likely ever need, this is the model for you.
Best Value
Sunbeam GCSBSP-201
Sunbeam GCSBSP-201

Do People Really use Hotel Irons to Cook Food?

We have heard a rumor that some guests use hotel irons to prepare simple meals. Allegedly, it's the convenience, cost savings, and special diets that drive the behavior.

To get to the bottom of this rumor, we took a standard iron and tried to prepare food on it.

We started with a hot dog since the cooking requirements are pretty straightforward. Because most hot dogs use pre-cooked meat, all we needed to do was to heat up the dogs.

We used the cotton (highest) setting and surprisingly, the iron did a fantastic job of heating up our meal quickly and efficiently.

Next, we moved over to slightly a more involved task – cooking a non-readymade cheeseburger. We prepared the iron using the linen setting for 5 minutes and then laid out the ground beef onto the base of the iron. We turned on the cotton setting and watched as the meat slowly turned brown after about 15 minutes. While the iron wasn't able to produce the handsome grill marks that usually come with a barbecued burger, the end product tasted just as juicy as if it were made the old-fashioned way.
But could an iron prepare a more difficult meal? We tried making one of our favorite breakfast meals: an egg omelet sandwich. We put the egg on the base of the iron and watched it fry. It was a bit disgusting to see the yolk seep into the steam holes on the base of the iron and drip off of the edges, but we carried on.

Using the linen setting on the steam iron, the egg cooked quickly, and we turned our efforts to preparing the ham and cheese for the sandwich. All in all, the final product came out quite tasty, although the toast did seem to burn a little bit more than we would have liked. We recommend heating up the toast with the wool setting (300ºF) to prevent burning.
Next, we decided to use the steam iron for a make-shift pizza oven. It seemed like a no-brainer. After all, the base of the steam iron perfectly matched the shape of a pizza slice.

We began by spreading out a triangular shaped piece of dough over the iron and then rolled it back to create a crust edge. We couldn't quite toss the dough like we're used to with a circular pizza, so we had to stretch it out with our hands instead. We then used the cotton setting of the steam iron to pre-bake the crust for 6 minutes so as not to get “doughy crust” that usually kills most homemade pizzas. From there, the rest of the procedure was pretty normal as we spread the sauce and the toppings onto the pizza and watched it bake. It took slightly longer to finish than usual, but the crust began to turn brown after around 16 minutes, and the cheese fully melted around the 20 minute mark. In the end, the pizza came out of the “oven” in tip top shape. We couldn't resist taking a bite!
Steamed broccoli seemed like another logical meal to prepare. After all, we need to put that “burst of steam” button on our iron to the test. We placed an individual broccoli stem onto the iron and switched on the cotton setting. We used the iron's steam button, and the broccoli slowly began to turn bright green. Some irons don't allow the steam function to work if the iron isn't in the proper orientation (pointing down), but the iron we tested managed to have no problem with it upside down, and after several refills of the water tank, the broccoli was ready to go!
Finally, it was time for some dessert. What better way to use the steam iron holes than to have them double as marshmallow stick holders? The holes were actually just deep enough to have the marshmallows close to the base of the iron and get the proper amount of heat from the iron.
From there, making the actual s'mores was a cinch. The highest setting on the iron was a good substitute for an open bonfire, and within 10 minutes, the melted Hershey's milk chocolate was beginning to seep into the base of the iron.
We don't know how common hotel-iron-cooking is, but it certainly is feasible. With some ingenuity and a few creative uses of the iron's settings, you can re-create pretty much any homemade kitchen meal.

So think twice next time you use your hotel's steam iron. The last thing you want is to show up to your morning business meeting with pizza sauce all over your dress shirt!

Steam Ironing Tips

1. The best way to iron the cuffs on a sleeve is to roll a hand towel and place it in the cuff.  
2. Your iron can get sticky from the starch and other items on your clothing that build up on its surface.  The best way to clean the iron is to sprinkle some salt on a piece of wax paper and iron over it.  The salt will absorb the stickiness, and your iron will be as good as new.
3. Hold pleats in place using paper clicks.  This will help make the job much easier.
4. Use a simple spray bottle instead of the built-in sprayer function on your iron.  This will give you much more control when applying water over your clothing.
5. Try spraying a mist of water on the iron board cover instead of directly onto your clothes. This will allow the moisture to spread out more evenly.   
6. Want to iron both sides of your clothing at once? Place a piece of aluminum foil under the iron board cover.  The aluminum will reflect the heat onto the back surface of your clothes, cutting your ironing time in half!

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