To not turn ironing into a burden, the iron itself  should be light. Quick and quality results depend on the material of the iron sole, the number of holes for steam, construction convenience and presence of additional options.

Much like shoes, you can not buy an iron “according to description”. Make sure to hold it in your hands to assess the reasoning behind the construction. The device should be comfortable and “sit” in the palm of your hand. Although the force of habit plays an important role here – many housewives would not exchange the old-fashioned heavy iron to a light modern one.

There Are Various Kinds of Irons

Household ironing devices can be divided into several types.

  • Conventional irons

Modern models have impressive power (1500-2400 W) and little weight (1-2 kg), their sole warms up quickly to operating temperature (150-200 ° C). Almost all such devices allow users to perform steam treatment of tissues both in the continuous steam regime (20-50 g / min) and the short-time steaming regime, the so-called steam boost (100-120 g of steam per minute). All models come with the automatic protective switch-out function, which makes using them almost absolutely safe. The cost of such irons depends on the “coolness” and the complexity of the design, and varies from 10 to 50 USD in price.

  • Traveling irons

Speaking of the number of functions, they are not far behind the ‘ordinary’ irons, but are compact, light, and have little power. Traveling appliances normally are not designed for intensive daily use. Their price is usually within a thousand of Rub.

GC 651PhilipsCompact Travel iron with steam moistening function and ergonomic handle. Model GC 651 (Philips), 1100 Rub.

Steam iron NI-A235TSPTQSteam iron  NI-A235TSPTQ (Panasonic) equipped with spheric sole-plate  Round Ride with titan plating, 750 Rub.

Powerful (2400 Wt) steam ironPowerful (2400 Wt) steam iron with vertical steaming function. Model VT-1248 (Vitek), 1500 Rub.

  • Ironing systems with external steam generator

These devices are similar in design to the professional analogues and cost no less than that – from 3-5 thousands to  8-12 thousands of Rub. However the cost is justified, especially if you have to iron  really a lot. External steam generator  continuously produces much more steam t than the most powerful iron. A large water container (1-1.5 L or more) allows to work for a long time without a “refil”. Temperature, pressure and humidity of steam can be adjusted, and steam generator will strictly maintain the set parameters (irons, as a rule, are not capable of doing it). Finally, using such device is easier than a conventional iron, because the ironing part of the external steam generator system has a lesser weight.

Irons and ironing systems are produced by many companies, including the German BSH Bosch und Siemens Hausgeräte (marketing brands Bosch, Siemens) and Braun, the French Groupe Seb (brands Tefal, Rowenta, Moulinex), the Dutch Philips, Italian De’Longhi (marketing brand De’Longhi, Ariete, Kenwood), Japan’s Matsushita Electric Industrial (marketing brand Panasonic), and so on.

What Water Can Be Poured Into the Iron

The irons with steam humidification can be filled only with boiled (preferably distilled) water. Otherwise, intensive use will lead to equally intensive scale formation. This will cause decrease in heating efficiency and plugging of the steam holes in the sole-plate. In the end, the iron may be damaged. Some models are provided with protection against the scale formation. You can pour ordinary tap water in these irons.

What is the Ironing Sole-Plate Made Of

All materials used for manufacturing of a working surface of the modern irons can be divided into three large groups. These are metal, highly durable enamel (ceramics) coating , and the polymer coating. Each material has its own specific characteristics, strengths and weaknesses.

Model TDA 2433 BoschFor those who believe that ironing does not have to be boring, designers have developed a new series of colorful  irons. Model TDA 2433 (Bosch), 1390 Rub.

Model 4390 (Ariete)Using the new ironing system, you do not need to wait until the heater has cooled down, to top up the water. The device is equipped with a transparent removable reservoir for continuous monitoring the water level. Model 4390 (Ariete).

steam iron with automatic switch-off functionA steam iron with automatic switch-off function and a ceramic sole-plate. Model VT-1243 (Vitek), the novelty.

  • Metal

The most often used in irons is the stainless steel. This material is famous for its strength and durability (even if the surface is scratched, it can be re-sanded). Besides, the massive steel plate heats uniformly and keeps the set temperature well. It is no coincidence that the steel sole-plates are used in most of the professional irons and ironing system models, for example, Ariete, De’Longhi; Elna (Switzerland), Kärcher (Germany). The household models have a pure steel soles – a number of models from Scarlett (Great Britain), Vitek (Austria), Rolsen (Korea), as well as nickel (iron NI-U755 by Panasonic), chrome, etc. For higher strength steel is cured under high pressure (sole-plate Inox Glissee, model sensixx spotlight TDA 8391 by Bosch, TB 11319 by Siemens). Stainless steel is often combined with aluminum (budget option) or titanium (more expensive).

  • Metal-ceramics

However, a pure metal sole-plate is inferior to a metal-ceramic (or metal with enamel plating)in such criteria as the easy gliding.  “Gliding” is the main advantage of the ceramic coated solepate (for example, Palladium-glissee, Granit glissee by Bosch; Ultragliss by Tefal; Platinum by Braun). Besides, the ceramic coating is usually characterized by high wear resistance.  Its only drawback is the relative fragility (ceramics may crack from an impact). To avoid accidental damage to the soleplate, many models have its side faces protected by an additional rim.

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Iron with triple protectionIron with triple protection from scale: Cartridge Anti Calc, the system for removal of the scale particles Salc’n’clean and self-cleaning function Self clean. Model sensixx B5 automatic TDA 6665 (Bosch), 2000 Rub.

SteamGlide (Philips)During development of the SteamGlide (Philips) soleplate maximum attention was paid to the location of the steam holes. Large holes in the soleplate allow the steam to better penetrate the fabric and effectively smooth any wrinkles while small holes improve gliding.

Compact ironCompact iron has a soleplate with non-stick coating. Model NI-F40NSVTQ (Panasonic), 800 Rub.

  • Polymer coating

Teflon or similar materials are used for this kind of coating. Such plating is not characterized by a high wear resistance or strength, but has a non-sticking properties instead. This quality as well as the small weight and ease of gliding define the basic scope of application for the polymer coated soleplates — most often they are used in travelling irons (i.e, GC651 by Philips, 1616 by VES, Spain, RN1367 by Rolsen).

The soleplate material should preferably answer the tasks that you are going to  solved with the help of your iron. If you are going to iron mostly coarse fabric – look for appliances with metal work surface. For fine fabrics and synthetics an iron with ceramic surface would be optimal. Appliances with nonsticking soleplates would be best suited for a small amount of work to be done in a rush.

Ironing system Stiromatic Instant ProIroning system Stiromatic Instant Pro (Ariete) with cartridge filter for water softening.

Aquaspeed FV 5230 TefalAn innovative system Ultracord in the new iron Aquaspeed allows to keep the cord away from the ironing surface, so it will not get in your way and crease the fabric. A special ribbed  plating on the “heel” makes the iron extremely stable. Model Aquaspeed FV 5230 (Tefal), 2100 Rub.

Traveler VT-1230A traveling iron with steam humidification function and 840 W of power. Model Traveler VT-1230 (Vitek), 600 Rub.

  • Vertical steaming

Not every iron with a steam humidification can produce steam if you place it vertically. Meanwhile, you often need an iron with such ability (for example, to “refresh” a hanging dress or a suit). Make sure to clarify whether your chosen model has the feature of “vertical steaming.” Since you will have to keep the iron in the air during this type of procedure, it’s weight should preferably be minimal.

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What Are We Ironing?

iron with the SteamGlideAn iron with the SteamGlide soleplate. Model GC-3320 (Philips), 1840 Rub.

  • The shirt and jackets sleeves, trousers legs are easier to iron with a long and narrow soleplate.
  • Bedsheets and curtains would be conveniently ironed with a wide sole. In the “flow” processing of linen ironing press Elnapress Opal (Elna) or steam ironer B 895 D (Miele) would do best of all . This cumbersome and expensive appliance (if compared to a conventional iron) provides a fantastic advantage in speed.
  • For universal use in the household irons with relatively wide soleplate and a long and narrow nose are created. Such combination would allow to successfully fulfill a widest range of tasks.
  • Small children’s clothes (caps, vests) are easier to iron with a compact traveling iron.
  • Clothes with buttons will be safe during ironing if the soleplate edge is equipped with the special indentation – a button groove.
  • For delicate fabrics the iron is equipped with special nozzles. They allow to reduce the working surface temperature, but the device still keeps its ability to produce the required amount of steam. For the same purpose the iron is supplied with a system preventing building of droplets.

System Fast Heat UpSystem Fast Heat Up makes the steam generator ready to work in 2 minutes after you switch it on. Model Pro Express GV 8120 (Tefal), 9200 Rub.

iron with a steam humidifierAn iron with a steam humidifier able to produce steam boost even in vertical position. Model sensixx comfort TDA 8366 (Bosch), 1800 Rub.

Steam iron with an automatic cord coiling functionSteam iron with an automatic cord coiling function. Model NI-U555SRATQ (Panasonic), 1550 Rub.

In contrast to the ironing systems, irons do not always have a possibility to adjust the intensity of the steam generation. It is available, for example, in the following models: GC 4440 (Philips), FV5177 Aquaspeed (Tefal), DZ 9030 Advancer (Rowenta).

To make the use of “steam boost” maximally effective, the iron  soleplate can be supplied with additional holes in the vicinity of the nozzle. A nozzle in the model ProStyle (Braun) allows you to effectively “steame” even a tight denim.

Location Holes on the Soleplate

The more of them there are and the more evenly they are distributed over the surface, the better it will be to humidify your fabric. Too small holes have a disadvantage – they quickly become clogged with scale. That’s why it is better if the iron is equipped with a system that prevents formation of scale. Otherwise, the appliance will have to be filled only with boiled or distilled water.

Design Convenience

Convenience of the iron design is very important. There are no insignificant things: a short power supply cord or a slippery handle can cause huge trouble. Therefore, when choosing a device you should take into account its ergonomics.

The handle of the iron must be non-slippery and not heat up in the process of work. Handles coated with natural cork have proven themselves very well, but they come only with quite expensive models of ironing systems with a steam generator, for example, 4385, 6292 (Ariete). A plating of soft corrugated plastic, however, is not particularly inferior to the cork.

A rotary handle of the heating mode switch  should be comfortable enough. It is not so important for an iron as it is, say, for a kitchen machine (as your hands are usually not covered with flour or oil while ironing).

The water tank should have a comfortable wide mouth for easy water filling, like in the model  Program 8 Power Jeans FV 9350 (Tefal). The water tank cover should be able to close tightly, so that nothing would spill. In addition, the water tank should be large so you would not have to be distracted from work every five minutes. Such irons are usually equipped with the tank for approximately 300 ml, and only selected models (VT-1232 от Vitek, SI 17780 от Braun, DX 9100 от Rowenta) can boast a tank of 400 ml. Model TDA 1510 (Bosch) with 425ml of the tank volume is the leader in this criteria.

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A steaming systemA steaming system in numbers: with the steam intensity of 110 g/min the iron weight is only 1,1 kg! Model GC8220 (Philips), 7940 Rub.

TDA 8391 BoschAn iron with a built-in lamp to light the fabric in front of the iron. This idea would come in handy for those housewives who have to iron when all other family members have gone to bed (i.e. using just soft light of a table lamp or a pin-up lamp). Model sensixx spotlight TDA 8391 (Bosch), 1800 Rub.

Systems with external steam generatorSystems with external steam generator are quite cumbersome, so a comfortable handle for carrying around would come in really handy.

A useful option for owners of the traveling irons would be a foldable handle and a pouch for convenient transportation.

Bracket and length of the power cord. Today you can find irons with very convenient and long-lasting joint bracket for the power cord, allowing it to rotate freely. Such bracketing is used, for instance, in the model FC 651 (Philips). It guarantees long-life of the power cord even in the case of intense use of the iron. Length of cord is also very important. A short cord (1,2–1,5 м) would not always ensure comfortable working. A 3 m long cord is another matter (model GC 3388 by Philips) or even 3,5 m (TDA 8366 by Bosch). In this case you will not have to think about needing extension cables!

A power supply cord can give you a lot of trouble even when you do not use the iron. It would be the best if the iron casing is equipped with an automatic cord reeling mechanism as it is done in models NI-U755, NI-U555 (Panasonic). Then the excessive cord problem would be solved easily and elegantly.

Model VT-1242 (Vitek)Model VT-1242 (Vitek) comes with an electronic choice option of ironing modes for seven kinds of fabric, 1800 Rub.

ProStyle (Braun)Thanks to the special valve, steam in models ProStyle (Braun) is delivered to the fabric under the higher pressure than in ordinary irons, and is fully used despite the resistance, given by the fabric and the ironing board.

Philips Limited EditionFashion iron by  the Philips Limited Edition comes in a fashionable design:  translucent casing is decorated by the silvery and red lines.

Useful Advice From Philips

  • If the fabric includes fibers of various types, always set the thermostatic control into position correlation to the fibers requiring the most careful handling. For example, if your fabric contains 60% polyester and 40% of cotton fibers, it should be ironed at temperature suitable for the polyester.
  • If you do not know of what fabric your item is made, first try ironing the part which would be unnoticed when worn.
  • Items made of silk, wool and synthetic fabric should be ironed on the inside to not let the glossy spots appear.
  • Fabrics which easily get glossy spots should be ironed only n one direction (along the nap), applying minimum force.
  • Begin ironing from the items made of synthetic fibers, which require minimal ironing temperature.

The editorial staff expresses gratitude to the representatives of BSH Home Appliances, Braun, De’Longhi, Groupe Seb, Miele, Panasonic, Philips, Vitek companies for assistance in the article preparation.