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Top Tips for Choosing the Right Iron

It’s one of the most loathed chores for many, while for a few it’s a surprisingly stress-relieving task. But when it comes to ironing, having the right equipment can remove creases from your clothes faster to make your life a lot smoother.

Finding the right iron for your specific needs is therefore very important. If you hate doing it, then you need something to make it as quick and effortless as possible.

If you actually see it as a therapeutic joy then you’ll want a tool to enhance your experience to its maximum.

To help you find the perfect iron, here are some of the questions you should be asking yourself, along with a simplified guide to the most confusing language you may come across.

What am I ironing?

If you’re getting the creases out of expensive designer clothing, then the cheapest ironing device might not be the best idea. You do get what you pay for with prices ranging anywhere from £10 up to £300.

Different fabrics also have different needs. For example, jeans need a lot of steam while more delicate fabrics need variable settings to reduce the amount of heat produced.

How often will I be ironing?

Different people have their own regimes. Some iron in bulk once a week from a large pile, others do a bit each day. If you’re a single person, you might simply run a hot iron over an outfit just before you wear it for work or ahead of a night out.

How much you iron in one go therefore can determine what type you should choose to buy.

What different types of iron are there?

There are two main styles of iron; a normal steam iron and also a steam generator iron.

Both have their own advantages and disadvantages and specific sub-styles and features.

For example, steam irons can either be Spray irons, which eject water onto the clothes; Steam Shot iron systems for an extra burst of steam to tackle stubborn creases; and those that allow you to iron while garments are hanging up, rather than on a board. These are known as Vertical irons and are great for suits, dresses and curtains.

Each of these are great for day-to-day ironing, with the most powerful Shot ones fine for bulk jobs. They are smaller and can be stored away easily but need to be filled up with water more often if you’re doing a large load.

Those with piles of washing to de-crease though may want to choose a steam generator. These are ultra-powerful and use a separate tank of water, instead of filling up the iron itself, generating more steam and making ironing quicker.

So how do I choose what power I need?

The iron’s power – shown in watts – determines how hard it can work to generate steam and how quick it will heat up, but this is not the only measure to look for. Most irons show the level of steam they produce, displayed in grams per minute and this is a far more accurate and useful a guide. The higher the number, the more steam you’ll get and the less work it will take to rid your clothes of creases.

What sort of soleplate do I need?

The soleplate is the part of the iron coming into direct contact with your clothes. This means it takes the most wear and tear. Standard coated ones will slowly degrade and can cause marks on your garments such as burning when the coating wears off.

Ceramic soleplates are said to glide better and last far longer while Stainless Steel, Aluminium and Palladium distribute heat evenly but are easily scratched. Some soleplates, including those from Tefal, have auto-cleaning technology to remove any mineral deposits that could otherwise find their way onto your clothes.

What makes steam generators worth the extra money?

Steam generator irons do cost more than their simple steam counterparts but while they look like something only for professionals, they’re perfect for home use and large families.

As the water is stored in a separate tank, it means less filling up and a longer ironing time without breaks. They also create far more steam, up to around 120g for pressurised ones and just under 100g for non-pressurised. This is against a normal steam iron of 35g per minute on average. The power level is also far higher.

Steam generator irons are also a lot lighter, because they do not carry any water inside. Instead it is pumped through a tube from the tank the iron can rest on.

Due to the total size of this product, they can be harder to store if you have limited space in your cupboards.

What else do I need to consider?

The feel of an iron in your hand is important. So even if you are buying yours online, go into a store and pick some up to understand how they feel to hold. Different brands handle in their own way both in weight and size.

The shape of the soleplate is also important as having a very narrow point at the front is useful for doing the inside of shirt pockets or in between buttons.

If you live in a hard water area, also look for an iron with an anti-scale system to avoid the build-up of limescale that would otherwise clog up the holes in the soleplate, which will prevent steam from coming out.

Other features include anti-drip to stop droplets of water going on the clothes and staining them, a shut-off function if it gets too hot or is left unattended and different sized built-in water tanks on normal steam irons. Also consider the length of the cord.

Jargon Buster

  • Soleplate - This is the hot surface of the iron, the bit that distributes the heat onto your clothes.
  • Capacity - This is the amount of water your iron can hold. This will be in the iron unit itself (steam iron) or in a separate tank (steam generator).
  • Button Rim - A recessed strip around the bottom of the iron and soleplate that helps you easily glide around buttons on clothing.

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