The dream of wrinkle-free laundry without tedious and exhausting ironing can now come true. You can iron stubborn creases out of your laundry with a steam iron. The integrated steam makes the ironing process easier by softening the texture of your laundry. Ironing can even be fun.
If you are looking for a steam iron, read our guide carefully. Here in our Best steam generator iron 2023, everything revolves around steam irons. You will get all the essential information, and we will also introduce you to different models. Based on our buying criteria, you will also be able to buy the steam iron that is best for you.
The most important facts in a nutshell
With a steam generator iron, you can easily get all the wrinkles out of your clothes.
You are the best judge of how much steam power your steam iron should have for your purposes. This, among many other factors, determines how quickly and thoroughly you can do how much laundry in a certain period of time.
If you iron clothes regularly, you should choose a machine with a high wattage and lots of steam. If you rarely use an iron, a low wattage is sufficient.
Best steam generator irons: The editors' favourites
Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying a steam iron
What are the advantages of a steam generator iron over a standard iron?
You can undoubtedly straighten your laundry somehow with a dry iron, which only works with heat. But once you’ve had the pleasure of a steam iron, you won’t want to do without it.
In summary, you will benefit from the following things with the addition of steam:
- Shorter ironing time
- Gentler ironing methods
- Easier handling
- Thorough ironing results
- More safety and comfort
The addition of steam optimises the ironing result and speeds up the process, but you can also reduce the heat to a more moderate level.
This means that even more delicate garments can be ironed without damage. You also benefit from other safety and comfort features, which we will discuss in our buying criteria.
How much does a steam generator iron cost?
Best steam generator irons are available in all price ranges – from entry-level models for under 50 pounds to true all-rounders that can cost up to 300 pounds. Of course, it’s up to you to decide which price range you want to invest in.
We recommend that you don’t automatically choose the cheapest iron. Instead, choose a model that offers the best value for money for your situation. Normally, you don’t buy an steam generator very often.
Generally, you can expect the price to rise accordingly, especially with a higher wattage and a higher steam output per minute.
Do I need to descale my steam generator iron?
Where there is water, there is usually limescale. That’s why there are two different options for your steam iron: You descale it regularly or use distilled water.
Meanwhile, manufacturers recommend a mixture of both or even the pure use of tap water, as the distillate can attack the internal materials.
Special descaling agents in liquid and powder form can be found in most drugstores. Mix them with tap water and pour them into the tank of the steam iron.
Heat the iron and press the steam outlet several times so that the descaler reaches every part of the soleplate. Leave it to work for about an hour, and then rinse the water tank several times with fresh water – your iron will thank you!
How do I clean my steam generator iron?
The longer the steam iron is in use, the more the soleplate becomes soiled with burnt-on fabric residue. We recommend pouring water with a dash of vinegar into a bowl and cleaning the soleplate thoroughly with a cloth. Alternatively, you can buy special cleaners in the supermarket.
But be careful! Many ceramic soles cannot withstand strong cleaning agents and would be damaged. A tip for stubborn residues: Wrap an old candle stub in a cloth and glide it repeatedly over the still-hot sole.
If the nozzles are clogged with dirt or limescale, you can dip a cotton bud in vinegar and carefully clean the steam nozzles. This should quickly make your iron shine again.
What alternatives are there to steam generator irons?
If you are a frequent ironer, consider buying the more expensive and advanced version of the steam iron: a steam ironing station.
The significant advantage of a steam ironing station is that the steam production is outsourced to an external generator. The steam is then directed to the ironing soleplate at high pressure. The amount and steam pressure are naturally much higher as a result, while the weight of the iron is reduced due to the separate water tank.
- More steam pressure
- High steam output
- Lower weight
- Even gentler temperature controls are possible
- Very high price
While a standard steam iron has to heat up more on the metal to vaporise the water, the steam ironing station can do without this and thus use even gentler ironing temperatures for very delicate fabrics.
The big drawback to a steam ironing station is really only the price. Where the price for the best steam generator irons ends, it only begins for the steam station. Between 100 and 300 pounds must be put on the table.
Decision: What types of irons are the right ones for you?
If you are looking for a suitable iron for your household, you will need to look for a steam function. The reason for this is simple: steam is simply gentler, faster and, above all, more effective.
At the touch of a button, high pressure steam is released, moistening your clothes and intensifying the desired smoothing process in addition to the heat. The most important product features of a steam generator iron in terms of ironing performance are mainly determined by the following three points:
In addition to these primarily listed main criteria, every steam generator iron has additional equipment and quality features, which we will discuss later. In the decision section, we will first examine the key factors influencing your ironing results.
Since the selection of steam generator irons is now very large, buying a suitable iron is usually challenging. In the following, we would like to introduce you to the basic features of the most popular steam irons and help you find the most suitable product for your needs.
What does the amount of steam produced by your iron mean, and what are the advantages and disadvantages?
Of central importance for the smoothing performance of a steam generator iron is the amount of steam it can produce. The rule is the more, the better. It is measured in grams per minute.
Did you know that moisture in the home can cause mould?
After ironing, you should air the room for at least five minutes. The amount of water vapour in the air can otherwise lead to unpleasant odours and mould.
In normal operation, the output of better appliances is between 30 and 60 grams of steam per minute, while the output increases to about two-and-a-half to four times this amount during specially induced steam bursts. The steam shocks are mainly necessary for deep creases in firm materials, e.g. jeans and trousers.
- Better smoothing result
- Especially important for heavy fabrics
- Gentler, as less heat is needed
- A larger tank means more weight
- Refilling is necessary more often
Depending on the size of the tank and the amount of steam produced, you will need to refill your steam generator iron on average after 10 to 20 minutes of effective ironing time. Most tanks have a capacity of between 200 and 400 millilitres.
What role does the steam pressure play in your iron, and what are the advantages and disadvantages?
The higher the steam pressure emitted by the iron, the more thoroughly the textile fibres of the clothes are penetrated by the moisture and, consequently, the better the smoothing result.
This steam pressure is measured in a bar. For most steam generators, it is between three and five bars.
- Better smoothing result
- Shorter ironing time
- Easier handling due to more efficiency
- Higher power consumption
- Higher price
The indicated wattage often indicates the steam output in terms of pressure and output quantity, which should stay within a value of 2,400 watts for a solid appliance.
What influence does the quality of the iron soleplate have and what are the advantages and disadvantages?
Another criterion for an optimal smoothing result is the soleplate of the steam generator iron. It should have as many holes as possible so that the steam emitted can be distributed much more evenly on the laundry.
- Smoother ironing
- Shorter ironing time
- Higher price
The greatest amount of steam and the highest pressure will not develop their full performance potential if the manufacturer skimps on the right holes in the soleplate.
Holes at the tip of the soleplate are significant because they allow steam to reach hard-to-reach places, such as a shirt collar. The more pointed the soleplate, the easier it is to reach such places.
Which material is right for my soleplate?
The material of your soleplate also plays a role. There are two main types of soleplates: coated and metal.
The cheapest option, an aluminium soleplate, is not recommended because of its relatively poor gliding properties and rough surface. It only scores with a favourable price.
- Very cheap
- Poor gliding properties
- Rough surface
The most commonly used sole material, on the other hand, is very reliable, scratch-resistant and glides relatively well over laundry.
- Very scratch resistant
- Glides better than aluminium
- Relatively high weight
The coated ceramic soleplate is a slightly more expensive alternative, which is harder than steel. It usually has a self-cleaning function that saves you from regularly cleaning the iron by hand. But beware: ceramic is susceptible to scratches.
- Good gliding properties
- Very hard, but still sensitive to scratches
- Somewhat more expensive
The different types of ceramic steam generator iron soles are mainly sold under the following terms:
Use these factors to compare and evaluate best steam generator irons
In the following section, we would like to introduce you to other features that you can use to compare different steam generator irons and decide whether a particular appliance is suitable for you or not.
In detail, these are the following criteria:
In the following, you can read about the respective criteria and find out why it makes sense to buy a machine based on the criteria.
As you can see from our decision section, the steam output is the criterion par excellence for steam generators. The most important factors are the amount of continuous steam per minute and the amount of steam produced in a single burst.
The wattage is a good indicator of the steam output and the time an iron can heat up.
If you have a lot of ironing to do every day, you should look for a different performance in terms of steam output than someone who only picks up the iron occasionally.
The only thing you need to do is to assess yourself. How often and how intensively will you use your iron? We roughly assign three types of needs to the different performance levels:
Consider this overview as a suggestion to help you judge what power you should be looking for. These values should be regarded as indicative and not as incontrovertible – again, a single value may not quite fit the bill.
We have already gone into detail about the different types of ironing soles. However, we want to emphasise how important the right soleplate is for your ironing results.
Therefore, ask yourself again how much importance you attach to the quality of your soleplate. A cheap aluminium soleplate might be enough if you are just an occasional ironer. If you value durability and minimum of quality, a stainless steel soleplate would be the right choice.
If you want the best ironing experience with the best glide, you should go for a ceramic soleplate. Also, make sure that the soleplate is sufficiently perforated.
Lightweight iron will be easier to handle. But be careful: it should not be too light. Standard steam generator iron is between one and two kilograms.
However, the water tank capacity must also be taken into account. With a pure iron weight of one kilogram and a tank capacity of 300 ml, this adds another third to the weight.
A full steam generator iron should not weigh more than two kilograms, otherwise, it could be exhausting for you.
But if your iron is too light, you will have to use more force to press it onto the laundry. The ironing performance may suffer as a result. That’s why the golden mean applies here.
Water tank capacity
Most steam irons have a water tank of about 200 to 400 ml capacity. A larger tank capacity
means that you will have to refill it less often.
As described in the decision section above, the iron needs to be refilled after about 10 to 20 minutes of ironing. Whether you have to run to the tap three times in an hour or six times, it makes a big difference.
Many steam generator irons can be refilled directly without switching off the appliance. This saves you from having to heat up your iron again. However, ensure the appliance is not too heavy due to its large tank and high weight.
The cable should not be too short to allow for greater ironing mobility. A cable length of two to three metres is ideal. Many steam irons have a so-called flexo joint that ensures good freedom of movement.
Cordless steam irons are another elegant solution for maximum mobility. All you have to do is plug them back into a charging station when you’re done.
Auto shut off
The automatic switch-off is an important additional function, as it enormously increases your safety when using a steam generator iron and can also save electricity.
The steam generator iron switches off immediately or after a concise period of time when you let go of it. So you can easily lose sight of your connected iron without thinking about the electricity bill or fire damage.
Vertical steam function
The vertical steam function is beneficial when you are pressed for time and only need one or two garments that you want to put on right away. With this extra feature, you can quickly and easily straighten hanging garments, e.g. a shirt on a hanger.
The iron emits steam in a vertical position, which saves you time-consuming work on the ironing board. However, you should bear in mind that your result will not be as thorough because the steam is only superficial. However, if you need this function often, you should buy a steam generator iron.
Especially when ironing at lower temperatures, your iron soleplate may drip when steam is applied. For this reason, your steam generator should have a drip-stop function to make your ironing experience as comfortable as possible.
The drip-stop function prevents unsightly water spots from appearing on your clothes, which in the worst case would undo your work. This way you can relax and devote your attention to ironing without watching for dripping from the soleplate.
An integrated anti-calc system not only helps you clean the iron, but can also significantly extend its life.
We have already discussed the fact that you normally have to descale an iron regularly. An anti-calc system in your steam generator can relieve or make this work easier.
Depending on the location, the hardness of the tap water varies greatly, which considerably influences how quickly the appliance calcifies. An anti-calcification system is even more worthwhile if you live in a place with a high water hardness and, thus, a higher limescale content.
Two main limescale systems differ considerably: The first uses an anti-calc cartridge that is permanently installed in the iron. The activated carbon used filters out the limescale reliably and automatically.
The catch is that the cartridge is used up after a maximum of six years and is therefore broken – the steam generator becomes calcified and is ready for the scrap heap. This method is mainly good for lower and medium-price appliances.
On the other hand, the other system usually has an unlimited service life and is based on electrolysis. After you have used your iron often enough, a corresponding light flashes. Now you only have to perform the so-called “calc-clean function” and the limescale disappears as if by magic.
This procedure thoroughly frees your appliance from deposits and thus protects the components, which makes a longer service life more likely.
The self-cleaning function can be used as a synonym for an anti-scale system. This is where your steam generator iron is strongly heated and rinses out any limescale and dirt residues by itself.
Manufacturers’ specifications tend to vary between an anti-calcification system and an auto clean feature. Therefore, you should know that both are very similar, as both variants mean that your iron can avoid limescale build-up without much effort.
Therefore, before you buy, ensure that at least one of the two functions is available on your future steam generator iron.
Energy consumption is a substantial cost factor in every household. Manufacturers have also noticed this, which is why some steam generator irons with a built-in eco-function allow you to save electricity and money.
All you have to do is press the Eco button, and your steam generator iron will switch to energy-saving mode. Manufacturers advertise that consumption can be reduced by up to 30 per cent while the steam output remains virtually the same.