Steam flat irons are one of those products you don’t realize you need until you’re lamenting the fact that you don’t have one.
They combine all the best parts of a garment steamer and flat iron, with few of the drawbacks (they tend to be a bit on the heavier side).
There’s also a huge abundance of them on the market, so I’m here to help narrow a few down. We’ll go over what makes one good and some of my favorites.
If you’ve got somewhere else to be though, here’s a quick preview of my top choice:
In A Rush? My Top Pick:
Rowenta DW9280 Force 1800-Watt Professional Digital
Gravity- Feed Silver star ES-300
CHI (13102) Electronic temperature
FV1565U0 Fastglide Non-Stick
All In One Constant Pro
How to Choose The Best One
There are a few basic things you want to look for to gauge how good a steam iron is. You want to note its wattage (usually around the 1500 to 1800 range), its reservoir size (around 10 ounces on average), and the weight to start.
The combo of the wattage and reservoir will generally tell you a couple of things: how fast the steam iron heats, and how much steam it produces. Around 30 seconds of heating per 20 minutes of use is the average for what you want.
You want a steam iron that is light (but not too light), has a sturdy and easy to glide soleplate (the flat part), and is built to last.
Generally I think 3.5 lbs is the perfect weight for a steam iron. It’s heavy enough its own weight will press down on the fabric (lessening the amount you need to press down on it to use) without being so heavy you risk accidentally scorching your fabric or cramping your hand.
The soleplate should generally be made of stainless steel, though ceramic or a blend is also pretty good. The only material I’d particularly say to stay away from nondescript “no stick” plates. They’re usually cheaply made and rely on a finish over cheap metal. As the finish wears down, the steam flat iron will start sticking and becoming harder to use, maybe even ruining clothes.
There are a variety of special features to look for. You definitely want a steam flat iron with an auto shutoff in most cases. It’s not a replacement for paying attention, but it can save you form ruining clothes or starting a fire if you get distracted for whatever reason.
Multiple steam settings are always good: the more the better. A plus if they use an easy to read digital display instead of the “small text on a knob” variety, though that’s commonplace and hardly a deal breaker.
Everything from a higher volume of steam, a steam blast, or other special thing also gives an individual product a boost.
Price is variable, but we’re sticking within the $30 to $100 range today, save our top pick (a professional grade, though newbie-friendly steam iron).
Top Models By Category
Best Rated Steam Irons By Type
Professional Type: Rowenta DW9280
The best I could find on offer.
We’ll talk about this one more in depth in the “by brand” section, but this is my overall top pick for the article. It’s a best of all worlds kind of product, combining all the good features of everything on this list, though with an expected rise in price (it’s nearly double the next most expensive item here).
I love this steam flat iron, and not just because it’s one of my favorite colors. It does every kind of fabric and outperforms most other products around in every department save that of our second place winner (extremely heavy, long term use situations). Give it a look.
Gravity Feed Type: Silver star ES-300
Niche, but great for when you need it.
Gravity feed steam irons are a whole different animal from anything else we’ll look at today. They’re primarily made for high volume work; professional fashion design or sewing shops for example.
They work a bit differently than other products, being a sort of hybrid between an older style flat iron and a more modern steam iron. They have a simpler design with the assumption you’ll be using it off and on for hours a day.
Basically what this means is it stays on for a long time (and comes with a silicone pad to keep from overheating your ironing board) and are designed to not burn out like most products if left on for too long.
As the name implies, the reservoir (usually pretty huge, around a gallon) needs to be hung near the ceiling, and the water drips down into the steam flat iron to be heated and kept ready for use (it’s a 1000 watt steamer in this case, since it doesn’t NEED to heat up super fast and won’t jack your power bill sky high or burn out the heater).
This one will run you just under $100, and weighs about 4 and a half pounds (pretty much perfect for this kind of steam flat iron, since it needs to be able to press heavy cloth with minimal effort from you; pressing down for long periods can be a strain).
If this is the kind of tool you need, this is the best I could find. It’s cheaper and just as good as its competitors, one of which was astoundingly heavy (an 8 and a half pound Consew that was otherwise the same, but around $30 more expensive).
Rated Digital Type: CHI (13102)
Sleek and solidly made.
It comes in around the perfect weight at 3 and a half pounds exactly, with a very nice design (insofar as a steam iron can look stylish, this does it) and easy to read digital temperature controls. With 400 steam holes in its titanium infused ceramic soleplate, it outputs an even coat of steam and glides easily over clothing, with a steam blast function for tough spots.
The rest of its specs are similarly good: 1700 watts of power, an easy fill reservoir, an 8 foot cord, and 3 way auto shut off (as standard, 30 seconds on face or side, 8 minutes upright).
For the asking price of under $100, a great steam flat iron.
Cordless/Handheld Type: Aicok
Not bad for a handheld.
As a general rule, cordless steam irons are disappointing, because they’re usually just worse versions of existing models. They have lower wattage and a shorter operating time than a similar priced (or even cheaper!) model from the same brand. So, I decided to go for a different route: a travel steam flat iron.
I like this one quite a bit. It’s a quick heating (15 seconds) small and lightweight (about 2 lbs) travel garment steamer with a flat iron head to do actual ironing. It’s cheap (under $40) and gets the job done if you’re traveling for a conference or out of town interview or some such.
1200 watts may not sound like much, but for the small tank size it clearly heats up fast, and will do so to a good temperature. If you need to make a good impression on the go, this is a good one for you.
Rowenta: DW9280 Force 1800
An excellent (if expensive) steam iron.
Rowenta is a respected brand for good reason, and this is one of their top of the line. While it will cost you a pretty penny (between $100 and $200) it comes with enough features to make that price just worthwhile if you tend to steam a large variety of fabrics.
This steam flat iron has distinct settings for linen, cotton, wool, silk, and nylon, and can be used on more with caution and an understanding of the cloth’s properties. These settings are blasted from a stainless steel soleplate that jets the steam from 400 microholes, providing an even distribution of steam and an easy glide.
That steam is propelled by a pump, producing 30% more steam than similar steam irons that lack it, including some of Rowenta’s own models. This is, incidentally, where much of the price comes from, as those similar models can be anywhere from ¾ to half the price of this; keep that in mind if the additional steam production isn’t a feature you’re interested in.
In terms of basic stats it’s also pretty solid, being an 1800 watt steam iron with a 10 ounce tank (roughly 25 to 30 minutes of steam), anti-calcium technology, with auto shutoff (after 30 seconds if tipped over or left face down and 8 minutes if left upright), and self cleaning, plus the expected ability to be used as an upright garment steamer for hanging items and is lightweight enough (around 3 and a half pounds) to make that easy.
All in all, it’s a great steam iron, and one that can do pretty much any job you want to throw at it.
T-fal: FV1565U0 Fastglide Non-Stick and Scratch Resistant Ceramic
A good cheap option.
This has a good selection of basic features for the under $50 price tag, which I like. 1550 watts limits the heat output somewhat, but it still provides about 20 minutes of steam with its 8.45 ounce reservoir.
Anti drip and auto off features are always great to have (the former more than the latter in some ways; scorching your clothes is something that can be avoided by paying attention but there’s nothing you can do about the dripping).
This steam flat iron even has a finger activated trigger on the underside of the handle, making it a step above in at least one regard to certain more expensive and otherwise well designed units; it’s harder to shut it off by accident.
All in all for the price it’s a great unit, and worth picking up if you just need a cheap steam iron that can do the job.
Big Boss: All In One Low Temperature Constant Pro
Lackluster, especially for the price.
There’s not much to talk about here. This is kind of an object lesson of what not to do with a steam iron. The thumb placed buttons are common, but still a pain. It’s relatively heavy (about 4 and a half pounds), has a nice rotating cord to help prevent tangling, and that’s about it.
If it were around the price of the above T-Fal it would be an okay cheap steam flat iron with some nice quality of life features (like the dual chamber steam reservoir that helps prevent dripping on low steam settings), but it costs over three times as much. Give this one a hard avoid.
The Rowenta is far and away the best rated steam iron here, but everything (bar the Big Boss) is worth a look. There’s a pretty clear sliding scale of price to value on display (a rarity in many cases) which means you get what you pay for with all of these steam flat irons.
Just keep your budget in mind, and pick the one in the right price range for you!