I just asked Siri*, “How do most people relax?” She rattled off a list of activities including, “nosh on chocolate,” “rub your feet over a golf ball,” “count backward,” “meditate” and “drip cold water on your wrists.”

Siri completely missed my favorite way to relax. I iron (not to be confused with “I pump iron,” which I do not). No really. There’s something soothing and instantly gratifying about a good iron with a heft of heat and steam gliding back and forth over wrinkled fabric.

steam-iron-on-ironing-board-unironed-shirt

That’s why I was excited to get another request, this time from Marianne, “I need a new iron. I’ve searched the Internet trying to find the best steam iron for the best price and all I get is terribly confused! Any suggestions?”

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I kind of jumped for joy at that question because yes, I do have suggestions—three to be exact, based on these criteria: steaming rate, ironing quality, features, and price.

Here they are—my current** top three steam irons:

 

BLACK+DECKER Digital Advantage Professional Steam Iron

Black+Decker-steam-ironThis is hands down, my choice for the Best Inexpensive Under $40 steam iron on the market today. This 1500-watt Black+Decker steam iron has an exceptionally heavy-duty soleplate, variable temperature, and steam controls; produces a good heft of steam and has a well-sized reservoir.

The auto clean system works well, provided you use it often, which you should. And it has a 3-way auto shut-off that’s pretty cool along with an anti-drip feature, a non-stick soleplate, and 8-foot retractable cord.

While it takes about 8 minutes to fully heat up due to the lower wattage, it produces a constant heft of steam, has a good size reservoir, uses tap water and has an auto-off feature. For the money, this is a really great option.

MORE: For the Love of a Good Iron

 

ROWENTA 1110030632 Focus Steam Iron Rowenta-steam-iron

This beautiful 1700-watt Rowenta steam iron is my choice for Best Inexpensive Quality Under $80. It heats up fast, has 400 micro-steam holes with a burst-of-steam feature and a high capacity reservoir; uses tap water, has 3-way auto-off and the centered cord makes it ideal for either right- or left-handed operation.

The 10-ounce water reservoir is exceptionally large for a steam iron. The anti-calc cleaning system is good, and when used as directed, will increase the lifetime of the iron. I can’t say enough good things about this iron. It’s a beautiful thing. If this fits your budget, this is the better option.

 

Rowenta DG8520 Perfect Steam Iron Station

Rowenta-steam-stationThis 1800-watt steam iron station is more than a steam iron so it gets my Best Inexpensive Semi-Pro under $300 rating. This iron produces amazing amounts of consistent heat and steam thanks to 400 micro holes that are well distributed.

For the average home ironer, this is overkill. But for the serious person who needs a quality piece of machinery that will get the work done fast and efficiently, this may be a wise investment and the last iron you’ll ever buy.

I’ve owned both Rowenta and Reliable Maven steam stations but have come back to this Rowenta station, which has been greatly improved over much earlier models. Using this steam station is the closest I’ve come to experiencing ironing perfection.

It uses tap water, has a simple-to-use anti-calc feature and an eco setting to save energy. Bonus: It’s purple!

There you go, Marianne. I hope that clears away the confusion and helps you make a confident decision.

*the voice-activated app for iPhone

**Steam iron manufacturers frequently introduce new models, not unlike car manufacturers. My recommendations may change from year to year. Gotta’ keep up.

 

YESTERDAY:  The Most Efficient Way to Slash Your Home Heating Bill

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