Our 3 Best Inexpensive Steam Irons (Or Please, Can’t Someone Make a Decent Steam Iron?!)

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?”


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 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.

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

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4 replies
  1. Kay Jones
    Kay Jones says:

    I know it says you can use tap water but I have always taken the precaution of using distilled water. My water is very hard and I have had my iron for years without any issues and think not using tap water has helped.

  2. Sue in MN
    Sue in MN says:

    You missed my favorite. I sew – a lot. That means I use my irons a lot. For many years I have used and loved the Velocity steam iron by Reliable. My favorite features are the separate heating elements for the iron and the steam, which means no spitting EVER, and the option to shut off the “Auto Shut Off” feature when I want the iron to stay hot. I got my first one MANY years ago at a trade show, after trying and giving away so many irons I lost count, when my husband insisted it was what I needed. At the time it cost almost $100 and I was horrified – until I used it for a while. It was better then the much more costly steam generator I had. A few years ago we got a seasonal home, and I was lucky to score an almost unused Velocity at a flea market for $5 because it was missing its plug, which was easily replaced for $3. This summer the original died, and I immediately ordered a replacement – the Velocity 200IR – I am happy to report it is even better than the original – improved vents, larger tank, and controls in a better location. It is widely available on line for about $150 – $170, or 20% less at Bed Bath & Beyond with their coupon. It easily outlasted 4 or 5 $40 irons, and I never once cursed it for dripping on my clothes or sewing projects.

  3. Linda Waud
    Linda Waud says:

    We have had a very miserable experience with our Rowenta Pro Steam 1700 watt iron. It has just started dumping water out all over the board, the floor, the clothes…checking online I found that this is evidently a common sore spot across all the stand-alone versions of the Rowenta steam irons. It has to do with a line in their owners pamphlet that states: “Do not use distilled water…” Very counter-intuitive instruction, and, at best, a lie. Distilled water will not hurt an iron. Even if the iron is designed to work with tap water, distilled water can only damage the seals in an iron if they are extremely soluble. The real reason the iron leaks is in the construction of the tank and the handle, which is very poor. It is all held together by little plastic clips instead of screws. This is the same for the 50 dollar Pro Steam all the way to the 179 dollar model. They are designed to fail, which is a characteristic of so many modern appliances.
    Our next purchase will definitely not be a Rowenta branded product.


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