Best Inexpensive 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 steam iron with a heft of heat and steam gliding back and forth over wrinkled fabric.
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! Can’t someone make a decent steam iron? Suggestions, please!”
I kind of jumped for joy at that question because yes, and 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:
Maytag Speed Heat Steam Iron
Here it is, a good cheap steam iron. A hot, steamy iron is crucial if you want to create sharp pleats and remove wrinkles, and this will do the job. This lightweight, affordable, and reliable Maytag M400 Speed Heat Iron and Vertical Steamer is my current pick in the Best Inexpensive category.
Best Better Quality
Rowenta 1800 Digital Display SteamForce Iron
This beautiful 1800-watt Rowenta steam iron is my choice for better quality. 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 centered cord.
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.
Best Steam Iron Station
This 1800-watt Rowenta Steam Iron Station is more than a steam iron so it gets my Best Inexpensive Semi-Pro 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 this may be a wise investment and the last iron you’ll ever buy for a serious person who needs a quality piece of machinery that will get the work done fast and efficiently.
I’ve owned both the 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.
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 time to time. Gotta’ keep up.
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First published: 10-15-18; Updated 12-10-21
Sunbeam. Shot of Steam if it is still available. Best In The World. EOS.
I’ve had my Rowenta for over 20 years and it still works well. If I ever need another iron, I will buy Rowenta for sure!
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.
I’d caution you to follow the manufacturer’s instructions in that regard. There’s a reason that iron was made to use tap water: The use of 100% distilled/reverse osmosis waters should be avoided due to the fact it will only convert to steam at a higher temperature. If the manual says to use tap water … you are best advised to use tap water.
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.
Thank God we have Mary to give us iron advice. So few iron these days!
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.
Counterintuitive, perhaps. However,there are reasons to follow that instruction. Manufacturers, including Rowenta, make steam irons these days to work best with tap water. It has to do with producing the best and most efficient steam, but also to keep the iron working well.
I’m going to defend Rowenta. I have or have had, nearly all of the Rowenta models through the years. When used as instructed, it is a fabulous piece of equipment. My current Rowenta is 3 years old and has been given a heavy-duty workout on a regular basis. As I sit and look at it now I would say it is in pristine condition—does not leak, spit or malfunction. And I pour tap water into it by the gallon. That would be my only complaint: I need a gallon-sized reservoir!!