The Best Steam Irons of 2017

Rankled by wrinkles? We put 7 steam irons through 100 hours of testing to find the best ones for a variety of users. Our testers ironed dozens of garments to evaluate ironing performance, ease of use, and heating. In addition to extensively using the irons, we accurately measured their steam output with a scale to see how their actual performance stacked up to manufacturer-provided specifications. All of the irons we tested are adequate for infrequent use on simple garments, but a few offer high steam outputs and pointed sole plates for users who seek top-notch performance. Whether you iron every day or once a month, our review will help you find the right steam iron for your needs.

Read the full review below ≫

Test Results and Ratings

Displaying 1 - 5 of 7 ≪ Previous | View All | Next ≫
Rank #1 #2 #5 #6 #4
Product
Rowenta DW5080 Focus
Rowenta DW7180 Everlast
Shark Ultimate Professional GI505
Sunbeam Steam Master
Black & Decker D2030
Awards  Editors' Choice Award         
Price $100 List
$62.99 at Amazon
$120 List
$81.95 at Amazon
$50 List
$44.99 at Amazon
$30 List
$29.99 at Amazon
$65 List
$31.99 at Amazon
Overall Score
100
0
82
100
0
80
100
0
60
100
0
58
100
0
63
Star Rating
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Pros Great glide, steam output, preciseGreat steam output, glide, preciseDecent glideDecent glide, inexpensiveDecent steam output and ironing performance
Cons ExpensiveVery expensiveLow steam outputPoor steam outputDoesn't excel in any particular aspect
Ratings by Category Rowenta DW5080 Focus Rowenta DW7180 Everlast Shark Ultimate Professional GI505 Sunbeam Steam Master Black & Decker D2030
Ironing Performance - 30%  
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
7
10
0
7
10
0
7
Steam Output - 30%
10
0
9
10
0
8
10
0
5
10
0
5
10
0
6
Ease Of Use - 20%
10
0
8
10
0
8
10
0
7
10
0
6
10
0
5
Heating - 20%
10
0
6
10
0
8
10
0
5
10
0
5
10
0
7
Specs Rowenta DW5080 Focus Rowenta DW7180 Everlast Shark Ultimate Professional GI505 Sunbeam Steam Master Black & Decker D2030
Wattage 1700 1750 1800 1400 1500
Weight 3.4 3.7 3.5 3 3.3
Cord Length 8' 8' 10' 8' 8'

Analysis and Award Winners


Review by:
Max Mutter & Steven Tata

Last Updated:
Wednesday
October 25, 2017

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Updated October 2017
We've kept a close watch on newly released steam irons since our last update and have not found any models that would dethrone our current award winners. Our current Editors' Choice Award winner, the Rowenta DW5080 Focus has continued to receive positive user reviews for its top-notch performance and reliability. Despite not being included in our review, the BLACK+DECKER Easy Steam Compact is a good choice for those on a tight budget who need a basic iron for occasional use.

Best Overall Steam Iron


Rowenta DW5080 Focus


Editors' Choice Award

$62.99
at Amazon
See It

Great glide
Great steam output
Precise
Expensive
The Rowenta DW5080 Focus was the best iron we tested and easily won our Editors' Choice Award. We measured an unparalleled steam output of 38 g/min from it. This proved effective for the Focus, which led the pack in our ironing performance tests. Its pointed soleplate was ideal for smoothing wrinkles in tight areas, such as between buttons, collars, and shoulder seams. The steam output can be adjusted on a dial if you want to iron dry or with a small amount of steam for different types of fabric. For those seeking top-notch performance in an impressively user-friendly iron, the Rowenta DW5080 Focus will not let you down.

Read review: Rowenta DW5080 Focus

Best Bang for Your Buck


Hamilton Beach Durathon Digital 19900


Best Buy Award

$30.99
at Amazon
See It

High steam output
Average glide
Average glide
With a list price of only $40, the Hamilton Beach Durathon Digital 19900 performed better than most irons in every test that we completed and won our Best Buy Award. Its measured steam output of 31 g/min was second only to our Editors' Choice Award-winning Rowenta DW5080 Focus. The Durathon's sole plate doesn't have a pointed nose like that of the two Rowenta models that we tested but it still worked well for ironing in tight areas. With a simple digital display and steam output dial, it was very user-friendly and simple to adjust for different types of fabric. If you're on a budget, the Hamilton Beach Durathon Digital delivers solid performance and usability that is typically found in much more expensive models.

Read review: Hamilton Beach Durathon Digital 19900

select up to 5 products
Score Product Price Our Take
82
$100
Editors' Choice Award
Providing the same precision and power as other Rowenta models for much less, this is the best model for serious sewers and quilters
80
$120
Precise and powerful steam for the most discerning user
66
$40
Best Buy Award
Solid all-around performance and great steam output at a low price make this the best on a budget
63
$65
While this model offers decent performance, there are other low price options that offer better values
60
$50
Nice design that is held back by relatively low steam output
58
$30
Low price and convenient retractable cord can't make up for lack of steam output
48
$150
Great if you want the peace of mind of an over the top safety feature, but otherwise a mediocre performer

Analysis and Test Results


On the face of it, all steam irons look the same. Modern designers have leaned into the natural rocket ship shape of irons to try and make them look more like space age, cutting edge appliances, but they still all look the same. Additionally, clothes tend to look either wrinkled or ironed, with no apparent range of quality on the ironed side of the spectrum. Case in point, you've probably never uttered the phrase, "Your shirt looks so smooth, what iron do you use?" We designed our testing procedures and criteria for evaluation to try and tease out the areas where there might actually be significant differences between irons.

Our overall scores are based off our individual metrics: Ironing Performance, Steam Output, Ease of Use and Heating. The following sections detail how well each product performed in these testing metrics.

Ironing Performance


Clearly, an iron's ability to smooth out wrinkles is important. In fact it's the only reason you would spend money on one of these handheld, steam-breathing dragons. In our testing we found that all irons produce almost identical results in terms of garment smoothness. Are there differences between individual Products? Yes. Are they noticeable? Barely. For our testers to find even minute differences they had to lay down some fabric, iron two side by side swatches with two different irons, and closely examine the results. Therefore, you can rest assured that any model you choose is going to yield nice, smooth shirts and dresses. In the end our ironing performance metric essentially boiled down to glide performance. While models that glide over fabric more smoothly don't necessarily yield better results, they do make the process feel much easier and hassle free, which is a noticeable perk when you're stuck surfing the ironing board for an extended period of time. Better glide is also quite noticeable during the precision ironing required in many sewing and quilting projects. For more of our thoughts on what to consider when purchasing an iron, take a look at our buying advice article.

Smooth glide is a large part of ironing performance  and the Rowenta Focus was far and away the best in that category.
Smooth glide is a large part of ironing performance, and the Rowenta Focus was far and away the best in that category.

The top performer in our ironing performance testing was the Rowenta DW5080 Focus, which scored a 9 out of 10. This was largely due to its gliding performance. It floated over garments much more smoothly than any other model. This lent a feeling of efficiency and streamlining to the process that made this the model our testers were most apt to reach for. Closely following was another Rowenta, the DW7180 Everlast, which earned an 8. It glides very well, but not quite as easily as its sibling. It separated itself from the rest of the pack in its ability to remove wrinkles. While all models performed almost identically in this regard, the Everlast was just incrementally better than the rest, which pushed it up a bit in our scoring.


Three different models scored a 7 out of 10 in our ironing performance testing, which also ended up being the average score. All three of these models were almost identical in performance. If you've got the eyes and sensitive feel of a quality control technician you may notice that the Sunbeam Steam Master glides just a bit more smoothly, and that the Black & Decker D2030 and the Shark Ultimate Professional are just a tad more efficient at getting wrinkles out. However, the vast majority of people will be satisfied with, and will not notice any difference in performance between these three models.

Though inexpensive  the Hamilton Beach Durathon Digital does a decent job of getting out tough wrinkles.
Though inexpensive, the Hamilton Beach Durathon Digital does a decent job of getting out tough wrinkles.

At the bottom of the scoring table were the Hamilton Beach Durathon Digital 19900, which scored a 6, and the Oliso TG1100, which scored a 5 out of 10. This again came down to glide. The Hamilton Beach's glide felt significantly less smooth than that of the top performers, and the Oliso was just a bit worse. This isn't a dealbreaker and did not affect the quality of the job performed, but it did make the process feel a bit less efficient.

Steam Output


Unlike ironing performance, we saw clearly differentiating results in our steam output test. While we found all models yield almost identical results when you iron properly, the difference that steam output makes is power. All of the models we tested are going to be able to smooth out all of the wrinkles and creases you'll encounter. However, for a particularly stubborn wrinkle, a more powerful model with higher steam output will force said wrinkle into compliance in fewer passes than a less powerful model. While this does save a minute amount of time, you would have to be ironing a lot for it to add up to anything significant. Like better glide, however, this can make your ironing experience feel a bit easier and more streamlined. Therefore, if your fancy clothes tend to spend most of their lives in wrinkle inducing heaps on the floor, a model with greater steam output will make you feel like a steam powered deity, rather than a Cinderella toiling over a steaming iron. Steam output is determined by two factors: how much steam is produced, and how efficient (read: numerous) the holes in the soleplate are at transferring that steam to the clothing. We didn't rely on manufacturers' claims, but measured steam output ourselves. For more on our testing procedures check out the how we test page.


In this metric the Rowenta DW5080 Focus again took top honors, scoring a 9 out of 10. It produced an impressive 38 grams per minute of steam in our test, and has plentiful well-placed steam holes to take full advantage of this output. Taking the silver medal with a score of 8 was the Rowenta DW7180 Everlast. It has the same superior steam hole layout of the Focus, but put out a bit less steam at 29 g/min. The Hamilton Beach Durathon Digital 19900 also scored an 8. It actually put out a bit more steam than the Everlast at 31 g/min. However, it has only triads of steam holes around the periphery of the soleplate with the center being completely impermeable, so it was slightly less effective at pushing steam into garments.


The Rowenta Focus took the cake in our steam output testing.
The Rowenta Focus took the cake in our steam output testing.

There were three models that fell into the middle of the steam output pack. The Black & Decker D2030 scored a 6 out of 10, producing a respectable 24 g/min of steam. It lost some points because it has a relatively small number of steam holes, all near the edge of the soleplate. The Sunbeam Steam Master scored a 5, putting out steam at a rate of 21 g/min. This was relatively low, and its soleplate design was somewhat lacking with only a small number of steam holes. The Shark Ultimate Professional also scored a 5. Its steam output was fairly low at 19 g/min, but it has an excellent soleplate design with a multitude of well distributed steam holes, which partially makes up for its low output.

Generally  we found that models with more holes in their soleplates  like the Rowenta Focus (left)  had better steam output than models wither fewer holes  like the Sunbeam Steam Master (right).
Generally, we found that models with more holes in their soleplates, like the Rowenta Focus (left), had better steam output than models wither fewer holes, like the Sunbeam Steam Master (right).


The Oliso TG1100 fell well behind the rest of the field in steam output, scoring a 3 out of 10. It only produced 11 g/min of steam in our testing. This is less than a third of the top performer, and barely half of the closest performing model.

Though it can't match the steam output of the top scoring models  the Hamilton Beach Durathon Digital still packs a decent punch.
Though it can't match the steam output of the top scoring models, the Hamilton Beach Durathon Digital still packs a decent punch.

Ease of Use


While we did find appreciable differences in ease of use performance between irons, those differences were small enough that they may feel insignificant to many people. If there is one aspect of ironing that you absolutely hate, like refilling the water tank, then ease of use will be an important consideration in your purchase decision. If you're more concerned with performance aspects like steam output then ease of use is a less important consideration (if you're still a bit confused about what to look for in an iron check out our buying advice article). We considered a number of ease of use factors in our testing including cord length, general handling and ergonomics, ease of filling the water tank, and how conducive soleplate shape was to smoothing out oddly shaped items of clothing. Many people complain of water leaking from the soleplate. We found that all models did this when used improperly, so we didn't dock any points for this (for more on leakage and improper technique see our buying advice article). While we were iron testing our office looked like the costume department of a broadway production, and our testers ironed all that clothing with multiple different models, so the bottom line is we have a good feel for how easy (or frustrating) these products are to use.

Continuing their reign atop the leaderboard, both Rowenta models shared the top score of 8 out of 10 in our ease of use testing. The DW5080 Focus and the DW7180 Everlast share nearly indistinguishable soleplates, user interfaces, and general weight and feel, so they provide almost identical user experiences. The soleplate is wide enough to allow for efficient passes, but has a narrow point that allows for precise maneuvering on oddly shaped garments. Rowenta's wide body designs shield your hand from steam, and make it easy to fill the irons directly from the sink.

Some models opted for digital interfaces (Hamilton Beach Durathon Digital left) while kept it classic and analog (Sunbeam Steam Master  right). Unless you're bothered by the small type of most digital interfaces  we didn't find either style to be better or worse.
Some models opted for digital interfaces (Hamilton Beach Durathon Digital,left) while kept it classic and analog (Sunbeam Steam Master, right). Unless you're bothered by the small type of most digital interfaces, we didn't find either style to be better or worse.

Next up in our ease of use testing was the Shark Ultimate Professional GI505, which scored a 7 out of 10. The Shark has a nice cord design, handled well, and was able to get into tight spaces with ease (though with not quite as much aplomb as the Rowentas). It lost some points due to the opening of its water tank. It tends to splash a bit if you don't pour the water perfectly, which can make filling it directly from a sink a messy affair. The Oliso TG1100 also scored a 7. It has the longest power cord of any of the models we tested, and was one of the easiest models to fill up with water. Its only real downside was its heavy weight, which made it feel a bit clunkier in terms of handling. It also has a foot that automatically raises the iron off the board if you let go of the handle.This was a very polarizing feature, half our testers loved it and the other half hated it, so we left it out of our scoring.

We really liked the Steam Master's retractable cord.
We really liked the Steam Master's retractable cord.

Leading off the last group in our ease of use testing is the Sunbeam Steam Master, which earned a 6 out of 10. It endeared itself to our testers with its retractable cord, which made clean up and storage a breeze. However, its handling felt average, and the fill hole for the water tank is awkwardly placed, making it near impossible to fill it directly from a sink faucet. The Hamilton Beach Durathon Digital 19900 matched the Shark in ease of use, scoring a 6 as well. It earned this score by being just slightly above average across the board. Its cord has a decent design that doesn't get in the way too much, it's fairly lightweight and handles relatively comfortably, and while its water tank is not the easiest to fill, it can be done directly from a sink faucet without too much trouble. At the bottom of the ease of use bracket was the Black and Decker D2030, which picked up a score of 5. While getting the lowest score sounds bad, a 5 is not a terrible score in the scheme of things, so it's no reason to completely write the D2030 off. However, it did feel a bit less ergonomic and pleasant to handle than the other models we tested, and Its cord design and ease of filling the water tank were just mediocre.

Heating


We all want to get our clothes ironed as quickly and efficiently as possible, so it makes sense to assume that the faster a model heats up the quicker you can put the ironing board back in the closet and get back on with your life. While this is true, our testing revealed that the differences are not all that meaningful. We put all of our irons on their highest setting and measured the soleplate temperature with a thermocouple after two minutes, and the the spread in temperatures was only 40˚F, meaning they all heated up at very similar rates (to put these temperatures into context, see the ironing temperatures chart below). So the differences in heating speeds are more like swimmers shaving their legs to gain a few milliseconds, rather than upgrading from a subaru to a ferrari. If every second counts to you then it is worth getting one of the top scorers in this category. If 30 seconds here and there doesn't sound like a big deal to you, then heating speed doesn't need to factor into your purchase decision.


The Rowenta DW7180 Everlast was the fastest heater in our test, scoring an 8 out of 10. It reached a scorching 430˚ after two minutes of preheating. Next up was the Black and Decker D2030, which earned a score of 7. It hit a temperature of 420˚ at the two minute mark. Both the Hamilton Beach Durathon Digital 19900 and the Rowenta DW5080 Focus earned a score of 6, hitting 405˚ and 400˚ at the two minute mark, respectively.

The Rowenta Everlast got upt to temperature and had us ironing faster than any other model.
The Rowenta Everlast got upt to temperature and had us ironing faster than any other model.

Three models earned a score of 5 out of 10 in our heating testing. While this score is not far off the average, it is the lowest score in the bunch. Both the Sunbeam Steam Master and the Shark Ultimate Professional reached 390˚ after two minutes. The Oliso TG1100 was slightly behind, hitting 380˚ after two minutes. While these models did heat up a bit more slowly than the competitors, it would not be restrictive for most people as they still reach cotton ironing temperatures in just over two minutes.

Why We Didn't Score Safety


Obviously the heat generated by steam irons can be a hazard, so it may seem that our testing procedure is missing a much needed safety metric. All of the models we tested include a 3-way shut off system, which is the de facto industry standard. This mechanism shuts the iron off if it has been stationary for 30 seconds laying flat or on its side, and after 8-15 minutes (depending on the model) when sitting on its heel. In our testing we found this safety mechanism functioned as advertised in all of the models. Therefore we did not include a safety metric because all of the models would have earned the exact same score.

All of the models we tested have some sort of auto-shut off safety feature.
All of the models we tested have some sort of auto-shut off safety feature.

Conclusion


Irons are a difficult category for shoppers. While they seem fairly homogenous in both design and performance, different models offer subtle advantages or drawbacks that will be deal breakers for some, and completely irrelevant for others. We hope that our testing and presentation of the ensuing results has provided all you need to find the model that will fit your specific preferences.

Max Mutter & Steven Tata

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