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How we test irons, steam stations and garment steamers

Find out how our experts put irons, steam stations and garment steamers to the test

iron and ironed clothes

Even those of us who find ironing therapeutic will want a good iron that gives top results with minimal fuss.

Here's what goes on behind the scenes when we test irons, steam stations and garment steamers, to bring you results you can rely on.

Our expert testers

With over 30 years' experience in the small appliances lab, we're proud of our expert testers. They've seen all types of irons come through the labs, but one thing never changes – they need to make your clothes looking sleek and unlined. We focus on the basics so that when it's time to buy, you can be sure the iron or steam station you buy will work well.

How we choose what we test

With so many products to choose from, what makes us choose one iron, steam station or garment steamer to test over another? As with most of our product testing, our aim is to test the most popular models on the market and what you're most likely to see in the retailers.

We survey manufacturers to find out about their range of models, we check market sales information and we also check for any member requests to test specific models. From this information we put together a final list that goes to our buyers. They then head out to the retailers and purchase each product, just as a normal consumer would. We do this so we can be sure the goods are the same as any consumer would find them and not 'tweaked' in any way.

How we test performance

We assess the performance of irons, steam stations and garment steamers by checking how well they smooth out the creases in the following fabrics:

  • organza
  • silk
  • wool
  • cotton shirt
  • denim jeans
  • linen.

For garment steamers we carry out additional tests on a:

  • polycotton shirt
  • polyester dress
  • silk dress
  • cotton curtain
  • polyester curtain.

Although we test garment steamers on denim and organza, we don't incorporate these into their overall scores.

How we test ease of use

Irons

To determine ease of use, we assess:

  • ease of filling the water tank
  • handle comfort
  • ease of moving the iron
  • ease of using the steam function
  • ease of using the spray functions
  • ease of adjusting the temperature
  • cord convenience.

Steam stations

To determine ease of use, we assess:

  • ease of filling the water tank
  • handle comfort
  • ease of moving the iron
  • ease of using the steam function
  • ease of adjusting the temperature
  • cord convenience
  • steam hose convenience.

Garment steamers

To determine ease of use, we assess:

  • ease of filling the water tank
  • handle comfort
  • hose convenience
  • hanger function
  • ease of using the controls.

Test criteria explained

Overall score

The overall score for irons, steam stations and garment steamers is made up of:

  • performance (70%)
  • ease of use (30%)

For some popular brands, you can also check our member steam iron reliability data to see which brands will last.

Our test lab

Our testing laboratory is up to date with the latest reference machines and calibrated measurement tools for our testers to bring you the right results.

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