Steam station irons are becoming more popular these days and are pricier than a more basic, traditional iron. If you do a lot of ironing – or if you're after a superior product that gets the job done quickly, easily and without fuss – then one of these is a worthwhile investment.
Our testers carried out the same performance and ease-of-use tests for steam stations as for irons, and in comparison they generally perform better. The trick to these irons is that it's not the heat that does the work, it's the high levels of steam that quickly and effortlessly iron out the creases in your clothes.
Steam stations are quite bulky and heavy in comparison though, and much more awkward to store and move. Ideally, they should be set up permanently. You'll also need an ironing board made specifically for them, which are pricier than standard ones and can take up more room.
In our tests we've noticed that due to the amount of steam generated, water droplets can accumulate under the ironing board. You'll also need good ventilation, as the room can steam up during prolonged ironing.
If this all sounds like more trouble and expense than your ironing habits can justify, you might be better off with a basic model – check out our irons buying guide.
What to look for
As with traditional irons, it's worth checking out even the most basic features to make sure they're well-designed and suit your needs.
Make sure the iron is comfortable to pick up and hold. A lightweight iron is easy to steer but needs more downward pressure, while a heavier one requires less pressure but more effort to move and lift it.
Check that any knobs, dials or buttons are easy to see and adjust.
A non-stick soleplate is usually easier to keep clean than a stainless steel one, but you need to be careful not to scratch it, as that can cause the iron to drag over time. Polished stainless steel can work well, but is also prone to scratching and staining.
This is a useful safety feature that cuts off power to the iron after it's been left sitting idle for a while.
It seems obvious, but when the iron's on and therefore hot, it's good to be able to see this at a glance.
Look for a specially designed heel to wrap the cord around and a clip to secure it – much neater and easier than flailing power plugs and twisted-up cords.
When you can control the amount of steam coming from the iron, you can turn it up when you're trying to get creases out of linen, and turn it down for more sensitive fabrics.
These turn on when the iron is heating up and off when the preset temperature is reached.
Transparent water reservoir
A clear outer panel on the reservoir makes it easier to see the water level.
A gap between the iron and soleplate makes it easier to iron around buttons.
This handy feature allows you to iron heavy items such as curtains or suit jackets while they're hanging up.
Steam lock mechanism
It's helpful to be able to lock the steam supply trigger in place, so that you don't have to hold it down while you're ironing. This feature can be particularly convenient if you're doing vertical ironing or ironing a large piece of fabric such as a tablecloth.
The steam stations we reviewed were priced between $170 and $2799.