To get that crisp, pressed look, you don't need to drop a bundle on an iron. Manufacturers are offering drudgery-cutting features like digital displays, retractable cords, and drip-free steaming. Souped-up models cost more than $100, but a top-rated iron can be had for $75 or less. And we found cordless models and nonstick bottoms to be of dubious value. This steam iron guide will help you to choose.
Consider your clothing
If you often press natural fibers such as linen, or heavy ones like denim, choose irons that have burst-of-steam and spray features--and steam that can be turned off.
Test-drive before buying
Make sure the iron is comfortable to pick up and hold. Some irons we tested were too small for big hands. Others were too heavy to maneuver easily.
Look at the controls
Different irons have different types of controls: dials, slides, or even digital readouts. Make sure controls are easy to see and adjust, and that fabric settings are clearly marked.
After you buy your iron, there are a few things you can do to make it last longer and easier to use.
Use tap water
Nearly all irons work fine with tap water, unless your water is very hard.
Clean the surface occasionally
To remove residue, clean the iron's heating plate every once in a while, especially if you use starch. Follow the manufacturer's directions.
Leaking can occur when you press at lower temperatures. To prevent dribbles, press delicate fabrics first, before you add water. After ironing items requiring steam, empty the water chamber. This will reduce the chance of drips the next time and gives you another benefit: the heat will evaporate remaining moisture, so it won't leave deposits on the heating plate.
Press hanging fabrics
With some irons, you can use the "burst of steam" function for vertical steaming to remove wrinkles from hanging items such as clothing and curtains. Read the manual.
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