Buying an iron

Un-wrinkle your brain by reading our guide on how to buy an iron

A Philips steam iron.

A Philips steam iron.

If you care about how you look in public and want your outfit to look presentable, you have to smooth out those wrinkles that appear after your clothes have been washed or squashed into the back of the wardrobe. Plus you can only buy so many wrinkle-free outfits! So in order to remove those wrinkles and creases for smooth and clean clothes you can use an iron or alternatively a dry cleaner – which can be cost prohibitive.

Irons may seem easy to shop for, but there are a few features you should read about before purchasing one. Take for example the weight or the extra features, and some cheaper models don't have safety features that you may need. So read on and find out what to look for when buying an iron.

Irons have evolved and now come with a plethora of features to make ironing so much faster and easier. In the past irons used to be a basic handheld hot plate with a water nozzle to wet and heat the fabric to remove the wrinkles. Irons today come in all different shapes and sizes with so many features that you would normally take for granted.

A brief summary of the types of irons available are:

Dry iron: This is the simplest of all irons and the most traditional. By simply plugging it in, it is ready to go and it offers no other features besides being able to adjust the temperature setting. Many travel irons are simply a dry iron.

Spray Iron: This is the same as the dry iron but with a spray feature at the front that releases a fine mist of water onto the fabric. The added spray function is good to use on stubborn wrinkles.

Steam Iron: Similar to a dry iron but with a steam feature that releases steam through nozzles in the soleplate while ironing. This type of iron has a water reservoir that will need to be filled in order to generate steam. Steam is much more effective and easier in removing wrinkles.

Steam/Spray/Shot Iron: A combination of all the irons listed above but with a steam shot feature where the iron emits a powerful shot of steam from the nozzles in the soleplate at the press of a button. The shot feature can be used in either the vertical or horizontal position. This makes it a lot easier to iron out wrinkles from tough material such as denim.

Steam Generator Iron (professional iron): This type of iron specialises in providing constant steam output and is used by professionals. The steam generator is made of two separate parts: the iron and the base unit. The base unit contains a dedicated large water reservoir and/or boiler which constantly converts the water into steam. The advantage of a steam generator iron is that it can produce steam irregardless of the soleplate temperature whereas standard irons can only produce steam on certain temperature settings. This type of iron is suited to those who do a lot of ironing.

Other features

There are other features to be considered when purchasing an iron.

Power: The wattage of the iron generally dictates how quickly the iron will reach a set temperature and maintain it during ironing. If you intend to use a lot of steam you would probably want a higher wattage iron.

Safety: Some irons have a safety 'auto shut off' feature that turns the iron off after a preset amount of time when the iron is inactive.

Tank: A tank that is easy to refill or is removable should be something to consider when looking at this type of iron. If you're going to spend a lot of time using it you might want to look into getting one with a larger tank that will save you time making trips to refill the tank. Steam irons should have a clear gauge on the tank to indicate the water level.

Soleplate: The soleplate surface of irons also vary where you have a whole range of different soleplates to choose from such as aluminium, Teflon coated, stainless steel, ceramic and more. Each type of soleplate has its advantages and disadvantages. For example, Teflon coated soleplate is easier to iron with than a stainless steel soleplate – but the stainless soleplate is more durable, and most likely to last longer, than the Teflon coated soleplate.

Weight: The weight of an iron can vary dramatically. If you're the type of person who loves to pump iron then the weight of an iron shouldn't matter too much for you, but we recommend that you test out the weight when in-store to see if it will be easy to use over a period of time.

Power cord: Cord length may be another aspect if you don't have a power outlet nearby. There are some cordless rechargeable irons, or ask the sales person if they sell irons with longer cords, but on average an iron's cord length is two metres which is sufficient for most people. Some vendors offer a 2-in-1 corded and cordless iron, so you can switch between both options.

Accessories

To keep your iron in tip-top shape and as good as new then you should look into some of the accessories that you need to maintain the iron.

Purified water: This is to be used instead of tap water which is a lot cleaner and without any kinds of waste minerals that can get stuck in the soleplate and cause the iron to clog up.

Cleaning liquid: If you have used tap water, this cleaning liquid will clear up any gunk from the soleplate's holes and allow steam to pass through normally. It will also prolong the life of your iron.

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