A soft, steamy iron is a key tool in your laundry arsenal. A steamer does a pretty good job of smoothing some of the fabrics, but nothing produces sharp pleats or flattens stubborn wrinkles like iron. We reviewed more than two dozen irons and studied dozens more, and our two-time winner, the lightweight, affordable and reliable Maytag M400 Speed Heat Iron and Vertical Steamer, is still our pick.
The Maytag M400 tests a number of iron boxes that usually cost less than $50. It’s fast and efficient at busting wrinkles, and it’s the most economical iron I’ve ever tested that works reliably, without leaking. It starts producing steam in about 25 seconds, quicker than any other iron I’ve tried, and although it has the smallest water tank (6.5 ounces) of our three picks, it produces steam.Maytag is also the lightest of our picks, making it easy on your hands and arms. While heavier irons can be useful for flattening the wrinkles, I was still able to smooth the fabrics easily with a quick, solid burst of steam from Maytag. It has a two-year warranty (longer coverage than the SteamForce, but the same as our runner-up, the Black+Decker Allure), and we’ve been testing it for two years without any problems.
The Black+Decker Allure Professional Best Steam Irons 2020 D3030 creates better steam coils than the Maytag M400, the stainless steel plate glides smoothly across a range of fabrics, and the handle is one of the most convenient to carry and use. It’s a great, cheap iron — as long as it’s working. This iron was our former top pick, but after a year, the heating element broke down.Thanks to its two-year warranty, I quickly traded it for replacement, which I have been using since late 2016 without any problems. We have also seen similar reports of poor reliability in the reviews. If you don’t mind replacing this iron every so often, it’s still a top performer, and usually costs a few bucks less than the Maytag.
The Rowenta SteamForce DW9280 Iron is performing better than any other Iron that I have tested. It melts the creases out of the clinked button-downs and flattens the quilt seams with almost no effort. I’ve never seen more steam from the iron. I’ve been using our original test model since 2015, and it still generates strong steam, with only a few small leaks of water on the fabric. It’s heavier and much more expensive than our top pick and runner-up, but it’s worth upgrading if you sculpt or sew (that weight is good for pressing seams), do lots of laundry, or want an iron with the best chance of surviving for more than a few years.
Why you should trust us
I’m a staff writer at Wirecutter, and I’ve been reporting irons since 2015. I’ve even written our guides to ironing boards, fabrics, blankets and dresses (among many others), and I’m a quilt designer with more than a decade of experience. I’m ironing almost every day. I’ve spoken about irons with Ingrid Johnson, professor at the Department of Apparel Development and Marketing at the Fashion Institute of Technology; Tod Greenfield, co-ownerof New York City tailor Martin Greenfield Clothiers; Kimberly Chaveco, former senior product manager at Rowenta; and members of the NYC Metro Modern Quilters Guild (I’m a former member myself but have since moved to Rowenta).