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By pricerunner Updated 09/03/2018

Having nice, smooth clothes is not a new trend, and irons have been around for some time. As early as the Middle Ages, a piece of metal with a handle was used to flatten out fabrics after being heated in the fire. However, this was primarily used on woollen fabrics, while irons and ironing boards are today used for different types of fabric, even though in many homes it's mostly shirts that need ironing.

Today irons are significantly more advanced, and many new functions have been added. You can easily set the right temperature and a steam function is common. Steam comes out of small holes in the soleplate of the iron, making the fabric damp and easier to iron smooth. There is often also a function to produce small puffs of extra steam, which is useful to get really crinkly fabrics looking nice.

Choosing an iron

Irons vary widely in price and can be bought both online and in physical shops. So before buying it's a good idea to think about what you need. How often will you use your iron? What space do you have available? What types of garment will you iron? This can help you decide what functions you need and what price class is relevant.

The steam function is one of the most important properties, as it has a major impact on the result. There are different variants depending on what you will be ironing: powerful steam stations, steamers and more traditional steam irons. The important thing is that the steam is produced uniformly and no damp patches are left on the clothes. When the iron is lifted up, no drops of water must be produced either. And of course it must also be possible to change the quantity of steam, as you need different amounts depending on what you are ironing.

Irons come both with and without power cords. If you choose one with a cord, it's useful if it can be rotated. If it can't, this can complicate the ironing process as you have less freedom of movement. The length of the cord also affects this. For cordless irons, it can be useful to know how long the iron will last before you need to recharge it, what the iron base looks like and whether it has a wall bracket.

Many irons offer an automatic shut-off feature. It can be very practical to have an iron that turns itself off if you're ironing your shirt in the morning before work, because it stops you worrying all day about a potential house fire. And naturally the wattage and size are also things you should take into account. The majority of irons available today achieve the temperatures they promise and whether an iron is small or not is primarily only important if you're travelling.

How the test was made

  • Looking after your iron You need to maintain your iron in the right way to give it a longer lifetime. If you know that you live in an area where the water is very hard, it can be useful to use distilled water. This way you avoid having to descale it so often. Cleaning is also important. Cleaning the iron from time to time is essential to avoid getting a nasty surprise when you iron a white shirt. To avoid scratching the soleplate, you can use a soft cloth, vinegar and water. Cotton buds are practical for cleaning the holes.

If the iron needs to be cleaned internally, you can make a strong vinegar solution and pour it in. The iron should then be allowed to steam until all of the liquid is used up. You then fill it up again with just water, and allow this to steam through. It's important to always read the manual. Some irons are self-cleaning and it's also important to check exactly what your iron can handle

When you've finished ironing, it's important to empty it of water. Otherwise there's a risk that it can leak water down to the soleplate, which can be damaged and discoloured. This reduces both the lifetime of the iron and increases the risk of spots.

  • Travel You particularly want to be able to wear best clothes when you're on holiday. But after they've been stuffed into a case, an iron is pretty well essential to achieve a respectable appearance. You can often borrow irons at the hotel, but there are also small irons which are perfect to take with you. However, it's important to check whether you can have one in your hand baggage and/or hold baggage to avoid a nasty surprise at the security check.

  • Recycling If you have an old product and it's time for a new iron, you need to recycle your old one. Irons are disposed of as electrical waste, but make sure you remove any batteries first as these should be recycled separately.
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