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8 best steam generator irons for tackling the toughest of creases

Breeze through the dreaded laundry pile in a flash with these tried and tested machines

Siobhan Grogan
Wednesday 14 July 2021 09:48
<p>Denim, delicate silk, king-size bedding and thick cotton shirts were no match for these models</p>

Denim, delicate silk, king-size bedding and thick cotton shirts were no match for these models

When a normal iron just won’t cut it, a steam generator iron means business. Though they’re more powerful than the average household will require, and they’re a dream for large families or anyone who owns a lot of easily-creased clothing, particularly if you need to look pristine for work.

Steam generator irons produce more than twice as much steam as a standard steam iron and come with a separate tank which pumps water into a boiler. Be warned this is usually as big as the iron itself and can make it difficult to store. The high-pressure steam removes deep creases in a flash, often from both sides of an item at once. But power comes at a price, and most models cost upwards of £100.

Non-pressurised models are similar to steam irons but produce more steam, while pressurised models force out high-pressure steam that can tackle even the toughest crease. Pressure is measured in bars, while steam output should be over 100g per minute to be really noticeable.

Other factors to consider include the water tank capacity, auto switch-off setting, vertical steam function and the wattage, which will indicate how fast the iron heats up. Anyone in a hard water area should also check what limescale prevention is built-in and how often any filter needs cleaning or replacing.

To find the very best steam generator irons for all budgets, we worked our way through several mountains of ironing including severely creased denim, delicate silk, king-size bedding and thick cotton shirts.

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The best steam generator irons for 2021 are:

  • Best overall – Philips perfect care elite plus steam generator iron: £419.99,
  • Best lightweight option – Swan prosteam SI11010N steam generator iron: £48,
  • Best for hard water – Russell Hobbs quiet super steam generator pro 24460: £249.99,
  • Best for beginners – Tower ceraglide 2700W 1.5l steam generator iron: £69.99,
  • Best budget option – Beldray BEL01035 platinum edition steam station iron: £53.99,
  • Best for vertical steaming – Tefal cube UT2020: £279,
  • Best for delicates – Morphy Richards speed steam pro intellitemp 332103: £279,
  • Best for speed – Beko steamxtra steam generator iron: £187,

Philips perfectcare elite plus steam generator iron

Best: Overall

Rating: 10/10

  • Tank capacity: 1.8l
  • Steam rate: 165g/min
  • Pressure: 8 bars
  • Power: 2,700W

You’ll almost look forward to doing the ironing with this stylish black and gold steam generator model that couldn’t be simpler to use. It’s ferociously powerful yet surprisingly lightweight, making it a cinch to use even on curtains. With a hefty 600g steam shot, it breezes through even the toughest crumples thanks to a sensor that detects the depth of the crease from how fast the iron is moving and generates more steam as needed.

There’s no need to stress about burning your favourite clothes either – we promise. This ingenious machine has “optimaltemp” technology to iron any fabric, from denim to delicate silk, without needing to adjust the temperature. There’s no denying this is a little nerve-wracking at first, but it really does work for much quicker results. It’s also very easy to read the water level and we found the tank allowed nearly two hours of ironing time before we had to refill. Limescale poses no problem either, as the iron takes moments to descale and reminds you when it needs tackling.

The hefty price tag is the only drawback, but if you regularly have to battle through mountains of ironing, it will be worth every penny.

Swan prosteam SI11010N steam generator iron

Best: Lightweight option

Rating: 7/10

  • Tank capacity: 1.5l
  • Steam rate: 100g/min
  • Pressure: N/A
  • Power: 2,200W

We were gobsmacked by the price of this iron, which is considerably less than most other steam generators but without skimping on the steam rate. It’s very easy to use, with a ceramic soleplate that glides across fabrics, and is lightweight, which really helps when ploughing through a sky-high pile – particularly if you have wrist problems. Though it has a powerful shot of steam if required, we did need to apply a little more force than with other irons when creases were really bad, as it’s not pressurised. The iron’s water tank is also on the smaller side, but we found it was more than enough for over an hour of ironing (plenty in our book). There’s no self-cleaning feature and the removable filter is quite small, so it would need changing more often if you were in a hard-water area. However, this is a great choice if you’d love to try a steam generator iron but don’t want to splash too much cash.

Russell Hobbs quiet super steam generator pro 24460

Best: For hard water

Rating: 9/10

  • Tank capacity: 1.8l
  • Steam rate: 315g/min
  • Pressure: 8 bars
  • Power: 2,750W

If you only get through the ironing pile while watching a good box set, this silent steam generator is 20 per cent quieter than the previous model, so you won’t miss any crucial scenes. It’s seriously powerful and very fast, whizzing through even the toughest creases thanks to a whopping eight bars of pressure. We especially liked the clever “one temperature” technology which the brand says is safe on all fabrics, so we could plough through a mixed pile without constantly adjusting the settings – a dream for anyone who wants the ironing over as quickly as possible.

It’s a great choice for those hard-water areas too, thanks to the preheat system. This allows the water to reach the ideal temperature for calcium to be captured in the filter, so only clean water enters the boiler, stopping mess and prolonging the iron’s lifespan. The reusable anti-calc filter is excellent too, with a reminder light to let you know when it needs cleaning. There’s no need to replace it though – just take it out, give it a quick rinse and you can carry on ironing. It’s as easy as that.

Tower ceraglide 2700W 1.5l steam generator iron

Best: For beginners

Rating: 8/10

  • Tank capacity: 1.5l
  • Steam rate: 100g/min
  • Pressure: 3 bars
  • Power: 2,700W

This well-priced steam generator iron is big on user-friendly features. The water tank is detachable and transparent, making it simple to fill up under the tap; there’s a handy lock to secure the iron to its base when carrying; and the power cord tucks away neatly for easy storage.

It heats up rapidly and tackled thick fabrics just as easily as delicates, with an adjustable thermostatic control so you can choose the right temperature for the job. Some of the heaviest creases on our thickest cottons needed a second swipe, but generally this was a good all-rounder for a great price. Just be aware that the anti-calc filter in the tank will need replacing eventually, so anyone in a hard-water area should consider using distilled water to prolong its life.

Beldray BEL01035 platinum edition steam station iron

Best: Budget option

Rating: 6/10

  • Tank capacity: 1.5l
  • Steam rate: 35g/min
  • Pressure: N/A
  • Power: 2,600W

Not sure you’re ready to commit to a pricey steam generator iron? At this price, it’s easy to give one a go and see how you get on. This Beldray model is almost as powerful as some of the most expensive machines: it heats up in no time and the pressure is enough to make a difference on stubborn creases. It produces up to 30 minutes of continuous steam, has an anti-calc function and works well vertically for curtains and hanging garments, although we would have preferred a beefier steam rate.

It’s fairly lightweight compared to many other steam generators, so is easy to manoeuvre, and the 1.9m power cord makes it simple to set up wherever suits you best. Our only minor gripe is the fact the temperature must be changed to suit the fabric being ironed, unlike on the more expensive models. It only takes a second, but lazier launderers may prefer a model that removes the need for guesswork.

Tefal cube UT2020

Best: For vertical steaming

Rating: 9/10

  • Tank capacity: 1.1l
  • Steam rate: 90g/min
  • Pressure: 5.8 bars
  • Power: 2,170W

Don’t judge us, but this brand-new machine from Tefal is so easy to carry around, we found ourselves wandering the house just looking for fabrics we could iron with it. The innovative box-style boiler with a handle makes it much more mobile than any other steam generator we tested, and it’s far lighter too, as the iron attachment is just 530g on its own. This means it’s ideal for curtains, sofas and longer garments that are more convenient to iron while hanging.

It’s ready to use in around a minute – perfect if you realise clothes are crumpled as you’re heading out the door – and the 3m cord means it can reach even the tightest spots around the home. We especially loved the precision tip, which is a dream on details like buttons and collars.

Morphy Richards speed steam pro intellitemp 332103

Best: For delicates

Rating: 9/10

  • Tank capacity: 1.6l
  • Steam rate: 140g/min
  • Pressure: 7 bars
  • Power: 3,000W

If the thought of ironing flimsy clothes and fancy fabrics brings you out in a rash, this Morphy Richards appliance will soothe your stress. The “intellitemp” feature means one setting suits all fabrics, so you can power through your ironing pile without having to sort through laundry first. An extra 600g steam shot comes in handy for tougher creases and we found we needed this to get perfect results on heavy-duty fabrics, though it’s also safe to use on delicate items.

It’s very easy to use overall, with a non-stick soleplate, a lock to secure the iron to the base unit for carrying and auto shut off so you’ll never panic about accidentally leaving the iron on again. There’s no need to buy extra filters either, as limescale is automatically flushed from the boiler to be simply emptied down the sink, making this a great buy.

Beko steamxtra steam generator iron

Best: For speed

Rating: 8/10

  • Tank capacity: 1.8l
  • Steam rate: 130g/min
  • Pressure: 7.2 bars
  • Power: 2,800W

If any time spent ironing is too much time in your book, this Beko model will help you whip through your laundry load and get on with your day. It’s lightweight, so you can speed through your smalls, and the large 1.8l water tank means you won’t need to stop to refill. The “smart mode” feature will also adjust the heat and steam for every type of fabric while “steamxtra” technology directs power deep into the fabric at criss-cross angles, so you can cover a wider area faster. When it’s time to descale, simply turn the cleaning knob and any limescale drains away with the water so you can get back to the ironing board in no time.

Our only grumble is with the teeny digital display. It’s a great idea to alert the user when water levels are low or descaling is needed, but we would have preferred it to be a little bigger as it is quite hard to read.

The verdict: Steam generator irons

The Philips perfectcare elite plus steam generator iron is the model of our dreams – it’s so clever it almost does the ironing for you. But if you just can’t stomach that whopping price tag, go for the Russell Hobbs quiet super steam generator pro 24460, which has similar “one temperature” technology and great limescale resistance for half the price.

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