Reviews of the best steam generator irons

A look at the best steam generator irons on the UK market in 2019.

A creased shirt or blouse can ruin the smartest outfit and give you the appearance that you’ve slept in your clothes. And how about crumpled bed sheets? If you want the feeling of hotel luxury when you climb in at the end of the day, pristine well-pressed sheets are a must.

Who can honestly say they enjoy ironing though? Cotton and linen can be the worst, but even so-called easy-iron fabrics are a chore if you have a mountain to work through. Having good techniques and keeping on top of your laundry can help, but investing in one of the best irons money can buy is the real secret of success.

With so many irons to choose from it can be quite a task to find the one that really eases the burden of household chores. After years of struggling I can tell you that once you’ve tried a steam generator iron you won’t want to go back to a traditional model. Yes they cost a little more, but in terms of performance there’s no comparison.

Best steam generator irons reviewed

You may not think of them as items of technology, but clothes irons have come a long way since their first appearance. Your great grandmother’s was literally a slab of cast iron that was heated in a fire or on a stove. Today’s steam generator irons are rocket science in comparison! As well as being smaller and lighter, they make light work of stubborn creases and can cut through a laundry pile in half the time. The power of a steam generator iron comes from the attached water tank with a built-in heater. A press of the trigger delivers a blast of steam through the plate and makes the job virtually effortless.

For the purposes of these steam generator iron reviews the key focus is performance. Five of the most popular have been selected for testing, with each model being put through its paces on a variety of items found in a typical family’s laundry basket. Weight, ease of use, price and styling will also be taken into account to give a rounded review.

Tefal GV9071 Pro Express Care High Pressure Steam Generator

As one of the leading manufacturers of this type of appliance, a Tefal steam generator iron had to feature on the list of models to test. The Tefal GV9071 is one of the cheapest models available, but it has some interesting features and innovative styling that catches the eye. Unpacking it from the box there’s a strong sense that it’s built to last.

Key Features and Specifications

As the full product title suggests, Tefal focus on garment care as well as power and speed with the GV9071. The design includes anti-scale and anti-stain technology, and there’s some real innovation when comparing to other models. Steam pressure is good, and there’s an ultra-powerful steam boost to remove those really stubborn creases.

Pros

  • Innovative anti-scale collector. No more limescale clogging your iron!
  • Anti-drip system removes all risk of clothes being stained by dirty water droplets.
  • Value for money. Not the most powerful steam iron, but competitively priced.

Cons

  • Buttons feel fiddly compared to other models.
  • Slight odour from the iron’s steam, although this is possibly because it was a new appliance.
  • Automatic cord rewinder caught a few times and had to be unwound.

Philips GC9682/86 PerfectCare Elite Plus Steam Generator

Philips confidently claim that this is the most powerful and fastest steam generator iron in the world, so it had to feature in my review. It’s the most expensive of the models I selected for testing, making my expectations high. The GC9682/86 didn’t disappoint on any counts, and it set a very high bar after a couple of hours of use. It also looks great with a beautiful black and gold finish and modern styling.

Key Features and Specifications

This has the feeling of a professional iron, and I wouldn’t be surprised to hear the GC9682 is used at fashion shows to prepare clothes for the catwalk. That said, it’s very light and comfortable to hold. This model is packed with innovation meaning it’s fast, there’s no danger of burning your clothes and it delivers a consistent, powerful flow of steam. A built-in sensor recognises the movement of the iron and delivers steam automatically, making it perfect for anyone switching from a traditional iron to a steam generator model.

Pros

  • Ease of use, makes ironing a breeze .
  • No need to consider power settings as you switch between fabric types.
  • Automatic descaling means will last for years without maintenance.

Cons

  • The price. If you live alone the expense could be hard to justify.
  • Larger than some other steam irons so you’ll need space to store.

Morphy Richards Steam Generator Iron 332014 Power Steam Elite

I wanted to include a budget steam generator iron in my review, and coming from Morphy Richards the 332014 was an obvious choice. First impressions are that it looks like an iron from a decade ago, and it doesn’t give confidence of anything new. It performed well in testing, but a few water leaks meant that some items had to go back in the laundry basket for another wash.

Key Features and Specifications

This may be an option for someone on a limited budget wanting to move from a traditional model into the world of steam generator irons. It has the basic features you’d expect including a detachable water tank and fail-safe shut off. I found adjusting the temperature a little tricky as the buttons aren’t always responsive. The steam flow does the job on most items, but it struggled with heavy curtain fabrics.

Pros

  • Attractively priced steam generator from a name you can trust.
  • Vertical steaming feature worked well and sets it apart from other models in this price range.
  • Solid locking systems makes it easy to carry and store.

Cons

  • Auto-clean system seems to activate during use meaning you have to stop and wait for it to cool.
  • Some water leaks during use.
  • Difficult to read the water level in the external tank.
  • Styling and build quality fall short of other models.

Polti La Vaporella XM80R Steam Generator Iron with Boiler

La Vaporella may not be a brand you’ve heard of, but they have a strong reputation and history in the laundry market. The company can trace its roots back to 1978 when it set out to create an iron for the domestic market of the standard used in the commercial and professional world. The La Vaporealla XM80R has hints of Italian design, and it feels like a Ferrari when it’s gliding through a stack of ironing! Simple and practical to use, you can feel this is a product with forty years of history. This model benefits from innovative technology and some interesting features.

Key Features and Specifications

Little things can make a big difference when you’re comparing products on a like for like basis, and the soleplate on the XM80R is a good example. The shape is different from that on most other irons, and I found this actually makes quite a difference in moving the iron around obstacle like buttons. It also delivers steam more effectively than other models. There’s a definite focus on this being a maintenance-free steam generator iron, and it comes with a ten year warranty against limescale damage. I found the turbo function really useful on deep creases, but the six programme modes took some getting used to.

Pros

  • Italian styling and strong appeal of La Vaporella’s history.
  • Smooth, efficient handling like an Italian sports car!
  • LED lights on the handle tell you everything from when it’s ready to use to when the water needs topping up.

Cons

  • A higher priced steam iron, I do wonder if you’re paying for the brand name.
  • The programme modes can be confusing at first and I found myself switching to auto-mode.

Bosch TDS8040GB Serie 8 ProHygienic Steam Generator

Bosch are another manufacturer with a strong reputation in the home laundry market, so one of their irons had to be on the list for testing. The TDS8040GB is Bosch’s flagship steam generator iron, replacing the popular TDS8030GB model.

Key Features and Specifications

This model features a ‘Secure Lock System’ making it easier and safer to carry and store the iron. It may sound like a small detail, but this is actually really useful. The ‘i-Temp’ feature allows you to iron all fabrics safely without changing the temperature. This is great if you have a washing basket full of items to get through in a hurry. Hygienic steam technology eliminates 99.99% of bacteria, and the TDS8040GB has an innovative cleaning system for both the iron and steam station.

Pros

  • Large and easy to fill water tank. Perfect for a large family with an ever-growing stack of ironing.
  • Reaches operating temperature quickly. Ideal if you need to iron a couple of items last minute.
  • Powerful jet of steam. Stubborn creases in denim jeans disappear in seconds.

Cons

  • The design feels clunky and the plastic doesn’t reflect the price of this product.
  • All the models tested make a noise, but this one is a little excessive.¬†Disappointing considering the TDS8040GB sits in the upper price bracket of steam irons.

Buyer’s Guide

When comparing products to find the best steam generator iron it’s important to remember what you need it for. Don’t be influenced by loyalty to a particular brand name or base your selection on a product you’ve had in the past. Price is obviously an important factor, but don’t miss out on something that really could change the way you manage your household laundry for the sake of a few pounds. Buying the best steam iron could save you hours each week, and you can’t put a price on that.

Steam Flow and Boost

the high-pressure steam flow with the option of a boost that sets these irons out from the traditional models, so this is an obvious key feature. It’s not just the quantity of steam that’s important, it’s the temperature and pressure it’s delivered at. This is how a steam generator iron can make light work of creases in denim and other thick fabrics.

Fabric Care

Racing through your laundry pile with very little effort feels great, but it’s not so good if items are stained or burned in the process. If you don’t find it easy to sort items into different fabric types and know the safe temperatures for ironing at, it’s best to choose a steam generator that adjusts automatically.

Descaling and Maintenance

Limescale can build up very quickly in appliances that heat water. Remembering to and taking the time to descale your iron isn’t necessary if you opt for one that’s designed to deal with it automatically. This is especially important if you live in a hard water area.

Ease of Use

Technology and innovation in products you use for household chores are great, but only if they make life easier. If you need to refer to an instruction manual every time you set up the ironing board your steam generator iron may lose its appeal.

Design and Carrying

You may not want to leave your iron on display, but it should fit the styling of your home and reflect your design tastes. Some colours date more quickly than others. The external water tank means that steam generator irons are on the larger side, so consider where you’ll store it. A sturdy locking mechanism means you can carry your iron safely without risk of the base unit falling away.

Conclusion and Final Verdict

It’s no exaggeration to say that a good steam generator iron will make light work of one of the most hated household chores. Once you’ve tried one, you’ll never go back to a traditional model. That said, there are big differences between steam iron models and it’s important to buy the best you can afford. Don’t be swayed by a funky design and flashing lights, it’s all about speed and efficiency.

My personal favourite from this test is the Philips GC9682/86 PerfectCare Elite Plus. It was the second model I tested and I was hoping a cheaper model would match its performance, but it really is outstanding. The innovative features and styling have strong appeal, but it’s the power, ease of use and professional build quality that set it apart.

If you’re looking for the best steam generator on the market today, the Philips GC9682/86 will take some beating.