Let’s face it, most people hate ironing. Those who claim to love it are probably putting on a brave front. Or they have a secret they’re not sharing – a steam generator iron.
Except in the rare households where laundry is sent out for professional cleaning every day, a steam iron is ubiquitous in modern homes. Steam irons can produce a short spray of water on clothes, making them easier to iron. They also produce a cloud of hot steam, typically from holes in the ironing plate, to keep clothes in that warm and slightly moist state essential for crease-free ironing.
A steam generator iron, however, is a similar appliance but delivers a completely different ironing experience. These irons make it amazingly easy to remove wrinkles, turning crumpled clothes into shirts, pants, and dresses ready for any event. Getting rid of the most stubbornly deep creases becomes much faster. It transforms laundry from a chore to a smooth and enjoyable experience.
Here are the best ones recommended by experts and ordinary household consumers. They will change what ironing means forever.
How is a Steam Generator Iron different from an ordinary Steam Iron?
Most household steam irons store water in an internal reservoir, typically with a maximum capacity of about 250 ml. An internal heating element boils the water to produce steam, which is then sprayed out from small holes in the ironing plate. This keeps the clothes damp and easy to iron. However, steam irons usually emit only a small amount of steam at low pressure. The water also runs out quickly, which means constant interruptions to refill the internal reservoir.
Enter the steam generator iron. This has a separate and much larger water tank, usually six times as large at about 1.5 liters. This is connected to the iron with a rubber tube or small hose. This means six times fewer rounds of refilling the water reservoir – truly a convenience.
Tackling the laundry also becomes easier with a steam generator iron because it produces a higher volume of steam. For example, steam irons typically generate about 40 grams of steam per minute, compared to the 120 grams per minute for a steam generator iron. In other words, steam generator irons are three times as powerful!
Pressing the “steam boosting” button also produces dramatically different results. Most users of steam irons find they press it constantly to generate that helpful but short burst of hot steam while ironing. This is because steam irons produce only 150 grams per minute of steam in a “boost”. But steam generator irons can produce up to 500 grams per minute – more than four times as much.
Users love the “gliding” feel when ironing. Guess what? This is produced by the small cushion of steam between the ironing plate and the clothes. Higher steam pressure means more of a cushion and a smoother experience. The best steam generator irons put out 4.5 bars of pressure, much more than ordinary steam irons.
Steam generator irons are designed to be superior in every way and between three-to-six times as powerful and efficient as the ordinary steam irons that most households are used to.
What Makes a Good Steam Generator Iron?
There are several important things to pay attention to when choosing the best steam generator iron.
Not all steam generator irons are designed the same way. Typically, there are two types: pressurized and non-pressurized.
Pressurized steam generator irons have powerful internal boilers built into the iron itself. The steam is heated to a much higher temperature, increasing the pressure that enables the steam to penetrate deeply into the clothes to remove the most difficult creases. Pressurized steam generator irons usually produce steam between five to eight bars of pressure.
Non-pressurized steam generator irons, on the other hand, have ordinary boilers that are similar to ordinary steam irons. There is no extra lift in performance from the higher steam pressure. Although, the volume of steam produced is still higher than for an ordinary steam iron.
Most experts recommend choosing a higher bar rating for greater steam pressure.
Different steam generator irons have reservoir tanks that are different in size, even though all are much larger than an ordinary steam iron. Depending on your household needs, a larger reservoir tank is, typically, better and offers more convenience than a smaller tank. It means fewer rounds of refilling.
A larger reservoir tank, of course, means a bulkier and heavier appliance. For people who frequently travel with their iron because typical hotel irons are just unbearable, bulk and weight are important considerations. Some steam generator irons are more portable than others, although the more portable ones have less power and smaller tanks.
Some steam generator irons allow users to set the desired temperature for the ironing plate. This feature is aimed at professionals or those who care deeply about ironing and simply have to calibrate the perfect temperature settings for the exact type of fabric. For most household users, models with automatic temperature controls, or standard temperature settings, would work well enough for everyday use.
Many steam generator irons nowadays advertise that they “come with anti-scale technology.” This is certainly convenient but comes at a price. More affordable models don’t have this feature. However, the good news is that scaling problems can usually be prevented by ensuring the reservoir tank is empty after ironing – it is the residual water that allows limescale to build up. Even if scale starts to choke the iron, descaling it is a simple task.
First, clean the ironing plate. Use a damp cloth to wipe the plate clean while it is slightly warm (not hot). Some people find that a tiny spot of toothpaste helps to make it extra clean.
Second, fill the reservoir tank about a third full, with equal parts water and distilled white vinegar.
Third, turn the steam generator iron to a medium temperature setting. Then let the steam run for about five to ten minutes or until the tank is completely empty of the vinegar-water solution.
Fourth, fill up the reservoir tank with clean water (no vinegar) and repeat Step 3.
Finally, clean up with a dry cloth.