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A top-rated steam iron can address your pressing concerns

A top-rated steam iron can address your pressing concerns

If you hate to iron then imagine being a steam iron tester at Consumer Reports. To find the best irons, our testers iron basket after basket of dry, wrinkled linen tablecloths day after day. The fewer the passes needed to smooth out the cloth, the better the iron scores. The irons that emit the most steam tend to do the best job. In fact, in our tests of more than 50 steam irons, we found that most models that cost $30 or less are no bargain, producing far less steam than the models on our list of top steam iron picks.

Our top steam iron, the Panasonic NI-W950A, $220, emits plenty of steam and has a large reservoir so that you can do lots of ironing before needing to refill it. The iron is big—so big that testers nicknamed it Sputnik. But you don’t have to spend that much. The Singer Expert Finish EF, $60, Rowenta Effective Comfort DW2070, $50, and Rowenta Focus DZ5080, $75, aced our ironing and steaming tests, and the Singer was the lightest of the recommended models. The Kenmore 80598, $75, also produced lots of steam, but it wasn’t quite as adept at ironing fabrics and is the heaviest of the group of recommended models.

Irons have changed over the years. For starters, most work fine with tap water so you no longer have to distill yours. If your water is very hard, then do what the manual indicates and also heed the manufacturer’s advice on cleaning the soleplate and steam holes. Here’s some advice from our experts on how to get the best results from your iron.

Prevent dribbles. Leaking may occur when you iron at lower temperatures. To prevent it, press delicate fabrics before you add water. After ironing items requiring steam, empty the water chamber. That will reduce the chance of drips the next time and gives you another benefit: The heat will evaporate remaining moisture.

Start cool. It’s faster and easier to heat an iron than to cool it down, so start with synthetics and other fabrics that require a cooler iron, then wools at medium, and finish with cottons and linens on high. Allow a minute or so between changes for the iron to heat up.

Avoid re-wrinkling. Immediately hang or fold freshly ironed items. If you don’t want fold lines on your tablecloths, either hang them on hangers or store them on empty wrapping-paper tubes.

Clean the surface. To remove residue, clean the iron’s soleplate every once in a while, especially if you use starch, following the manual’s advice.

Put it away. Though it’s easy to leave the iron on the ironing board, it’s also easy for it to be knocked over there. So put the iron on a solid surface instead.

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