Last updated December 2017
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.