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Choosing A Steam Generator Iron (Yes You Did Just Read That)

Let's talk irons. I know, not the sexiest subject on the planet. But I need to explain.

The other day, a reader contacted me about my iron. We'd talked about the virtues of choosing the right iron some months ago. And then I lost her message before I had the chance to reply. This is the only way I can reach out to the lady. But then I figured that other readers might be in the market for a new iron too. So this is for you. God, I am so generous 😜

I don't look forward to the ironing because I'm not THAT sad but I don't mind it either. Sunday morning, pile of washing and Columbo on the telly (there's always a Columbo movie if you look hard enough). And before we've found out who's done it, the ironing is finished. I've sent my ironing out in the past and, let the cleaner loose on my laundry basket but honestly, I'm a fussy bugger and no one irons my husband's shirts as I do. I get very stressed and grumpy if they're not done properly so best do them myself yes? The matter of ironing has also reaffirmed to me that my children were swapped at birth. Both think nothing of wearing a t-shirt or a pair of jeans that haven't been pressed. They are lost causes. 

First up, I'm not talking about steam irons. The one's that you find in hotels that scare the living daylights out of me. You fill them up through a hole that's the size of a thimble, they drip everywhere and the settings, well, they're beyond my intelligence. No, I'm talking about steam generator irons which are much more powerful, two-piece units.

This is mine. I chose it because it received 5* ratings at the time of purchase. 

It's the Philips GC8620 which is no longer available as I've had it ages. I've had two of these and would never, ever go back to a normal iron. Yes they're pricey but they last years. I think I paid about £240 for this particular one. Prices have come down for basic models but you can spend a lot more too as technology progresses.

So why do I love my Steam Generator Iron?

- The main advantage is it's power. We are talking Lamborghini as opposed to Vauxhall Nova. It glides over the clothes. Literally one glide and the creases are gone. Even on stubborn cotton. Ironing time is reduced, I'd say I can iron a shirt in a quarter of the time.

- It has a large tank (2.2 litres) so I'm not constantly filling it up.

- One temperature irons all fabrics. I know! I don't have to plan my ironing by fabric type because it doesn't matter. I can press a pair of jeans and straight after, a silk shirt. Don't ask me how it works because I don't know and I don't really care. All I know is that I haven't scorched a single item. And to prove this, look at the plate. It's still as good as new. 

- It's very easy to use. There are minimal buttons and switches. Just an on/off button, an eco button (never used) and one for generating the steam which you can double press for a continuous stream.

- It's brilliant for vertical steaming. Most of my tops are steamed on the coat hanger and come up a treat. Cotton shirts do need pressing though. 

- It has it's own anti-scale system. Simply unscrew and empty the water which pulls out all the scaly bits. I do this about once a month and it takes about 20 seconds. 

- Mine doesn't have a water squirter as an additional feature but I can't actually think of a single instance when I would need to use it. 

Choosing A Steam Generator Iron

1. The larger the tank, the less you will have to fill it up.

2. Look at the continuous steam output performance when comparing models. Mine is 180g p/m and is pretty powerful so anything above this will be good. 

3. You can also compare the bar pressure, mine is 5 but I notice that there are far more powerful ones these days.

4. Pressurised irons are much more powerful than non-pressurised although they do tend to be more expensive. You can pick up the latter for about £100 these days. I'd always recommend the pressurised version though as they're far more powerful.

5. Make sure that the actual iron part of the equipment is comfortable to hold and not too heavy. Although you should find that they are lighter than a traditional steam iron as you're not holding all of the excess water which is in the separate tank.

6. Look for models that have one setting for all. Some have delicate, normal, heavy settings which will hold you up as you wait for the temperatures to adjust. For me, this is the probably the most important aspect.

7. For ease, look for one that has a self scale system. Some require manual cleaning. I'm all about saving time, not creating work. 

8. An automatic shut off option is always handy. I've left the iron flat down on the ironing board to answer the phone many-a-time. It shuts off after 10 minutes. That said, it won't burn the ironing board cover as it is 'safe to rest' (don't ask me why because I don't know) but it's always good to know that if you forget to switch the iron off and leave the house, you'll still have a home when you get back later!!!

9. Look for a long power cord. Mine really isn't very long at all so I have to use an extension cable. Ok, not a massive problem but hey if you're paying out all your hard earned cash, you want the best right?

10. More importantly, make sure that the steam hose linking the water tank to the actual iron is a good length. This is massively important if you want to vertical steam. Mine measures just over a metre and I seem to think it's longer than the first one that I had. My previous one didn't have a thermal safety coating on the steam hose either - the rubber gets very hot! It looks as if the cord coating comes as standard these days but something to bear in mind. 

10. These units are much larger and heavier than a traditional steam iron so you may need to upgrade your ironing board to extra large. 

Riveting stuff 🙈

Here's a question for you. Do you iron upstairs or down? I'm an upstairs lurker. In my mind, 90% of washing is generated upstairs so why do we have our washers and tumble dryers downstairs? Barking mad if you ask me. I don't need a time and motion study to tell me that it's not efficient.

Anyway, I'm happy with my iron and don't intend changing it but if it were to blow up tomorrow, these are the models that I would consider.

Mine seems to fall in between the first and second models below and I'm very happy with it.
The reviews are pretty good too scoring 4.8/5 and 5/5 respectively.

Philips GC9630 PerfectCare Elite Steam Generator Iron £229.99

Philips GC9324 Perfect Care Aqua Pro Steam Generator Iron £279.99

The Bosch seems to have a similar one-temperature feature to the Philips. There's also an anti-shine feature for dark fabrics. I like that idea! Although the actual plate size looks much smaller which of course means more work for you and me.

Bosch TDS3771GB Sensixx Steam Generator Iron £269.95

The Rowenta has a variable steam setting. Matters not to me, I don't get that option with mine and I haven't missed it. There's as much steam produced for a cashmere jumper as there is for a pair of jeans.

I like the fact that the water tank is removable for easy filling. And, that it's silent (or so they say). The Philips makes a gurgling noise when it's heating up and then every 5 minutes or so as it kicks in to reach optimum heat. I just turn up the volume of the t.v. Put it this way, I've never missed an important Columbo clue. It's a nice feature to have though.

Rowenta DG8960+62 Silence Steam £269.95

Interestingly, when I bought my second steam generator iron a few years ago, John Lewis were really pushing the Polti. I chose the Philips because it had better reviews. They don't have a single Polti on their website now. Just saying.

This will probably be the least read post that I have ever written, certainly the most boring. Sorry! Well done if you managed to get to the end.

p.s. it isn't sponsored!!!!!
4 comments on "Choosing A Steam Generator Iron (Yes You Did Just Read That)"
  1. Very useful post - thanks, Anna

  2. I love this sort of thing because I'm just that kind of girl. I've often wondered about them, it's just getting me to part with the initial outlay first. Eek.

  3. I love all your posts, but this is my favorite because I sew and I own a fabric store. I'm always trying to decipher which is the best iron. Thanks!

    1. Get one, get one Kate, you won't be disappointed, I promise x