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Before You How to Buy a Clothes Iron, Steamer or Press

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Even if you don't like to iron clothes or have mainly wash and wear apparel, you occasionally may need to use an iron to press an outfit for a job interview or presentation, or to iron a dress for your child's special event. Irons are basic household appliances that you'll be glad to have when the need arises.

Buying an iron isn't too difficult, however there are features that make them easier to use and that shorten the ironing time - that's right, I did say 'shorten' the ironing time.

There are also steam generating ironing systems which deliver quality, professional results, as do garment presses.
Clothes Iron - Definition

What Influences Iron Prices

Features and wattage influence the prices of irons which start under $20 and can run well over $100. Some are must-have features and others are nice to have if you want to pay for the convenience. Price is also influenced by the power performance of the iron - how much wattage it has, and the higher the watts, the hotter it is and the quicker the ironing. Wattage isn't always easily noticeable on the packaging; you may have to read a lot of fine print.

Must-Have Features

Although a base model iron will suffice in many cases, I've found that certain features are more than worth the small increase in price:
Steam - which helps immensely to take out wrinkles. Check that the water reservoir is easy to fill and the iron has a few steam vents.
Non-stick coated finish or stainless steel soleplate - helps the iron to glide easily and not stick; helps to protect the fabric and makes ironing quicker.
Swivel cord base - really helps with handling the iron.
Variable heat/fabric settings - so you can safely iron various fabrics from cottons to silk with the correct amount of heat.

Nice to Have Features

These features would sure be nice to have, but they'll increase the cost:
Cordless Ironing - no cord to wrap around or worry about. It has limits to how long you can iron before re-charging the base. Increased wattage - the higher the wattage - the quicker the ironing, but a very hot iron demands more handling care.
Look for at least 1200 - 1400 watts or even higher.

Important Optional Safety Features

Automatic shut-off if left idle for several minutes - this is a great feature, but it's not available on all models.
Metal plate rest for the ironing board.
Alert system or auto shut-off if iron has been left on and face down on the ironing board.

Steam Generator Ironing Systems

Steam generating irons look similar to regular models, but they generate pressurized steam and have a water reservoir that the iron rests on, with a connecting water tube from iron to water tank. The key feature of these ironing systems, is the pressurized steam which cuts the ironing time considerably and produces quality, professional results. However, these ironing systems are higher priced, well over $100, but if you iron often, they are worth the investment. A little bulkier in size, they require more room on the ironing board and for storage. There's only a few models to choose from.

Garment Steam Presses

Used for years by professional garment makers and home tailors, garment steam presses will give professional crisp results. But they do take room to set up and require a stand. Although they are great for pressing/ironing sheets, tablecloths and other long or large items, a press is impractical for small garments with lots of detail and gatherings, such as a child's smocked dress. If you own a garment press, you likely will also need to have an iron as well.

Garment Steamers

Steamers are great for getting the wrinkles out of clothing and sometimes that's all that is needed to restore and freshen a garment. Small economical models are handy for travel and there are larger units for home use. Very versatile for steaming clothing while it's hanging or when only a 'touch up' is required.

Other Fabric Care Accessories

Keeping your clothing in tip top shape requires certain accessories such as a clothing shaver to remove pills, an ironing board to assist with ironing, sufficient garment hangers, a sewing and mending kit to do quick repairs or re-attach a button, a hamper, laundry room accessories, and a washer and dryer or alternative drying system.

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