Irons, Steam Generators & Accessories

Bing Lee's Ironing Buying Guide

When in the market to purchase a new iron or steam station, it can be overwhelming when you have a wide variety of choices available and a great deal to consider in terms of product features. You may find yourself asking “which product is right for me?”

Ironing technology has advanced and irons now come with features designed to make this household chore as quick and easy as possible. After all, we have come a long way since the days of old where our local blacksmith’s would forge irons for us and we needed to heat our irons on the stove! Irons today come in all shapes and sizes and can be moderately priced for the more basic models and comparatively expensive when compared to the higher end steam generators.

Before purchasing a new iron you may need to consider features such as weight, the water capacity of the unit, variations in steam production, the differences in soleplates, how powerful the unit is and the maintenance required to ensure longevity of your product. Do you struggle with ironing around buttons? Some models have narrow tips to make it a breeze. Hate cleaning limescale? Some irons have a function that can take care of it for you.

There are other aspects that you should consider too. You should ask yourself before purchasing a steam station if you have enough space for the docking station or the correct ironing board. You may consider cordless models if you have small children or models that have safety functions. If you travel often or have clothes that are delicate and would be better looked after if they were steamed on a hanger you could consider garment steamers or travel irons. Don’t be disheartened, this buyer’s guide will help you make an accurate choice for your economical needs and product requirements.

Steam Irons

Steam irons are your standard steam irons that most of us picture when we thing about an iron. Some can be quite light and others heavier for better pressing and crease removal. This iron provides short spurts of steam to help you flatten out your clothing. The water tank is situated on the unit. These irons are designed for smaller wash loads and are compact ensuring that they won’t take up a lot of your storage space.

Steam Generators

Don't less the size put you off. Steam generators mean business! Just make sure that you consider the amount of space you will need at home for the base unit. The steam generator has 2 parts. The base unit which has a much larger water tank than standard steam irons and the hand unit which is much lighter than standard steam irons. These irons are best for large families who have larger loads. The unit provides continuous steam making ironing fast and effective. Non-pressurised steam generators release their steam gently while the pressurised generators will boost more steam from the iron while in use to penetrate your fabrics deeper which is great for hard denim!

Cordless Irons

Do you need to iron with no strings attached? Look no further! Cordless irons are great if you feel restricted while ironing or if you have children and are concerned about the cord getting in the way. These irons work like your standard steam irons just without the cord for total freedom of movement. This iron style comes with a docking station that is used to recharge the handheld unit. These irons are not as space consuming as the steam stations though you should take note of the amount of space you will need for the base unit before purchasing.

Garment Steamers

Garment steamers are the easiest way to get those delicate fabrics wrinkle free and can also be used on other items such as linen and curtains without taking them out of position. Garment steamers are great to freshen up suits, shirts or skirts that have been in the wardrobe a little to long. You can find two types of garment steamers - small portable handheld steamers or larger garment steamers that have a base unit to hold larger amounts of water. Garment steamers heat up quickly however they are not ideal for all kinds of fabric such as denim which would benefit more from a steam iron or steam generator to look its best.

Travel Irons

For those of us who travel regularly a travel iron may be just what you are looking for. Most models are compact and light, perfect to carry in your bag or suitcase. Travel irons can be either a dry iron or steam iron. Keep in mind that the voltage on travel irons will need to be adjusted correctly depending on the country of use.

Soleplate Variations

The soleplate is the flat surface that comes into direct contact with your clothes. The purpose of the soleplate is to effortlessly glide over the fabric and to distribute heat and steam making ironing an easier task. There are different kinds of soleplates and you should consider the options available before purchasing and this list you help you decide on what is right for you.

  • Aluminium - This is an entry level basic soleplate that has no non-stick coating and can become sticky after regular use. The plate distributes heat evenly but is easily scratched.
  • Coated non-stick - Being a coated non-stick surface this soleplate will glide easily over your fabrics. The surface is easier to maintain and will distribute steam and heat well.
  • Stainless steel - This soleplate glides effortlessly over fabrics but you will need to take care when ironing over buttons and zippers as the surface can be scratched.
  • Ceramic - Ceramic soleplates are of higher quality. They glide smoothly over your clothing, are hard wearing and dispense heat and steam equally.

Soleplate Maintenance

As the soleplate is the one part of your iron that is consistently in contact with all of your fabrics, maintenance is essential to ensure longevity of your unit. Make sure that the soleplate is regularly cleaned. You can purchase soleplate cleaning sticks and special scrubbers and cloths that won’t cause damage to the soleplate.

Safety Functions

Safety is a number one concern for most people especially if there are children in the house or you often forget to turn your appliances off. Consider buying irons that have an auto-off function. This ensures that if you have left the unit unattended or if the unit tips over it will automatically switch itself off.

Steam Features

Knowing about the steam features available will make light work out of ironing as you will be able to determine which features would help rid your clothes of those stubborn creases.

  • Vertical steam - this feature allows you to steam clothes vertically, meaning that you can steam your curtains or clothes while they are hung up. Your silk garments will be crease free and minus burns.
  • Steam shot - gives you the option to give a short burst of steam when its needed directly onto your clothing.
  • Variable steam - automatically adjusts the amount of steam being released by your iron depending on the fabric.
  • Steam output - Provides better crease removal. Measured in grams per minute. As a guide steam irons should produce around 40g/min while a steam generator should produce around 100g/min.

What Is Limescale And How Does It Affect My Product?

Appliances that use hot water regularly will over time have a build-up of limescale. Limescale is a chalky reside build up left behind in your appliances. It’s unsightly and can affect the performance of your product by clogging up the steam vents on the soleplate. It can also stain your fabrics. To prevent this the unit should be cleaned regularly. Some models of iron have an auto clean function that will regularly clean the machine for you so that you don't have to worry about it.

Product Wattage

What do the watts mean? Basically this is your electrical power. The higher the wattage the quicker it will take for your iron to generate the heat required before use.

Other Features Worth Noting

  • Anti-Drip - Prevents that annoying drip from your steam vents and stops spilling and leaking from the unit.
  • Cord Length - Longer cords give you more flexibility and movement to get the job done.
  • Continuous Fill - Allows you to refill the water tank while the unit is still on.
  • Capacity - The amount of water that the tank can hold on your iron. Higher capacity = Less times you will need to refill.
  • Narrow Tip - The tip of the soleplate is narrower making manoeuvring around buttons and zippers easy.

Ironing Boards

Ironing boards come in all sizes and with different attachments too. Pick one that is most suited for your lifestyle and your iron. Steam generators require space and some ironing board have a slide out attachment that your base unit can sit on that won’t take up your ironing board space. if your ironing load is very minimal, table top ironing boards are the way to go as they are just what you need and won’t take up much storage space.

Still Need Help?

Still have questions? If you are still unsure about what you need, call our friendly customer service on 1300 980 399, or to find the closest Bing Lee to you, visit our Store Locator.

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