How Does An Iron For Clothes Work

Most modern irons for clotheshave not strayed too far from the "prehistoric" cast iron irons, which had to be heated over hot coals or on a wood stove. The only major innovation is the use of pressurized steam and the emergence of separate steamers without a smoothing surface (like traditional irons).

For the rest, the ironing of the linen is carried out in the same way well known to us: with the help of the heated soleplate of the iron. The innovations consist mainly in the use of the latest materials, control over the quality of heating and all kinds of "chips" that improve the overall comfort of the device.

Let's take a look at irons for clothes devices and see what functions they have, and how much they are needed in everyday use.

irons for clothes


Almost all modern irons have a similar set of functions, which, on the one hand, simplifies the choice, on the other, complicates it. Indeed, among the many similar models, it is not so easy to understand what are the fundamental differences between them, and even more so - to determine how convenient it will be to use this or that model (in comparison with another similar one). What is it like - a modern iron, and what characteristics should you pay attention.

Irons and Steamers

Garment Steamer

Handheld Steamer

Ironing Board

Ergonomics, shape and weight

The simplest is what can be seen with the naked eye. Without plugging the iron into an outlet, we can easily assess its weight and shape - those parameters that largely determine how convenient it will be to use the device for a long time. Most modern models also have a pointed nose. It is believed that irons of this shape are better at smoothing out hard-to-reach areas. There is some truth in this statement, however, in our opinion, this parameter is not decisive. It is much more important how comfortable the iron "sits" in the hand and how comfortable it will be to use it for a long time.

It is also worth remembering about the length of the cord, which should be sufficient for comfortable work. Some models have a ball fastener that allows the cord to turn freely at any angle, which gives an additional degree of freedom when ironing. In some cases, automatic cord rewinding is provided.

Outsole material

The second important parameter is the iron soleplate material. The quality of ironing of various fabrics and, of course, the cost of the device itself depends on the sole material.

Ceramic and metal-ceramic soles can be found on the most expensive models. Such soles not only glide easily over the fabric and do not jam it, but are also difficult to scratch and easily clean if something is burnt to the iron. In addition, ceramics retains heat well, and therefore the heating of such an iron will be more uniform.

The stainless steel soles have an average heating (and cooling) rate. They also glide easily over clothing and are easy to clean. Such soles will be durable and relatively easy to clean. In some cases, steel soles are coated with an additional protective layer-spray.

For cheap irons, the sole can be made of aluminum, a metal that easily conducts heat. Such a sole does not keep warm for too long, but it heats up quickly and does not greatly increase the weight of the iron. Since aluminum is a soft metal, it is easy to scratch and damage the iron: small burrs and nicks in the sole can begin to cling to delicate fabrics, thereby damaging it. In addition, the non-sprayed aluminum outsole leaves shiny marks on wool-containing fabrics.

Teflon sole does not stick to fabric and does not burn through things, and also glides well. Unfortunately, as everyone knows, Teflon is easily scratched, and therefore - such a sole can be damaged by careless ironing in the area of ​​the metal buttons.

Complete with a modern iron, you can find an additional attachment for working with delicate fabrics. This nozzle has a perfectly flat surface and is installed over the sole, thereby concealing possible temperature drops and protecting the fabric from accidental drops.

Iron power

The power of the heating element of the iron determines not only how quickly it will be ready for use, but also the ability of the device to maintain the set temperature for a long time. Cheap models will require additional warm-up time during operation, while more expensive (and more powerful) ones will be able to work for a long time without pauses. Irons can be easily divided into different categories depending on their power:

  • power up to 1500 W can be found in compact travel irons or in small household irons designed to perform only the simplest tasks;
  • devices with a power of 1600-2000 W will cope well with everyday tasks and can easily fulfill the role of an ordinary household iron;
  • Irons with a power of more than 2000 W belong to professional models, or devices that involve active steam treatment (after all, a significant part of the electricity is spent on the evaporation of water).

Water: spray, steam and steam boost

Almost every modern iron has a water container. However, the way this water is used can vary significantly. The easiest option is to spray water on your clothes using a special button. If the iron supplies steam during ironing, you need to pay attention to the presence of a special steam supply regulator. With its help, you can not only reduce water consumption (and therefore spend less time refueling the iron), but also adjust the steam supply exactly in the amount that is required for a particular fabric. The steam itself is supplied through many holes in the sole: in theory, the more there are, the more evenly the clothes will steam.

We should also mention the function of steam boost. With this mode, the iron delivers a powerful jet of steam under pressure, which smooths out creases. Very convenient and efficient.
Finally, the most powerful and advanced models can deliver steam continuously.

For each iron, the water consumption in each of the described modes is indicated. The general rule here is simple: the more water the iron consumes per unit of time, the more “complex” fabrics it can handle.

Typically, the continuous steam flow rate ranges from 10 to 150 grams per minute. For processing ordinary clothes, 25-30 grams per minute will be enough, and for more durable and difficult-to-smooth fabrics, you will need a water flow of 80 grams per minute. More powerful irons are predictably equipped with a larger water tank, which inevitably affects the ergonomics and weight of the appliance.

A steam boost will require an average of 90 to 150 grams of water per minute, but the flow rate in this case will be non-linear: after using the steam boost function, the iron will be “recharged” for some time (15-30 seconds).

Separately, we note the presence of a vertical steam function in some models, which allows you to turn the iron into a simple steamer, suitable for quick processing of things hanging on a hanger.

Additional functions

An important function for the safe use of irons is automatic shutdown when not in use. Almost all modern models have this option: the heating is turned off when inactive for a few seconds. For the most suspicious, some manufacturers (for example, Redmond) build in a "remote control" function that allows you to check the status of the iron remotely using your smartphone. Thanks to this possibility, the user can make sure that the iron is turned off, even leaving home (and, if necessary, turn off the device remotely).

Newer models of irons include anti-lime rods that are inserted into the body. Such rods prevent the formation of scale on the heating element (and it is scale that is the main cause of breakdowns).

The presence of an anti-drip system is useful when ironing is carried out at a low temperature (in this case, when steam is released, a few drops of water may spill onto the clothes).

Finally, let's mention the dry ironing mode. As you know, some fabrics cannot be steamed as they can stick to the soleplate or tear. They must be ironed at a low temperature and without using steam. By activating the dry ironing function, you can provide the most gentle mode for such clothes.

When you need to iron a whole mountain of things. It is steam irons that can make work simple and comfortable. The released steam allows you to quickly remove wrinkles, dents. Devices of this type will be just a godsend for housewives. But still, before purchasing a steam iron, you should carefully study its important features

Principle of operation

Conventional irons smooth out due to the contact of the heated soleplate with the surface of the fabric. But the working process of the steam device is carried out in a completely different way.

In order to understand how a steam appliance works, you should carefully consider its iron device and several important components:

  • The device has a container with a heating element;
  • The container can be inline or standalone;
  • Water is poured into the container, which, under the action of electrical energy, heats up and turns into a state of steam;
  • There are holes on the surface of the sole of the iron, through which steam comes out;
  • When smoothing, steam enters the structure of the fibers of the fabric and smoothes them.

How Does A Steam Iron Work? 

It can work unsupported and can be easily used to straighten things in an upright position. Clothes are hung on a coat hanger or hanger and step-by-step steaming is carried out using the device. To remove bruises with the steam iron, you can iron one side.

steamer irons

Positive and Negative Characteristics

The steam iron has many positive qualities, for this reason, these appliances are very popular among consumers.

The advantages include the following qualities:

  • All types of treatment can be performed with a steam iron. In order for there to be effective smoothing, it is worth choosing the correct vaporization mode;
  • During use, the risk of damage to the product is kept to a minimum. Compared to a conventional iron, the sole of a steam appliance does not touch the surface of the fabric. It follows from this that it cannot harm the product;
  • The steam appliance can easily smooth things with snakes, beads, buttons, locks and others;
  • It can be used without ironing board. The thing can be hung on a coat hanger or hanger and ironed in an upright position;
  • Convenient to use for steaming curtains and other large items by weight;
  • Devices with a steamer are good for health. They are often used to disinfect things - when the steam acts on the fibers, all microbes and bacteria are completely destroyed;
  • Cleans things and furniture, removes unpleasant odors.

The main disadvantage of devices with a steamer is their high price, in many stores they cost an average of 2500 to 25 thousand rubles. Compared to other models, it is quite expensive. Some devices with a lot of functions are huge in size, which creates some difficulties in use.

Varieties of Steam Irons

There are 3 types of steam irons that have distinctive features. In order to choose the right device, it is worth first studying the important criteria for each type.

There are the following types of irons with a steamer :

  1. Steam type irons with horizontal smoothing, they can also be used in vertical position. The device has a container for liquid. During switching on, the liquid enters the heating element and is heated with the help of electrical energy. Then it goes into a state of steam, it comes out of the holes on the surface of the sole of the iron;
  2. Appliances with a steam generator(steam stations). The design has a boiler with a volumetric container for liquid, an iron and a hose. The connection is made by means of a steam transfer hose;
  3. The device includes - a floor-standing steam generator, a steam hose and a nozzle-iron. Some models may have different brushes. With the help of the device, you can iron various clothes, as well as iron textiles. The models cannot be used to flatten things in a horizontal position.

Main characteristics

How to choose an iron for home use? To do this, you need to study the important qualities of this device. Devices of this type can have a number of important qualities, due to which a comfortable and easy ironing of things is carried out.

Power indicator

Power affects the speed of the heating element's working process, the volume of steam released depends on it, also determines the indicator of electrical energy consumption.

For home use, a device with a power of 1800-2000 W will be suitable. It is suitable for ironing thick or thin fabrics. Low wattage devices may simply not be able to handle thick fabrics.

Boiler volume

The duration of the working process of the device depends on the indicator of the volume of the boiler. Accordingly, the larger the container, the longer the working process of the device will be. Simple irons with a steamer function have a small capacity - 200-250 ml. If the device is to be operated with a steam supply, then it can be enough for about 15-20 minutes.

Larger steam generators have a larger tank. Usually they have a container with the ability to hold liquid up to 1-2.5 liters. These devices can operate in continuous mode with the release of steam for 1.5-2 hours.

Workflow mode

Almost all models of steam irons have a useful function - the ability to regulate the strength of the steam supply. It can vary according to the type and structure of the material. But it should be borne in mind that its presence has a great impact on the cost of the device.

Some models may have steam boost. This function has the following characteristics:

  • the effect of a steam boost consists in the fact that in a short time the steam comes out under high pressure;
  • for simple devices, in one minute, on average, steam comes out about 10-80 grams, and when heatstroke is working, up to 140-300 grams can be released during this time;
  • This function allows you to smooth out large creases that form on things and thick fabrics.

Other useful features

On sale you can find models, the functionality of which includes additional functions that simplify the ironing process:

  • the presence of an anti-drip system that blocks the formation of condensation. It usually leaves stains on clothes, makes them wet;
  • there may be an automatic shutdown, provided that the user does not work with the device for more than 15 minutes;
  • an indicator that monitors the level of liquid in the container;
  • filter systems that allow you to add tap water to the container;
  • descaling system;

Sometimes a special program is provided that allows you to add water while the appliance is running.

Garment steamers

Garment steamers perform a function similar to irons - they smooth out creases in clothes. However, they are not a full-fledged substitute for an iron, since they are not able to cope with complex clothes. But using a steamer will be easier and faster on average. Such a device is ideal for “freshening up” clothes after wearing or for processing simple items such as sportswear, T-shirts, jumpers, etc.

garment steamer

Steamers: manual and vertical

A handheld steamer is more like a conventional kettle. This is not surprising: the design differences between these devices are insignificant. Such a device has a very small water tank, which is enough to process only a few things - it can work no more than 10-15 minutes

Such a device will be compact and mobile, but, alas, it is not suitable for regular processing of clothes. Therefore, it makes sense to go straight to more serious models - vertical steamers - serious devices that resemble a vacuum cleaner in appearance. It is equipped with a special telescopic stand with hangers and a small iron, which is connected to the device itself with a steam hose. Irons can be made of plastic, metal or ceramic. It is believed that metal and ceramic irons are better than plastic ones: after heating, they do not cool the steam, and also provide an additional smoothing effect.

We will place household steam generators in a separate category that allow the connection of an iron. Such a device has an impressive reservoir and can supply steam for a long time. Such a steam generator is used for cleaning premises, as well as during repair work. The iron, connected with a special hose, in this case acts as an additional accessory and is often not included in the kit. Such a steam generator is usually designed for horizontal ironing, but it can also work in a vertical position. The operating time of the device can be up to an hour or more.

Steamer power

As in the case of irons, almost the main criterion for choosing a steamer is its power. It depends on the power how much steam the device can produce per unit of time, and how often it will have to "rest". The models available on the market can be conditionally divided into three groups: for light fabrics (synthetics, chiffon, silk, fur), for complex and natural fabrics (linen, cotton) and for professional use. The more "professional" model we consider, the higher its power will be. For full-fledged home use, it would be recommended to pay attention to systems with a capacity of 1.5-2 kilowatts.

The stationary steamer will be ready to work in a couple of minutes after switching on, after which it will provide continuous operation for 20-30 minutes, which will be very convenient when processing large amounts of clothes. You will have to pay for this with the impressive size of the device itself.

Steam flow rate

As with irons, steamers have such a parameter - steam flow rate. For "serious" stationary ironing stations, it can be about 150 grams per minute, for simpler ones - 40-50 grams per minute. The maximum steam pressure can also vary significantly - from 1 to 6 bar. It is clear that these parameters will significantly affect the quality of garment processing. It is believed that 3 bar is sufficient to handle most types of fabrics.


The modern market offers us two types of fundamentally different devices that perform the same task - ironing clothes. These are traditional irons (with steam) and separate steamers. In some cases, these solutions are combined (the steam station can act as a vertical steamer or use a plug-in iron).

If we talk about comparing these devices, then irons are better suited for smoothing "complex" clothes that have many areas that deserve careful ironing (shirt collars and shirts, etc.), as well as for processing large items (sheets and duvet covers). Steamers are more likely to “freshen up” clothes and remove minor wrinkles: they will do well with simple tasks such as smoothing T-shirts and jumpers, but shirts and shirts will most likely have to be tinkered and take more time to process.

The choice of this or that device is determined by the tasks that it will have to perform and the quality of the fabrics: the more difficult the fabrics to process, the more "advanced", powerful and multifunctional device should be considered for purchase. So, in particular, one of the good and understandable indicators will be the rate of water consumption during the formation of steam: the more water an iron or steam generator can evaporate per unit of time, the harder and more complex fabrics can be smoothed with its help.