The Best Clothes Irons Under $50

By   

View as:

close up hand of woman ironing clothes on the table
Photo credit: FabrikaCr/istockphoto

FULL STEAM AHEAD

Anyone who wears business or formal attire regularly — not to mention crafters, costume designers, sewers, and quilters — knows the importance of a top-notch iron. But there's no reason to pay top price to give your garments a crisp, finished look. Cheapism.com has identified several cheap steam irons for $50 or less that earn high marks from expert testers and user reviewers alike. We've also included a cheap travel iron and a few pricier picks for those seeking the convenience of a cordless model, or willing to splurge on a ritzier Rowenta iron. Finally, there's our choice for the best cheap clothes steamer, which can also be used to clean carpeting and furniture, freshen draperies, and even sanitize surfaces.

To inform our research, Cheapism consulted professional product tests and user reviews on sites including Good Housekeeping, Consumer Reports, TopTenReviews, The Spruce, Amazon, Walmart, Best Buy, Home Depot, Bed Bath & Beyond, manufacturers' web pages, and others.

The best steam irons can be used with or without steam, produce plenty of moisture when needed, glide easily over material, remove wrinkles from all kinds of fabrics, and set seams and creases with ease. Other features we looked for include a broad soleplate with lots of vents to distribute steam evenly, a precision tip to snuggle up around buttons and into tight spaces, a self-cleaning function to avoid mineral buildup, and a no-drip design (although the latter is rarely failsafe). Nearly all irons have an auto-shutoff feature that shuts them down within 30 to 60 seconds if they tip or are left flat. But upright shutoff times vary from eight to 15 minutes, a potential safety concern for parents of curious young children.

Prices and availability may vary.

Sunbeam Steam Master GCSBSP-201
Photo credit: Courtesy of amazon.com

SUNBEAM STEAM MASTER GCSBSP-201

Good Iron With Retractable Cord Under $50
Est. Price: $25 | Buy it on Amazon

Pros:
- 5 fabric settings; 4 steam settings.
- Retractable 8-foot cord for easy storage.
- Vertical steam feature makes it easy to freshen hanging garments.
- Handle-mounted controls are very simple to use.
- Push-button self-cleaning and anti-drip system.
- 3-year warranty is one of the longest available.

Cons:
- At 1,400 watts, it's less powerful than the best cheap steam irons.
- A few owners complain about leaking, rusting soleplates, and short lifespans.
- Large soleplate makes ironing cumbersome, some say.

Takeaway: Owners love the Sunbeam Steam Master for its retractable cord, even though the on-board storage adds some bulk to this steam iron. Quilters and sewers, in particular, say it's a great crafting iron for the price. Despite its lower wattage, the generously sized holes on its larger-than-average 12.6-inch soleplate provide very good steam disbursement. A cause for concern among absent-minded clothes ironers (but a potential plus for crafters), this Sunbeam's three-way auto-shutoff feature takes a relatively long 15 minutes to kick in when left idle in the upright position. Overall, however, praise for the Steam Master's low price and generally strong performance carries the day.

Black & Decker Allure Professional D3030
Photo credit: Courtesy of amazon.com

BLACK & DECKER ALLURE PROFESSIONAL D3030

More Powerful Steam Iron Under $50
Est. Price: $35 | Buy it on Amazon

Pros:
- 5 temperature settings; 3 steam options.
- Includes vertical steaming feature.
- 12.8-ounce water tank is larger than those on other irons.
- Auto-clean and anti-drip systems.
- 2-year warranty is fairly generous.

Cons:
- At 4 pounds, this steam iron is on the heavier side.
- Some users complain about hot sputtering from steam holes and durability issues.
- The dark tint of the water reservoir can make it difficult to check levels; many say the settings on temperature dial are also hard to read.

Takeaway: The relatively wide stainless-steel soleplate on the Black & Decker Allure Professional D3030 makes quick work of ironing, according to reviews. While its relative heft may be an issue for some, the pressing prowess that comes along with that weight — coupled with 1,600 watts of power and generous steam output — sets this Black & Decker iron apart from many of its budget counterparts. Satisfied owners say it delivers real value for the money, although some suggest that it may have to be replaced sooner rather than later.

Rowenta Steam Care DW3180
Photo credit: Courtesy of amazon.com

ROWENTA STEAM CARE DW3180

Good Cheap Rowenta Steam Iron
Est. Price: $50 | Buy it on Amazon

Pros:
- Temperature and steam output automatically adjust to suit the fabric.
- 350 micro steam holes across a stainless steel soleplate.
- Precision tip makes it easy to iron around buttons and collars.
- Rounded back end for a smoother glide and less catching.
- Strong shot for vertical steam and flat pressing.
- Anti-drip system and anti-scale setting.

Cons:
- Inadequate heat for fabrics like cotton and linen, some say.
- Scattered reports of leaks and sputtering.
- Water level is hard to see, some users say.
- 1-year warranty is comparatively short.

Takeaway: Skeptics doubtful of the ability of an iron to determine optimal fabric settings on its own admit to being duly impressed by this self-adjusting Rowenta steam iron's "smarts" and say it makes ironing clothes incredibly easy. Detractors complain that, even at 1,600 watts, this model feels somewhat underpowered, taking longer than other irons to remove wrinkles and sometimes leaving clothes looking less than crisp. However, most users appreciate its no-burns, no-fuss approach. Both longtime loyalists and new converts to the Rowenta brand insist that the Steam Care DW3180 does not disappoint.

Shark Ultimate Professional G1505
Photo credit: Courtesy of bestbuy.com

SHARK ULTIMATE PROFESSIONAL G1505

Good Cheap 1,800-Watt Iron
Est. Price: $50 | Buy it from Best Buy

Pros:
- 1,800 watts of power exceeds the competition in this price range.
- One-touch fabric selector plus 4 manual settings.
- Vertical steam feature powers out wrinkles from hanging garments and drapes.
- 176 vents distribute steam evenly across the soleplate.
- Auto-clean and anti-drip systems.
- 12.2-ounce tank is larger than most.

Cons:
- At 3.6 pounds, this iron is heavier than many others.
- Some reports about sticky steam buttons, inconsistent temperatures, and leaks.
- Comparatively short 1-year warranty.

Takeaway: Highly regarded by professional testers, the Shark Ultimate Professional G1505 receives somewhat mixed feedback from users. Chief among the complaints is this model's weight and size, although plenty of owners say those are the features that make quick work of ironing chores. Although it has a longer, 15-minute auto-shutoff period, a few reviews complain of the need to wait for the iron to cool completely before it will turn on again. Some reviewers also grouse about a malfunctioning steam button and the usual array of glitches associated with budget irons. But for the most part, fans far outnumber critics, and this Shark iron enjoys support from scores of users who say that it offers terrific bang for the buck.

Black & Decker Digital Advantage D2030
Photo credit: Courtesy of amazon.com

BLACK & DECKER DIGITAL ADVANTAGE D2030

Best Cheap Digital Iron
Est. Price: $40 | Buy it on Amazon

Pros:
- 7 temperature settings; 4 steam settings with vertical steam.
- Digital display is easy to read and adjust.
- Anti-drip system.
- Alert indicates when the iron needs cleaning.
- Feels balanced in the hand and glides smoothly over fabric, according to users.
- 2-year warranty is longer than many others.

Cons:
- Some complaints about leaks and a fragile cap over the fill hole.
- A few owners say the auto-shutoff function is temperamental.
- Weighs nearly 4 pounds.

Takeaway: This 1,500-watt Black & Decker Digital Advantage iron boasts a loyal fan base. With over 5,000 reviews on Amazon (the vast majority of them positive), many users tell of buying replacements after a well-used model finally has run out of steam. Owners like the ease of use, the large surface area of the soleplate, and the wide range of settings, as well as the strong steam output. They say the weight helps eliminate wrinkles and set creases. Professional reviewers tend to agree, awarding points for the relatively low price and strong performance.

Panasonic NI-W810CS
Photo credit: Courtesy of amazon.com

PANASONIC NI-W810CS

Best Cheap Ceramic Iron
Est. Price: $43 | Buy it on Amazon

Pros:
- 5 temperature settings; 4 steam levels.
- Elliptical soleplate with tips at both ends makes it easy to navigate buttons, cuffs, and collars.
- Ceramic soleplate glides very smoothly over clothes.
- Heats quickly and produces a good amount of steam; includes vertical steam mode.
- Anti-drip and anti-calcium cleaning system.
- 360-degree rotating base keeps the cord out of the way.

Cons:
- 6.75-ounce water tank is comparatively small.
- Users say the soleplate tips and upright support "legs" are vulnerable to breaking off.
- Temperature knob location is not ideal, a few reviews say.
- 1-year warranty is comparatively short.

Takeaway: The biggest selling point of this 1,500-watt Panasonic 360 steam iron is its unique dual-tipped construction. Consumers appreciate being able to iron in any direction without stopping. (Left-handed users particularly appreciate this iron's versatile form.) Several say the design eliminates repetitive motion and reduces strain on hands and arms, and at just 3 pounds, this iron is lighter than most. Reviewers also like the smooth, easy gliding and wrinkle-eradicating performance of the ceramic soleplate. We did read several complaints about premature demises, however, and buyers should also be mindful of easy tipping and fragile ends.

Rowenta Focus DW5080
Photo credit: Courtesy of amazon.com

ROWENTA FOCUS DW5080

Best Rowenta Steam Iron Under $100
Est. Price: $77 | Buy it on Amazon

Pros:
- Powerful 1,700-watt iron with category-topping 400 soleplate vents.
- 5 heat and fabric settings, plus automatic steam adjustment.
- Extra-pointy tip for tight spaces; vertical steam feature for hanging items.
- Large 10-ounce water tank with graduated fill lines; water levels are easy to check.
- Self-cleaning, anti-drip, and anti-calc systems.

Cons:
- Some reports of leaks and grousing about heavy water usage.
- At 3.4 pounds empty, some users say iron feels too heavy.
- 1-year warranty is comparatively short.

Takeaway: Rowenta steam irons, with their German pedigree, command a fierce following. No matter the model, the name is synonymous to many with hard-to-beat quality. Reviewers claim the Rowenta DW5080 is a particular champ, gliding over all kinds of fabric, quickly pressing even the most stubborn wrinkles, and maneuvering easily around buttons with its precision tip. The ergonomic placement of the controls right on the handle makes it very easy to adjust. Some balk at the need to refill the tank fairly often — the byproduct of generous steam production — but truly negative reviews of this top-selling, highly rated iron are rare.

Rowenta SteamForce DW9280
Photo credit: Courtesy of amazon.com

ROWENTA STEAMFORCE DW9280

Bonus: Rowenta Steam Iron Worth a Splurge
Est. Price: $106 | Buy it on Amazon

Pros:
- Auto adjusts temperature and steam levels; 5 manual heat settings.
- 400 micro holes in the nonstick soleplate evenly distribute lots of steam.
- Vertical steam feature; extra-powerful burst of steam from an electronic pump.
- Motion sensor reduces steam output when the iron sits idle.
- Easy-to-read LED display tells when the iron has reached ideal temperature.
- High-capacity water reservoir (nearly 12 ounces).
- Self-cleaning, anti-drip, and anti-calc systems.

Cons:
- Some owners report problems getting the steam working properly.
- Tinted tank can make water levels hard to read.
- Users say frequent refills are required.
- 1-year warranty is comparatively short.

Takeaway: Clad in eye-catching blue, the Rowenta DW9280 delivers top-notch performance, experts and thousands of user reviewers agree. Owners say it's a breeze to operate, with its automatic adjustment feature. Like other Rowenta irons, it has a pointed tip to reach tight spots and a nonstick soleplate that glides across clothing. This Rowenta "professional" iron also has some perks its everyday brethren don't share, like a larger water reservoir, digital display, and 1,800 watts of power. Perhaps its biggest selling point: A steam burst that's the most powerful of any Rowenta iron (seven times stronger than the entry-level Steam Care DW3180). With this pricier pick, ironing proceeds quickly and efficiently and, according to some users, no longer feels like a chore.

Panasonic NI-L70SRW
Photo credit: Courtesy of amazon.com

PANASONIC NI-L70SRW

Bonus: Best Cordless Iron Under $100
Est. Price: $69 | Buy it on Amazon

Pros:
- Cord-free operation allows greater maneuverability.
- Vertical steam option makes simple work of hanging clothes and drapes.
- Electronic push-button controls are simple to use.
- Charging base has a retractable cord; carrying case for easy storage.
- Anti-drip system.
- Detachable water tank for easy filling.

Cons:
- At just over 5 ounces, the water tank is much smaller than others.
- Some users complain the iron doesn't hold heat for very long.
- No self-cleaning system.
- Relatively short 1-year warranty.

Takeaway: This cordless Panasonic iron is a winner on the convenience front, especially for quilters and crafters. Users crow about the freedom to move the iron around without the constraints of a cord and the ease of whipping it out for small jobs like touch-ups or pressing a seam. Many say the 1,500-watt Panasonic NI-L70SRW gets hotter than other cordless irons and holds heat well, although some users gripe about having to recharge and reheat too often. At 5 pounds, this cordless steam iron is heavier than many other models, but few users seem to mind. It's got three basic heat settings (high, medium, and low) and three steaming options.

Sunbeam Hot-2-Trot GCSBTR-100-000
Photo credit: Courtesy of target.com

SUNBEAM HOT-2-TROT GCSBTR-100-000

Bonus: Best Cheap Travel Iron
Est. Price: $13 | Buy it from Target

Pros:
- Variable temperature control; shot of steam.
- Nonstick soleplate and pointed tip make it easy to maneuver.
- Weighs just over 1 pound, far less than standard irons.
- Travel case helps make it easy to pack and store.

Cons:
- Drips and sometimes spurts rusty water, according to some users.
- No self-cleaning system, unlike most steam irons.
- No auto-shutoff, which raises some safety concerns.
- 1-year warranty is comparatively short.

Takeaway: This 800-watt Sunbeam travel iron smooths and presses surprisingly well given its light weight and small size, reviewers say. The ergonomic design makes it comfortable to grip and operate. It slips easily into carry-on luggage and works overseas without an external power adaptor — two big pros for travelers. A number of owners say the Sunbeam Hot-2-Trot makes a great second clothes iron at home or at the office, too. Sewers and crafters are also big purchasers and claim it's a good addition to their work rooms. Just be careful of leaks and drips, a frequent complaint against this iron. And although some crafters consider it a perk that the iron doesn't shut off automatically, forgetful users may lament the need to unplug it immediately after use.

PurSteam Elite Garment Steamer PS-910
Photo credit: Courtesy of amazon.com

PURSTEAM ELITE GARMENT STEAMER PS-910

Bonus: Best Clothes Steamer Under $100
Est. Price: $65 | Buy it from Amazon

Pros:
- Heats quickly to 248 degrees Fahrenheit, hot enough to sanitize surfaces.
- Produces 60 minutes of steaming time.
- Large 61-ounce water tank.
- Full-size iron with adjustable height and a variety of attachments to make steaming easier.
- 5-year warranty is longer than other brands.
- Notable for a lesser-known company, users praise PurSteam's responsive customer service.

Cons:
- Pauses periodically to generate more steam.
- No trigger to control steam flow.
- Some complaints about durability.

Takeaway: Clothes steamers, also called garment steamers, are a must for anyone who hates to iron. They excel at removing wrinkles from fine fabrics and freshening business attire and formal wear. Tailors and costume designers swear by them. For the average consumer, the best clothes steamers have a number of other home uses and can come in handy for sanitizing surfaces, cleaning sofas and chairs, removing stains from carpeting, and smoothing draperies. Some highly rated clothes steamers cost $200 or more, but the PurSteam Elite PS-910 performs well for a fraction of the price, satisfied users say — and many back up their reviews with before and after photos. Other than some reports of premature demises, the main grumble about this inexpensive clothes steamer is that it delivers only about a minute's worth of steam before having to pause briefly to generate more.

Cheapism.com participates in affiliate marketing programs, which means we may earn a commission if you choose to purchase a product through a link on our site. This helps support our work and does not influence editorial content.