If you can’t find the Rowenta SteamForce DW9280 but still want a hefty, high-performance iron and don’t mind spending about $100, the Chi Electronic Clothing Iron is a great choice, especially for crafters and sewers. It performed about as well as the SteamForce in our tests, and it has a 30-minute auto-shutoff time, the longest of any iron I’ve tried (most are about eight minutes). This feature makes it ideal if you continuously go back and forth from your sewing machine to your ironing board and don’t want your iron to shut off too quickly. It weighs about 3.3 pounds, more than the Maytag M400 and the Black+Decker Allure D3030 but less than the Rowenta SteamForce. We chose the SteamForce as our upgrade pick because of its long history of reliability, but we’ll be long-term testing the Chi to see how it holds up over time.
The Rowenta Eco-Intelligence DW6080 is one of the best-performing Rowenta irons I’ve tested. This company’s German-made irons are notoriously leaky, but this model didn’t leak at all in our 2019 testing. It also produced one of the smoothest steam streams, with no spurts or interruptions. It has a lot of fancy options, including an “eco-intelligence” mode that’s supposedly more energy efficient, but we found them confusing to use. I just turned it on, and it worked beautifully. It usually costs about as much as the SteamForce and performs about as well (maybe even slightly better), but the controls are much less intuitive, and we just don’t know whether this iron is as reliable as the SteamForce. For such an expensive iron purchase, we’re sticking with our proven upgrade pick right now, but we’ll long-term test this one to see if it lasts. If you want a Rowenta and can’t find the SteamForce, this is the next-best option.
The Black+Decker Allure Digital Stainless Steel Soleplate Iron D3040 is a slightly upgraded version of the D3030, our runner-up pick. The main difference is a digital display; it’s a flashy, fun add-on, but it’s a little less intuitive than the controls of the original Allure. The main reason we didn’t pick this iron is that it didn’t perform as well as the Maytag M400 or the Allure D3030: I’ve tested it twice now, and it just doesn’t have as much oomph.
The Shark Ultimate Professional GI505, once a runner-up iron, isn’t bad, but its design is frustrating. The steam burst button is tall and hard to press, and the push-button temperature control is more fiddly than a dial.
We tested the Rowenta Focus DW5080 years ago, and it was fine. In fact, it was our original also-great pick in 2013, and I still see it recommended on notable sites. I retested it in 2019, however, and it was less comfortable to use than any of our picks. The steam button was stiffer to push, and this iron wasn’t as quick to heat up as the Maytag and Black+Decker irons. It also leaked a bit on test fabrics.
The Singer Expert Finish, our original top pick from 2013, feels cheaper than our current picks. I retested it in 2019, and it wasn’t as effective on silks, it left some water streaks on the fabrics, and it was harder to fill.
The Rowenta Steamcare DW3180 took only 36 seconds to generate steam in our tests, but it has no temperature settings; you just plug it in and iron. It wasn’t as quick or as powerful as other irons I tested in 2017, and the steam burst button is on the far right side of the handle, so unless you’re a lefty it’s uncomfortable to use.
I used to own the Rowenta Professional DW8061 and had major problems with it leaking. The unit we tested in 2017 was no different: It gave off a good amount of steam, but the leaks became too problematic for delicate quilt work or favorite clothes.
The Sunbeam Steam Master GCSBCL-202-000 has a retractable cord, a great feature if you want easy storage. It’s one of the least-powerful irons I’ve tested, but for an iron that often costs less than $20, it isn’t bad.
The Rowenta Everlast DW7180 leaked right away during our testing, and there’s no excuse for a $100 iron to leak straight out of the box. It also was the least effective iron in our 2017 testing for getting out wrinkles.
The Maytag Smartfill Digital Iron and Steamer M1200 is the digital offering in the Maytag line, and it was disappointing when I tested it in 2017. Instead of a dial, it has three lights with a button to select low, medium, or high temperature. In my tests, the buttons seemed to beep at random, and even after reading the manual, I struggled to identify all the noises or how to stop them. The iron took a long time to heat up and wasn’t as good as our picks at flattening wrinkles.
The Shark Lightweight Professional GI435 (now discontinued) was terrible, which wasn’t a huge surprise for an iron so cheap ($25 at the time of our research). As soon as I started testing, it left a scorch mark on a T-shirt, with hardly any pressure.
I hated the Black+Decker Vitessa Advanced Steam Iron ICR2020. It was hard to fill, it was uncomfortable to hold, and the steam was flimsy and ineffective. It’s only 1,200 watts, lower than we recommend—and in our tests, using it was a good reminder of the importance of a more powerful iron.
We brought in a PurSteam Professional Grade 1700 Watt Steam Iron for testing and then discovered it was discontinued.
In past years we’ve also tested and dismissed the Hamilton Beach Chrome Electronic Iron 14955, the T-fal Ultraglide FV4495, the Panasonic NI-E660SR, the Black+Decker Digital Advantage Professional Steam Iron D2030, the Oliso TG1050 Smart Iron, and the discontinued Panasonic W950A, Reliable V50, Maytag Premium Analog, and Rowenta Effective Comfort.