What are the different types of irons? Mastering how to iron a shirt properly and which Iron setting to use for a certain fabric isn’t enough to make the ironing task effective and a little easier. You must also choose the right type of iron that will work best for your needs. That’s why irons have evolved since their discovery; they need to keep up with the changing human needs and technological advancements. So let’s talk about the various types of irons based on several categories.
Types of Irons
When we talk about the various types of irons used for fabric today, we should divide them into several categories according to basic but essential features. This way, it’s easier to tell them apart and choose which one works best for you.
The five categories we’ll focus on, and the irons under them are:
- Power Source: Corded vs. Cordless Iron
- Temperature Control: Automatic vs. Non-Automatic Iron
- Type of Heat: Basic Clothes vs. Steam Iron
- Sole Plate Material: Ceramic, Stainless, vs. Titanium
- Portability: Foldable vs. Mini Iron
Types of Irons According to Power Source
In the past, people used coals, sand, heated metal inserts, and bricks to power up their fabric irons. Similar to any other appliances and tools, electricity made things more convenient, leading to the invention of electric irons.
As the name implies, a corded electric iron has a cord attached to it with a plug at the other end that you use to insert into an electric outlet to power the iron on and use it.
The good thing about these types of iron is that you’re assured of constant heat because it has a continuous power source. Thus, you can iron without needing to stop because the iron holds its heat.
With its heat retention capabilities and weight, removing creases and wrinkles and creating pleats would also be quicker. Another great thing is that there’s a wide selection of cord irons, so you can find one that fits your budget perfectly.
However, the cord can sometimes get in the way of your task since it can snag and tug the fabric. Plus, the cord makes storing the iron a bit more complicated since you’ve to make sure you keep it out of the way without causing any damage to the cord. You also have to keep in mind that the iron’s cord will fray after several uses, which poses dangers once the cable inside gets exposed.
On the contrary, cordless irons usually get their power from a charging base, which means the cord is attached to it instead of the iron itself.
Using a cordless unit will make ironing easier since you don’t have to worry about any cords getting in your way. These irons are also lighter than corded ones, so they’re easier on your arms and wrists, so you won’t feel as tired as when using a corded unit. Being lightweight, you can also carry the iron around, even during your travels, without hassles.
That said, the iron being lightweight isn’t entirely an advantage; it can also mean that it’s less effective in removing creases and wrinkles. That’s because pressure is one of the factors needed to achieve a crisp and smooth fabric, and corded irons can provide that better.
Additionally, the heat produced isn’t as hot and constant as the corded iron’s heat. You would also need a space to put the charging base since you should constantly place the iron on top of it. A cordless iron is also more expensive than a corded model.
Types of Irons According to Temperature Control
Temperature control is a critical factor when it comes to ironing since different fabric types require different temperatures. This is where automatic and non-automatic irons differ.
A non-automatic iron only has one temperature control regulator, so you should turn the switch on or off to supply the iron with the required heat. Since there is a higher risk of burning fabric if you’re not careful, this type of irons isn’t as common as automatic units. That said, it’s far more affordable.
Automatic fabric irons have a thermostat switch for heat regulation, allowing you to set the temperature at a predetermined value. Once the iron reaches the said temperature, it automatically disconnects the electrical supply and then reconnects when needed or when the iron starts to cool down.
As such, you’re assured that as you iron your fabric, it doesn’t receive too high or too low of heat necessary to remove creases and wrinkles without burning it. These irons also have a pilot lamp that lights up when the predetermined temperature hasn’t been reached yet and turns off when it does. With all these great features, though, automatic fabric irons come with a mid-range to a high price tag.
Types of Irons According to Type of Heat
Next on our list of the types of clothes irons are the basic flat iron and steam iron. Keep in mind, though, that the steam iron is different from the currently popular clothes steamers.
Basic Clothes Iron
The basic clothes iron uses dry heat to do its job, but you can have a spray bottle with water to slightly moisten the fabric and remove wrinkles and creases better. Being a basic iron, it’s corded and non-automatic; hence, it’s inexpensive.
Aptly named, this type of iron uses moist heat or steam. It has the general parts of a basic clothes iron but is usually automatic and available in corded and cordless models. Other additional parts are those that allow the unit to produce steam, such as a water tank, button to release steam, and additional sole plate holes. Some units also have retractable cords for easy storage.
You can use this iron in two different ways:
- horizontally like a typical clothes iron without the need to use a spray bottle,
- or vertically similar to a garment steamer so that you can remove creases and wrinkles on curtains without taking them down.
Types of Irons According to Sole Plate Material
One of the most important parts of clothes irons is the sole plate since it comes in direct contact with the fabric. The material used in manufacturing their sole plate also usually determines the iron's durability, ease of maintenance, and weight.
Irons with a ceramic sole plate ensure quick heat-up, even heat distribution, and static prevention. These irons also won’t stick to the fabric even when set at a high temperature.
Like ceramic, irons with stainless steel sole plates ensure even heat distribution because the material is one of the best heat conductors. Being resistant to rust, these irons have a highly durable and easy-to-maintain sole plate or base. However, these irons are usually on the heavier side.
Titanium is another material that heats up quickly and ensures even heat distribution. It’s also easy to clean and durable while still being lightweight.
Types of Irons According to Portability
Definitely, there would be times when you would need to bring with you a clothes iron, especially during business meetings, conferences, and formal occasions in a different city or state. Although cordless irons can be portable, there are irons specifically designed for traveling.
Since these are modern irons, they already have a steam function and automatic temperature control. Both types are also, of course, lightweight.
As the name implies, you can fold these irons for easy packing without occupying too much space. The way you fold the iron and how they look after folding depends on the model.
You can find models that turn flat once folded, while others have a design somewhat similar to flat iron for the hair but a little bulkier, so you can fold them in the middle. Foldable irons are also available in several sizes, so you can choose one that works best for your needs and wants.
A mini clothes iron is just that: a small-sized unit. As such, you won’t expect this type of travel iron to do the job as efficiently and quickly as the regular and larger portable irons. They’re available in either foldable or non-foldable types. Mini irons are great for small craft projects.
Types of Irons - Which One Should You Choose?
With the various types of irons available in the market, the best unit to purchase is an automatic, corded steam iron. It’s versatile and safe to use; plus, it does the job quickly and more efficiently thanks to the steam.
In case you need a travel iron, a mid-sized foldable iron would be the perfect choice because it can do a better job than mini versions. When it comes to the iron’s sole plate, any of the three would be great and the deciding factor would depend on your priorities.
Whichever iron you choose to purchase, always make sure you use and clean it properly to ensure it lasts as expected or even prolongs its life.