/ Home & Energy, Technology

Steam irons: would you pay more for cordless?

Philips GC4810 cordless iron

From drills and toothbrushes to the hand-held vac, it seems most tools and appliances eventually go cordless. And the humble iron is no exception – we’ve just seen the first cordless model in our test lab.

So – a cordless iron – what a great idea. There won’t be a power cord getting in the way, snagging on clothes and wrinkling the areas you’ve already ironed.

It sounds like it’ll make ironing easier all round. And this is exactly what Philips claims its new Azur GC4810 2-in-1 cordless steam iron offers. But is it any better – or worse – at getting creases out of clothes than its corded counterpart? And is it worth paying more to have one?

New iron on the block

When this shiny new iron arrived at our offices, I have to admit I was sceptical. After all, what are the chances that a cordless iron can generate enough power to keep steaming? Or keep its soleplate hot enough to banish creases?

The clue is in how the iron is designed to be used: you detach the power cord to iron everyday garments, and switch back to corded mode (when it’s resting on its docking station) for tackling thick fabrics and stubborn creases. But this sounded like far more hassle than the inconvenience of a power cord, to me.

But I’m pleased to say that, when I got it home, my scepticism proved unfounded. Cordless ironing is great – it’s so much easier to change the direction of movement, slide the iron along the full length of the ironing board and manoeuvre it into tricky pleats without the cord getting in the way. It’s powerful enough to smooth really creased cotton, and because it re-heats whenever you rest it on the docking station (which you’ll do frequently as you re-adjust the garment on the ironing board), the soleplate keeps hot and steam levels soon replenish.

Are cordless irons the future?

This iron isn’t without its niggles. For example, you have to lift the corded iron over the docking station to get back to the ironing board and the cord often snags, which is a real pain. But all-in-all I was impressed with this iron’s cordless capability.

But of course, it doesn’t come cheap. If you want to iron cordlessly, it’ll cost you £85 – for which you could afford to buy a couple of Best Buy corded steam irons and still get change. Would you be willing to pay this amount for the convenience factor?

We’re about to revamp our irons test programme, and I’m interested to find out what you really want from your irons. What are the must-haves and the deal-breakers?

What do you want most from your iron? An iron that:

Helps you blitz through the ironing quickly (23%, 351 Votes)

Gives a glass-smooth finish to your laundry (18%, 274 Votes)

Is easy to use (18%, 269 Votes)

Heats up quickly (15%, 223 Votes)

Is light (14%, 216 Votes)

Is cheap to buy (7%, 103 Votes)

Other (tell us in the comments) (3%, 53 Votes)

Is very quiet (2%, 37 Votes)

Total Voters: 581

Loading ... Loading ...

I am in the process of trying to find a good cordless steam iron as I’m a wheelchair user and corded irons are VERY difficult to manipulate when ironing. As I happen to like well pressed clothes, a cordless iron is my next purchase. What a pity I can’t find a reccomendation or comparison anywhere!

Hi RosyLee, thanks for your message – I understand that you’re looking for advice about buying a cordless steam iron.

Which? has yet to test any cordless steam irons, but I’ll certainly pass your comments to our Home Research and Editorial team for their consideration. However, I’m glad to let you know that we’ve tested lots of corded models:


The longer the power cord (around three metres), the more flexibility you’ll have over where you set up your ironing board. So in your position, I’d check this in the specification with the manufacturer before you buy the model.

It’s also best to choose a cord with a ball and socket-style joint, as this lets you rotate the cord out of the way, and they’re less likely to snag on your arms or elbow while you’re ironing. More info can be found at our really useful guide about buying the best steam iron:


All the best with whichever steam iron you decide to buy.

Hi RosyLee,
I have never used a cordless steam iron but my mum has one and finds the reservoir heavy and also very cumbersome when it has water in it. Just something you might want to consider when buying one.

RosyLee – The big problem with designing a steam iron is the amount of energy needed to convert water into steam, which will cause rapid cooling unless there is some way of storing heat effectively. Storage radiators do store heat but a cordless iron using the same principle would be bulky and heavy. A cordless dry iron would not need to be returned to base as frequently.

I think Andrew is right about choosing a corded iron that is designed to be less cumbersome.

Thanks wavechange – I think it’d be handy for RosyLee to buy a steam iron with this feature. It’d offer more convenience and flexibility, especially where one would set up the ironing board.

PAULA says:
15 April 2015

I HATE ironing but I did have a cordless iron some years ago and I can honestly say that it was a joy to iron ….. Never thought I would say this, this is the woman who cried on the ironing board when she got back from honeymoon and had to iron her new Husbands shirts! Well worth spending a little more “£” on…. no more fighting with that darned cord!!!!!! Bliss.

Carol says:
8 November 2015

I had a cordless for more years than I can remember. It has finally died of old age and I’m using a small travelling cordless until a decent full-sized one comes along. Wouldn’t thank you for one with a cord no matter how cheap. Hurry up and test the new ones Which.

AE says:
4 July 2016

I got my Moulinex cordless iron 8 years ago from someone whose mother had to go into care. No idea how old it is. Assumed that’s what everyone used these days. It now trips the system every 3 or 4 minutes, so decided it is time to splash out on a new one. Shocked to find corded ones still in the shops and a distinct absence of cordless. Certainly no intention of going back to corded, so came home empty handed. Maybe I can get mine repaired or convince the landlord the house needs rewiring.

It is likely that the problem lies with your cordless iron and not the house wiring, AE. Repeatedly resetting the RCD or circuit breaker could be asking for trouble.

Similarly I have had a cordless iron for years and years, I’m looking to replace it soon and would never, ever go back to a corded one. It seems very odd to me that cordless are in the minority when one is looking for a new iron, a real step back. Or maybe the step forward was never really made!

This comment was removed at the request of the user

What I find very surprising and in my mind wrong is the inability to find cordless irons on Which?’s results site.
You may well think that they are a category to themselves and should be easily isolated by a single click. I can tell you that Tefal have one in the 127 tested. I suspect there may be a couple more in there somewhere.

Can Which? explain why, despite this Conversation [13/2/13] explaining the difference and readers saying why they like them, they are not readily identifiable in the Reviews?

Reading how to select the best steam iron it would be helpful to discuss calcification a little further and mention that 60% of the UK has hard water so the 40% that does not need not get to worried about it. ! : )

I have lived in a very hard water area most of my life and steam irons quickly block up with limescale, so I have a different approach to ironing. I do the ironing straight from the washing machine, so there is no need for a steam iron. I do have a steam iron but I don’t need to put water in it. It might seem ridiculous to anyone who always uses a steam iron, but do try this approach.

Once upon a time I was encumbered with 14 shirts a week to iron, plus an assortment of other things, so I welcomed the introduction of the steam iron and bought one. I soon got fed up with it running out of steam half way through the ironing and it never seemed to provide enough moisture to get rid of all of the crinkles before I finished the load so I ditched it and went out and bought a small corded dry iron (do they still make them?) which I still use today. I fill an ordinary fine hand spray container (the type they sell at your local garden centre ) with water and spray the clothes with as much water as is needed to iron out the creases.

Result, a crinkle free garment without all the hissing and spitting that emanates from a steam iron.

I know people who use hand-sprays because of the problem of steam irons scaling up and becoming ineffective. I have tried this but find it easier to iron when clothes are still damp, straight out of the washing machine. I don’t think I could cope with ironing 14 shirts in one go. 🙁

I always found ironing clothes straight from the clothes line slightly damp, was much easier than leaving them for a day or two. I have tried ironing them straight from the washing machine but usually end up scorching them as the iron needed extra heat to dry as well as iron them Wavechange! I had a system whereby I aimed for 5 minutes a shirt, although I admit not always achievable but it provided the necessary motivation to complete a job I utterly disliked doing.

I have never experienced this problem but all my clothes are either cotton or poly-cotton. Ladies’ clothing can require more care in washing and ironing because of the delicate fabrics. My motivation is listening to an interesting programme on Radio 4. I also know that if I don’t get the ironing done promptly, there will be twice as much to do. 🙁 When M&S introduced ‘non-iron’ shirts I thought I might be relieved of part of the work but they still have to be ironed.

The “Non-iron” shirt was always a bit of a misnomer, as I discovered after abandoning all attempts to tidy up I usually ended up ironing the whole shirt to reach the required standard. OK for casual wear maybe but not for the office.

Standards must be maintained, Beryl. I would rather do the ironing rather than become a ‘wrinkly’. Though I have a liking for cordless products I have never tried a cordless iron. I’m sure that ironing damp clothes, as I do, would mean that it had to be returned to the base station (or whatever it’s called) quite frequently.

I thought non-iron shirts would be a good idea that would save time and electricity but they are not what they’re cracked up to be. Ironing the flat panels probably isn’t essential, but ironing any seams certainly is as the thread shrinks and puckers in the wash and so the seams and details like the collars and cuffs, placket and pockets needs to be pressed. If doing that you might as well go over the whole garment but the fabric treatment that makes the shirt ‘non-iron’ actually slows down the iron and requires extra steam. Since I find ironing shirts quite satisfying [I aim for 4 mins each, or less for short-sleeved shirts] the non-iron trial is over and the verdict is negative. Ironing blouses is even more satisfying because they have much more difficult features – darts, pleats, loops, epaulettes, buttons, pockets and collar details – and can take all day sometimes.

Wavechange- check this one out and compare it with the picture in the heading!
youtube.com – 1860 Thomas Loring Flat Iron (Sad Iron)

I remember my mother using one of these!

Thanks Beryl. We had a couple which my mother had used when she was young. I don’t know what became of them, but many pubs have them on shelves of historic odds and ends. Flat irons date from the days before synthetic fabrics, so there would be less risk of damage. I had not heard the term ‘sad iron’, so had to look this up.

We still have one in use as a doorstop. Might be handy in the event of a power cut if one had a range in which to heat the iron. Old photographs of formal occasions show people immaculately turned out in well-pressed clothes: remarkable when you consider the primitive equipment available.

When I was young and used to stay with an aunt from time to time the electric iron was plugged into one half of a double bayonet adaptor plugged into the lamp-holder descending from the ceiling rose. The ironing board was positioned directly under the ceiling light and the motion of ironing made the light swing from side to side casting moving shadows around the room. Presumably electric irons were rated at a much lower wattage in those days or the lighting circuit was protected (!) by a fuse wire much higher than the normal 5 amp rating. Obviously no earthing was possible as lighting circuits were only two-core then and light-switches were fairly primitive too. When the ironing was done the iron was detached from the lamp-holder and a vacant bayonet plug was inserted. Bayonet plugs for lamp-holders were widely available as many houses had a lack of power sockets and it was not uncommon to plug a wireless into a double lamp-holder adaptor on a table lamp. The double lamp-holder adaptors were available with switching on the ‘branch’ either using a push-through contact bar [for upright use in a table lamp] , or using a pull cord [for use in a pendant fitting], or without a switch. Amazingly these potentially-hazardous fittings were not entirely phased out until well into the 1970’s when municipal housing replaced much of the older stock or when large-scale home improvement and general rewiring took place as people modernised their homes. I have seen lighting circuits with flaky insulation that was almost perished but still in use and I daresay there are still quite a few fuse boards with wire still in use because hardware shops still sell fuse-wire.

I think I still have one of the switchable double bayonet adaptors, John. I can only remember it being used for two sets of Christmas lights, which were sold with bayonet plugs as late as the 70s. Until we moved home when I was ten, the iron had a round pin plug. My father told me about plugging an iron into a lampholder when he was away from home. The lack of an earth is the biggest danger because the insulation commonly breaks down in heating appliances.

While we are very careful about certain aspects of electrical safety, most lampholders on table lamps and lighting pendant still allow children and adults to poke their fingers and even thumbs in. -:( Thankfully no-one is plugging in irons these days and low energy lamps generally last a lot longer than old-fashioned bulbs.

A common hazard with corded irons is wearing of the heat-resistant cable due to the constant rubbing against the ironing table. I’ve had to change the cable on my iron three times. A cordless iron eliminates the problem. My mother had an alternative solution, which was a metal spring that clamped on to the ironing table, holding the cable far enough away to avoid abrasion. It was branded ‘Singer’, though I don’t know if it was the sewing machine manufacturer.

Here’s a tip, always iron dark and strong colours, black, navy blue, brown, red etc on the inside as this will avoid the sheen you sometimes get on the outside after ironing. This will give a nice matt finish, adding depth to the colour of the garment, avoiding the washed out look occasionally visible on well worn clothes.

Thanks for that tip Beryl. I can’t work out how to do the insides of sleeves though and still get the crease the right way round. I always do the cuffs and collars on the backs to avoid a shiny surface. Under a jacket, the rest of a shirt barely shows.

Not being able to find good plain colour shirts [and not having Michael Portillo’s money for Jermyn Street raiment] I was planning on buying some white ones and dyeing them. Any tips anybody?

Try covering the sleeves right side out with a slightly damp tea towel; that should stop the shine. On the rare occasions I iron creases in trousers that stops them shining.

Incidentally John, your evident enthusiasm for ironing is commendable, and mrs r says drop in any time 🙂

Thank you Malcolm. My compliments to your wife but Mrs W keeps me busy enough for now.

Sounds a useful tip Beryl.

Perhaps Which? could have a laundry corner covering ironing tips, descaling irons, nice ironing boards , is distilled water necessary …..etc – Enquire Within?

I see a recent Philips has wings that you bring out when ironing s***s and a holder for the mobile phone. Good stuff.

I am terrible at ironing. I’ve melted labels on nice shirts, I’ve got horrible black marks on jumpers etc. I now iron my clothes inside out (the clothes are inside out, not me).

You might have an idea in there Diesel…

mrs r tells me that when she was small and about to go to school her blouse collar was creased. Her practical father heated the iron and pressed the collar while she was wearing it to save time. Unfortunately ironed her neck at the same time. Only did it the once.

We (well, mrs r) did try out a clothes steamer as an alternative to ironing; hang the clothes up and simply steam them . It could also steam curtains in situ. It did get the creases out reasonably and should solve the problem of shine on coloured clothes. You’d still need to press pleats and creases. Have Which? ever tested these?

I’m sure we did test these in the past… I remember reading an archive Which? on ‘paper dresses’. I’m not sure ironing those would be a terrible good idea…

I have ironed five and ten pound notes after accidentally washing trousers with money in the pocket. I’m more careful now because money laundering is illegal.

Haha, notes aren’t made from paper though are they? They’re cloth aren’t they? Apart from the new plastic fiver…

I have heard of people hanging clothes up in the shower with you but can’t vouch for its efficacy not ever having tried it! Might be a good idea when on holiday if you omitted to pop a travel iron in your suitcase.

The newer notes survive washing better and don’t need ironing. Plastic notes would melt if they are ironed.

This comment was removed at the request of the user

You should be able find coloured short sleeves shirts aplenty at this time of year John to wear on warmer days without a jacket. Ironing trousers on the inside will enable you to press the seams back into their rightful position that come adrift after washing. If creases are required on trousers after ironing out the wrinkles on the inside, turn them back to the outside and restore the creases with a damp cloth for a really smart finish, minus the sheen. I keep an old tea towel especially for this purpose. I wouldn’t recommend a steam iron to do this without using a damp cloth.

On shirt sleeves you will still get an indented crease even if you iron them on the inside!

PS it’s not half as complicated as it seems, (or should I say seams) 🙂

Thank you Beryl. I can assure you that finding plain coloured short sleeve shirts is far from easy [unless you want pale blue or an insipid pink]. I want strong colours. Most men’s casual shirts look as if they started life as tea towels with their hideous check patterns and I have been asked not to wear them except for decorating. I use those mesh pressing thingies for doing casual trousers but most trousers get dry-cleaned. I used to have formal shirts laundered but I was increasingly disappointed with the results.

Just to add more unwanted information, . . . when I do the ironing I use a standard sized Morphy Richards steam iron on the maximum heat setting but low steam. This seems to be both fast and effective. When the lady of the house does the ironing she uses a huge Philips steam generator iron that seems to use gallons of water and makes the utility room like a Turkish bath. Does an excellent job though and tones the body in the process. When the weather is suitable I like doing the ironing in the garden. Yes . . . I know – I’ve been told that before.

I have just checked my dry iron is made by Micromark MM9746 Batch No 80642. CE 9709 who are small tool specialists and which I am sure will be familiar no doubt to some of the engineering experts amongst us. I have had it longer than I can remember but the above info may shed some light on its true age.

John, I am still trying to establish why you and the lady of the house use different irons!

I cannot find many details online, Beryl, but I see that it is only 1000W, half of the load of some modern steam irons. Steam irons typically use a more powerful heater because of the energy needed to turn water into steam – the latent heat of vapourisation we were taught about at school.

I wonder if Mrs Ward reads through John’s posts while she is ironing. There’s potential for the first husband and wife team on Which? Convo.

This comment was removed at the request of the user

Thanks Wavechange, you have now got me wondering how much I am saving on my electricity usage by using a dry iron?

I would question the amount of ironing (or anything else for that matter) would get done in Johns household if both Mr and Mrs Ward became regular contributors! It’s hard to let go once you become involved with consumer affairs 🙂

Steam irons do use more energy, but it’s not in the same league as a conventional (not heat pump) tumble dryer.

An iron switches on and off to keep it at a reasonably constant temperature, so the wattage shown is the power it uses when it’s heating – usually indicated by a light – and not the average power used.

My top tip is not to try and use an iron until the heating light comes on for a second time. This is because the temperature can go well above the required temperature when first switched on, which can burn fabrics and cause synthetics to stick to the hottest part of the sole plate. Some designs are better than others but this is a fairly common problem with temperature controls using simple thermostats.

Thanks Duncan and Wavechange. I think I bought it about 1980 and it still works. I have been known to have melted the odd synthetic article or two with it, the remains of which are still very much in evidence on its base., so will make sure the light shows up twice to ensure the correct temperature is reached in future. I believe the company are still making small tools Duncan but have ceased making domestic irons, probably due to the strong competition in the market.

This comment was removed at the request of the user

This comment was removed at the request of the user

Duncan – Thanks for the update on iron technology. If the thermostat contacts in a steam iron weld then the iron can get so hot that the aluminium sole plate melts. One of the most memorable covers I’ve seen on Which? magazine showed an iron that had suffered this fate. The manufacturer had obviously not seen fit to plan for thermostat failure and include a simple thermal fuse. A thyristor will avoid the possibility of sparking and contacts welding but a mains spike can short circuit thyristors, as you will know. Anyone with a lighting dimmer that no longer dims will have experienced this problem. I wonder if the current standards for electric irons include thermal fuses.

Goods sold under the Micromark brand seem good value for money and I cannot see any that have been recalled. Their mains extension leads allow plugs to be inserted upside-down, exposing the L and N contacts, but the same is true for products made by other manufacturers. Like lampholders where it is possible to touch live contacts they demonstrate lack of common sense by manufacturers and failure of regulation to address these particular issues.

Beryl – The coating of my iron is worn round the edges and there are a few scrapes but there is no sign of anything having stuck to it and it must be fifteen or twenty years old – a youngster compared with yours. With a previous iron I learned the importance of letting the temperature stabilise because I twice had to clean it with a Scotchbrite pad.

This comment was removed at the request of the user

Just a quick round up on the domestic arrangements in the Ward household in view of the interest shown :

Because Mrs W has difficulty lifting a heavy steam iron I bought a steam generator iron where the operational part is much lighter as all the water and heating element is in the generator and tank part. However, I found it all a bit cumbersome so stuck with the trusty steam iron. There is no doubt that the steam generator iron is very good at pressing and ironing large numbers of items very much quicker as only a quick press on the fabric is necessary without all the repassing of the iron over the same area. The slight downside is that the clothes, bed linen, etc are left much damper so good airing is essential.

Mrs W is not interested in what I write in Which? Conversation and is unlikely to join me in a double act. I agree with Beryl that doing this is quite addictive sometimes but my appearances here are quite erratic as our other activities take priority. I am sure my wife reads W?C from time to time to see what I am doing because current topics seem to magically crop up in our conversations as we are driving along or having a meal.

Steam generator irons are often referred to as ‘cordless’ but the power cable is replaced with a steam pipe. Until recently only real cordless irons are the iron age flat iron, those that use hot coals and ones powered by petrol or butane gas. It’s amazing what you can find in museums.

Jess has mentioned a true cordless iron in her introduction. It would be interesting to explore the challenges and to find out how well the new Philips iron works. The problem with making a true cordless iron is that energy has to be stored without excessive weight or bulk to minimise the frequency of returning the iron to the base. It seems likely that a true cordless iron will have a low steam output because it is making steam that consumes energy and causes cooling of the sole plate of the iron. That is in contrast to the steam generator iron, which can create copious steam. Energy is likely to be stored in something with high heat capacity like the bricks in an electric storage radiator. It seems unlikely that battery technology is good enough to cope with the needs of an electric iron, but I’m prepared to be proved wrong.

My guess without seeing the product or a review is that the Philips iron is likely to be a bit of a compromise but ideal for anyone who hates being restricted by a power cord or steam pipe. Can anyone give us more information than my guesses and are there any other true cordless electric irons on sale in the UK?

Excuse me while I do the ironing. 🙁

WC – the article is from 2013 and there are reviews of cordless irons. The problem is that Which? provide no filter allowing you to see them.

Whilst browsing other sites I notice some complaints that steam generator irons can produce excessive amounts of steam leading to high humidity in a room and a sodden ironing board or a dripping mesh to the floor.

The re-affirms my belief that as ironing is a process all parts of it need to be discussed.

Also noticed when browsing was an iron claiming hygienic powers sing its steam capability. For those worried that the 60C wash is on most machines is now a fictitious claim this may be of interest.

Thanks Diesel. I am still interested in the labelling of washing machines because it is misrepresentation to show temperatures that are meaningless. For those who do not know what we are talking about, the ‘temperatures’ shown on modern washing machines can represent cleaning ability rather than actual temperature.

Back on topic, I always iron pillowcases and tea towels for hygiene reasons. When I left home I ironed sheets until I realised they get wrinkled by the following morning, though I do iron sheets for visitors.

I am amazed after all the years my humble iron has been in use to learn of its origins and many thanks Duncan and Wavechange for your input. I am not at all familiar with the technological aspects of its make up but reference to the plug prompted me to take a look and it was made in the Republic of Ireland. Strangely it has a mini sticker on the base of the plug next to the flex with the words written in red “Micromark Security Tag Do Not Remove”. Both plug and flex appear to be intact and still look as good as new so hopefully it will serve me for a little while longer.

John I was interested to learn of the pros and cons of the steam generator and of its variety of usage. I accept there are occasions in every household when essential duties need to be carried out and the importance of keeping abreast of at least the basic practicalities to survive when one partner is not feeling too well.

Because the topics discussed on Convo affect everyone at some stage, they are bound to crop up in ordinary everyday conversations and my son does sometimes get a little weary of it, but you can almost guarantee when he exhibits his next newly acquired top of the range gadget he will proudly announce “Its a Which? Best Buy” 🙂

Yes, Beryl, but when out of the blue and with no connexion to recent or intended activity the question is raised “Do you think we should get a steam mop?” I have to suspect some extra-mural intelligence! We now have two steam mops, one big, one small, but I still prefer to clean the tiled kitchen floor and the bathroom floors on my hands and knees with floor wipes.

I did not want to ask the embarrassing question about the state of the flex, Beryl, but thanks for volunteering the information. I’m impressed since my younger Philips iron is now on the fourth flex despite me trying not to wear it. A length of proper iron flex costs as much as an iron from Lidl, though I suspect the flex would last longer.

For those who don’t have a cordless or steam generator iron it’s worth checking the state of the flex and plug. With some designs the ‘strain relief’ arrangement to prevent the flex flexing too much where it enters the iron is a weak point. If it fails the wires can fracture and I have seen examples of flex that has exploded due to arcing.

Hi all, we enjoyed your ironing tips and back and forth so much that we rounded up your comments into a new convo 😀 https://conversation.which.co.uk/home-energy/best-ironing-tips-community/