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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

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Comments
Member

Cordless drills and toothbrushes are certainly worth having but I am quite happy with my Philips corded iron. The only thing that annoys me about the cord is that it wears and has to be replaced periodically. That’s not a difficult job, but finding suitable heat-resistant flex is not so easy.

Member

Having lived in older houses power sockets are not always near a space fit for a board. As you say, it can be quite a hunt to find a replacement cord for the iron, though when I last did that I got a longer lead, which made ironing a bit more convenient.

I also swear by the metallised ironing board covers for taking some of the faff out of ironing.

Member
Sunsprake says:
24 January 2014

My wife says that the cords are now always too short, insufficient length to reach from the socket to the end of the ironing board even when close and I always appear to replacing the cords because of premature wear

Member

A cordless iron is a great idea, but I won’t be investing in one until the price comes down.

Member
Rita Waters says:
14 February 2013

A steam iron that removes all the wrinkles first time, stays hot and does not constantly have to be refilled with water – even though I use water from when I defrost my fridge and freezers which is, in effect, distilled water – and very much reduces limescale build-up and makes my iron last for years.

Member

I have had a Phillips Azur cordless iron for about 15 years, I find it works perfectly, and when it rests on the sole plate to which the cord is attached while I am moving the garment round it recharges and really works very well.
I live in a very soft water area and have had no problems with the iron at all.

Member
Roger Buston says:
15 February 2013

I have a TEFAL Cordless Iron , and have had it for must be 10+ years now.

It can be used as either (1) Cordless or (2 ) Corded

It is excellent, even tho’ for the main part I use the same corded.

Unfortunately I have never seen a replacement for it, in that inevitably, one day, it will simply “give up the Ghost” , as all these things tend to do….

Member

Hi Roger,

Tefal have actually just brought out a new cordless iron – the Tefal FreeMove – we spotted it in the shops just this week.

We’ll be testing this model very soon to see how it compares to the new Philips Azur Free Motion. Seems like cordless irons are back in vogue for 2013!

Jess

Member
Marion says:
15 February 2013

I have had a Moulinex cordless iron for many years – about 12 – and have been delighted with it. Last year I decided to purchase a new cordless iron as the Moulinex is beginning to show its age. I bought an iron from Amazon – In-Cuisine cordless/cord steam iron but was so disappointed that I claimed a refund. The iron was difficult to detach from its base and the base was very light and therefore unstable. I am still using my old Moulinex. I would be very interested in this Philips model, although it is rather pricey. I do not relish the thought of returning to a cord iron.

Member
Odessa says:
17 May 2014

I, too, have had the Moulinex for more years than I care to remember, and it’s still working well, but I dread the day when it doesn’t as there seems to be nothing comparable in the market place at present.
Without the limitations of a cord, you can use it left or right handed, and it has much more flexibility to get around awkward pleats, etc.
Personally I don’t use the steam – I only ever did that at the beginning, but found it spat out a bit, so if I need ‘steam’ I damp the clothes with a spray bottle, and away we go.
There has never been any problem with the sole plate getting cold if you replace it on the base instead of on the end of the ironing board as you normally would do when moving the material to be ironed.
It was such a brilliant concept – why did they stop making it?? Perhaps it was too good and lasted too long?!?

Member

an uncorded dry iron would be even better

Member
Edward Crooks says:
16 February 2013

My problem with cordless irons is the same one as I have with corded irons – they are unnecessary!

Ironing is just a waste of electricity and should be eliminated.

Think of all the scarce resources that would be saved if the world stopped producing irons and ironing boards. Millions of tons of carbon must have been pumped into the atmosphere over the years just because it would be “nice” to see smoothed cloth.

It is not beyond the wit of man to provide non-iron material for any use, in fact such material already exists and is in use. In the meantime, while we wait for wide spread use on non-iron material, I would suggest that everyone should renounce the use of the iron and be proud to be crinkly, for the sake of the environment!

Edward Crooks

Member

I am all in favour of cutting down on waste of electricity, but I can point out a couple of problems, Edward.

Ironed clothes have been considered desirable for many years, so trying to persuade everyone to stop ironing is unlikely to work. Attempting to do this could even be counterproductive.

One way to get rid of the wrinkles without ironing is to use a tumble drier, and that is a great deal more wasteful than ironing clothes.

Ironing helps make older clothes look more presentable, so if the alternative is that they are thrown out, that could be more environmentally damaging than ironing them.

Member
Edward Crooks says:
16 February 2013

Wavechange,

Being hard is not a reason for not doing anything. The idea of being a Crinkly will catch on. I have been talking to many people, most agree, ironing is something we can do without.

Edward Crooks

Member

You can be a Crinkly if you like but if you are serious about saving electricity there are more effective options than abandoning the electric iron, cordless or otherwise.

Member
bibby says:
16 February 2013

a very good idea, most things will soon be cordless.however i will wait for the price to drop.thate quite expensive

Member

We love our cordless irons, one regular and one light travel size; my husband does most of the ironing and find it works very well. You have be aware that it needs to be returned to the rest to heat up but less chance of burning delicate items. When I have to use a corded iron I get irritated with the cord dragging across the clothes and being almost ambidextrous i like the move the iron from hand to hand. The best irons cost about the same as a cordless so to me it is good value and I am delighted to see they are back on the market again.

Member
Peter Hulse says:
17 February 2013

The problem with corded irons snagging is not so much the iron, but the ironing board on which they snag. It wouldn’t be difficult to design an ironing board without a crevice in which the power cord can get stuck, but no-one seems to;

Member
Kentish Lass says:
18 February 2013

20 odd years ago cordless irons were common. I don’t know why they stopped making them. It’s so much easier not having a cord that gets in the way of large items like duvet covers. Thank goodness a cordless model is available again. But they’re certainly not a new idea!!!!!!!!!

Member

I suspect that the move from dry irons to steam irons is the reason. Producing steam will cool the iron due to the amount of heat used in converting water to steam. I remember my school physics teacher telling us about latent heat of vapourisation.

A cordless iron must store heat – like a storage radiator but without being too heavy. It is no surprise that the cordless iron mentioned in the introduction is not as good at producing steam as some corded irons.

Member
SARJEN says:
18 February 2013

I have had a cordless iron for years, and would never go backwards.
There’s a bit of waiting involved as it re-heats, but it is so much easier to manoeuvre. I’m small, so my clothes are as well; there are lots of small areas which are only big enough for the tip of an iron, before I wiggle it round into the next small space. Cordless is ideal for this.

Member
smudge says:
18 February 2013

I’ve happily used my Philips cordless (steam) iron for over 15 years and find it very manoeuvrable. As I detest ironing the ease of use afforded by being cord-free is a boon. Wouldn’t be without one and am delighted that a replacement has appeared on the market.

Member

Hi Jess, I’m struggling to remember the corded toothbrushes 🙂

Member

Ah – I see. The toothbrush detaches from part with the cord. That makes it more convenient. 🙂

Member

An iron that stays at the temperature that you select.

Member

A cordless iron is next on my list. Most irons are as good as each other with people only paying more for minor features. A cordless iron however, makes a hell of a difference.

Member

“What do you want most from your iron?”
Since our iron has been accidentally left on for long periods, (once overnight!), we always ensure that replacements have an automatic switch-off after 5-or-so minutes of inactivity.

Member

I would like to see a steam iron that does not spit water out occasionally which can stain the fresh laundry, almost every steam iron I have used has this fault at some time despite descaling/cleaning frequently.

Member
DebbieG says:
24 January 2014

I got a Philips cordless steam iron 25 years ago when I went away to university. I love it and it’s still going strong now. My mother reckons this is because it has so rarely been used! Plug sockets aren’t always conveniently situated for accessing the ironing board in a small flat, so cordless is brilliant. You can also use it with the cord if you want. It heats up fast either way. I was amazed to find they don’t make them any more.

Member

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!

Member

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:

http://www.which.co.uk/home-and-garden/small-appliances/reviews/steam-irons/

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:

http://www.which.co.uk/home-and-garden/home-appliances/guides/how-to-buy-the-best-steam-iron/

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

Member

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.

Member

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.