/ 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

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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…