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Ironing is seldom one's favourite chore, but buying the right appliance to suit your requirements can make a tedious task a little less so. There are five types of irons to choose from on the market today: dry irons, steam irons, steam/spray irons, steam/spray/shot irons and steam generator irons.

The traditional dry iron is the simplest and cheapest. You just plug it in and adjust the temperature to suit your clothes. It doesn't require any water and offers basic and simple operating features. A steam iron produces better results, as a small amount of hot steam is applied to clothes when they are being ironed making creases disappear faster and cutting down on ironing time. A steam/ spray iron has a button to activate a small water spray at the front that provides extra water when you need, which makes ironing very dry clothes easier. A step up from this is the steam/spray/shot iron that releases a blast of intense steam though its plate directly on to fabric - making things like denim jeans less difficult to press. The best results in the fastest time can be achieved with a steam generator iron, which allows you to apply a constant flow of high-pressure steam throughout your ironing.

For each type, there are then four types of sole plates (the flat bit on the bottom of an iron that actually comes in contact with your clothes) to choose from. Basic aluminium plates are really only good for occasional work, as they can get sticky after a while and may even increase wrinkles in your clothes as you use them, which kind of ruins the whole point of the exercise. Coated non-stick plates rarely becomes sticky and are easier to use as the surface glides over material, preventing any pulls or wrinkles as you are ironing. Stainless steel offers a smoother 'glide' and distributes heat across the plate uniformly, reducing the time you would normally spend ironing â?? but if you're not careful these plates can get scratched by zips, buttons and studs, etc. The best irons come with ceramic sole plates, which provide a durable, non-stick surface that won't get sticky, distribute heat well and also offer a smooth gliding action.

Limescale can be a problem for any appliance that regularly retains hot water, particularly if you live in a 'hard' water area. For an iron it means that over time, limescale can build up inside, blocking steam outlets and reducing the iron's ability to generate the heat levels you need. Obviously, this will never be a problem for dry irons, but all models that use water will eventually need some kind of descaling. While there are many aftermarket anti-scaling products that you can add to the water, it's a good idea to go for a model that already offers a built-in water filtration system that works automatically to prevent limescale build-up, as these models will not only save money on the cost of additional products, but also tend to have a longer lifescale and give you better results for all types of clothes.



Author R. Germain
date added Wed 12 08 2009

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