Whether you’re traveling for business or pleasure, a good travel iron can keep you looking your best no matter where you are. These handy devices are small enough to pack in your suitcase, and a few even have foldable handles for even more compact packing.
From steam shots to extra-long cords, travel irons come with a number of handy features. To find the right one, you might have to take a good look at not only the types of fabrics you iron but also how many garments you iron while traveling.
If you’re not sure where to start your search, you’ve come to the right place. At BestReviews, we strive to be your go–to site for all of your purchasing decisions. We believe in making informed choices, so we’ve provided a shopping guide to help you sift through your travel iron options.
If you usually iron natural fibers like cotton, rayon, silk, or linen, you’ll need a travel iron with a steam feature. Soleplates made of titanium alloy or stainless steel work better on these materials because the metal provide a sharper crease than ceramic.
Travel iron features to consider
The soleplate is the flat, triangular part of the iron that does the hard work of smoothing out the wrinkles. It can be made of a number of different materials, each with its own advantages and disadvantages.
Stainless steel: These soleplates distribute heat quickly and evenly. Stainless steel is less expensive than ceramic and is pretty durable. However, it can get scratched on buttons or zippers, which can affect the iron’s ability to smoothly glide over the fabric.
Ceramic: These soleplates have a metal base, such as stainless steel, aluminum, or titanium alloy, that is covered in ceramic. Ceramic is an excellent nonstick surface that heats evenly and smoothly glides over most fabrics. Ceramic works well on synthetic materials because it’s less likely to stick than stainless steel or aluminum. On the downside, the dyes used in natural fabrics can stain a ceramic soleplate, and on inexpensive irons the ceramic may crack or peel.
Aluminum: If quick touch-ups are your norm, you might consider a travel iron with an aluminum soleplate. Aluminum is lightweight and inexpensive compared to stainless steel or ceramic, but it tends to stick more easily than other materials.(Video) 📌 TOP 5 Best Travel Steamers 2022
Corded vs. cordless
Cordless travel irons usually come with a charging base, which can add bulk while traveling. These models aren’t as efficient as corded irons, nor can they sustain the high temperatures of corded models. That doesn’t mean cordless irons don’t have their place. If you’re traveling to a destination where you may not have access to electricity, a cordless travel iron will give you a limited amount of ironing time. Cordless models are also nice if you don’t want to be limited by cord length.
The higher the wattage of the travel iron, the quicker it will heat up. If you’re often ironing at the last minute, a high-wattage model will probably work best for you. Irons with a steam feature will take longer to warm, but there are some models that can be ready to steam in as little as 24 seconds.
Travel irons vary in their temperature range. If you know you’ll be ironing delicate fabrics like silk, look for an iron with temperatures around 300°F (148°C). Conversely, if you iron cotton or linen, you’ll need an iron with a high temperature of around 445°F (300°C).
Removing wrinkles from cotton, linen, and other natural fabrics usually requires steam. A large water tank enables you to iron more items before you need to refill. However, capacity isn’t as important in travel irons as the visibility of the tank. A clear tank lets you keep an eye on the amount of water that’s still in the iron.
Steam and steam shot
Travel irons with steam generally cost more, but if most of your clothes are made of natural materials, steam is a must. A steam shot feature can be even more convenient when traveling. With steam shot, you press a button to release one large burst of steam. If you’re in a hurry, steam shot can get things smoothed right before you walk out the door. A vertical steam feature allows you to steam garments while they’re still on the hanger. If you’re worried about damaging delicate fabrics, an iron with vertical steam is your best bet.
Weight and size
There is no standard size for a travel iron, and just because it says “travel” in the description doesn’t mean it’s compact and lightweight. Travel irons can weigh anywhere from 8 to 30 ounces. As you search for the right model, consider how much ironing you do while you travel and the types of clothing you’ll need to iron. Also keep in mind that smaller irons heat up more quickly, but large travel irons work better if you have a lot of clothing to iron because they have a larger capacity water tank.
Ease of use
Digital controls have become more common on travel irons in the last few years. They add to the price but also add convenience. However, travel irons aren’t very big, and sometimes the digital display can be hard to read. If you have poor eyesight, a travel iron with manual controls might be easier to use.
- Long cord: Cord length isn’t usually advertised on travel irons, but you can find ones with a cord over eight feet long that offers extended reach.
- Drip prevention: Water can damage some delicate fabrics. A travel iron that prevents drips not only keep things neat and tidy but also keeps you from getting accidentally burned by dripping scalding water.
- Auto shutoff: Most travel irons automatically shut off after a set period of time.
Some irons have anti-calcification mechanisms that enable you to use regular tap water, but hard water can cause problems for other models. If you have hard water, you might have to use purified or distilled water.
Travel iron prices
You can expect to pay from less than $15 to more than $35 for a travel iron.
Inexpensive: For less than $15, you can find a travel iron with manual controls, dual voltage system, steam shot, and power indicator light. Irons at this price are usually some of the smallest you’ll find on the market.
Mid-range: From $15 to $35, you’ll find slightly larger irons with a few extra features like quick heat times and longer cords. You’ll also find models with dual voltage and some that come with a measuring cup that makes it easier to fill the water tank.
Expensive: If you spend more than $35, you’ll find models with 1000 W of power and several steam options, including steam shot and vertical steam. Some have folding handles to make them more compact when traveling.
For your safety
If you switch from a high to a low temperature, prevent garment damage by giving your iron five minutes to cool before ironing.
If you’re traveling outside the United States, look for a travel iron with dual voltage. Electrical appliances in the U.S. are 100 volts, but in some countries the standard is 240 volts.
A vertical steam setting allows you to remove wrinkles while the item is draped or hanging from a hanger or chair. Vertical steam works well on dresses and the most delicate of fabrics.(Video) Top 8 Best Travel Clothes Steamer 2020
“UL” or “ETL” stamped on a travel iron indicates that it has passed third-party safety tests. These tests are not required, and manufacturers have to pay extra for their products to be tested.
A temperature indicator light lets you know when the iron has reached the correct temperature. This is helpful, especially if you’re waiting for the iron to cool.
Q. Do travel irons come with a warranty?
A. Most, but not all, travel irons come with a warranty from the manufacturer, though the length of coverage varies. Look for an iron with at least a one-year warranty, although the longer the warranty the better.
Q. Do I need an adapter for my travel iron?
A. While many models have dual voltage, most will still require an adapter because plug design varies by country.
Q. What kind of travel iron works best for delicate fabrics like silk and chiffon?
A. Delicate fabrics are sensitive to temperature, which means they’re easily melted. You want a travel iron that works well at low temperatures but also has a nonstick surface. A ceramic soleplate will glide more easily than stainless steel or aluminum over delicate fabrics. You may want to look for a travel iron with a vertical steam feature so you can remove wrinkles while your garments are hanging up.