The best travel iron

Laundering & Fabric Care

Travel irons with an auto-shutoff feature are an easy way to conserve energy and prevent accidents.

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Which travel irons are best?

There’s a lot to remember when packing for a business trip, destination wedding or travel adventure requiring nice clothes. A small but important tool that you shouldn’t forget is a travel iron. You don’t want to show up to your special event in a wrinkled outfit.

Travel irons are compact and a great way to skip temperamental hotel irons and ensure you arrive looking your best. The Steamfast SF-717 Mini Steam Iron, generates major steam despite barely taking up any room in your suitcase.

What to know before you buy a travel iron

Soleplate material

The soleplate is the flat bottom part of the iron that touches your clothes. Soleplates are made of three different materials — aluminum, stainless steel and ceramic — that each have their own pros and cons.

Aluminum soleplates are the cheapest and the most lightweight, but they can also easily stick to other materials. Stainless steel soleplates are a good mid-range alternative, but they can scratch on buttons and zippers, eventually causing problems with ease of use. Ceramic soleplates are the high-end choice, but use caution when working on naturally dyed fabrics so the ceramic doesn’t stain. Aluminum is best for quick jobs while stainless steel and ceramic are best for heavy-duty jobs or more regular travel.

Cord or no cord

Cordless travel irons provide versatility. You can toss one in your car or wardrobe bag, so you don’t have to go all the way back to the hotel to change. They also aren’t limited by cord length or outlet location, a plus if you’re sharing a room.

A cordless travel iron requires a charging station. This can be a bulky nuisance to pack. It will need to be recharged in order to achieve peak performance, and it likely won’t reach the higher temperatures of corded models. Consider where you’ll be using your travel iron the most and whether portability or power is more important to you.

Weight and size

There are no industry standard parameters as to what constitutes a travel iron versus a regular iron. The weight and size can vary greatly by manufacturer, so be sure to check. Travel irons can weigh anywhere from 0.5-2 pounds. Some models come with folding handles, making them easier to pack.

Pay attention to the size of the soleplate as well. A smaller soleplate takes up less room but will take longer to iron clothing. A larger soleplate will work quickly but may crowd your suitcase.

What to look for in a quality travel iron

Steam shot

Travel irons with a steam shot feature give you peace of mind. Steam is the gentlest solution for delicate or troublesome fabrics. Steam is also the best way to fix small problems you might notice right before running out the door.

Look for travel irons with a vertical steam feature, and you won’t even need to take your clothes off the hanger. Just steam your entire wardrobe once when you first arrive, and you’ll be set for the rest of your trip.

Water tank and water requirements

The larger the water tank, the more items you’ll be able to iron or steam before you need a refill. Having a clear water tank that you can see through is key. Make sure there’s no water left inside before you pack your travel iron away. Otherwise, everything else in your suitcase may get wet.

Keep an eye out for travel irons with anti-calcification features. If the water where you’re traveling is particularly hard, you may have to use distilled water, which can mean an inconvenient trip to the store when you first arrive.

Heating time

Think about how you travel and how you prepare for big events. Are you the type of person who gets dressed an hour in advance? Or are you the type of person who waits until the last minute? The former probably won’t have any problems using an iron that takes a while to heat up. The latter may want to look for a model with a quicker heating time. Some travel irons can be ready in under 30 seconds, meaning you’ll be ready to go in no time.

Don’t forget to factor in cool-down time if you’ll be packing your travel iron immediately after use. Many models will have an indicator light when it’s safe to touch again.

How much you can expect to spend on a travel iron

Small, basic travel irons are typically $10-$15. Larger, mid-range travel irons with more features range from $15-$35. Anything above $35 is a luxury model that usually have impressive extras to justify the price.

Travel iron FAQ

Will my travel iron work if I travel overseas?

A. Some models offer dual voltage, but since outlets can vary greatly between countries, it’s important to pack a power adapter just in case. Pack two or three adapters if you have several electronic items, so you won’t be stuck only being able to use one thing at a time.

What type of travel iron is best for silk and other delicate fabrics?

A. You’ll want to invest in a travel iron with a ceramic soleplate. Ceramic glides the easiest over silk and is still effective even when operating at a low temperature. You should also consider a travel iron with a vertical steam feature.

What’s the best travel iron to buy?

Top travel iron

Steamfast SF-717 Mini Steam Iron

Steamfast SF-717 Mini Steam Iron

What you need to know: All the features you could want are packed into a travel iron with a very small footprint.

What you’ll love: This model heats quickly and generates a lot of steam. Temperature is adjustable, meaning you can ensure each article of clothing is ironed at the ideal heat for their fabric type.

What you should consider: Its compact size means it will take a long time to iron multiple pieces of clothing.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon, Home Depot and Macy’s

Top travel iron for the money

Sunbeam Hot-2-Trot Compact Travel Iron

Sunbeam Hot-2-Trot Compact Travel Iron

What you need to know: This is a budget model with a steam shot and dual voltage for international travel.

What you’ll love: This travel iron works great on all types of fabric and comes with a convenient temperature indicator light.

What you should consider: There’s no auto-shutoff feature. Some users say that the integrated handle design makes it difficult to use.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

Utopia Home Steam Iron

Utopia Home Steam Iron

What you need to know: This stainless steel model comes with all the bells and whistles.

What you’ll love: A 360-degree swivel cord makes it super simple to operate. The temperature is adjustable, and it has a safety mechanism to prevent overheating.

What you should consider: This model is larger than most other travel irons.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon


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Frank Paiva writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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