A steam iron removes wrinkles from just about any fabric by application of heat, steam, and weight. Most steam irons come with a setting for fabrics, including silk, polyester, wool and delicate materials, cotton, and linen. Tough materials require the use of higher temperature settings, while the more delicate fabrics are best ironed at low temperatures. The heat, steam, and weight of the iron stretch out the molecules in the material of clothing or cloth. Steam is usually reserved for tougher materials to stretch (i.e. cotton and linen).

Parts of a steam iron

Heat and water resistance

The metal plate on the iron, commonly referred to as a sole plate, is usually made with aluminum. This aluminum plate has been manufactured with a water resistance treatment to the metal. The steam is created by releasing water from the water tank to the heated plate. The water is run through pores in the sole plate so that the water can be applied in a manageable amount. The steamed water is vaporized immediately after it is released from the pores in the sole plate.

Features of steam irons

There is a thermostat embedded in the steam iron to ensure that a constant temperature will be produced when ironing any material. Users can set the appropriate temperature for ironing any material. Before ironing, simply select from a list of materials on the dial of the steam iron. The water tank has an indicator (or a see through plastic surface) for measuring the water level in the steam iron. When you're not sure about a setting for ironing a particular type of material, check the tag or flap on the product. Most clothes have a tag with instructions for washing, which includes the type of materials the clothes are made of.


Most steam irons come with an electrical power cord attached at the side or back end of the iron. The electrical power cord is made of a heat resistant insulation, which also prevents accidental electrocution. The electric power cord often comes with a built in spring that holds the cord away from the metal part of the steam iron for the operator's safety. Some steam irons have additional features. One grade of steam iron may come with an anti-burn control. The anti-burn control will shut off the power to the steam iron when it is left flat on an ironing board for too long. This prevents accidental fires. There are other steam irons that are completely cordless. These latter types of steam irons have a limit to the amount of power they can use or work with. Cordless steam irons are best for light loads of clothing that needs to be ironed. Still, some of the cordless steam irons come with a power saving feature. This power saving feature shuts off the power to the steam iron if it is left idle for a certain number of minutes. A sensor inside the steam iron's sole plate detects whether or not the sole plate is making contact with a material.