Flat irons do one thing: they make our clothes look and feel better when we wear them. Buying them should be relatively simple, but in case you need any help, here's a guide on what to look for.
One of the most glaring nuisances of an iron is the cord. You can't escape the fact that you would have to manage the cord of your iron - unless you buy a cordless iron.
The cord of your corded iron should be as long as possible, just so you don't run into the trouble of having to use extensions cords. Also, you might want to look for pivoting cords - that is, cords that aren't immovably fixed to a certain point on the iron - for added maneuverability.
However, if you do have the budget for a cordless rechargeable iron, then that would surely be a more convenient option. Just check to see the expected battery life of the iron for each charge and compare it to how long it usually takes you to finish your ironing. This would be particularly important if you're ironing clothes for a big family, since you wouldn't want to have to recharge your iron right in the middle of your ironing chores.
The ironing surface is one of the most important characteristics of your iron, simply because this is the part that actually touches your clothes, be they delicate or tough.
The non-stick soleplates that are usually used in flat irons are similar to the ones used in cookware. When you buy an iron, make sure that the surface is indeed flat and with no damage. A non-stick coat for the surface will help you get your ironing work faster as that allows the iron to glide more easily through your clothes.
If you can't get a non-stick iron, at least make sure that its soleplate is made of stainless steel. That will help your iron glide more smoothly as well.
Different people have different preferences on the weight of their iron. They can either be very heavy or delicately light.
Some people prefer very heavy irons because the extra weight does most of the pressing for them. All you would have to focus on with a heavy iron is guiding the iron through your clothes. However, the extra weight may also strain your arm, which could be very tiresome if you iron often or if you would be ironing big batches of clothes.
Some people, on the other hand, prefer light irons so they can control the iron more. While you would have to exert more force to push the iron onto the clothes, especially for tough fabric such as jeans, the iron itself is easier to handle and maneuver. A light iron is also perfect as a travel buddy, especially on business trips where your suits can get all folded up wrong from being packed in a suitcase.
Most of the new models of irons nowadays carry a steam feature. This feature allows you to put a small amount of water inside a compartment in your iron, and the iron can let out the water as steam at a press of a button.
Ironing is much easier when you can use steam, as that can remove wrinkles much easier than regular ironing. The steam can also be used to pre-moisten your clothes before ironing.
As with anything concerning water and appliances, make sure that the water is held solely in the receptacle where it is meant to be contained. This feature is helpful, but it's one more thing to be careful about.
All irons have temperature options that you can adjust according to the fabrics that you are going to iron.
The number of options, however, differs from iron to iron. Some irons offer only three heat options (low, medium, and high, for example), while some have temperature settings from 1 to 10. Some irons even eschew the heat options altogether and instead provide options according to the fabric that you would be ironing, which saves you from the mistake of ironing fabrics on a too-high temperature setting.
Some irons also have an auto-off option, which activates after a certain time. This is a valuable feature, and we strongly recommend you get a model that has this.
For irons with the steam feature, there may also be options on whether you want to iron with the steam or with only the heat of the iron itself.
For corded irons, make sure the cord is long enough for you to not need an extension cord.
For cordless irons, check that the battery life is enough for your usual amount of ironing time.
The soleplates of the iron must be non-stick coated or stainless steel for efficient ironing.
A heavy iron means you won't have to press down so hard with your own effort. But if you travel and want to bring the iron with you, you'd better get a lightweight one.
A steam feature will help to get out the wrinkles from your clothes easier.
Ironing options must include temperature and/or fabric settings.
Now, of course, if you have an iron, you'll most likely need an ironing board as well. If you're going out to buy one, check out our guide on How to Buy an Ironing Board.