Terms of the Trade: What is a Steam Iron Press?

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A fast alternative to traditional handheld irons, steam iron presses press clothes with dual plates that close together by hand-operated lever. Rather than run over a garment, an iron press can smooth an entire area in one go. Steam iron presses typically feature plates 30 to 35 inches in length, speeding up the morning ironing ritual.

Basic Design

Ideal for quickly pressing pants, shirt sleeves, blouses, skirts or other garments, a steam iron press usually consists of dual, horizontally-mounted pressing plates, both of which feature numerous steam pores. Select presses designed for pants come with a vertical configuration. A frame supports the plates while providing a stand, so it may be conveniently set atop a countertop, washing machine or even an ironing board. An easy-to-lower handle brings the top plate together with the bottom plate, creating the precise steaming area. In addition to the main structural elements of a steam iron press, a water reservoir and control panel fill out the design.

Vertical pants and garment presses work in a similar fashion, except they stand upright. A garment or pair of pants is placed between the presser plates the brought together. They include an integrated hanging rack to hold the garment in place during steaming.

Steam Press Options

Manufacturers that offer steam iron presses include Hammacher Schlemmer, Singer, Vornado, Kalorik, Smartek and Reliable. Prices range from roughly $150 to $500. While more expensive than a household, handheld steam iron, presses work faster, saving precious time in the mornings before work. Equipped with many of the same features found on the most comprehensive steam irons, full-size presses may include digital controls, a large water reservoir and an automatic shutoff safety feature.

Common Features

Digital steam iron presses may feature a backlit LCD control panel and display for easy, one-touch operation. Producing 100 or more pounds of pressure when the plates are brought together, the combination of that and the steam effectively penetrates fabric fibers, removing the toughest wrinkles while making perfect creases. Steam iron presses produce steam up to 400 degrees F or higher but won't burn or damage clothing. Basic features include a fabric selector with which to accommodate everything from heavy denim to more delicate items, a steam burst button and an adjustable thermostat. Select units feature Teflon-coated or stainless steel plates, providing a superb nonstick surface. Other features include a temperature or steam-ready indicator, up to a 60-minute timer and a water reservoir capable of holding up to 15 ounces.

More Information

Steam iron presses typically feature a powerful, 1,000- to 1,500-Watt heating element with excellent recovery when time is limited. Steaming areas vary according to the model. Width is generally a foot or less, while lengths commonly range from two to three feet. With such a large steaming area, you can wave adios to your handheld iron for collars and cuffs in favor of just pressing whole garments all at once.