Whether it’s a professional meeting with your client or a regular office routine, or a family get together, you’d want to look your best. From formal official wear to casual wear, we prefer wearing properly and freshly ironed clothes that are wrinkle-free and crisp. But the real challenge comes when choosing the best ironing process. Steam iron or a dry iron?
If you are someone overwhelmed to choose between either of them, worry not! This article will help you know the differences between a dry iron and a steam iron, their pros and cons, and what suits your fabrics the best.
What is a Steam Iron?
Ever since the advent of the steam burst technology, the steam iron has had the highest demand in the market, outsmarting the traditional dry iron. Though dry iron still manages to have a place in modern homes, a steam iron continues to gain popularity for its effectiveness in getting rid of any stubborn wrinkles easily and in no time.
Popularly known for creating a smoother press, a steam iron is ideal for removing wrinkles effortlessly, especially on cotton and linen fabrics. Steam iron works by generating steam through the steam holes while pressing the clothes. It has a water tank inside that helps in producing the required steam for moistening the clothes.
Steam irons are a bit expensive than dry irons and have various features like auto shutdown, safety protection from overheat, versatile enough to function as a dry iron, etc. These features may, however, differ from brand to brand and model to model.
Though a steam iron does an amazing job than your dry iron can do, it does come with a set of advantages and disadvantages.
- Removes the crease effectively in a single stroke
- Has the steam and inbuilt spray mist option to keep your garments super crisp
- You have the convenience of ironing clothes vertically
- You don’t have to flip your clothes when pressing
- It can iron your clothes faster than a dry iron
- You can use it on curtains, couch covers, pillow covers, bedding, furniture, and upholstery
- You can also use it as a dry iron
- No chance of damage to the clothes because the steam generates from the water vapor
- Faster and easier removal of wrinkles
- Heavier in weight when compared to a dry iron
- Takes a longer time to get hot
- If the water tank/reservoir is small, you need to refill water in it frequently
- Does not work the same on all kinds of fabrics
- Water may drip out from the units
- Requires applying more energy when pressing
- Can sometimes leave marks on clothes
What is a Dry Iron?
Dry iron is one of the most commonly used irons suitable for everyday ironing. It is lightweight and easy-to-use. Unlike steam iron, it uses hot iron to press the clothes and remove the wrinkles from them.
Since it does not steam on its own, one needs to sprinkle or spray some water over the garments to keep them moist. This will make the fabric damp and feasible for removing wrinkles. Earlier, dry irons were heavy, which added more pressure while pressing. This further aided in flattening the material.
Being lightweight and having basic controls, dry iron is a popular choice for many. Apart from the convenient handle and durability, a dry iron has a host of benefits and a few drawbacks too.
- Suitable for ironing all kinds of fabrics
- Available in different types of soleplates like stainless steel, aluminum, non-stick and ceramic
- Comes in lightweight designs
- Easy to lift and easy to use
- Easy to clean and easy to maintain
- Available in different wattages
- Comes with adjustable temperature settings and fabric settings
- Available in both cordless and cord swivel irons (360-degree cord mechanism)
- Cannot use without electricity
- While pressing, the electric cord may come in the way
- Does not have the feature of steam or spray mist
- The soleplate can sometimes stick to the clothes
- Can sometimes burn the clothes
- When not cleaned regularly, the soleplate can get dirty and even congest the holes
- Less effective on stubborn wrinkles
- Does not have any extra features or specifications other than a temperature control
What are the Differences Between the Steam Ironing and Dry Ironing?
Though steam iron and dry iron do the job better, certain features differentiate the functioning and effectiveness of ironing. Below is the basic comparison to help you with the differences between the two and elevate the benefits.
|Dry Iron||Steam Iron|
|Does not have a Water Tank||Has a Water Tank|
|Soleplate does not have steam holes||Soleplate has steam holes|
|Does not have a spray mist feature||Has a spray mist feature|
|Has very limited features||Has numerous features and specifications|
|Cannot use as a steam iron||Can also use as a dry iron|
|Does not have a 360-degree movement||Has a 360-degree movement|
|Has auto-shutdown feature||Has auto-shutdown feature|
The significant feature that differentiates a steam iron from a dry iron is the water tank or the reservoir. A steam iron has a water reservoir, which is the only source to generate steam. A dry iron, on the other hand, does not have anything like it.
If you want to have steam when using a dry iron, you can spray or sprinkle some water on the fabrics using a spray bottle or sprinkler. Unlike this, a steam iron produces and emits steam that kills the wrinkles and makes iron faster and effortless.
Sometimes, water may leak from the steam iron and spit on your clothes. If you do not want to have anything like this, you better go for a dry iron.
The next significant factor that determines the effectiveness of ironing in both dry and steam iron is the soleplate. While the soleplate of a steam iron is full of steam holes, dry iron is solid and does not possess any steam holes.
The holes in the steam iron generate the steam and further allows it to get distributed over a large area. This ensures avoiding the hassle of re-ironing the clothes to get rid of the wrinkles.
The soleplate materials of both steam and dry iron are available in different types like stainless steel, non-stick, and ceramic. In dry iron, the aluminum soleplate is also available.
The stainless steel and ceramic soleplates allow even distribution of heat for a steam iron. The non-stick ensures smooth ironing on rough surfaces.
In dry iron, non-stick, aluminum, and ceramic models offer great functionality. However, when choosing a dry iron, make sure you only purchase the one with a non-stick or ceramic soleplate. Try avoiding aluminum soleplate, as it can become less effective over time and can stick to your clothes. Also, the dry iron soleplate is easy to clean and maintain.
Many steam irons available today have the spray mist function. This option helps in releasing the right amount of moisture for the clothes for easy and quick ironing. This facilitates worry-free and hassle-free wrinkle removal even from heavy fabrics.
The main advantage of having this feature is that it shortens the time of ironing even for the toughest and unwanted wrinkles.
If you still want to use a dry iron, you may require more strokes and put more pressure to soften the wrinkles. You may have to use a spray bottle in conjunction to achieve similar results.
A steam iron has multiple features, functionalities, and setting options for each fabric. Some models even come with a steam trigger, having an LED display. This helps you stay aware of the current settings of the iron.
When compared to a steam iron, a dry iron has very basic features and functionalities. The user has to check for the temperature settings before he starts using a dry iron.
While some may find the multiple features of steam iron a little complicated to use, others may find it a comprehensive approach for offering a customized ironing experience.
Steam iron is versatile enough to function as a dry iron. For some fabrics, that do not require or not suitable for steam, like silk or satin, you can prefer the dry iron functioning by choosing the stray feature. You can also prefer the dry iron by letting the water tank empty.
For fabrics that require steam, make sure that you’re using the steam function. If you prefer to dry iron, you can fill your water reservoir and use the stray feature only. This way, you won’t need to have a separate spray bottle, and you can get more work done with one hand.
A dry iron is not versatile to function as steam iron, and you may have to use a separate spray bottle.
Steam irons are usually heavier in weight. Nevertheless, medium-sized devices are also available that are lighter in weight and help you with pressing a large number of clothes without compromising efficiency.
Dry irons are very lightweight when compared to steam irons. These often come in lightweight models and designs, offering perfect ironing for clothes.
Both the irons offer auto-shutdown options as a safety feature. In a steam iron, the machine will automatically shut down after a prolonged time. This ability to shut down by itself without any manual effort or intervention makes it easier for the user to press garments without any fear of the occurrence of an accident.
In a dry iron, temperature settings are available that are suitable for all kinds of fabrics. Depending on the type of fabric, this model enables getting heated to a specific temperature and then shuts off automatically. This feature ensures the cloth does not burn.
Both steam and dry irons are easy-to-use. However, in a steam iron, you just fill the water reservoir and then press the additional button for an effortless steam ironing.
Whereas, in dry iron, you have only a single function and a single dial to control the temperature.
In steam irons, there are chances of holes getting clogged with calcium build up. The steam iron requires proper maintenance and care. The hard water can also pose an equal risk to the machine. It is essential to use correct water to avoid problems as such.
Since there is no contact with water with dry irons, there are no build-up issues.
When steam ironing, you can get the job done faster than with traditional dry ironing. Above all, using steam, you can iron most fabrics easier and faster.
In a dry iron, you may have to use repeated strokes and put more pressure to get the same results as a steam iron. Also, especially you may have to spray water on few areas using a spray bottle to flatten the surfaces.
There is only a negligible difference between the steam and dry iron concerning the price. Your spending will be pretty much the same when choosing a quality iron, whether it is a steam iron or a dry iron.
Frequently Asked Questions
The soleplate of a steam iron has steam holes that emit hot steam on the clothes when pressing. When the hot steam interacts with the fabric, it loosens the tightened threads and fibers. This further results in removing the wrinkles from the clothes. A steam iron makes ironing easier and faster than regular iron.
Yes. Using the steam setting for fabrics that are not suitable for steaming can shrink them. It is suggestible not to use steam on such fabrics.
The soleplate for irons comes in different materials like non-stick, ceramic, stainless steel, and aluminum.
While stainless steel is most ideal for ironing because of its heat resistance and non-corrosive properties, it can leave marks on the clothes.
Ceramic coating, too, works very well but wears over time.
An aluminum coating may become less effective over time and stick to your clothes.
Each coating is best for different things, so you should consider your personal preferences before selecting. Choose a soleplate depending on the fabrics you want to iron most often.
Yes, you can. The significant feature of a steam iron is that it can function as a dry iron as well. If you want to use your steam iron as a dry iron, all you have to do is either adjust the settings to dry iron or you can simply leave the water reservoir empty.
Yes, you can leave the water in the steam iron. However, if you are someone living in an area with hard water, we do not recommend to do so. If you live in soft water areas, you can leave the water if you iron frequently, and it would not cause any problem.
However, if you are using the iron occasionally, it’s best advisable to empty the water from the water tank after every use. This will prevent any build-up in the tank.
The best iron for clothes of any materials is a steam iron. There are many models available in the market, offering customized heat settings for different kinds of fabrics. Always look for one with settings for delicate fabrics like satin, polyester, silk, and wool.
Yes, you can, provided you live in a soft water area. That might not be a possible case for everyone. Hence, those living in the hard water area, ensure you mix the tap water with distilled water to avoid build-up inside the water tank.
Noticing a scale build-up on the soleplate over time is very normal, and there’s nothing to worry about it. Following a correct cleaning process can help you get rid of the build-up in no time.
Use white vinegar: Mix equal parts of distilled white vinegar and distilled water. Take a wet lint-free cloth and pour some solution on it.
Wipe the soleplate: Use the cloth to wipe the soleplate in circular motions.
Fill the tank with the solution: Pour the same solution into the water tank until it is a third full.
Turn on: Now, turn on the iron to medium heat.
Steam: Let the iron steam for about 10-15 minutes by pressing the steam button repeatedly. (If your iron has a self-clean button you can use it)
Refill: Once done, refill the chamber with clean water.
Steam: Turn on the iron and let it steam again.
This thorough cleaning process will help you descale your iron and freshen it up.
If you’re looking for buying a new iron, we hope this information helps. However, if some of you still ask which iron is the best, it is up to you to decide. If you’re someone who regularly irons a large pile of your clothes, go for a steam iron to save your time. If you iron only fewer clothes every day, you can choose the best one from the dry iron.
If you choose to iron different types of fabrics regularly, a steam iron is the best for its many customized features. You can always opt for it as it helps with removing wrinkles easily. Moreover, you can always use your steam iron as a dry iron, too. In the end, it all depends on your usage.
Let us know what you think is the best option in the comments section below.