- Spray: Mists clothes with a fine water spray. This basic feature really is a must for most ironing chores, including dry cotton clothing.
- Automatic shutoff: Some units have timers that turn off the iron when it remains horizontal for a specified period. This can be a good safety feature if you get called away from your task for a length of time or inadvertently forget to turn the iron off when you're done.
- Variable steam: Adjusts the amount of steam released. Different fabrics can require different amounts of steam.
- Burst/surge of steam: Produces a concentrated outflow. This is good for those tricky wrinkled spots.
- Nonstick soleplate: This has little to do with how smoothly the iron glides over fabrics; a clean stainless-steel soleplate glides just as easily. A nonstick surface makes cleaning starch buildup easier.
- Vertical steam: Some models produce steam while the iron is upright, allowing use as a steamer for clothes on hangers.
- Variable heat settings: Basic irons generally have low, medium, and hot controls; top-of-the-line irons include many more temperature settings for a wide variety of fabrics.
- Cord swivel: Some units have a mechanism that allows cord movement in any position, reducing wire stress within the cord and the nuisance of the cord getting in the way.
- Cordless: Some cordless irons warm on heat plates, allowing free movement while ironing. They retain heat levels for about five minutes, then need to be returned to a hot plate for reheating.
Continued on page 3: Steam Iron Care