Ironing – the word alone makes me bored.
I think it’s safe to say that 99.99% of people hate this more than the other 1 million household chores they have to do every week.
For me, it’s boring, it takes ages, and no matter how hard I try – my clothes still don’t come out as good as I would like, and then I got a steam generator iron, the Philips GC9630 PerfectCare Elite to be exact – by far the best steam generator iron in my opinion.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve always owned a regular steam iron, you know – the one you have to hold by the cord and let it spin round and round to unwind the power cord, yeah that one!
For years I’ve thought about investing in a steam generator iron, but I just couldn’t justify the price when compared to my trusty £12 Tesco iron, until a friend convinced me to take the plunge.
It turns out that a few of my friends have had theirs for years, and they all agreed that there’s no going back to a standard steam iron after using a steam generator iron. Luckily, I was able to try out 3 models before buying my own, and I must admit – they were the best irons I’ve ever used.
Today I’m going to share my Philips GC9630 PerfectCare Elite Steam generator iron review with you. Now obviously I haven’t tried every steam generator iron on the market, but judging from my own personal experience and other reviews I’ve read online, I can guarantee you that this iron is definitely up there with the best steam generator irons you can buy in the UK in 2022.
Best Steam Generator Iron Review
Even though it’s not their highest model, Philips still went all out when designing the GC9630 PerfectCare Elite.
From the time you take it out of the box, you can see and feel the quality, no cheap or flimsy plastic look and feel here – just a sturdy and well-made iron (and so it should be considering it costs over £200 at most retailers).
Note: It is a fair bit bigger than a standard iron, so keep in mind you might need a larger steam generator ironing board that can accommodate the extra weight.
One of the best and most useful features of this steam generator comes in the form of Philips’ OptimalTEMP technology.
This allows the iron to automatically detect the type of material you’re ironing and it sets the temperature and steam output for you, no fiddling around or guesswork needed to set up the iron – a true time-saver for someone like me who doesn’t have time to stop and adjust the settings every-time a new piece of material needs to be ironed.
Another useful feature of this iron is the ability to steam clothes vertically. This is pretty much impossible with a standard iron, trust me – I tried.
This comes in handy for things like duvet covers, clothes on hangers and curtains that need sprucing up every once in a while – it pretty much doubles as a handheld garment steamer.
Using the iron is effortless, its ceramic soleplate literally glides along any type of material. Steam is the key to getting rid of creases fast, tough materials like denim stand no chance against this iron with its 6.7 bar pressure and 135 g/min consistent steam output.
This type of steam power puts the Philips GC9630 PerfectCare in a class of its own.
Capacity and cleanup
The 1.8L detachable water tank provides around 1.5 hours of ironing time for me; this is slightly less if I use the boost function – which I hardly do anyways.
The iron gives off a warning sound after about 9-10 hours of use, this usually means it’s time to clean the iron. There’s no scrubbing or cleaning involved, just release the knob and let the dirty water out.
To this day I’ve had zero problems with mine, but if for some reason there are any issues, Philips is offering a 2-year warranty period on this steam generator iron. It’s a pretty standard warranty but considering the iron costs over £200 – I’ll take it.
- Very sturdy design
- Ceramic soleplate for smooth gliding
- Vertical steaming capability
- Automatic shut-off safety feature
- OptimalTEMP Technology
- Extremely powerful
- Built-in cleaning function
- Large 1.8L water tank
As you can tell from my review, I absolutely love this iron. It’s easy to use, has some very useful features, and most importantly – it helps me get through my ironing quickly.
Would I recommend this steam generator iron? Absolutely. It has managed to turn someone who hates ironing into someone who hates ironing a bit less!
A bit about Steam Generator Irons
No single iron will be the best steam generating iron for everyone. Rather, there are several factors to consider to help you decide if a particular iron is the best option for you. That said, there are also some universal factors that are important to consider. First, here’s a look at what a steam generator is and why it’s so effective.
What is a steam generator iron?
As the name suggests, it’s an iron that generates steam. This steam output is an integral part of the ironing process. This is a big contrast to the traditional irons that let you apply a small burst of steam here and there. So-called steam irons offer only a tiny hint at the power of steam for getting out wrinkles.
The steam is typically used continuously with a steam generator iron. There is also often a steam burst mode like you’ll see on some traditional iron models that add even more steam in a concentrated burst.
The steam is always heavily pressurized which is what gives it its power. Different models of steam generator irons have different levels of available pressure.
This is measured in bars. So for example, if you see an iron with 4 bar pressure and another with 6 bar pressure, the 6-bar iron has more steam power. The amount of steam the iron can produce is measured in grams per minute.
Again, the higher the number you see for this measurement, the more powerful the iron will be and the better it will be able to eliminate those thick creases.
Because these irons use so much steam, they typically have relatively large water tanks. These tanks are often removable and can be filled with plain old tap water, although it’s always recommended to use special water.
The irons are also larger and heavier than traditional irons. The added bulk along with the powerful steam output combine to help you power through wrinkles and deep creases faster and more efficiently.
Other than the steam feature, these irons are essentially the same as a traditional iron. They rely on a metal soleplate that you push back and forth across the surface of the fabric.
Most steam generator irons use the same basic shape as a traditional iron and will typically require an ironing board or similar surface to iron on. It’s always a good idea to use a large ironing board that can accommodate the extra bulk of a steam generator iron like these ones.
The challenges of steam generator irons
The powerful steam that makes these irons such fantastic tools also comes with a problem. When the iron’s water tank is filled with tap water, scaly mineral deposits will eventually form on the iron.
These deposits will ultimately lessen the performance of the iron. If not dealt with, the iron will no longer be the faster and easier ironing tool it was at first. Because of this, many steam generator irons are proactive and come with automatic self-cleaning features.
It’s possible to keep the iron clean and relatively mineral-free on your own, but it takes a lot more work. If you’d rather keep your effort to a minimum, it’s a good idea to look for an iron with a self-cleaning feature.
People who live in areas with hard water will need to be extra vigilant as the mineral deposits will take hold more quickly. Even those with auto-clean irons may have to make a special effort to run the cleaning system more regularly.
Although tap water is generally fine, you may want to purchase de-ionised water to use in your steam generator iron. This minimises the chances of having significant scale buildup. It will also reduce the risk of rust forming in or on the iron.
Keep in mind
At the moment, there are hundreds of steam generator irons on the market. The key to finding the best steam generator iron for your needs is to examine each feature carefully, here are 4 of the main things you should look for when buying a steam generator iron:
- Size – Steam generator irons are considerably larger than standard steam irons, if you have very limited storage area, the best steam generator iron for you would be one that has a compact design in addition to other space-saving features e.g. a neat cord storage system etc.
- Features – Not all steam generator irons were created equally, some offer the basics and some models like the Philips GC9630 PerfectCare go above and beyond with their features. If you want to make ironing quicker and easier this would be the best option.
- Steam Power – Ensure the one you pick can provide adequate steam power – especially if you plan on ironing thick fabrics with very deep creases and wrinkles. Generally speaking, anything over 5.3 bar steam pressure should be more than enough to cut through wrinkles.
- Warranty – Most steam generator irons can cost well over £200, you’ll want to make sure you’re buying from a reputable brand, and they should offer a decent warranty or return policy – even if you’re buying a budget steam generator iron.
The best steam generator iron for you should make ironing faster and more efficient.
It doesn’t take too much for a steam generator iron to meet this qualification since the use of steam automatically makes ironing more efficient. Steam works to moisten and soften the fabric and any creases in the fabric. As a result, it doesn’t take as much time or effort to get rid of wrinkles.
Some irons, though, are better at this than others. Irons with more powerful steam output can be even more efficient. Other factors also contribute to an iron’s efficiency such as the type of temperature controls and whether you have to wait for an iron to go up or down in temperature when changing fabrics.
A good steam generator iron will work for most fabrics.
What’s the point of buying an iron if it only performs well on some fabrics? The best steam generator iron will be able to handle the majority of fabrics equally well and without risk of damage.
Some steam generator irons have separate settings for different types of fabrics while others (Philips) use special technology to automatically adjust the temperature setting for different kinds of fabrics. In any case, you want to make sure that an iron has a good track record of performing well with different kinds of fabrics.
The best steam generator iron for you might be the simplest one to use, or the one that gives you the most control.
There are a lot of benefits to all of the advances in technology we have today. Sometimes these technological advances make things simpler and sometimes they make them infinitely more complex. With irons, you’ll see some of each. If you love control, the best steam generator iron for you is the one that lets you control all the details, things like fabric type, temperature, and steam setting.
If you prefer things to be as simple as possible, the best steam generating iron for you is probably one that uses technology to have only one auto-adjust setting. That’s right, there are some irons today that are smart enough to figure out exactly what to do without you having to control it!
If that sounds like your dream device, then the best iron for you is probably one with just the one simplified setting and the amazing self-controlled technology.
Steam Generator Iron Jargon Buster
If you’re looking to buy a steam generator iron there might be a few unfamiliar terms you’ll come across. The list below will try to explain some of the common jargon associated with steam generator irons, these are just a few, but if there are others you’re not sure about just visit our in-depth buying guide which explains other features and terms.
This is a special type of technology that you’ll find in Morphy Richards steam generator irons, even in some of their budget options. What this means is that the iron will automatically adjust to the correct setting and temperature for the type of material you’re ironing.
This is especially useful for people who iron a lot of clothing, with this feature you won’t have to stop and change the setting for every garment you iron. Philips steam generator irons have a similar feature called OptimalTEMP.
The soleplate of the iron is the bottom part of the iron that you actually rub on your clothes. This can be made from a wide variety of materials, some of the best steam generator irons we’ve come across have ceramic soleplates.
This is the metric unit of pressure. Generally, a higher number means more steam power. Most top of the range steam generator irons produce in excess of 6 bars, this is more than enough steam power to power through any type of clothing.
Steam Generator iron FAQ
1. How does a steam generator iron work?
The water is boiled until it reaches the required temperature and it is then kept under pressure inside the tank. When you press the steam release button, the pressurised water vapour is pushed through the holes in the soleplate.
2. Who should buy a steam generator iron?
Anyone with a busy household to run can benefit from the extra speed and efficiency of a steam generator iron. It helps to make the chore of ironing much easier and faster, freeing up valuable time. If you enjoy creative hobbies such as crafts or dressmaking, you can achieve more professional results by removing the sharp creases caused by material being left in storage.
3. Should distilled water be used in steam generator irons?
Some people prefer to use distilled water to save having to descale their irons. However, manufacturers have invested a great deal of time and money in designing irons with effective anti-scale systems that help to keep limescale and other mineral deposits under control. Most manufacturers recommend using ordinary tap water rather than distilled water to prevent the tank from splitting.
4. What makes the water tank split?
Distilled water doesn’t contain any minerals or impurities, but its nature causes it to seek these deposits. Surprisingly, it can literally take them from the tank itself. A weak spot can quickly form in the wall of the tank leading to a hairline crack that can break open due to the intense pressure of the steam.
Remember to always follow the manufacturer’s guidelines, as if a split does occur, it can result in scalding hot water flooding out.
5. What are the brown and white deposits that leak from the iron’s soleplate?
Brown watery deposits are usually the result of microscopic, organic particles dissolving in the water. White deposits indicate the presence of calcium.
6. Are steam generator irons noisy?
They are, but they’re not very loud. You’ll hear the boiling mechanism heating the water and the steam usually hisses when it’s released. Some of the components of poorer quality irons may rattle due to the vibrations caused by the unit boiling.
A steam generator iron can be quite an investment, so it is worth taking enough time to find a model that suits your individual requirements.
Always choose a unit that has a manageable weight, and if you spend a long time ironing, try to select one with a comfortable handle.
If you have to iron many different types of fabric in large, family-sized batches, it may be worth investing in an iron with automatic heat settings for fast, trouble-free results. For very badly creased fabrics, a more powerful burst of steam should be helpful.