Dry Iron vs Steam Iron – Which is Better?

Can you imagine ancient humans used heated rocks to iron animal hides about 40,000 years ago? However, technological innovations have improved our lives, and clothing irons are one such example.

If you visit your department store, you’ll find two types of clothing irons- steam and dry. While steam irons have become more prevalent than their dry counterparts, people still get confused while shopping for this home appliance. 

This guide explains the differences between a dry iron and a steam iron. Moreover, you will get to know their respective advantages and disadvantages.


What Is Dry Ironing?

What Is Dry IroningAs simple as it sounds, a hot, dry iron helps remove seams and wrinkles in clothing fabrics. Such irons do not require steam of their own; however, best results are achieved when the garment is slightly damp

Alternatively, people also use spray bottles while dry ironing to moisten the clothes. Dry irons require much more pressure than steam ones while flattening the cloth surface. 


What Is Steam Ironing?

What Is Steam IroningIn simple terms, steam ironing employs steam to remove creases from different clothing textures. In such irons, the steam releases from its soleplate to smoothen out the wrinkles caused due to washing and wear and tear.


What Are The Differences Between a Steam Iron And a Dry Iron?

It must be clear by now how different both the ironing methods are. The following parameters distinguish a dry iron from a steam iron:


1. Weight And Size

Dry iron: Conventionally, dry irons have always been lighter than steam ones. You might remember those heavyweight dry iron boxes that are being used since the good old days! 

However, thanks to technological advancement, a wide range of much lighter dry irons (unlike their heavyweight predecessors) are easily available in the market.  

Steam iron: Steam irons have become a daily household utility, especially when one has to iron many clothes. Its ability to press the given number of garments is directly proportional to its long-lasting efficiency. 

Yes, steam irons are usually heavier than dry ones due to their make. However, many small-sized lightweight steam irons are also coming up in the market. This not only makes steam irons better to use but also more travel-friendly than dry irons.


2. Soleplate

Dry iron: Soleplate plays a crucial role in determining the final quality of your pressed garments. Dry irons have soleplates generally made of ceramic and have a pretty seamless functioning (pun intended).

While hunting for the perfect dry iron, you must look for those that are non-stick. Although a dry iron’s soleplate is much easier to clean, it does not have holes. 

Steam iron: As you would realize, the iron’s soleplate material is of great importance while buying this home appliance. The non-stick soleplate of steam irons works delicately and smoothly on even rough fabrics.

Not only this, but the adjustable steam setting of such irons helps in the adequate distribution of steam for flawless cloth pressing. Unlike dry irons, the steam ones have holes in their soleplates, thus removing the trouble of re-ironing stuff. 

WARNING: It would be best to avoid buying the irons with an aluminum soleplate. Such irons often stick to fabric surfaces and are, thus, less effective in the long run. 


3. Spraying Mist

Dry irons naturally do not possess spraying mist. Therefore, you have to use quite a lot of pressure to remove the wrinkles while pressing your clothes.

On the contrary, steam irons adequately and evenly moisten the cloth surface, thanks to their built-in spraying mist. Therefore, removing the creases of any cloth fabric is much easier using steam irons. 


4. Water Tank Capacity

One of the most noticeable and significant differences between the dry iron and the steam iron is the water tank situated in the latter. The water tank of steam irons ensures sufficient steam generation

Due to larger water-holding capacity, water tanks of steam irons prevent the possibility of water levels going down the minimum required. We also recommend regularly cleaning your steam iron’s water tank so that it lasts longer.

ADVICE: You can use ironing boards for easier cloth pressing features. Moreover, we advise you to buy a handheld garment steamer to reduce the cloth pressing time.


5. Cord Design

Dry iron: It would be best to choose a dry iron with enough cord length to reach a far-off power socket. However, you should know that different dry iron models possess different cord lengths. Thus, you must thoroughly check the product specification of dry irons before buying.

Steam iron: 360-degree movement is icing on the cake while pressing the clothes. Fortunately, steam irons possess this feature and are, thus, much more user-friendly and sought after. Besides 360-degree movement, steam irons also boast of their retractable cords.

ADVICE: Before buying a brand new washing machine, it would be best to consider your personal preference, range of cloth fabrics, and budget allocation. Although, there is not much of a difference in their price range, dry irons are just a bit cheaper.


Can You Use Steam Irons As Dry Irons?

Can You Use Steam Irons As Dry Irons

Yes, you can use advanced steam irons as dry irons. Most of the latest steam irons in the market offer the feature of switching off the steam. Even if you want to dry iron, you can simply use the dry feature after emptying up its water tank. 

This technique works best with silk, polyester, and rayon fabrics as they cannot be steam-ironed. Moreover, unlike dry irons, you do not have to sit with a separate water spray bottle while pressing your garments if you have a steam iron. 

Moreover, there are dual-function press models easily available in the market. They offer steam setting regulation, easy transition from high to low (and vice versa) steam levels, and dry ironing features.


What Are The Advantages And Disadvantages Of Dry Iron?

The following table lists out the major advantages and disadvantages of using a dry iron:


Advantages Disadvantages
Suitable for moisture-unfriendly fabrics like silk Most dry irons don’t heat up sufficiently for certain fabrics
Doesn’t leave stains on clothes Quite slow in removing wrinkles
Good for low-heat fabrics Has pretty limited features


What Are The Advantages And Disadvantages Of a Steam Iron?

Look at the following table lists out for understanding the main advantages and disadvantages of using a steam iron:


Advantages Disadvantages
Versatile and full of features Difficult to clean
Suitable for heavy-duty purposes Can leave rust deposits on clothes
Reduces the ironing time Not suitable for moisture-unfriendly fabrics
Efficient for high-heat fabrics Auto cut-off feature can be disruptive while pressing clothes


Which Is Better For Clothes: Steam Iron Or Dry Iron?

Which Is Better For Clothes Steam Iron Or Dry IronAs cloth fabrics range from natural ones like cotton and wool to synthetic ones such as rayon and nylon, a steam iron is better for pressing clothes

While buying steam irons, you should check if it’s suitable for sturdier fabrics like linen and delicate ones like silk. Moreover, it would help if you went for the steam iron with spray nozzles, adjustable steam regulation settings, and a vertical streaming feature. 


Which Is Better For Quilting And Sewing: Steam Iron Or Dry Iron?

Again the winner is steam iron in this case. An average consumer knows that steam irons are better suited for quilting and sewing applications. 

TIP: Quilting fabric typically consists of cotton or cotton-like mixes. Thus, you should buy the best steam iron with a dedicated setting for different kinds of cotton for easily smoothening out cloth crinkles.



Q. What should you do if brown water leaks from your steam iron?

Do not worry. Brown water leakage in steam irons indicates that dirt and minerals have accumulated inside the iron’s tank and steam holes. It would be best to carefully clean it so that your garments do not get permanent stains. 


Q. Can you fill tap water in your iron?

Not at all. As tap water includes minerals that are most likely to get stuck in your iron, we recommend against using tap water. 

As an alternative, you should go for distilled water to ensure your iron’s long life. Also, if your iron possesses an anti-calcium feature, even tap water would not do much harm to it. 



While dry irons are a bit less expensive and better for heat transferring, steam irons surpass them in a lot of features. The steam iron is a clear winner with a non-stick soleplate, spraying mist, 360-degree movement, larger water-holding capacity, and retractable cords.

Regardless of how much the anti-steam population bash the steam iron models, it is more versatile and innovative. Steam irons are much more superior creases remover than their dry counterparts. So, when you are getting the best of both worlds in a single appliance, why settle for less?

We hope this guide helped you differentiate between dry iron and steam iron. We are sure that now you will make a smart decision while choosing between the two. 

Do you have any doubts? Do you want to share your opinions and suggestions? Please feel free to interact with us in the comments section below!

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