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Household essentials

Are cheap steam irons any good?

The steam irons we’ve tested range from as little as GBP8 up to GBP120, or over GBP300 for a premium steam generator. So do you go for cheap and cheerful or is it worth splashing out? Our tests reveal all.

The latest collection of irons to be put through their paces at the lab included the Logik L200IR17, below, which costs a mere GBP10. It’s a basic model, but has a steam boost for ousting creases, a comfortable rubber handle and a wide tank hole for splash-free filling.

If you only ever iron the occasional shirt, a budget-friendly iron like the Logik might appeal. Is it the bargain it seems, though?

Low steam levels and high susceptibility to limescale are common complaints with cheap steam irons. Combine that with a soleplate that sticks and drags, or that’s easily scratched, and a cheap iron may not be as appealing as it initially seems. Read our review of the Logik L200IR17[1] to find out how well it performs.

Then, head to our steam iron reviews[2] to compare it against more expensive models.

Philips GC4938/20 Azur Advanced steam iron

At the other end of the scale, Philips’ GC4938/20 Azur Advanced steam iron, GBP120, below, is the most expensive model we’ve tested. If you’re after a premium iron from a big brand, this one might appeal.

It comes with plenty of promising sounding features: a ‘SteamGlide’ soleplate for smooth, scratch-resistant gliding; a ‘Quick Calc’ system for blasting away limescale and ‘OptimalTEMP’ technology, a single steam and temperature setting designed to work on all ironable fabrics. Plus, a 3.1 metre cord means you won’t have to set up your ironing board right next to the plug socket.

But, at 12 times the cost of the Logik, is this Philips a worthwhile investment or an unnecessary expense? Head to our Philips GC4938/20 Azur Advanced steam iron[3] review to find out whether all these features actually boost its performance.

Mid-range steam irons

There are plenty of mid-priced irons available – and bear in mind that iron prices tend to jump around a lot, so you might be able to pick up a pricey model in the spring sales in the next few months.

With rose-gold accents, crystals set into the control dials, a diamond-print motif and a glossy finish, Breville’s DiamondXpress 3100w (right), GBP60, certainly stands out. More serious features include a long 3 metre cord and a large tank that’s easy to see into and fill.

But are you paying for style over substance? Read our Breville VIN401 DiamondXpress 3100w[4] review to find out.

At GBP40, the Bosch TDA2670 B1 Quick Fill[5] (right) is a bit more budget-friendly. It doesn’t have many frills, but it does have what Bosch calls a ‘3AntiCalc’ system, designed to keep steam levels up.

It gets from cold to steamy in just 30 seconds too – handy for last-minute ironing. There’s only one way to find out which irons see off the stubbornest creases – head to our steam iron reviews[6].

Irons to avoid

Two of the irons we reviewed recently only narrowly avoided the Don’t Buy stamp. Limescale took hold quickly in both in our tests, making ironing much harder work.

In some cases, regular cleaning will restore steam flow – but there are plenty of irons around that need much less frequent maintenance.

In the case of one of the irons that clogged up in our test, cleaning had no impact on steam flow at all – buy this iron and you’ll be stuck with a tediously slow ironing pile in no time.

To avoid an inferior iron, head straight to our pick of Best Buy steam irons[7].

Latest steam iron reviews for 2018:

Steam generator reviews:

Prices correct as of 26 February 2018.


  1. ^ Logik L200IR17 (Logik%20L200IR17)
  2. ^ steam iron reviews (
  3. ^ Philips GC4938/20 Azur Advanced steam iron (
  4. ^ Breville VIN401 DiamondXpress 3100w (
  5. ^ Bosch TDA2670 B1 Quick Fill (
  6. ^ steam iron reviews (
  7. ^ Best Buy steam irons (

Could this space-age LED bulb light up your life?

Swedish design brand Flyte has sent its new LED light bulb to space as part of a crowdfunding campaign for ‘the ultimate minimal, dimmable LED bulb’. The Arc bulb has smashed its funding target of GBP17,000, with more than 900 backers signed up to receive one when it launches later this year. It’s due to go on sale in June, costing around GBP30.

Flyte is known for gravity-defying designs, with previous products including a levitating light bulb and floating planter. Its new dimmable LED bulb has a patented ‘light guide’ design and is claimed to have a life expectancy of 30,000 hours.

Video: ARC[1]

The stunning views you see above were captured by a camera strapped to a balloon 500 miles from the Arctic Circle. Flyte says it sent the bulb above the clouds to ‘capture light in its most precious moments – at the edge of earth and space, where light and darkness meet’.

Best Buy LED light bulbs[2] – see our top picks for bulbs that are bright and cheap to run

What’s so special about the Arc dimmable LED bulb?

LED filament bulbs, which mimic the look of old-fashioned light bulbs at a fraction of the running cost, have become increasingly popular in recent years, making the switch from trendy restaurants to people’s homes.

Hoping to set itself apart from the competition, the Arc bulb features a patented light guide design that differs from the standard LED bulb set-up. Usually, LED chips are mounted on thin filament strips and coated in phosphor to give a yellow glow. The Arc has a U-shaped tube to spread the light instead.

According to Flyte, as light spreads around this light guide it gives a warm multi-faceted glow, described as similar to ‘a fire keeping us warm at night’. GBP30 is a high price to pay for that soft glow, though. If you’re on the hunt for LED filament bulbs that give off good-quality light, check our LED filament light bulb reviews[3], as we’ve found some excellent cheap options.

Is the Arc LED bulb worth investing in?

The Arc bulb looks undeniably stylish hanging above the dinner table, but it won’t be much use for lighting up your home.

We’ve examined the specification, and this bulb hardly gives out any light at all. Flyte told us that it’s equivalent to a 20W incandescent bulb, which is at best accent lighting. What’s more, it doesn’t appear to be very efficient.

It uses 4W and only gives out around 90 lumens (a measure of brightness), according to the details on the Arc funding page.

4W LED bulbs usually give out 200 lumens or more. Based on this data, this bulb would get a poor one-star rating for efficiency in our lab tests. Responding to unimpressed comments on Kickstarter, a Flyte spokesperson has said: ‘The LEDs inside the bulb are rated at 200 lumens, but the true output with the Lightguide diffuser and tinted cover is naturally less intense, at 90 lumens.

‘We know that 350 lumens is a popular request, but unfortunately with 2,200K LEDs it would not be possible for us to achieve that rating with our current Lightguide design. It is also important to us that we deliver a product that fits our original vision.’ Our verdict?

By all means buy it for the atmospheric glow and stylish design, but don’t expect useful levels of light output.

Need bright replacements for 100W incandescent bulbs? See all our LED light bulb reviews[4].

Three more stylish light bulbs to look out for

None will give you super-bright lighting, but if you’re after a style statement, these bulbs may tick the boxes:

1. Plumen WattNot

If you’re shopping for an LED bulb with a vintage disguise, Plumen’s Wattnott range is worth a look.

Prices start from GBP11.95, which will get you a Wanda LED (right). It’s a dimmable bulb (4.5W and 360 lumens) with an estimated lifetime of 25,000 hours.

2. Plumen 003

Also available from Plumen is the dimmable 003 LED, on sale for GBP150.

A unique lamp design and built-in spotlight makes it well-suited for hanging above the dinner table, and Plumen says it will last for around 10,000 hours. It’s a 6.5W bulb with an output of 250 lumens.

3. Eco Filament CFL bulb

The pear-shaped, 7.7W Eco-Filament Bulb costs GBP30 and has a lifespan of 25,000 hours.

Unusually, it contains CFL (compact fluorescent) technology, but in miniature, for an alternative to LEDs. It’s available with standard screw (E27) caps or standard bayonet (B22) caps, and has a 350 lumen output.

Choosing the best LED bulbs

You may be tempted by some of the bulbs above, but they’re expensive for the amount of light they give out. Remember – anything less than a 60W-equivalent will be good enough for accent lighting, such as a small table lamp or spotlight, but won’t be enough to light a room unless you have multiple bulbs.

A whopping 82% of Which? members have LED lights in their homes, and we’ve uncovered Best Buy LEDs[5] for as little as GBP2.50.

If you’re shopping for the perfect light bulbs for your home, see our five tips for choosing the right light bulb[6].


  1. ^ ARC (
  2. ^ Best Buy LED light bulbs (
  3. ^ LED filament light bulb reviews (
  4. ^ LED light bulb reviews (
  5. ^ Best Buy LEDs (
  6. ^ five tips for choosing the right light bulb (

Cleaning up at Christmas

Although a twinkling tree, delicious roast dinner, and treats and drinks aplenty all contribute to the magic of Christmas, the extra guests and extravagant meals can also leave you with unwanted spills and stains. But hark! The cleaning angels sing – our in-depth, expert tests reveal the best products to use to keep your house tidy with minimum effort this Christmas.

From washing-up liquid and dishwasher tablets to carpet stain removers and vacuum cleaners, we’ve tested all the products you’ll need to get your house back to ship-shape, so that you can enjoy the festive season. Whether you’re facing gravy-encrusted baking trays or a carpet strewn with pine needles, here are our top tips:

Washing up after Christmas dinner

Whoever’s in charge of washing up your post-Christmas dinner dishes is likely to be tackling charred roasting tins and the grease left over from roasting potatoes and turkey. Nobody wants to miss the Queen’s speech because they’re stuck at the sink scrubbing away at baked-on food, so we’ve highlighted the best washing-up liquids to help you tackle the toughest jobs.

Baked-on fat is the most difficult foodstuff to remove by hand, so this year we enhanced the ‘tough grease’ element of our washing-up liquid tests[1], and it revealed some big differences between products. Only our three new Best Buy washing-up liquids excelled at this part of the test. One great-value option costs less than GBP1 per bottle, so you’ll have plenty left in your budget for a few more mince pies.

To find out which products we’re talking about, head to our Best Buy washing-up liquids[2]. If you’d rather put everything in the dishwasher and head straight back to the festive fun, you’ll want to be sure your plates will be sparkling when the cycle finishes. Head to our dishwasher tablets reviews[3] to find out which brands came out squeaky clean in our tests.

Tackling stains around the house

With more people in the house and an abundance of drinks and snacks, the chances of spills and stains is higher than normal.

As you’re clearing away the wrapping paper, you might find some half-eaten chocolate coins that have been discarded in haste by one of Santa’s little helpers. Later in the day, you might be facing wine or gravy on the carpet. If you do find yourself with an emergency clean-up operation on your hands, don’t fret.

We test carpet stain removers on a multitude of wet and dry stains, including red wine and chocolate. Choose a Best Buy carpet stain remover[4] and follow our tips to get your carpet looking fresh again:

  • Start from the edge of the stain and work your way inwards.
  • Blot the stain; never rub it.
  • Use carpet stain remover – apply small quantities at a time using a cloth. Don’t apply directly to the stain; work into the spot with a small brush or sponge.
  • Thoroughly rinse afterwards to avoid leaving any stain remover residue in the carpet.
  • Finish by drying the area with a hairdryer if possible.

Cleaning up Christmas tree needles

A natural Christmas tree will fill your house with festive cheer, but it’s also going to leave annoying pine needles in its wake.

If you can place it on a hard floor, the hassle of the clean-up will be greatly reduced, but needles in your carpet create a lot more work. Our extensive guide on how to choose a Christmas tree[5] includes tips on how to care for your tree over the festive period and what to do with it when the season is over. Taking heed of these maintenance tips will help reduce the amount of needles that fall off over the festive period.

But some shedding is inevitable, so here are our tips for tackling them quickly so that you can get back to the fun:

  • Consider a tree skirt: This sits around the base of the tree and catches the needles as they fall, meaning you won’t be left picking them out of the carpet when the tree is taken down.
  • Use the hose attachment on your vacuum cleaner: Pine needles are not a friend of vacuums, even Best Buy vacuum cleaners[6]. Avoid running straight over them with the main head of the vacuum, as they can get stuck in the rollers and potentially cause damage. Instead, suck them up using the open hose attachment.
  • Pick them up with duct tape: If you do have a carpet full of pine needles and don’t think your vacuum can handle them, a roll of duct tape could be the answer.

    Put some tape around your hands, with the adhesive side facing outwards, and pat around the base of the tree to collect the fallen needles.


  1. ^ our washing-up liquid tests (
  2. ^ Best Buy washing-up liquids (
  3. ^ dishwasher tablets reviews (
  4. ^ Best Buy carpet stain remover (
  5. ^ how to choose a Christmas tree (
  6. ^ Best Buy vacuum cleaners (