If you are researching which new iron to buy, you may not have thought much about the type of sole plate you should choose, but this can make a difference. The base of an iron is traditionally made from aluminium or stainless steel; each metal gives you a different ironing experience.
Iron sole plates
The sole plate of an iron is the flat-sided surface that is applied to clothes to smooth out their creases. Plates used to be traditionally made from aluminium and stainless steel and many still are, especially at the budget end of the market. It is, however, becoming increasingly common to find iron bases made from other materials such as ceramics and more complex metal coatings.
Irons with aluminium sole plates
Aluminium sole plates conduct heat effectively and evenly making for a smooth ironing experience. Over time, however, the metal can scratch which might affect how effective the iron is. It is also difficult to keep clean and you may end up with a sticky residue on the plate. This will, if left uncleaned, make it harder to iron effectively as the residue will make clothes wrinkle up as they are ironed.
Irons with stainless steel sole plates
Stainless steel is an even conductor of heat. This avoids the problem of some areas being under-ironed while others scorch. This metal is, however, also easily scratched which can affect its movement over a material if the surface area becomes less smooth. Stainless steel plates are easy to clean and tend not to stain as easily as other materials such as ceramics. They are also held to work well if your clothes are made from natural fibres such as cotton, wool and linen.
Looking after your sole plate
If you choose an iron with an aluminium or stainless steel sole plate, you can extend its life with a bit of ongoing maintenance. Try to iron around zips and buttons carefully to avoid scratches. Give your iron a regular clean, especially if it builds up any residue, to keep the plate surface as smooth as you can.