How to starch clothes at home

Updated April 17, 2017

Shirts, cotton dresses and blouses look crisp and neat when they've been starched and ironed. Once a part of every wash day in the early to middle 20th century, these days it's rare for anyone to have time for the finer points of laundry other than to throw non-iron clothes in the washing machine, dry them in the dryer, and throw them on again an hour later. Taking the time to add volume and freshness to certain types of fabrics can make them look and feel brand new.

Using Spray Starch

Separate out the clothes from your dried laundry that you want to starch, making sure that they retain a little dampness for ease of ironing. Cotton, linen, poplin and similar fabrics used for shirts, summer skirts, blouses and aprons, for example, are perfect for starching.

Set your iron to a low to medium heat. Read the manufacturer's instructions on the side of the spray starch can to see how far away from the fabric you should hold the can, and if you should shake it before spraying. Persil advises to iron the garment as quickly as possible so that you do not scorch the fabric or burn starch onto the iron soleplate.

Hang the clothes on hangers when ironed, so that you do not reintroduce creases and you keep the finish as smooth as possible. When you have finished ironing your starched garments, wipe the iron soleplate with a damp cloth to remove any starch residue.

Starch Rinse After Hand Washing

Mix 4 tbsp of starch with 450ml of cold water in a jug using a wooden spoon to stir the solution. Starch Supplies website suggests to pour the solution into a sinkful of hand-hot water for table linens and sheets. For a stiff finish for dress shirts, bib fronts and table napkins, use very little dilution in washing up bowl .

Immerse each laundered garment into the solution individually, working the starch solution through the fabric, then wring out as much liquid as possible. Hang the clothes to dry either inside or out, rather than using a tumble dryer.

Iron the garments when they're still a little damp. You might need to use a spray mister if they are too dry. Use a medium setting to avoid scorching and discolouring the fabric or the iron soleplate.

Machine Washing and Starch Rinse

Mix a solution of 5 tbsp of starch to 150ml of hand-hot water, as suggested by the Traditional Starch Company. Ensure that it is evenly mixed and not lumpy.

Pour the starch solution into either the fabric conditioner compartment or into the compartment that flushes a final rinse into the washing machine. However, as The Traditional Starch Company advises, add the solution as soon as the machine reaches that cycle, rather than at the beginning of the wash; otherwise, the solution will separate out and may clog your machine.

Hang the clothes out to dry, but iron them when they are still slightly damp. Hang each garment up when ironed and use a spray mister, if needed, to dampen the fabric.


Fabrics with low linen or cotton content, or man-made fibres, are unlikely to take the starch or give a good result in a machine wash. Try hand starching instead, and using a more concentrated solution.


To allow the starch to penetrate all the clothes uniformly, do not overload your washing machine.

Things You'll Need

  • Spray starch
  • Clothes hangers
  • Damp cloth
  • Iron
  • Laundry starch
  • Pint jug
  • 450ml water
  • Wooden spoon
  • Washing up bowl
  • Mist sprayer
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About the Author

Veronica James has been writing since 1985. Her first career was as a specialty-trained theater sister responsible for running routine and emergency operating theaters, as well as teaching medical/nursing students. James's creative and commercial writing has appeared online, in print and on BBC radio. She graduated with an honors Bachelor of Arts in English literature from the University of North London.