Should linen shirts be starched

Laundry starch / laundry soap

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The starch gives fabric a certain strength and the fabrics can be smoothed out more easily. In addition, it should prevent tissue from becoming soiled again quickly. Bed and table linen, napkins, aprons, blouses and shirts, but also chef's hats and hoods, are usually starched. Nowadays, however, strengths have become rare, especially in private households.
Natural starch can be obtained from rice, → potatoes and corn. In order to gain starch itself, potatoes are rubbed in a little water and then placed in a fabric sack that is not too tightly woven. Then the water is squeezed out of the potatoes and collected in a vessel. After a while, the starch settles on the ground.


Pure strength

Laundry starch is offered as a pure starch, for example rice starch (see Figure 1). It is in the pack in a dried form (fragments of different sizes). There are two methods of application. In the raw starch process, the starch is dissolved in cold water and items of laundry, such as chef's hats or nurses' hats, are strengthened in the cold solution.
In the second method, the starch (the amount depends on the desired degree of strength and the amount of laundry) is first mixed in a little cold water before use and then poured with boiling water while stirring constantly (preferably with a whisk). From a certain amount of hot water, the starch solution begins to thicken and the previously white solution (see Figure 2) becomes a little clearer (see Figure 3). The ready-to-use starch can be used in the → washing machine or by hand in a bucket or bowl. In the washing machine, the mixed starch can be put into the dosing chambers for the pre- or main wash, as the compartment for the starch is generally too small. If the washing machine has a → "Starch" washing program, the starch can also be poured directly into the washing drum. Cold water has to be added for starching by hand; this is also useful if the mixed starch is supposed to stand a little before it is used.

Figure 1: Dry rice starchFigure 2: Starch mixed with cold water.Figure 3: Rice starch infused with hot water.
Figure 1: Dry rice starch
Figure 2: Starch mixed with cold water.
Figure 3: Rice starch infused with hot water.

Liquid starch

Alternatively there is liquid starch. In addition to the starch, they usually also contain preservatives, fragrances and sometimes auxiliary substances. Liquid starch can be used directly.

Spray starch

Spray starch is offered as a pump bottle (trigger spray) or a spray can (aerosol spray). In addition to preservatives and fragrances, these products can contain other additives (e.g. silicone-based lubricants) and propellants. The starch spray is sprayed directly onto the fabric from a distance before ironing. It should be noted that the floor can become very slippery from the lubricant!

Strength grades

Hoffmanns has introduced "starch grades" for its starch products. After that, spray starch has strength grade 1, liquid starch strength grade 2, laundry stiffness strength grade 3 and rice starch has strength grade 4 (Figure 4).

Figure 4: Strength grade 4

To illustrate the effect of starch, four cotton handkerchiefs have been treated with different starch products. Figure 5 shows a handkerchief strengthened with spray starch compared to an unstarched one. Due to the strength, the fabric does not collapse that much and appears smoother. Particularly high rigidity can be achieved with rice starch (Figure 6), with which chef's hats and hoods can be brought to a standstill.

Figure 5: Spray starch in comparison with an unstarched cotton handkerchief

Figure 6: Rice starch compared with liquid starch

Operational use

For professional use, there are powdered starch or liquid starch, which can also be obtained in larger containers. The starch can be obtained from rice, wheat or a mixture of different grains. The dosage depends on the product: Diluted or undiluted liquid starch is added to the last rinse or a starch bath, while the powder is used directly or a stock solution is made up and placed in the washing machine. Automatic dosing can be implemented. The possible procedures depend on the product and can be requested from the respective manufacturer. For powder, for example, powder dosing is possible or a stock solution can be prepared and its dosing monitored optically or electronically.


Reckitt Benckiser product information, last visited on 8/22/2019
Hoffmann's product information "Strength Grade", last visited on January 14, 2015
Burnus laundry starch, powdered wheat starch, accessed on August 22, 2019
Ecolab Noxa Liquid, liquid laundry starch. accessed on August 22, 2019
Ecolab Noxa profi, natural rice-based starch, accessed on August 22, 2019
Hoffmanns direct starch, dry, cold and cooked starch for large companies, accessed on August 22, 2019
Get laundry starch Super Gel Fluid, accessed on February 17, 2014
Barbara Orland: Washing clothes, technical and social history of domestic laundry care, 1991

Detailed references

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