Starching a shirt is one of the best ways to provide the garment with a look that is crisp and fresh. Apart from minimizing wrinkling and providing a more polished appearance, starch also can help protect the fiber of the shirt and make it possible to enjoy more years of wear. The secret to getting the most out of starching a shirt is knowing how to prepare the garment, managing the proper mixture of the starch, and applying just the right amount to the surface of the fibers. You can use store-bought starch, or create a mixture out of corn starch or vodka.
You can buy starch from the store rather than making your own mixture. Most grocery stores will have starch in the laundry aisle. You can purchase it in liquid or powder form. A few good brands of starches are Niagra Spray Starch, Sta-flo, Dr. Beckmann, and Easy on Double Starch.
If using powdered starch, you will need to mix it with water before use. Take four tablespoons of starch and add it to one pint of hot water in a bowl or jug. Stir until the mixture resembles milk. Then, pour the mixture into a spray bottle for use.
You can use the amount of water and starch recommended above, but you should check with the directions on the starch label before creating the mixture.
Start with a clean shirt.
Prepare the shirt by unbuttoning any buttons on the shirt, including the sleeve and collar buttons. Remove stains before washing by working a little detergent into them with a cloth, or by using a stain remover pen. Then, wash it on the delicate or normal cycle, depending on the instructions, amount of stains, and durability of the fabric. Next, put the shirt on a hanger to air dry.
Avoid putting the shirt into the dryer unless necessary. If you do put it in the dryer, use a low heat setting.
Position the clean shirt on an ironing board.
Lay the garment on the board so that the two halves of the front are hanging over the sides, while the back of the shirt is flat on the surface of the board. You will start by starching the front of the shirt.
Spray the starch on the front of the shirt.
Apply the starch in a light and even coat across the expanse of the shirt. Wait a couple of seconds to allow the product to seep into the material of the garment. Then, press lightly using an iron set to the recommended heat level for the material.
If a heat level is not recommended, use a high heat setting so that you will cook the starch.
Repeat on the back of the shirt.
Turn the garment so that the back of the shirt is facing up on the ironing board, and then apply an even coating of starch. Iron carefully the back of the shirt. Continue the process by starching and ironing each arm, finishing the job with an application of the starch to the collar.
Hang the shirt immediately.
Place the garment on a shirt hanger, and allow the garment to be exposed to fresh air for a couple of moments before placing it in a closet. This will provide time for the starch to finishing adhering to the fibers of the garment and provide a superior hold, creating the crisp texture and look that you want.
Create the mixture.
You can make your own starch mixture out of cornstarch and water. Mix 1 ½ tablespoons of cornstarch with 2 cups of water. Stir it until it looks milky. Pour the mixture into a bowl or into the sink. Add warm water until the sink or bowl is nearly filled.
You should have enough water in the bowl or sink so that the shirt can move freely. Not enough water can result in a board stiff shirt.
Use distilled water if you have hard tap water. If not, tap water should be fine to use.
Immerse the shirt into the bowl.
If the shirt is colored, turn it inside out. Then, immerse the shirt into the water. Work it through and then squeeze out the excess water. You should only immerse one shirt into the water at a time.
Put the shirt into the washing machine.
You can also choose to starch the shirt in the washing machine rather than soaking it with your own hands. Allow the shirt to run through one regular wash cycle and then pause it as it reaches the final rinse through the drum. Then, pour the mixture into the fabric softener dispenser, or directly into the flow of water.
Do not pour the mixture in and allow it to sit in the dispenser throughout the entire washing cycle, or it may cause clogging.
Hang the shirt to dry.
Put the shirt on a hanger and allow it to dry until it is damp. Once it is damp, remove it from the hanger. Iron it while it is still slightly damp. This will make the shirt crisp and wrinkle free.
Make sure not to use too high of a heat setting if your shirt is made of a delicate fabric.
Prepare the shirt in advance.
In order to get the best results, wash and thoroughly dry the shirt before attempting to apply any type of starch to the garment. Washing removes any dirt or grime that could interfere with the stiffening properties of the starch, as well as inhibit the ability of the product to protect the fibers in the weave of the shirt.
Make a mixture.
Vodka is great for cleaning, disinfecting, and freshening rooms. It can also be used to make fabric crisper. Use 1/3 cup of vodka and mix it with 2/3 cups of water. Shake to combine and pour the mixture into a spray bottle.
Any type of non-flavored vodka will work.
Lay the shirt on an ironing board.
Lay it with the front side up on the ironing board. Turn on the iron onto the highest heat setting possible for the type of fabric. Spray the mixture evenly throughout the shirt. Iron the inside of the shirt first. Then, iron the collar, cuffs, sleeves, and the rest of the shirt. Repeat the process on the back side of the shirt.
The back of the shirt creases easier than the front of the shirt. Make sure the back is flattened out completely on the ironing board.
Hang it up.
Carefully put the shirt onto a hanger. Hang it in a place where it will not be touched by anything or too close to other clothes. Let it hang overnight and then hang it in its usual place in the closet.