How to Make a Homemade Spray Starch for Smooth Ironing

spray starch next to an iron

The Spruce / Ana Cadena

Project Overview
  • Working Time: 5 - 10 mins
  • Total Time: 5 - 10 mins
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Estimated Cost: $5

Spray starch is a traditional aid for ironing natural fabrics like cotton, linen, bamboo, and rayon. It helps the iron glide smoothly over the fabric and adds body or crispness to collars and pleats. Starching clothes helps them last longer because stains, dirt, and perspiration do not penetrate the fabric fibers as deeply so cleaning is easier.

For many sewing projects, a bit of spray starch can make the job of cutting fabric easier. Quilters find it is one of their best tools when piecing different fabrics and applying appliques because it helps ensure crisp seams.

Learn how to make your own starch spray with these easy instructions and a pantry item.

How Often to Make Spray Starch

How often do you use starch and how crisp do you like your shirts? How often do you iron? The answers to those questions will help determine how frequently you'll need to make starch. Ideally, you should make a fresh batch each time you iron because the homemade version can clog a spray bottle. Since it takes only minutes to mix, consider starting fresh before every ironing session.

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Click Play to Learn How to Make Spray Starch

Before You Begin

Most commercial spray starches and sizing are sold in aerosol cans that contain flammable alcohol propellants. Additives may include formaldehyde and other chemicals like fragrance which can be an allergy trigger.

There are environmentally-friendly cornstarch-based brands sold in spray bottles but making your own is easy and cost-effective. By using this recipe, you control the scent, reuse containers, and reduce waste.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • 1 Large measuring cup
  • 1 Funnel
  • 1 Blank label
  • 1 Pen or marker
  • 1 Wooden spoon
  • 1 Microwave or stovetop

Materials

  • 1 Spray bottle
  • 1 tablespoon Cornstarch
  • 2 cups Cold water
  • 1 to 2 drops Essential oil of your choice (optional)

Instructions

How to Make a Homemade Spray Starch

ingredients for spray starch

The Spruce / Ana Cadena

  1. Dissolve Cornstarch in Water

    In a large measuring cup or bowl, add one heaping tablespoon of cornstarch to two cups of cold water. Stir until the cornstarch is completely dissolved. The mixture will be milky in color.

    If you like stiff, crisp shirts, add another tablespoon of cornstarch.

    Mixing corn starch and water in a mixing bowl

    The Spruce / Ana Cadena

  2. Add Essential Oil

    If desired, add one or two drops of essential oil to the mixture. Mix well.

    Adding essential oil to starch mixture

    The Spruce / Ana Cadena

  3. Label the Bottle

    Add a written or printed label to the bottle that says "Spray Starch." You might want to add, "Shake well before each use" to remind yourself of that crucial step. The cornstarch will settle and it needs to be remixed before each use.

    Labeled spray starch bottle

    The Spruce / Ana Cadena

  4. Pour Starch Into Spray Bottle

    Transfer the mixture to a clean spray bottle. It's ready to use.

    Tip

    If you find the starch clogs the spray nozzle, try heating the mixture. Pour the starch into a microwave-safe bowl or cup. Heat on high until the mixture boils. Let the starch cool completely and pour it back into the freshly-washed spray bottle.

    preparing spray starch

    The Spruce / Ana Cadena

  5. Store the Bottle

    You should store the starch in a dark, cool cupboard. It should be used within a couple of weeks or stored in the refrigerator to extend its life.

    Warning

    Your small batch of starch will eventually degrade. Dispose of it if you see any mold or if the solution becomes darkened or discolored.

    using spray starch

    The Spruce / Ana Cadena

Tips for Using Homemade Spray Starch

  • Shake the spray bottle well before each use in an ironing session.
  • A little starch goes a long way, so use sparingly unless you like stiff fabrics.
  • Starch is ineffective on synthetic fabrics and will add only moderate crispness to mixed blend fabrics.
  • After spraying starch onto the fabric, wait a few seconds to iron so the starch can penetrate the fibers.
  • To remove starch build-up from the faceplate of your iron, allow the iron to cool. Wet a cloth with white vinegar and wipe away the build-up.
  • Homemade spray starch may leave white spots on dark fabrics.
  • Do not store starched clothing or linens for long periods or they may become discolored or attract bugs. Store freshly cleaned and unstarched items for the long term.
FAQ
  • Can hairspray be used as an alternative to spray starch?

    You should never combine hairspray and heat from an iron. This can cause discoloration, staining, and scorching of fabrics.

  • What are the ingredients in ironing starch?

    Laundry starch is made from rice, corn, or wheat. Starch creates soil resistance, easier soil removal, and makes ironing easier.

  • Can you use spray starch without an iron?

    You can use spray starch to add protection to fibers when you are using a clothes steamer to remove wrinkles. However, there will be no stiffness or crispness added to the fabric.

Originally written by
Erin Huffstetler
Erin Huffstetler is a frugal living expert who has been writing for over 10 years about easy ways to save money at home. She's covered money-saving advice and tricks for numerous publications, including The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and Forbes, among others. She is the owner of "My Frugal Home," a money-saving, frugal living how-to guide.
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  1. Cuesta L, Silvestre JF, Toledo F, Lucas A, Pérez-Crespo M, Ballester I. Fragrance Contact Allergy: a 4-year Retrospective StudyContact Dermatitis. 2010;63(2):77-84. doi:10.1111/j.1600-0536.2010.01739.x