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.
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.
Equipment / Tools
- 1 Large measuring cup
- 1 Funnel
- 1 Blank label
- 1 Pen or marker
- 1 Wooden spoon
- 1 Microwave or stovetop
- 1 Spray bottle
- 1 tablespoon Cornstarch
- 2 cups Cold water
- 1 to 2 drops Essential oil of your choice (optional)
How to Make a Homemade Spray Starch
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.
Add Essential Oil
If desired, add one or two drops of essential oil to the mixture. Mix well.
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.
Pour Starch Into Spray Bottle
Transfer the mixture to a clean spray bottle. It's ready to use.
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.
Your small batch of starch will eventually degrade. Dispose of it if you see any mold or if the solution becomes darkened or discolored.
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.
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.
Cuesta L, Silvestre JF, Toledo F, Lucas A, Pérez-Crespo M, Ballester I. Fragrance Contact Allergy: a 4-year Retrospective Study. Contact Dermatitis. 2010;63(2):77-84. doi:10.1111/j.1600-0536.2010.01739.x