Our friend Ann Sheehan is wrapping up this series of ironing posts with one all about "Spray Starch for Ironing" and it will tell you both how to use spray starch and how to make spray starch at home.
Thanks for reading!
by Julie Baka
Spray starch can be a great asset when you are ironing. It allows the iron to glide smoother, stabilizes the fabric you are working with, and adheres to sweat and grime so clothing stays cleaner longer. It can be purchased at any big box store or made at home with items from your pantry. Plus, using spray starch when you iron will save you money since you don't have to send everything to the dry cleaners to look professionally pressed!
Here are examples of when to use spray starch...
Have your kids been using your favorite cotton shirt to play dress-up? Cotton is a wonderful material to wear, but can wrinkle easily. Use spray starch while ironing it and it will stay wrinkle-free and fresher-looking for a longer period of time.
Does your son go to parochial school or is your daughter in ROTC? Using spray starch while ironing their clothes will make the creases in pants crisper and skirt pleats lie flatter.
Sewing and Quilting
Does the fabric slip and slide while you are trying to cut intricate corners on pattern pieces for a dress or squares for quilting? Spritz the material with spray starch and let it dry. The fabric will be much easier to cut, will keep its shape much better, and the raw edges will not ravel as much. Simply launder the starch out of the fabric when you are done.
Ironing Board Cover
Do you spend half of the time you are ironing just fighting with the ironing board cover? A great tip is to launder the cover, take it out of the dryer while still damp, and then spray the whole thing with spray starch. Immediately put it on the ironing board and let it dry. Voila! The cover will fit perfectly to your ironing board, fabric will slide over it easier, and it will remain stain-free and clean for a longer period of time.
Thanksgiving Dinner is at your house this year? Ironing the large tablecloth will be easier if you fold it in half, squirt with spray starch and iron. Be sure not to iron the folds, as it will cause a crease. Making fancy napkin shapes? Spray the napkin lightly with spray starch, iron, and repeat as often as necessary to get the amount of stability that you need to turn that napkin into a rose, a pinwheel or even a turkey!
Using spray starch while ironing certainly makes the chore easier. But purchasing spray starch from the store can be expensive, not to mention inconvenient and environmentally unfriendly. Store-bought spray starch usually comes in an aerosol can and often contains formaldehyde as a preservative!
Thankfully, homemade spray starch is easy to prepare since it is made with ingredients found in most pantries. And it can be made in different strengths, so you can customize it to your needs at a particular time.
There are several different recipes for making a homemade spray starch. The best idea is to play around and tweak it until you find the perfect concoction to fit your particular needs. If you are ironing a blouse, use a little less starch. Denim jeans would require a heavier spray starch. A few drops of essential oil like lavender, lemon, or jasmine will give it a nice scent.
Combine 1 to 3 heaping tablespoons of cornstarch with a pint of cold water. Stir until the cornstarch completely dissolves, giving the mixture a milky color. Use a funnel to transfer the liquid to a plastic spray bottle. The problem with this method is the solution must be shaken before each use, as the cornstarch will settle on the bottom.
Mix a half cup of cornstarch with three cups of water. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently so the cornstarch will not burn on the bottom of the pan. Cook for about twenty minutes. After it has cooled, use a strainer and a funnel to pour into a spray bottle. More water can be added if a lighter starch is desired. This method does not require any shaking before use.
Follow the package directions for making regular rice in boiling water. Most of the starch from the rice will remain in the water. Wait until the water cools and pour it into a spray bottle. The bonus with this method is you can also eat the rice!
Since it is prepared with natural materials, homemade spray starch can go bad in a week or so. You can alleviate this problem in a couple of different ways.
In fact, you can even use straight vodka instead of spray starch while ironing, as the alcohol will merely burn off. But using vodka will obviously not save you any money, and may make your friends and family members wonder what you are really doing...