How to Heavy Starch a Shirt Like the Dry Cleaners

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Create a great look with a clean, starched shirt.
Create a great look with a clean, starched shirt. (Image: Goodshoot RF/Goodshoot/Getty Images)

Starching cloth dates back to the 1400s, when launderers noted that using starch on fabric kept it from wrinkling. Modern dry cleaners often employ starching when finishing clean clothing. A heavy starch makes shirts look crisp and well-maintained. You can obtain a professional look for your clothes at home, even without the machine press that many dry cleaning establishments use, with starch and a proper ironing technique. Iron when the shirt is still slightly damp for best results.

Things You'll Need

  • Iron
  • Ironing board
  • Instant starch powder
  • Basin or bowl
  • Spray starch
  • Hanger

Turn on the iron and set it to reach the proper temperature. Check the shirt’s care label to confirm the manufacturer’s recommendations. Place the iron upright on the ironing board to heat.

Mix the instant starch powder with water, according to package directions, in a wide bowl or basin.

Dip the shirt’s cuffs and collar into the instant starch mixture.

Spray the spray starch lightly over the front of the shirt. Roll up the shirt front and let it sit for a minute or two to allow the starch to soak into the shirt.

Unroll the shirt and flatten the collar on the ironing board.

Iron the underside of the collar, then the top side.

Iron the yoke of the shirt, the upper back section that reaches to the neck and shoulders.

Iron the underside of each cuff, then the outside. Iron each sleeve with slow, steady strokes. Take your time and check for big wrinkles or creases in the sleeves.

Iron the body of the shirt, working on one side and then the other. Work from the top of the shirt down and iron between the buttons without touching them.

Slip the shirt onto a hanger until the fabric has cooled.

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