Starching – types of starch

Starching There’s nothing nicer than snowy white, starched table linen and bed linen, and many other articles can be improved with a touch of starch. Less Starching is done these days because of the many specially treated fabrics available; drip-dry, crease-resistant and permanent glazed fabrics. There are various types of starch available:

BOILING WATER STARCH. To some younger housewives, starching is something of a mystery. They find it hard to ‘turn’ the starch without achieving a bowl full of lumps, rather like jellyfish. And once they’ve strained off the lumps, they have no idea how much extra water to add, so their cotton dresses are like limp muslin, their handkerchiefs stiff as buckram. If the packet doesn’t give adequate instructions, a note to the starch manufacturers will bring a book on the subject, setting out clearly how to use starch. Remember that well-worn fabrics take up less starch than newer materials, and should therefore be dipped in a stronger solution. Cotton absorbs starch less readily than linen, and also needs a stronger solution.

COLD WATER STARCH. Exactly the same starch is used as for boiling water starch, it is simply the method which is different. Cold water starching is used for smaller articles where maximum stiffness is required cuffs, collars, shirt fronts, etc. Mix two heaped tablespoonfuls of starch with cold water to produce a smooth cream. Add enough water to bring solution up to a pint. Immerse the clean, dry linen in the solution, twisting and kneading thoroughly. Withdraw the article from the solution and remove any excess starch by running between finger and thumb. Rub article between your hands to ensure that the starch penetrates. Wipe off any surplus starch with a clean cloth before ironing the article very damp, continuing the ironing until the linen is quite dry. For a high gloss, use a very hot iron, and maximum pressure on the iron.

INSTANT STARCH. This does not need boiling water-you fill a bowl with cold or lukewarm water (usually 4 pints) and sprinkle in two heaped table- spoonfuls instant starch. (Or to starch a few articles sprinkle one level tablespoonful into two pints of water.) Use in the usual way. Because of the ease with which it can be prepared, instant starch has a place in the home where small quantities need quick starching.

PLASTIC STIFFENER. As the name implies, this adds a slight stiffening in though it does not give the crispness of boiling water starch, and gives no gloss. One treatment lasts through 3 Humber of Washes. Use strictly according to the manufacturer’s instructions, as once used it is difficult to remove, being in fact a prepared plastics solution based on polyvinyl acetate, It can be used on cottons and linens if wished, and also for paper nylon and rayon, which require light stiffening. Spray-On-Starches. These are growing in popularity as housewives find how useful it is to be able to spray a small area-say the front of a blouse-at the ironing-board stage, and here the advantage of damping the garment down evenly, too. These aerosols are not cheap, but last for a reasonable time when used only for small-quantity starching.


STIFFENING WITH GUM ARABIC. Gum arabic gives a slightly stiffened finish to fine silk, though wild silk (tussore and shantung) should never be stiffened. To make solution, dissolve 2 oz. gum arabic crystals in 5 pint warm water in old saucepan. Heat very gently, stirring frequently, until crystals have dissolved, then strain and bottle. When required, dilute by adding between 1 and 5 teaspoonfuls solution to 1 pint hot water, depending on fineness of fabric. Ordinary stationer’s gum is an effective and much easier alternative. Simply add between one and four teaspoonfuls of gum to a pint of hot water, mix thoroughly, and use as a final rinse.