Fabrics homemade laundry spray starch recipe (2 of 2)

Published on March 6th, 2011 | by Julie Finn

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How to Make Spray Starch

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How to Make Spray Starch

If you like the feel of spray starch, you’ll love being able to make this quick, easy, and eco-friendly version. Here’s how to make spray starch at home!

I sew a lot of jersey knit fabric, and it’s much easier to sew a skirt from an upcycled T-shirt when the T-shirt fabric doesn’t curl up all fiddly-like.

Spray starch is the solution for lightly, naturally, temporarily (and cheaply!) stiffening knit fabrics while you sew them. The spray starch will wash out in the regular wash that you put your finished project into, and will leave your jersey knit neatly and regularly stitched.

Spray starch, depending on the brand, can be quite expensive, but if you’re a regular consumer you’ll be thrilled (or horrified) to learn how to make spray starch yourself cheaply and easily.

Frankly, homemade spray starch is even better than the store-bought kind because it’s completely customizable. If you want a light starch, you can make it. If you want a heavy starch, well, you can make that, too!

Read on for how to make spray starch and options for customizing it to fit your exact sewing needs:

How to Make Spray Starch

Start your recipe with plain distilled water. The water where I live is hard, and so I always worry about water stains on my pristine white fabric, so I use distilled water in my iron and for laundry recipes like these.

To each cup of water, add between one teaspoon and three teaspoons of cornstarch, depending on how stiff you’d like your spray starch to be. One teaspoon will give a very light starch, suitable for a child’s dress shirt, while three teaspoons is a heavy starch, and what I use when I’m stitching jersey knit.

This is a raw recipe, so it doesn’t require cooking at all. Some spray starch recipes call for boiling the water, but all you have to do with this recipe is funnel it into a spray bottle–simple, quick, and easy to do while little kids pester you.

I believe the theory behind cooking the spray starch is to help it keep longer, so rethink this particular raw recipe if that’s a concern to you, but during times when I haven’t sewn regularly (can you imagine?), I’ve kept this particular spray starch recipe perfectly fine in its spray bottle for several months with no spoilage.

ironing with spray starch (1 of 1)

To use this laundry starch, pour it into an upcycled spray bottle. To lightly scent it, you may add some fresh herbs to the mix–I enjoy fresh lavendar or rosemary, when I have it.

The cornstarch will always settle to the bottom of the bottle when it’s resting, so shake the bottle when you’re ready to use it, then spray your fabric damp and iron dry.

To starch large swathes of fabric, prepare a large amount of this starch solution in a bucket or sink, then dip the fabric into it, ring it out, and iron it dry.

When your project is finished, launder it to remove the starch, and your T-shirt skirt will be perfect!

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About the Author

I'm a writer, crafter, Zombie Preparedness Planner, and homeschooling momma of two kids who will hopefully someday transition into using their genius for good, not the evil machinations and mess-making in which they currently indulge. I'm interested in recycling and nature crafts, food security, STEM education, and the DIY lifestyle, however it's manifested--making myself some underwear out of T-shirts? Done it. Teaching myself guitar? Doing it right now. Visit my blog Craft Knife for a peek at our very weird handmade homeschool life; my etsy shop Pumpkin+Bear for a truly odd number of rainbow-themed beeswax pretties; and my for links to articles about poverty, educational politics, and this famous cat who lives in my neighborhood.



  • Acho_inyaagha

    Thank you for this beautiful site. Can you recommend a preservative that can be added to starch made out of cassava pulp? Cassava starch, which is found mostly in Sub-Saharan Africa ferments faster than corn starch.

    Acho (Nigeria)

  • Song Sparrow Receivng

    I’ve tried essentially this same recipe, but found that it caused a brown build up on my iron.  If I didn’t watch and clean the iron frequently, it would transfer brown streaks onto my fabric.  Any suggestions of what I should do differently avoid this problem?

    • Petra

      Maybe iron the starched fabrics over the baking paper or another fabric? But I think it would take longer time to get dry.

    • http://www.craftknife.blogspot.com Julie Finn

      You may just need to clean your iron frequently. There are pros and cons to pretty much everything, and I’m so paranoid that I’d probably be asking myself, “What weird chemicals are in store-bought spray starch that keeps that build-up from happening?”. At least with elbow grease, you know what’s in it!

    • Emilia

      The brown buildup in your iron is caused by the uncooked starch, that is basically “cooked” by your iron. If you boil the starch this won’t happen. Good luck!

  • http://www.impressiveironmaiden.com Bella

    Hi – I’ve been using a similar recipe but I cook mine to ensure the cornstarch dissolves. To the person who asked about brown streaks. I have a sneaky suspicion that comes from burning the starch. I could be wrong but my experience has been that my starch always turns out a cloudy white color. But, one time, I let it boil too long on the stove (I forgot it was on there) and it turned out brown. For what it’s worth…

  • Rocco

    Thank you so much for this incredibly simple, yet very effective recipe! I just finished starching a few white shirts and it worked perfectly!!! I mixed 2tsp in one cup of distilled water and ironed with settings between medium and high, also no steam. There was no buildup at all on my iron and absolutely no brown streaks on the fabric. Hopefully it will keep being this good. I have a feeling that a slightly lower temperature and the absence of steam might give better results.

    • http://www.craftknife.blogspot.com Julie Finn

      I wonder if using distilled water could also be important to avoiding the brown stains that some people mention?

  • Rocco

    Julie, I think the distilled water is much better for ironing in general because of the absence of minerals. It is possible that the starch and mineral in regular tap water bond and create brown stains more easily. My mom has always used distilled water in her many irons, which makes them work much better and last longer.

  • Barbara Ella

    Brown streaks: I have had the same problem. I do quite well with having a moist cotton cloth at side (folded in layers), soaked with a vinegar-water-solution (appr. 50:50) and wrung out thoroughly. As soon as I have the feeling that the iron’s surface isn’t smooth and clean, I just go over the cloth with it. By the way, the vinegar solution cleans out the tank of my steam iron perfectly as well.
    Good look,
    Barbara

  • Emma

    Can I use arrowroot starch, instead of cornstarch?

  • Bob

    1. Here’s a few suggestions for preservation to try: a few drops of lemon juice. Or a small bit of borax (supermarket). Or alum (Asian supermarket). Others keep their solution/ spray in the refrigerator or make small batches to use for a few days.
    2. Boiling helps dissolve the cornstarch better and sterilizes the solution to keep spoilage away longer.
    3. Some people make starch from potatoes or rice. Recipes on the internet.
    4. Until you get a better feel on the burning/ build up starch problem, keep a soaked vinegar-water rag nearby (as suggested by someone else) to swipe against the iron once in awhile.

  • becka

    thank you so much…i will never buy spray starch again!!!!!! i put the corn starch in a bottle of family dollar fabric refresher and not only u get starch but great smell on cloths

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