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Posted on September 14, 2017

Starch and Dress Shirts

When you drop off your dress shirts to be laundered, we always ask if you’d like them to be starched.  If you do, we separate them from those that aren’t going to receive starch, both batches are laundered according to specifications with the shirts receiving starch getting it through a separate cycle, then all shirts meet back up at the finishing department.  But what exactly is starch and what purpose does it serve?

Laundry starch is a vegetable byproduct that’s dried and then mixed with water to create a sticky liquid.  Shirts that are starched, if they are 100% cotton, keep their form longer and are less likely to develop wrinkles.  We specify 100% cotton because they are the only shirts that can be heavily starched; polyester, a man-made synthetic fiber, will not absorb or hold starch the way 100% cotton will.  Starch cannot bind with polyester fibers so you will never get a stiff shirt.

Of course, with everything there are both pros and cons and adding starch to shirts is no exception.

Pro – Starch adds a layer of protection to dress shirts, allowing them to better tolerate rubbing from other flat surfaces.

Con – Starch stiffens fibers, making shirts less flexible, so it lowers the shirt’s ability to withstand bending, twisting, and flexing.

Pro – Tensile strength is the measure of how well fabrics and fibers resist breaking under tension.  The Drycleaning & Laundry Institute conducted a study and found that shirts with medium starch and no starch had similar tensile strength.

Con – However, after being laundered 10 times, the tensile strength on no starch shirts was 29% higher than the shirts with heavy starch.  Heavy starch can decrease the tensile strength of fabrics by increasing its rigidity.

Pro – Starched shirts tend to stay whiter and brighter, maintain a crisper look, and resist staining.

Con – The main purpose of adding starch is to create a stiffness to the fabric; this in turn creates a problem with fiber flexibility, and this lack of flexibility causes the fabric to snap rather than give when strained.

When it comes to starch or no starch, we find that it comes down to personal preference; there’s no right or wrong answer here.  At Shores, we are proud of our Platinum Shirt Laundry and Silver Shirt Services Laundry services, and we know whatever you choose, you’ll be happy with the shirt results from Shores Fine Dry Cleaning.

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