….that is the question. Applying starch is one of the most commonly used dry cleaning techniques when it comes to men’s dress shirts. It’s purpose is to secure creases and give the fabric a crisp, semi-stiff appearance. But just what exactly is starch exactly?

What is Starch?

Starch is a compound created by plants and a crucial carbohydrate in the human diet, but outside of this, it has several practical and beneficial purposes. When mixed with warm water, it creates a thick, white, sticky paste, which has been used as an agent for thickening substances since as far back as Egyptian culture. In the 16th century, the paste was modified to create the starch that we commonly associate with dry cleaners today (although, we have further altered and advanced it over time). It was discovered that sweat, debris, dirt, and other grime would attach to starch—as opposed to the clothes—and the fabric would be easier to clean. This is still one benefit of starching clothing and one reason why starch continues to be used in the dry cleaning industry.

How Much Do I Need?

When you ask for starch, it is important to remember to specify light, medium or heavy. But how do you know what level of starch to use? Well, the answer is a matter of what you prefer based on how you want the shirt to look and/or feel. So the bottom line is, the more starch used, the stiffer the fabric will be.

Why Use Starch?

The most common reason people use starch is for aesthetics. Most people feel a starched, pressed shirt looks more professional and clean under a business suit. Dresses and other more formal attire can remain wrinkle free for longer after being starched. Another reason people choose to use starch is that it can extend the period in between necessary dry cleaning visits. Some people shy away from starch because they believe it can overly stiffen the fabric, cause caked spots, or leave behind residue. This is possible, but if you use a reputable, experienced dry cleaner, they will avoid over starching. So bring in your clothes today and let one of Pride Cleaner’s experts help you choose the level of starch that’s right for you.