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Does starch really damage clothes?

bigbucky

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I see this repeated all the time but never with any real evidence. They are just carbohydrates, how are they causing so much damage? Someone once had a shirt wear out quickly and blamed it on starch when it could have been bad dry cleaning, hot water laundering, or any number of other things that are probably associated with "heavy starch". I call shenanigans. In fact, the starch molecules actually coat the cotton fibers and prevent them from wearing out too quickly. See, it's easy to make up a good story when there is no evidence to support it one way or another.

/starch rant
 

MyOtherLife

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Does starch really damage clothes?
No.

/thread
 

deveandepot1

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Originally Posted by bigbucky
I see this repeated all the time but never with any real evidence. They are just carbohydrates, how are they causing so much damage? Someone once had a shirt wear out quickly and blamed it on starch when it could have been bad dry cleaning, hot water laundering, or any number of other things that are probably associated with "heavy starch". I call shenanigans. In fact, the starch molecules actually coat the cotton fibers and prevent them from wearing out too quickly. See, it's easy to make up a good story when there is no evidence to support it one way or another.

/starch rant


I have a feeling you starch your shirts.
 

majorhancock

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As a starch fan, I do starch my shirts. Not with scattershot Niagara spray starch, but the real, right way:soaking in French rice-based laundry starch, hanging until damp, and then ironing.

I don't have any empiric evidence for the longevity of starched versus unstarched shirts, but I will say that "ring around the collar" is much less of a problem with starched shirts, since the "neck dirt" (who knew necks were so damn dirty?) goes onto the starch, which is then washed away with the next trip to the laundry. That's why they used to make detachable collars.

I love the crisp feel of a starched shirt. Just my 2 cents.
 

patrickBOOTH

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Originally Posted by kermitkebab
You're like me. But I trust the drycleaner. A shirt w/o starch is limp, wrinles easily and looks sloppy. Starch keeps it crisp throughout the day. If the hard collars bother you, think MTM. Or an inexpensive collar extender accessory.

As far as damaging the shirt: Wear, and dirt, and skin oils and washing and heat damage a shirt. Shirts are disposable items. They wear out. Try having many shirts. Nice variety and they all last longer.

Too bad you can't get the collars and cuffs turned anymore. Oh, for those of you who are younger, in my dad's day you could take any shirt to the cleaner and they would detach and reverse the collar and cuffs. Many housewives did this at home. That's when women didn't have to work and stayed home. Few women even know how to sew on a button anymore. But that's the times.

By the way, guys - how many of you could sew on brace buttons on a pair of pants? The drycleaners charge $2 a button and $2 to sew each on. That's $12 for a single pair of trousers.


Well, that is your first mistake...
 

Ataturk

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Making the fabric stiff causes it to abrade faster, for obvious reasons. As to whether starch causes some kind of subatomic instability in cotton, or whatever, I have no idea.
 

patrickBOOTH

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Originally Posted by kermitkebab
My dry cleaner is Korean, very nice, very efficient and reasonably priced. And I'm tired of doing my own shirts. I have no wife, I'm divorced and I don't hire a housekeeper. What do you do?


I have no wife, no housekeeper, but I own a washing machine and an iron. My shirts always come out better when I do them myself.
 

patrickBOOTH

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Originally Posted by kermitkebab
I also send out 7-10 shirts a week. But I do all my own pressing of suits and pants. Drycleaning damages a suit. A good suit, unless it is stained, should not be drycleaned more than once or twice a year, that is, if it's not your only suit. Typically, I will put a fresh crease and a roll in the lapels every time I wear a suit. 5 min work and free.

Free except for the Mwh's.
 

stubloom

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l'll admit that I haven't, as yet, conducted my own scientifically valid, peer reviewed study of the long term impact of starch on cotton fibers. But as the owner of a high-end dry cleaner and shirt laundry, we handle over 50,000 shirts a year. Over a 20 year period that's a lot of shirts. So I have an perspective on the starch vs no starch debate. That having been said, I disagree with 2 comments so far: 1. Starch is just a carbohydrate. Most shirt laundries use synthetic starch, not natural starches like wheat, corn or rice. Synthetic starches bond to shirt fibers like multiple coats of paint, don't dissolve in the washer wheel, and cause shirts to abrade quite quickly. 2. Starch minimizes ring around the collar. Starch may be a factor but it would be last on the list. Soiling of the collar is caused by an individual's biological attributes (body oil, perspiration, etc.), toiletries (moisturizing cream, cologne, etc.), proximity of collar to the neck (open neck vs buttoned up, loose fit vs tight fit, etc.) and, most importantly, circumstances of wearing (one time vs multiple times, office environment vs outdoor environment, etc.). A November SF post covered the starch vs no starch debate in much greater detail... http://www.styleforum.net/showthread.php?t=208626
 

in stitches

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Originally Posted by stubloom
l'll admit that I haven't, as yet, conducted my own scientifically valid, peer reviewed study of the long term impact of starch on cotton fibers. But as the owner of a high-end dry cleaner and shirt laundry, we handle over 50,000 shirts a year. Over a 20 year period that's a lot of shirts. So I have an perspective on the starch vs no starch debate. That having been said, I disagree with 2 comments so far:

1. Starch is just a carbohydrate.

Most shirt laundries use synthetic starch, not natural starches like wheat, corn or rice. Synthetic starches bond to shirt fibers like multiple coats of paint, don't dissolve in the washer wheel, and cause shirts to abrade quite quickly.

2. Starch minimizes ring around the collar.

Starch may be a factor but it would be last on the list. Soiling of the collar is caused by an individual's biological attributes (body oil, perspiration, etc.), toiletries (moisturizing cream, cologne, etc.), proximity of collar to the neck (open neck vs buttoned up, loose fit vs tight fit, etc.) and, most importantly, circumstances of wearing (one time vs multiple times, office environment vs outdoor environment, etc.).

A November SF post covered the starch vs no starch debate in much greater detail...

http://www.styleforum.net/showthread.php?t=208626


nothing like getting it from the pro!
 

gladhands

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I don't know about durability concerns, but heavy starch can definitely make the cloth look shinier than one might like.
 

Shirtmaven

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there is no better feeling then taking a high end fabric that is soft and wonderful and making it feel stiff.
 

Shirtmaven

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there is no better feeling then having a girl stroke your shirt made of high end fabric and something else gets stiff
 

bigbucky

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Originally Posted by Ataturk
Making the fabric stiff causes it to abrade faster, for obvious reasons. As to whether starch causes some kind of subatomic instability in cotton, or whatever, I have no idea.
This is the first rational explanation I've seen. But I still suspect the effect is minimal compared to the warnings I've seen written on this forum.
Originally Posted by stubloom
l'll admit that I haven't, as yet, conducted my own scientifically valid, peer reviewed study of the long term impact of starch on cotton fibers.
I am in the process of obtaining a grant for the study of evidence-based sartorialism as we speak.
Originally Posted by stubloom
Most shirt laundries use synthetic starch, not natural starches like wheat, corn or rice. Synthetic starches bond to shirt fibers like multiple coats of paint, don't dissolve in the washer wheel, and cause shirts to abrade quite quickly.
Fair enough, I am only familiar with the consumer products. Jeez, what could be cheaper than cornstarch. shudder
Originally Posted by Shirtmaven
there is no better feeling then taking a high end fabric that is soft and wonderful and making it feel stiff.
Put on a turtleneck, hippie!
But there is something about a crisp collar on a dress shirt. When I haven't used starch on the collar it just looks limp.
 

Xenon

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Originally Posted by Shirtmaven
there is no better feeling then taking a high end fabric that is soft and wonderful and making it feel stiff.


Totally! Stiff cotton


I was thinking why don't starchers just wear 100% polyester shirts, the ones with thick aramid like fibers. Or better yet what about a steel belted shirt! radially ofcourse
 

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