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Old Jun 3, 2009, 07:31 PM   #1
jb60606
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Why "starch" your shirts?

I feel stupid asking this, but what does starching do? Does it "stiffen" the thread or something so that the clothing maintains "shape"?

Are there any negative affects on the clothing or skin? If they offered you "low, medium or high" starch (as I was offered, and I later declined - not knowing what its exact purpose was) what would you normally choose?

The lady behind the counter could barely speak a word of english, so I couldn't really ask her.

Thanks
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Old Jun 3, 2009, 07:44 PM   #2
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It does add stiffness to the fabric, mainly to maintain a crisp, pressed appearance longer into the day. Mainly for men's dress shirts, and also mainly when the fabric is cotton or wool. Man-made fibers shouldn't generally be starched.

My dry cleaners starches all my polyester tropical short-sleeves, and doesn't for my dress shirts. I'm going to have to kill them now.
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Old Jun 3, 2009, 08:15 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by jb60606 View Post
Are there any negative affects on the clothing or skin?
Nothing like starched shirt to give me that nice itchy feeling. I hate having my shirt starched.
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Old Jun 3, 2009, 08:25 PM   #4
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According to Wikipedia:

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Originally Posted by Wikipedia
Clothing starch or laundry starch is a liquid that is prepared by mixing a vegetable starch in water (earlier preparations also had to be boiled), and is used in the laundering of clothes. Starch was widely used in Europe in the 16th and 17th centuries to stiffen the wide collars and ruffs of fine linen which surrounded the necks of the well-to-do. During the 19th century and early 20th century, it was stylish to stiffen the collars and sleeves of men's shirts and the ruffles of girls' petticoats by applying starch to them as the clean clothes were being ironed. Aside from the smooth, crisp edges it gave to clothing, it served practical purposes as well. Dirt and sweat from a person's neck and wrists would stick to the starch rather than to the fibers of the clothing, and would easily wash away along with the starch. After each laundering, the starch would be reapplied. Today the product is sold in aerosol cans for home use.
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Old Jun 3, 2009, 10:00 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jb60606 View Post
I feel stupid asking this, but what does starching do? Does it "stiffen" the thread or something so that the clothing maintains "shape"?
It "stiffens" the fabric as you described, yes. It also helps to keep the fabric from wrinkling so easily, so a starched shirt will stay looking fresh and pressed well into the day as you're wearing it.

Quote:
Are there any negative affects on the clothing or skin? If they offered you "low, medium or high" starch (as I was offered, and I later declined - not knowing what its exact purpose was) what would you normally choose?
I've never heard of any negative effects. Perhaps if you're allergic to starch, but I've never heard of that.

I assume your clothes are cotton or broadcloth, starch won't hurt those; permanent press, nylon, etc. are generally wrinkle-free on their own and don't need starch, plus I don't know if the starch will even permeate them correctly.

I usually only have my dress shirts and cotton slacks/khakis starched, I go for heavy on the shirts and medium on the khakis.

Quote:
The lady behind the counter could barely speak a word of english,
Seems to be the norm for dry cleaners - I don't really know why.
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Old Jun 3, 2009, 10:15 PM   #6
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I find that light starch for dress shirts gives them a little bit of crispness and keeps the shirt looking fresh.

Give it a try and see if you like the results....that's your best bet
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Old Jun 3, 2009, 10:56 PM   #7
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I say no to starch: don't like the feel or the look.
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Old Jun 3, 2009, 10:57 PM   #8
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I've never used starch on any of my clothing.

Last edited by themoonisdown09; Jun 3, 2009 at 11:11 PM. Reason: I love rubbing my hemorrhoids!
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Old Jun 3, 2009, 11:03 PM   #9
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We used to have to starch our BDU uniforms, but they have since done away with that for the ACUs. It caused them to fade faster and trap heat inside - leaving you to sweat more.

Last edited by r.j.s; Jun 3, 2009 at 11:03 PM. Reason: starch - nom nom nom nom
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Old Jun 5, 2009, 12:48 AM   #10
jb60606
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Thanks for the info, folks. I'm going to give light starch a trial run to see how my normally sensitive skin reacts. I always hate how my shirts look at the end of the day.
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Old Jun 5, 2009, 12:50 AM   #11
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I'm a little OCD about wrinkles on clothing... I just can't stand the appearance, looks very messy. Using starch really helps eliminate them and keeps the shirt looking crisp all day long.

/OCD rant.
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Old Jun 5, 2009, 12:55 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by r.j.s View Post
We used to have to starch our BDU uniforms, but they have since done away with that for the ACUs. It caused them to fade faster and trap heat inside - leaving you to sweat more.
BDU uniforms... You're one of those guys who says PIN number and ATM machine, aren't you?
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Old Jun 5, 2009, 05:33 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by Signal-11 View Post
BDU uniforms... You're one of those guys who says PIN number and ATM machine, aren't you?
Actually, no. I was being repetitive for clarity - since the vast majority will not know what BDUs are.

Last edited by r.j.s; Jun 5, 2009 at 05:33 AM. Reason: Time for Fourth Meal.
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Old Jun 5, 2009, 05:45 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by Signal-11 View Post
BDU uniforms... You're one of those guys who says PIN number and ATM machine, aren't you?
What do you call them?
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Old Jun 5, 2009, 06:24 AM   #15
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I like my shirts with medium starch
Seems to work out well for me

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Old Jun 5, 2009, 07:32 AM   #16
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LL Bean makes wrinkle resistant shirts that are so good you never even have to press them (they even have permanent creases on the sleeves and cuffs). I stopped taking shirts to the dry cleaners years ago.
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Old Jun 5, 2009, 10:04 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by arkitect View Post
What do you call them?
Is this a trick question? I do see the smiley.

PIN= Personal Identification Number

PIN number = Personal Identification Number number

I call it a PIN or an ATM.

As for the starch question, my grandma starches her clothes. I don't even want to iron mine.
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Old Jun 5, 2009, 11:28 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by r.j.s View Post
Actually, no. I was being repetitive for clarity - since the vast majority will not know what BDUs are.
Relax, man. I'm just giving you a hard time.
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Old Jun 5, 2009, 11:31 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by millerj123 View Post
Is this a trick question? I do see the smiley.

PIN= Personal Identification Number
PIN number = Personal Identification Number number
I call it a PIN or an ATM.
Read this post… it was in answer to:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Signal-11 View Post
BDU uniforms... You're one of those guys who says PIN number and ATM machine, aren't you?
So I just wanted to know what Signal-11 calls them.
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Old Jun 5, 2009, 11:38 AM   #20
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Originally Posted by iGary View Post
LL Bean makes wrinkle resistant shirts that are so good you never even have to press them (they even have permanent creases on the sleeves and cuffs). I stopped taking shirts to the dry cleaners years ago.
Yeah, all my work shirts are the no-iron shirts from brooks brothers, they have a permanent crease and as long as you hang them up out of the dryer, they are wrinkle free. oh yeah-- you can launder them with your regular clothes too, so no need to dry clean, which is nice.
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Old Jun 5, 2009, 07:19 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by r.j.s View Post
Actually, no. I was being repetitive for clarity - since the vast majority will not know what BDUs are.
Except that it didn't explain what the B or D stood for

/ No, seriously, what does B D Uniform mean?
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Old Jun 5, 2009, 07:23 PM   #22
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Except that it didn't explain what the B or D stood for

/ No, seriously, what does B D Uniform mean?
Battle Dress Uniform.

They used to come in heavier weight 50/50 Nyco or lighter weight cotton ripstop. Either way, like RJS mentioned, starching them would tended to kill all breathibility and turn the blouse into a heat trap.
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Old Jun 5, 2009, 07:44 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Signal-11 View Post
Battle Dress Uniform.

They used to come in heavier weight 50/50 Nyco or lighter weight cotton ripstop. Either way, like RJS mentioned, starching them would tended to kill all breathibility and turn the blouse into a heat trap.
I'm betting this is some kind of British language thing where you're a soldier but call your outfit a blouse and dress... Like how pants are underwear.
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Old Jun 5, 2009, 08:43 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MarkCollette View Post
I'm betting this is some kind of British language thing where you're a soldier but call your outfit a blouse and dress... Like how pants are underwear.
Nope. Just specific terminology for the type of attire, though we did inherit it predominately from the Brits. Blouse, not to be confused with shirt or coat, but is worn in lieu of either. Also not to be confused with blousing, which is what is done to pants instead of leaving the cuffs to hang open outside footwear.

Dress, not an article of clothing, but denoting a manner or occasion of wear, as in battle dress, dinner dress (aka dress mess), dress whites/undress whites, etc.

Retired 11 years and I still check my gig line…
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Old Jun 5, 2009, 09:15 PM   #25
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My dry cleaners starches all my polyester tropical short-sleeves, and doesn't for my dress shirts. I'm going to have to kill them now.
It's worse when they double-crease the whites. Or, worse, double-crease the poly-wool khakis that already have permanent creases. That's a ticket to a new shirt. I've taken to just telling them to clean the shirts without pressing. I do a better job anyway.

Oh, and the gig line thing...yeah...
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