The primary benefit of using laundry starch is probably related to the clean, crisp appearance it tends to give to clothing. People who use starch on their clothes often find that the ironing process is easier afterward. Laundry starch might additionally make it easier for fabric to resist stains, and washing stains out when they do occur is usually not as difficult in clothes that have been starched. In spite of the benefits of starch, there are also some disadvantages. Some people choose to avoid starch in laundry because they think it makes their clothes scratchy and uncomfortable to wear, and it might also reduce the overall life of clothing by breaking the fabric down.
Laundry starch is used most often on business and formal wear, which tends to look better when the fabric is very crisp. People often skip the process of starching clothes they wear every day, although historically people used it on all their clothing. The use of starch to make clothes look neater has been traced as far back as the 16th century, and back then people made it out of corn and water. Even though some people still choose to make their own laundry starch from scratch, it is now possible to purchase the starch at almost any store that sells laundry accessories.
The process of using laundry starch is generally fairly simple. When starch is used in liquid form, it is normally added to a washing machine in much the same way that laundry detergent would be added. After the clothing has been washed, it is either dried in the dryer or hung out to air dry. Starched clothing is usually not allowed to dry completely before it is pressed. Using an iron on clothing that has been washed with starch typically activates the starch, which ultimately gives clothes the clean, crisp appearance that is desired after they have dried completely.
Some people purchase spray-on starch instead of using liquid starch. When spray-on starch is used, clothes are washed in the washing machine as they normally would be and dried until almost completely dry. While the clothes are still slightly damp, the starch is spayed on. The clothing is then ironed and allowed to finish drying, at which point it should feel stiff. The effectiveness of liquid starch versus spray-on starch is debatable, and the type of starch a person should use is ultimately a matter of personal preference.
Even though starch can make clothing look neater, it may be best to avoid using it every time clothing is washed. The stiff look starch can give to fabric can actually cause the fabric to break down faster because once clothing is very stiff, the fabric can actually fray and break when the clothing is bent. Many people choose to either starch only their dressier clothing or simply reserve the use of starch for special occasions when it is important that they look neater than usual.