People have been using starch for laundry purposes since at least the European Middle Ages. In those days, starchy materials (like bran) would be boiled in water, which would then be used to wash clothing. After the clothes dried, they would be polished with a tool called a “slickstone”, which was often made of rock but could be glass as well. Of course, this was a rather elaborate process, and actually having one’s garments starched was something of a luxury.
Nowadays, laundry starch is generally made from a mixture of vegetables, such as corn, potatoes, wheat, and/or tapioca. Some types can be added directly to washing machines along with the standard load of clothing, but dry cleaners will typically apply starch when pressing garments. All in all, starching has become far more simple and affordable, and nearly anyone can take advantage if they so desire.
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