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How to Starch Doilies

Trish Popovitch

Doilies make lovely gifts and add a finishing touch to tables and furniture. Maintaining the shape and look of a doily relies on properly cleaning and starching it. Starch is the special trick to keeping doilies looking as good as new.


  1. Wash the doily with warm tap water and dish detergent. Avoid abrasive cleaners and overly scented detergents. Avoid rubbing the doily, even in an effort to remove stains. Simply press it between your fingertips while it is warm and soapy.

  2. Lay the doily on a flat surface and gently push it until flat. Leave it in this position for 15 seconds before rinsing it in cold tap water. If you feel it needs another round of washing, make sure also to repeat the flattening step. This helps prevent over-stressing of the fibers.

  3. Place one cup of powdered starch into a cooking pot containing 2 1/2 cups of cold tap water and stir with a wooden spoon until dissolved.

  4. Heat the starch mixture over very low heat. The idea is not to bring it to a boil but to ensure that the starch completely dissolves into the water. Once the mixture is completely clear and free of granules, remove from the heat and cool to room temperature.

  5. Place the doily between the folds of a clean absorbent towel and push on the surface to remove excess moisture. Avoid excess pressure. Gentle dabbing is sufficient.

  6. Dip the doily into the cooled starch mixture before laying it on a flat surface to dry. Be sure the doily is shaped correctly while drying.

  7. Press a warm iron over both sides of the doily to seal the starch mixture into the fabric.

  8. Tip

    Purchase spray or liquid starch if you do not have the time to create your own starch mixture. Be sure to follow the directions carefully. You can also dissolve 2 1/2 cups of sugar into a 1/2 cup of water and boil to create the traditional doily starch recipe. Allow to cool before dipping the doily into the mix and tweaking the final shape with your fingers. Do not iron. Do not wring water out of the doily, as this will stretch and damage the fibers.