How To Wash Your Hat Without Ruining It

If you wear hats frequently, you’ve definitely had to deal with odor and stains, but maybe you’re not sure how to clean the most stubborn stains. If your goal is to restore your fabric hat to its former glory, say less. Whether it is a baseball cap, cowboy hat, panama or fedora, we got you. Follow the tips below and we guarantee you’ll have the cleanest and best-maintained hats, to the envy of all your friends and family.

What You’ll Need

  1. Soft bristle brush
  2. Liquid or Powdered Detergent (or combine both)
  3. Bucket, large bowl, or sink
  4. Old Toothbrush
  5. Warm water
  6. Washcloth
  7. Cleaning wipes
  8. Dry Towel

Brush the Hat

Always start by brushing the entire hat with a soft bristle brush to remove loose dirt and dust. Gently brushing is important because layered dust and dirt can prevent the detergent, which you will use later, from getting deep into the fibers of the cap. It can even remove most of what initially looked like a nasty stain.


Protect the Brim

You’ve probably seen other hat cleaning tips out there that tell you to submerge the entire hat in warm, soapy water. While this may work for all cloth hats, this is a big no, no for baseball caps. If your visor gets wet, it will never be the same. You’ll lose the rigidity and end up with a floppy brim that over time won’t hold its curve or worse, looks deformed. Just don’t do it. But if you are cleaning any other type of hat, feel get the brim wet.

Wash the Hat

Basball Cap Visors

Whatever you do, don’t allow the visor to get soaked. Spot clean with a toothbrush or damp washcloth, but make sure not to get it too wet. 

The Crown

Start by filling a sink or a bucket with cold water. Dissolve a couple of tablespoons of liquid or powdered detergent into the water. Use a washcloth to wash the outside and inside of the crown. For stubborn stains, use a toothbrush, scrubbing gently. 

For heavy-duty cleaning, you can submerge the entire hat. Remember, if it is a baseball cap don’t get the brim wet. It’s best to only submerge the back of the cap, keeping the buckram and brim out of the water. If the front of the cap gets wet, it can bleed into the visor and you will have floppy cap syndrome.

The Sweatband

Flip the sweatband out before you scrub it so that you can get both sides. If you use a washcloth, wring it out well so that it is just damp. You can also substitute cleaning wipes instead of a washcloth. Be careful to not get the sweatband soaked near the visor of a baseball cap. Moisture from the sweatband can bleed into the visor and compromise the integrity of the brim. I know. I’m starting to sound like a broken record, but I can’t stress enough the importance of keeping the visor dry.


Rinse the Hat

After scrubbing, you’ll want to rinse the soap and any loosened dirt from the cap. Drain the sink and wash out all the soap from the washcloth. Make sure to squeeze out most of the water from the washcloth and wipe the cap. You can also rinse the cap under the faucet, but remember not to soak the front of the cap. 


Dry the Hat

Always air dry your caps after washing them. Using hairdryers or tossing them in the dryer can cause them to shrink. For the best results, ball up a terrycloth towel and place it inside the cap. The towel will soak up the moisture and allow the cap to dry faster.

By following the simple steps above, you can make sure that your hats continue to look their best. Remember, hats need love too.