Tips on how to clean your hats!

by maylyn bertorelli

Just as your about to walk out the door and throw your hat on, you notice that your hat is not in the best shape as it used to be. Maybe there are some oil or stains and depending on the material, it could be a little tricky to get it out. You want to be sure that you chose the right method to clean your hat and not risk damaging it in the process. Here are some tips on how to clean and care for your favorite accessory with household products that do not break the bank!

Firstly, if the hat has a care-instruction label, follow that first and foremost. Some hats specifically say, “dry cleaning only”. If that is written, then its best to follow those directions, otherwise you risk ruining the hat completely.

Hats should ALWAYS be hand-washed, never throw it in the laundry. Even on the gentlest laundry cycle, you risk damaging the hat more than you do cleaning it. Some other “don’t do” tips include do not throw your hats in the dryer or the dishwasher EVER. Even if you have a white hat, do not use bleach! And always clean your hat with COLD water, never hot!

Before you start cleaning ANY of your hats, be sure to do a quick color test. Some hats do not retain color as well as others, this is usually a problem with older hats. To do a quick test, we put a very small amount of detergent/cleaner on a part of the hat that is not so visible (such as the underside) and see if any color begins to wear away. If any color does begin to fade, then you must clean the hat with only water.

Always consider the age of your hats before cleaning them. You want to be very gentle, always perform the color test as mentioned above, and acknowledge the materials it made out of, in and out! For example, a cap made 20 years ago would most likely have a cardboard brim instead of the plastic brims we have today. Therefore, submerging an entire hat in water with that kind of brim would surely ruin the hat all together.


Fill a sink or a larger container with cold water with a tablespoon of detergent or stain-fighting cleaner. Dish soap is fine, but if you REALLY want to clean your hat properly, its best to use detergent or a cleaner. If there are spots, clean those first before completely submerging the hat in water. Use a small toothbrush or scrubber to attack the stains, just be careful around areas where there are stitches to avoid unthreading or breaking a stitch! Then immerse it in the sink for an hour or two, pat away any excess water, and allow it to airdry thereafter.


Wool hats are a bit more particular, be sure to buy a detergent especially for a wool product and do a quick color test (as mentioned under CAPS). Be VERY gentle while scrubbing, if not you will ruin the felt. Its best to run the hat under water instead of submerging it in water. Then, pat it dry to remove some of the excess moisture and to refrain from any collapsing of its shape. Though this may be uncomfortable, its better to wear a wool hat while its wet and drying or to place it on a mannequin head or even something like a watermelon. But wearing it on your head as it dries allows the hat to dry and fit exactly to your head! Wool hats are notorious for losing their shape, so be careful. Our best advice is to clean as you go! Its not time consuming as one may think; simply going over the hat with a lint-roller or a clean toothbrush/scrubber to brush off any debris will make all the difference in caring for your hat!


If you have a straw hat that is embellished with items such as ribbons, charms, etc., remove them prior to cleaning. If it is not possible to, its no problem, but you will have to be more attentive while cleaning. Firstly, we want to brush off any dust or debris! One way is by getting a soft-bristle brush and brushing from the top of the hat to the brim. The other is to use a vacuum with a kind of netting or even a clean sock over the vacuum hose and go over the hat gently.

Then, wipe down the hat with a damp cloth, we do not want large amounts of water exposed to a straw hat at once. Additionally, make sure the cloth is NOT colored, otherwise there is the risk of transferring dye onto the straw! Then its just a matter of letting it air dry.

S T A I N  P R E V E N T I O N

We know its hard to keep any accessory or garment in general free from dirt or stains, but we can at least try to prevent some common problems usually found on hats.

The most common issue is usually sweat stains, especially during those hotter months. We recommend putting some paper towels along the inside brim of the hat to prevent staining. Otherwise, you can use an effective stain-prevention product such as Hat Saver Spray.

If you have a bad oil stain, one efficient method is applying cornstarch to the stained area and allowing it to sit for a few hours. After, either vacuum or brush away the powder, it should have lifted most, if not, all of the oil stain!

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