Cleaning Tips, Guides & Resources

3 Methods to Remove Sweat Stains from Hats

3 easy ways to get sweat stains out of hats

If you’re out in the sun or it’s just a hot day in general, there’s a very good chance that you will be sweating under the hat you are wearing! Obviously, this salty sweat gets absorbed by the material and, over time, the repeated process of absorption and drying leaves a stubborn, unsightly sweat stain on your hat. This is especially a problem with ‘P-caps’ or baseball caps that are worn when playing sports, exercising, and performing other physical activities. 

If you want to know how to remove sweat stains from a hat, there is a little more to it than one might think. So, before you toss just about any kind of hat in the washing machine, give this article a thorough read to learn the safest ways to eliminate sweat stains from caps! 

Things to Keep in Mind

woman holding washing instructions for a hat

The last thing you want to do is ruin your hat by using the wrong cleaning method when attempting to get sweat stains out of it. This can easily happen if you don’t keep the following factors in mind:


Knowing the type of material your hat is made of will dictate the best and safest cleaning methods to use on it. Check the tag inside the hat for this crucial information.

Colour Fastness

Since some cleaning methods involve soaking/dampening the material, it is advisable to do a colourfast test on an inconspicuous area of the hat. For this, take a clean, white cloth and moisten one end of it; gently rub it over the material and check if the colour comes off. If it passes the test, you have nothing to worry about; if it doesn’t, avoid soaking or saturating the hat when cleaning sweat stains.

Washing Instructions

Hats generally have washing instructions mentioned on the care tag/label inside the hat. If there are no labels or washing symbols indicating the recommended type of cleaning/care required, refer to the manufacturer’s website for these details.

Additional Tips

  • Never use bleach or bleaching agents
  • Always use the top rack of the dishwasher and never put in dirty dishes or other items
  • Don’t machine-wash the hat unless specified otherwise on the label
  • Use a cap rack or cap cage when washing hats/caps in a washing machine or dishwasher 
  • Never dry wet or damp hats in the dryer
  • Keep out of direct sunlight when wet or damp

3 Methods to Remove Sweat Stains from Hats

woman pouring green laundry detergent into laundry detergent cap with 3 folded towels in the background

With the information and tips above firmly in mind, you may proceed with a method that is either appropriate for the material, or in accordance with the hat’s specific washing instructions. For your convenience, MaidForYou has put together three cleaning guides to get sweat stains out of hats. Before you begin, be sure to double-check the material and washing instructions of your hat to ensure that you are choosing the right cleaning method(s). 

Now, let’s get started!

Washing by Hand

Suitable for: Cotton hats
Not recommended for: Leather, silk, felt, satin, and wool hats
  • Fill up a bucket or basin large enough to accommodate the baseball cap or hat, and mix in 1 tablespoon of bleach-free laundry detergent. If you are using a powdered product, stir the water well until it dissolves completely.
  • For old or stubborn sweat stains, pre-treat them with a regular (non-bleach) laundry stain remover. Follow the cleaning instructions on the label of the product before moving on to the next step. 
  • Dunk the hat in the cleaning solution and agitate the water so that it penetrates the material. Make sure the hat is submerged for a thorough, all-round clean. 
  • Every hour or so, stir the water and observe the sweat stains. Once soaked, they may not be clearly visible, however, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they have come out. Use your fingers to gently rub the area; this will help the work both the stain remover and cleaning solution into the material. Repeat this process until the hat has been soaking for at least 4 hours. 
  • Rinse the hat under cool, running water until all the soapiness has been removed. Shake off excess water before gently squeezing the material.
  • Allow the hat to air-dry in a warm area away from direct sunlight. Place a small towel inside the cap or hat to help retain its shape. 

Spot Treatment Only

Suitable for: Leather hats
Not recommended for: Felt hats
  • Take a clean, soft cloth such as a microfibre cloth, and soak one corner in the solution. Wring it thoroughly so that the material is merely damp; then rub the salt stains gently to remove them. 
  • Repeat the step above using a fresh side of the cloth to clean each sweat stain on your cap/hat. Don’t forget to spot treat the sweatband inside the cap.
  • To rinse off the cleaning solution without saturating the hat, dampen a separate clean cloth or sponge, and wipe over the material.
  • It is best to allow a leather hat to dry naturally in a cool area overnight or for as long as it takes to dry completely. Avoid using a blowdryer or other such devices to speed up the drying process.

Using the Dishwasher

Suitable for: Polyester blends, jersey mesh, and cotton hats
Not recommended for: Hats with cardboard brim
  • Put the hat/cap in the cap rack or cage, and then place it on the top rack of your dishwasher. Cap cages/racks help keep the hat in shape and therefore, are highly recommended when using the dishwasher to remove sweat stains from a hat. 
  • If your regular dish detergent contains bleach, steer clear of it and use a mild soap instead. For less visible sweat stains on your cap, you can do away with detergent altogether. 
  • Switch the dishwasher to the lowest or gentlest setting and run a cold water cycle. If your dishwasher has an automatic heated drying cycle, be sure to disable this before you start the wash. 
  • Once completed, take the hat out and use your hands to gently restore its original shape.
  • Stuff a hand towel inside the hat and leave it to air-dry for at least 24 hours.

Not being able to wear your favourite hat or cap due to a nasty sweat stain is really disappointing, but what’s worse is not knowing how to remove those uneven salt lines and entertaining the thought of tossing the hat altogether. Well, if you’ve been struggling to get sweat stains out of your caps, you’ve just been enlightened with three of the best and safest ways to do it!

Adriana Aziz is the operations manager at MaidForYou. With over 6 years of experience managing cleaning operations, she knows all the best hacks when it comes to cleaning residential and commercial buildings. With expert experience in managing house cleaning operations, interior design and logistics. She spends her free time with her family and as a freelance food critic.

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