Cleaning Tips, Guides & Resources

Baseball Caps, Fedoras, Beanies, and More! How to Hand-Wash Your Favourite Hats

Adriana Aziz
March 21, 2023
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how to handwash hats custom graphic

Hats are a staple of our wardrobes. Whether it’s a straw hat to protect your face from the sun, a wool hat for the cold, or a baseball cap used for outdoor exercising, running, and the like, we all own at least one hat! 

Considering that so many individuals wear hats quite often, it’s surprising that they tend to be overlooked on laundry days. The dirt on this headgear typically consists of salt and oils from your body, stains from regular use, or a combination of both. With that in mind, it is recommended that hats be cleaned after 4-5 uses if they have encountered sweat and dirt or stains.

The good news is that it is relatively easy to clean your hat once you know how. To help you with that, MaidForYou has compiled a few step-by-step guides to wash different types of hats using hand-wash techniques that ensure safe and effective results. 

IMPORTANT: Prior to washing your hats, it is advisable to read and follow the care instructions mentioned on the label.

Knowing the fabric of your hat is also important as they can range from stray, wool, cotton to synthetic, and each comes with their own cleaning instructions 

Hand-washing your hats is advisable to ensure its longevity and maintenance of structure. It is best to avoid washing and drying your hats in the washing machine and dryer as the agitation/ heat/ tumbling action of the machines and dryers can alter the shape of the hat or cause shrinkage. 

How to Spot Clean Your Hat Using Natural Products

man holding tea spoon of baking soda

If you aren’t dealing with much dirt or major staining, spot cleaning goes a long way in keeping your hat clean. This is especially advised when you need to remove salt lines on hats. 

Here’s how to do it:

  • Using a soft toothbrush, apply and gently scrub the paste on the stain in circular motions. 
  • Allow the paste to sit on the stain for approximately an hour. 
  • Finish off by rinsing the hat thoroughly with cold water, then pat dry, and allow it to air dry.     

Step-by-Step Instructions on How to Wash Baseball Caps

red baseball cap on a white background

Baseball caps or P-caps need to be cleaned gently to avoid deshaping their visor or brim (the part that protrudes outward to provide shade). Although they are typically made to be sturdy, a little bending or excess pressure can completely change the original shape. 

To ensure that no damage is caused to your baseball cap when washing it, follow the steps below:

 

  • Fill a clean sink/basin with enough cold to lukewarm water to allow your hat to submerge in it completely. Using lukewarm water helps to dislodge particles more effectively than cold/cool water.
  • Add a sprinkle of laundry detergent or a few drops of gentle liquid laundry soap, and blend it in by agitating the water with your hand, thereby creating suds. Be sure to first check the colourfast of the fabric by testing the soapy mix in an inconspicuous area like under the visor/brim. 
  • Place your hat in the sink and allow it to soak for approximately 15 minutes for a mild wash. For a deeper clean, keep it soaking for 30-45 minutes.
  • If your cap has stains, make a more potent, concentrated concoction of the laundry detergent and water, dip a toothbrush in the mix, and gently scrub in circular motions. Allow the cap to soak for a further 30 minutes once scrubbed. Be sure to focus your spot cleaning on the inside of the hat, where your hat touches your forehead.
  • Rinse the hat with cool water until all the soap has been rinsed out.
  • Pat-dry the hat with a clean dry cloth or towel (preferably a white one to eliminate the risk of transferring colour to the hat material). Avoid twisting the brim of the hat as this might cause the hat to lose shape. Reshape the hat to its original shape and allow it to air dry. 

TIP: Use a household item like a cloth or towel to stuff inside the centre of the hat to help retain the shape.

How to Clean a Straw Hat

person showing safe wash instructions that are on a large straw hat

Straw, as a natural fibre, is more absorbent of water. Therefore, it is best to wipe the hat with a clean dry cloth to remove dust and dry debris. For a deeper clean, make a very mild soap and water solution using either a mild laundry detergent or dishwashing liquid. Using a cloth dampened with this mixture, gently wipe your straw hat by moving along the length of the straws. Be gentle with the weaves so that they don’t come apart. Rinse the cloth and wipe over the hat again. When the soapy solution has been removed, allow your hat to air-dry on a flat surface away from heat.

How to Clean Beanies

woolen white beanie on an orange background

Most beanies can be machine-washed unless specified otherwise on the care label. A good rule of thumb is to place your beanie in a mesh laundry bag, and then wash it in a gentle, cold water cycle. For woollen beanies, it is recommended to use detergent specifically made for wool products. To dry your beanies whilst ensuring it maintains its shape, allow it to air dry on a flat cloth or towel in a cool area.

How to Clean Wool or Felt Hats (Including Your Fedoras)

large pink woolen hat on a white background

Start by removing dust with a lint roller, or simply wipe it with a clean dry cloth. If it needs further cleaning, use a damp cloth, preferably a microfibre cloth or one that does not shed fibres, to gently wipe the hat in a circular motion. Avoid using any cleaning agents unless they are specially formulated for the fabric in question. As dirt is lifted from the material, rinse the cloth and repeat until the hat is clean. Allow the hat to air dry on a cloth away from direct sunlight and harsh heat. Once dried, use a soft brush to bring the nap back to life. 

Useful Tips When Cleaning Hats

man using toothbrush to clean baseball cap

  • To clean up any dust particles on the hat, use a lint-roller or a clean, damp microfibre cloth. 
  • Always check the material of the inside of the brim. Most are made of hard plastic nowadays and therefore, soaking in water is fine. However, if your hat is of an older generation like prior to 1983, the internal of the visor could be made of cardboard. In this case, do not soak the hat in water but wipe it with a clean, damp cloth instead.
  • To remove bad odours from your hat, sprinkle baking soda and let it sit for a few hours. Baking soda absorbs and neutralises bad smells in fabrics, carpets, and upholstery. Finish off by dusting the powder off with a clean brush. 
  • To remove sweat salt stains, gently rub it away with a clean cloth dampened in a solution of equal parts white vinegar and water.
  • For hats where the care tags specify ‘machine washable’, it is advisable to use a gentle cycle with cold water in a front loader machine. Hot water may result in shrinkage.  
  • To remove excess oil stains from hats, liberally sprinkle talcum powder or corn-starch onto the stain and leave for a few hours. The powder will help absorb the oils which you can then brush off.

That ends this informative article on everything you need to know about washing a hat! Whether it’s a baseball cap, a beanie, or a fedora, the cleaning guides above will serve you well in your efforts to clean and maintain your favourite hat!

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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