Hats can easily soak up sweat and oil from your face, head, and hair. Fortunately, you can clean a dirty, sweaty hat in no time using 1 of 4 methods. You only need a little time and few household items to get your favorite hat clean and sparkling.
EditIn a Hurry?
The easiest way to get sweat stains out of a hat is to clean it in the dishwasher. Place the hat on the top rack and use a dishwashing detergent that doesn’t contain bleaching agents. Run a cold-water cycle without heated drying that contains only the hat and no dishes. Then, remove the hat from the dishwasher, reshape it, and allow it air dry in front of a fan. For more advice on how to spot-treat stains or hand wash your hats, read on!
EditHand-Washing the Hat
- Find out if the fabric is colorfast. Before submerging the hat in water, you need to see if the dye will run. Dip a white cloth in warm water and rub it on a small, inconspicuous area of the hat. If the dye comes off on the rag, don’t wash or submerge the hat. If it doesn’t, the item is colorfast and can be washed.
- Buy a new hat instead of trying to wash one that isn’t colorfast; the hat will likely be ruined if you do try to wash it.
- Fill a bucket with warm water and of laundry detergent. Put the soap in the bottom of the bucket or sink and allow it to fill up with warm water. Agitate the water to make bubbles.
- Avoid using a detergent containing bleach or a bleach alternative, which could fade the color of the hat.
- Spray a stain treatment product on the hat to loosen sweat and grime. Before placing the hat in the water, you should pre-treat the stain. Spray a stain treatment product directly onto the fabric, concentrating on the areas that soak up the most sweat, like the interior band.
- Let the hat soak in the soapy water for up to 4 hours. Dip the hat in the sink or bucket and swirl it around several times. Then, let it soak in the water for a few hours to allow the soap to break down the sweat and oil in the fabric. You can stir the water or swirl the hat around every hour or so, if desired.
- Rinse the hat thoroughly with cold water. Remove the hat from the bucket or drain the water from the sink. Use cold, running water to rinse the sweat and soap from the hat. Continue rinsing until the water runs clear and there are no more bubbles. Gently squeeze out the excess water, taking care not to ruin the shape of the hat.
- Stuff the hat with a towel and allow it to air dry. Roll up a small towel and place it inside the hat. Reshape the bill, if applicable. Then, place the hat near a fan or open window so it gets as much air flow as possible. Let it dry fully before wearing it again, which could take up to 24 hours.
- Avoid letting the hat dry in direct sunlight, which could fade the color. Don’t dry the hat in the clothes dryer either, which may shrink or damage the hat.
EditUsing Your Dishwasher
- Figure out what the hat is made from. Read the care label on the inside of the hat to find out what materials it’s composed of. Alternatively, you could look up the information on the Internet or through the manufacturer’s website. If it’s made of jersey mesh, cotton twill, or a polyester blend, you can clean it in the dishwasher. If it’s made of wool, however, you shouldn’t use this method as the hat may shrink.
- If the hat has a brim made out of plastic, you can use the dishwasher. But, if the brim is made out of cardboard, you should spot-clean the hat instead to prevent water from damaging the brim.
- Put the hat on the top rack. It’s important to place the hat on the top rack to keep it away from the heating element. If you put the hat on the bottom rack, it may become too hot and the fabric could shrink or the plastic brim could get warped. For best results, place a “cap washer” or “cap cage” underneath your baseball hat to help it keep its shape. You can find these online or at hat stores.
- Wash the hat or hats alone so the dirt and sweat doesn’t seep out onto your dishes.
- Use a dishwashing detergent without bleaching agents. Read the package that your dishwashing detergent comes in. If you see bleaching agents, like chlorine, avoid using the detergent as it could alter the color of the hat. Use a gentle, all-natural detergent instead.
- Run the dishwasher using cold water on a cycle without heated drying. Avoid using a heavy cycle, such as one for pots and pans. Use the gentlest cycle available and make sure the “heated drying” option is off. Also, use cold water, rather than warm or hot, so as not to shrink the fabric or warp the plastic brim.
- Reshape the hat, if necessary, and let it air dry. After the cycle is complete, remove the hat from the dishwasher. Use your hands to carefully reshape the hat or brim, if necessary. Then, place it on a towel in front of a fan and let it air dry. This may take up to 24 hours, so plan to wear another hat in the meantime.
- Don’t dry the hat in the clothes dryer or in direct sunlight, both of which could fade, warp, or otherwise ruin the hat.
- Check to see if the fabric is colorfast. Wet the corner of a clean, white cloth with water. Rub the wet cloth on an inconspicuous area of the hat, like the inside. If the dye doesn’t come off onto the cloth, the fabric is colorfast and you can clean it. If the dye rubs off, you won’t be able to wash it.
- If you do try to wash the hat, the color will bleed out and the hat will be ruined. If the hat is dirty but can’t be washed, your best bet is to buy a new one.
- Pre-treat the stained areas, if necessary. If the hat is particularly dirty, you can spray a mild stain treatment product on the fabric to help loosen the sweat and grime. Make sure the product doesn’t contain bleaching agents, like chlorine, which could fade the color.
- Make a solution of mild detergent or shampoo and cool water. Put a small amount of a mild laundry detergent into a bucket or bowl then fill it up with cool water. Alternatively, you could use a mild shampoo to help remove the sweat and body oil. Swirl your hand in the solution to disperse the soap and create bubbles.
- Dip a clean cloth in the solution and use it to scrub away the stain. The cloth doesn’t need to be sopping wet, just put a little bit of the soap and water mixture on a small section. Use it to rub the stained areas of the hat to remove the dirt, sweat, and oil. Wet new areas of the cloth as necessary and scrub the fabric until you’ve removed all the stains.
- Use cool water to rinse the soap from the fabric and let it air dry. After you’ve removed all the stains, use a gentle stream of cool water to rinse out the hat. Try to avoid completely soaking or submerging it if the hat has a cardboard brim. Then, soak up the excess water by pressing a towel into the fabric. Use your hands to reshape the hat, if you need to. Allow the hat to fully air dry, and place it in front of a fan if possible.
- Don’t dry the hat in direct sunlight or in a clothes dryer, as the fabric might fade or warp from the sun and/or heat.
EditRemoving Stubborn Stains
- Make a paste from baking soda and warm water. Put 4 tablespoons (55.2 g) of baking soda in a bowl and add of warm water. Mix the ingredients together with a spoon until it forms a paste.
- Scrub the paste into the stain and let it sit for up to an hour. Use the spoon to apply the mixture to the stained area. Scrub it into the fabric with a clean toothbrush, then let it soak in for up to an hour.
- Rinse away the paste with cool water. After an hour has passed, run cool water over the areas you covered with the paste. Keep rinsing until all the baking soda is gone.
- Air dry the hat completely. Press a clean towel into the fabric to absorb excess water. Then, allow the hat to air dry completely before wearing it again. Placing it near an open window or a fan can speed up the process.
- Don’t dry the hat in the clothes dryer or in direct sunlight, as the hat might get damaged by the heat and light.
EditThings You’ll Need
EditHand-Washing the Hat
- White rag
- Bucket or sink
- Laundry detergent
- Small towel
EditUsing the Dishwasher
- Dish detergent without bleaching agents
- White rags
- Bucket or bowl
- Mild detergent or shampoo
EditRemoving Stubborn Stains
- Baking soda
- Clean toothbrush
- For knit hats, place them inside a mesh bag and run them through a gentle cycle in the washing machine. Then, allow them to air dry rather than using the dryer.
- If you have a straw hat, simply rinse it off with the hose or faucet.
- Don’t wash a baseball hat in the washing machine, as the agitation is likely to damage or ruin it.