Come winters, and you are running around the house. Your felt hat from last winter is lying somewhere in the attic or basement. And whew, you’ve finally found it. But guess what, they are undeniably dirty! You start panicking, and the next thing you do is google ‘how to wash felt hats.’ And BOOM, we appear with an article that gives you all tips, tricks, and hacks to make your unwearable felt hats wearable again!
If a felt hat is not part of your winter wardrobe, we don’t know what is! But you don’t want to be roaming around with dull, dirty felt hats.
Let’s lose no time because winter is coming, and you don’t want to be unprepared, do you?
What is a Felt?
Before we try to decode how to clean a felt hat, it’s important to understand the fabric well. Only then can we make intelligent washing decisions so that your felt hats aren’t ruined.
Felt is an artificial fabric made out of wool, fur, or other natural animal fibers. It can be from a sheep, rabbit, wild hare, beaver, etc. The wool fibers are compressed, matted, and pressed so that the fibers merge and blend thickly. A lot of heat and moisture is applied to them to make the fibers interlocked forever.
Pure felt fabric is slightly delicate and can undergo wear and tear easily. Adding a small percentage of synthetic fibers like rayon makes felt more durable and finer.
Is Felt Hat Dry Clean Only?
In contrast to popular belief, a felt hat, generally, is NOT DRY CLEAN ONLY.
Dry cleaning is the safest option, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be at a professional dry cleaner’s. You have plenty of DIY dry clean options to clean your felt.
Also, it is possible to spot clean and hand-wash a felt hat. But you need to be super careful as felt is not very water-friendly.
Can You Wash a Felt Hat?
YES, you can.
You would’ve already guessed by now. And we want to be really honest with you – felt is one of the toughest materials to wash and clean, especially since it’s made out of natural animal fibers.
It’s not an impossible job, of course. But we’d really suggest using water to clean felt hats as the very last option. The lesser they interact with water, the better. But do not be discouraged, for we will ensure that by the end of this article, you’ll have cleaned and washed your felt hats effectively!
What to Know Before Washing a Felt Hat?
1. Read the Care Label
The first and foremost thing is to go through your felt hat’s care label thoroughly. It will have clear instructions on cleaning the hat and what materials or practices you should avoid. Some hats can be hand-washed, while some can only be dry cleaned, etc.
2. Use Lint Roller
One of our biggest headaches with felt material is how it attracts lint easily. A felt hat with lint all over it is the last thing you want. Get a good lint roller and run it through your felt hat in a counter-clockwise direction.
If you don’t have a lint roller, you can use the sticky side of a masking tape to get rid of the lint.
3. Be Gentle with Hat Embellishments
Many a time, your felt hats come with embellishments like ribbons, leather bands, etc. Be gentle with them while cleaning. It’s always a clever idea to remove them if the decorative items are removable.
Dry Clean Methods to Clean Felt Hats
As we said, cleaning and washing felt hats with water should be your last option. We’ll be providing you a list of the easiest and best dry clean options to keep your felt hats spick and span. Read through them carefully and pick what works best for you and your hat!
1. Use a Hat Brush
Sometimes you can solve all your felt hat problems with a good hat brush. Brush away the dirt and grime on the hat in a counter-clockwise direction. It will help dislodge the dirt easily.
2. Use Corn Starch/Talcum Powder/Absorbent Powder
The most stained area of your felt hat will undoubtedly be the sweatbands. The hair oils, body oils and grime can be difficult to remove if not treated properly.
Add a small amount of corn starch, talcum powder, or any absorbent powder. Leave it on the hat for about an hour so that the powder gets enough time to absorb the greasy, oily stains. Brush them away using a hat brush.
Tip: When using absorbent powder, make sure the powder is similar in color to the hat so that the hat doesn’t look patchy. You can use baking soda on light-colored or white hats and wheat germ on dark-colored hats as an absorbent.
3. Use a Vacuum
A vacuum clean might sound scary, considering how strong the heat and suction are. But vacuum will help get rid of any dust and debris from the most unreachable areas of the hat.
Cover the vacuum brush with stockings. Hold it at a distance and vacuum the felt hat from all sides.
4. Use a Hat Sponge
Hat sponges are the best option to clean your felt hat’s brim. They get rid of all dust and debris so well that it’ll be hard to believe the hat was ever dusty!
Use the sponge in small circular motions for best results.
How To Wash A Felt Hat
How to Spot Clean a Felt Hat?
If your hat is stained only at a specific spot, a spot treatment should do your job. You don’t have to run to your dry cleaner. This method does use a little bit of water, but as long as you do it carefully, you shouldn’t worry.
Let’s see how.
Step 1: Wipe Away Superficial Dust
Using a hat brush, wipe away all the dirt on the surface of the hat.
Step 2: Do a Spot Test
A spot test is important to check if your felt hat is colorfast or not.
Dampen a clean cloth, preferably the same color as the hat, and rub it gently on an unnoticeable area of your hat. If any dye transfers to the white cloth, your hat is bleeding color, and if no dye transfers, you are safe to go ahead with the spot clean method.
Step 3: Apply Mild Soap on Hat
Dampen a soft sponge in a very mild soap solution. Ensure that the sponge is not completely saturated; it’s just damp. Gently scrub the sponge on the specific stain in a counter-clockwise direction. And do not be too harsh on the scrubbing.
Step 4: Blot Residual Soapy Water and Dirt
Once the stains are removed, use a clean cloth and wipe away any left-over soapy water and all the dirt.
Step 5: Dry the Hat
Find a spot with good air circulation and air-fry your felt hats, away from sunlight.
How to Hand-Wash a Felt Hat?
We’re assuming you’ve been unsuccessful in the dry clean and spot clean methods if you’re reading this. But if you’re here directly without trying out the above methods, that’ll be cheating, because this should be your last option at cleaning and washing your felt hats safely at home.
But firstly, confirm whether your hats can be hand washed by checking the care label. If yes, let’s get to it right away!
Step 1: Remove Superficial Dust
Using a hat brush, wipe away all the dust from the surface of the felt hat.
Step 2: Do a Spot Test
If you’ve already done a spot test for your spot clean method, you can skip it here. Otherwise, do not miss out on testing whether your felt hat is colorfast or not.
Step 3: Prepare the Cleaning Solution
Add a small amount of bleach-free, mild soap or detergent in a bucket, sink, or tub filled with cool water. Mix the two well so that there aren’t any soap clumps in the solution.
Step 4: Soak the Hat
Submerge the hat in soap solution for about an hour or more, depending on the amount of stain.
Step 5: Rinse the Hat
Once the stains are removed, rinse the hat under cool running water. Ensure no left-over soap is on the hat as soap can cause staining.
Step 6: Dry the Hat
Once the hat is washed, do not twist or wring it. Place it on a clean towel first and gently dab the hat. Doing so will remove all excess dripping water. Once that’s done, you can air-dry the hat in a spot with good ventilation, away from sunlight.
Can You Machine Wash a Felt Hat?
Our advice is NO.
You can, of course, check the care label to confirm, but most felt hats do not react well to a machine wash.
The constant spinning inside the machine can hamper the structure as well as fibers of the hat. And if at all you plan to machine-wash, ensure you put the hat first in a hat cage or mesh bag before tossing it in the machine.
Do not stuff your machine with general laundry. Put the hats with similar colored light-weight clothing and wash only in cool water in a delicate cycle.
How to Care for Felt Hat?
Your job isn’t over once you’ve washed your felt hats. If you own a felt hat, taking care of it is a lifelong commitment if you want to see it for a lifetime. We have made an easy-peasy list of felt hat care tips that’ll make your life a little less complicated.
1. Clean After Each Use
Cleaning your felt hats after each use not only keeps your hats fresh but reduces your need to wash them with water or even take them to a professional cleaner.
Use a good quality hat brush and a lint roller in combination to avoid the accumulation of dirt and lint on your felt hats.
If there’s sweat on your hat, put it upside down and leave it to air-dry immediately after use rather than throwing it back in your cupboard or bed.
2. Store them Properly
Your attic and basement are not the best places to store your felt hats. Hats need to be kept in dry and clean conditions.
Invest in a good hatbox and keep your felt hats upside down – the crown on the flat surface and brim in the air. This way, you will protect your felt hat’s structure from distortions and help your hat stay away from moths.
You can throw in some cedar shavings or a lavender sachet to keep the hats fresh, even when not in use.
3. Use a Clothes Steamer
If your felt hats got caught in the rain, you do not need to clean them with soap. Use your clothes steamer and move it across all sides of your hat. Ensure you keep the steamer at least 12 inches away from the hat because direct heat can damage the felt fabric.
And do not dry the hat completely with the steamer. Stop the steamer while the hat is still slightly damp, and then let the hat air-dry.
Cleaning and washing felt hats are not that bad after all, agree? All you need is some patience and a whole lot of love for your felt hats. And now that we’ve helped you master the art of cleaning felt hats, it’s time you put it to practice. Let your winter be merrier and more wonderful with your favorite, clean felt hats on!