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How To Wash Hats And Caps

How to Wash Hats and Caps? [The Complete Guide]

If you are a regular hat or cap wearer, a day without it can make you look and feel incomplete. And why wouldn’t you be wearing one? Because it’s dirty and you aren’t sure how to get them washed and cleaned. We’ve been there, done that. But really, how to wash a hat or how to wash a cap are not impossible tasks if you get the right help, and that’s what we are here for – to guide you on the best, tried and tested methods for your hats and caps to look their all-time best.

 Your caps and hats talk a lot about who you are, and wearing a dirty one is just going to give a wrong impression of you! So, let’s get started on this cleaning spree, and we’ll make sure you have some fun along.

Can You Wash Hats and Caps?

Of course, you can.

Just like your clothes, you can wash hats and caps. But how you wash them largely depends on the type of hat or cap and their material. There are so many hats and caps like the baseball cap varieties, cowboy hats, straw hats, beanies, leather hats, visor caps; the list can go on and on.

Not two varieties of hats or caps are the same, and therefore, the washing method is also going to differ. But there are always certain general rules to wash hats or caps, and we’ll be showing them to you in this article. Trust us; it’s going to make your life a lot easier!

Hats and Caps Washing Guides

6 Things to Know Before Cleaning a Hat and Cap?

We know you don’t like rules, but rules are a blessing in the case of washing hats and caps. If you want to see your hats and caps live a long, healthy life, these tricks and hacks are going to be life-saving.

So, let’s take a quick look at them.

1. Read the Care Label

Read the Care Label

The care label has everything that you need to know about your hats and caps. From the material to the washing methods, special instructions, warnings, etc. So, before you jump in to wash, give a thorough read; it’ll help save you a lot of time and effort in figuring out the what’s, why’s, and how’s of the hat or cap.

2. Know Your Hats and Caps

Know Your Hats and Caps

Knowing what kind of cap or hat you have and what it’s made of is crucial information for washing and caring for them. If you don’t know what you’re dealing with, how can you solve any problems? 

You may have a baseball cap, a straw hat, or even a leather one, and all three of them are very different in how they respond to water. You can’t use the same method to wash all of them, right?

3. Check the Cap/Hat Brim

Check the CapHat Brim

Many caps and hats made before 1983 are cardboard brimmed, unlike the plastic ones we have now. It is slightly problematic as the cardboard will disintegrate when exposed to water and limit our options to wash these hats/caps using water.

A spot clean or expert help is the only way you can clean cardboard-brimmed hats and caps.

If you have a plastic brim, you don’t need to worry as it can withstand any washing.

4. Do a Spot Test

Do a Spot Test

Whatever the color or type of the hat or cap, it’s paramount that you do a spot test before the actual wash.

Why spot test? If your hats or caps are dyed, the chances are that they will lose color when washed in water. If you don’t do a spot test, you might end up seeing your hats or caps bleed color, and it’ll be too late to do anything at all.

To do a spot test, wet a clean, light-colored cloth in mild soap solution. Gently rub the cloth on an unnoticeable area, and see if any color is deposited onto the cloth.

If there is any color on the cloth, it means your hat is not colorfast, and you cannot wash them in water. Seek expert help in such cases. If no color transfer, your hat or cap is colorfast, and you can wash them using water.

5. Dishwashers – Yes, or No?

Dishwashers – Yes, or No

We know a lot of you are muddled about washing hats and caps in the dishwasher. Let’s get to the end of this problem today.

The truth is not all hats and caps can be dishwashed. The reason being, most hat and cap materials cannot withstand the harsh heat setting inside a dishwasher. Also, most dishwashing detergents contain bleach, which isn’t good for your hats and caps.

 Baseball cap varieties (dad caps, trucker or mesh caps, snapbacks, flat bill, fitted caps, flexfit caps) that come in cotton, cotton blends, polyester, nylon, acrylic, etc., can withstand a dishwasher. While washing these, ensure you use a cap cage to protect your caps from distortion inside a dishwasher.

6. Only Air-Dry Hats and Caps

Only Air-Dry Hats and Caps

Drying your hats and caps is an equally important job as washing them. If you don’t dry them the right way, you might damage them, and all washing efforts will go in vain. Tumble drying or even using a hairdryer to dry your hats and caps is not a great option unless specifically mentioned otherwise in the care label.

The safest method is to always air dry your hats and caps. After the wash, find a spot with good airflow and let your hats and caps air dry. Ensure you keep them away from direct sunrays, for it can cause dullness and damage your hats and caps.

6 Washing Methods to Clean a Hat and Cap?

Did you know that there are six different types of washing methods for your hats and caps? That’s great news, right? But of course, not all methods will work for every hat and cap. As we said, you need to always refer to your care label and understand the type of hat and cap you have.

We will take you through all the washing methods, pick what works best for you and your hat or cap.

1. Spot Cleaning

Spot Cleaning

The easiest of the lot. As the name suggests, a spot cleaning is beneficial when your hats or caps are stained at just particular spots, and you don’t need to wash the whole hat. The second situation that you need to spot clean is when you have a hat or cap that is cardboard-brimmed.

To do a spot clean, you need to prepare a mild soap solution. Dip a soft-bristled toothbrush in this solution and gently scrub the particular stain spot. After few repeated scrubbings, your stains should vanish, and you’ll be left with a spotless hat or a cap!

Don’t forget to air dry the cap or hat, as we said.

2. Quick Wash

Quick Wash

If the stains are mild and you need to wash the whole hat or cap, a quick wash should do your job. It’s a real quick method, just like the name. 

For a quick wash, all you need to do is dunk your hat or cap in mild soapy water and keep it submerged for about 30 minutes. Once that’s done, rinse your hat or cap and air-dry.

3. Hand Wash

Hand Wash

When in doubt, always hand wash your hats and caps. In the rarest of times, your hat or cap might not have a care label, either because your hat or cap is too old or the label is torn, and you are unsure of how to wash them.

Though a messy method, nothing can beat the perfection of a good old hand wash. Hand washing gives you complete sway over your hats and caps, making them the safest washing option.

If you want to know everything about handwashing hats and caps, check out our complete guide here.

4. Washing Machine

Washing Machine

If you don’t have a lot of time at hand, you can always wash your hats and caps in the washing machine. But ensure your care label mentions that it’s okay to machine wash or else you’ll end up destroying them.

Whether a top load or a front load, a washing machine functions by spinning. So, it’s always necessary to protect your hats from getting distorted. And how do you do that? Before tossing them in the washing machine, always place your hats or caps first in a mesh bag or a cap cage.

Check out our A-Z guide on how to wash caps in a washing machine.

5. Dishwasher


Like we said earlier, not all hats and caps can be washed by a dishwasher. So, ensure your cap can survive the dishwasher method before you attempt it. 

Ensure you use a cap cage and always place it on the top rack of the dishwasher where the heat is comparatively less.

To know more about washing caps in a dishwasher, check out the article right here.

6. Dry Clean

Dry Clean

When you hear a dry clean, most of you are thinking of a professional dry clean. You’re mistaken there. There are so many DIY dry clean methods that you can use to get your hats cleaned to perfection.

 Leather hats, straw hats, Panama hats, felt, fleece, etc. being delicate, should always be cleaned using the dry clean methods first. The less they interact with water, the better.

Some care labels will have ‘DRY CLEAN ONLY’ written on them. Such hats and caps can be cleaned using DIY dry clean methods first. If those fail, you can take them to a professional cleaner.

Check out our complete guide on dry clean methods to clean your hats and caps.

How to Remove Bad Odors from Hats and Caps?

Your caps and hats are on your head for most of the time. The hair and body oils, sweat, dirt, and debris, are likely to make your hats and caps stinky.

Any of the above washing methods should ideally help get rid of a bad smell, but if the stink persists, you could treat your hats and caps with a baking soda–water paste and sprinkle a few drops of vinegar. It will not just remove the smell but will get rid of those gross sweat stains as well.

What is the Best Way to Wash Hats and Caps?

Just two words – Hand Washing!

Like we said earlier, hand washing is the tried and tested, safest method to wash your hats and caps. A lot of times, hand washing is more effectual than a machine wash or a dishwasher.

How to Care for Hats and Caps?

Your caps and hats are washed. Is the job done? Of course not. 

Let’s be honest. Hats and caps don’t come very cheap. Whether it’s your favorite team’s baseball cap or your summer straw hat, they’re likely to get damaged if you don’t take good care of them.

 Let’s check out ways to take care of your hats and caps when not in use.

1. Store them Well

Store them Well

The best place to store your hats and caps isn’t attics and basements. You need to get a good hat box if you want to keep them safe. Always store them in a dry and clean place away from heat or moisture.

If not a hat box, you can also keep them in a breathable garment bag. Avoid plastic bags as zero airflows will lead to yellowing and mildew growth on the hats and caps.

2. Brush Hats and Caps Often

Brush Hats and Caps Often

You may not believe it, but brushing is one of the healthiest ways to keep your hats and caps fresh and debris-free, especially for materials like felt, fleece and fur. Invest in good quality horsehair brush, and we’d suggest you brush them after each use.

These materials also tend to attract lint easily, so using a lint roller on them after each use will also make them look as good as new.

3. Stop Leaving Hats and Caps in the Car

Stop Leaving Hats and Caps in the Car

We are all guilty of doing this at least once in our life. Leaving your hats and caps in the car is the biggest blunder you can commit. The heat and moisture in the car will dull them and destroy the fabric.

4. Always Hold by the Brim

Always Hold by the Brim

Whether it’s your hat or cap, hold them by the brim and not the crown. Crown is structured and using your hands on them too much can distort their shapes leaving them unfit on your heads.

How to Wash Hats and Caps [Complete Guide]

Final Thoughts

We can’t live without caps and hats, and that’s a given. They protect us from sun, rain, and cold, and the least we can do for our hats and caps is to keep them clean. You reached here searching for ‘how to wash a hat’ or ‘how to wash a cap’ which means you care for them, and we love you for that!

All you have to do now is to follow our directions to the point and give your hats and caps the much-needed pampering that they truly deserve!

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