If you’ve ever wondered how to wash a hat, you’re not alone. While you may have heard you can wash a hat in the dishwasher or washing machine, it’s best to stick with hand washing to avoid bending the hat out of shape. Since hats (specifically the bill) are structured items, hand washing helps preserve the hat's specific shape. Follow the steps below to keep your favorite hats clean and fresh.

What to know before cleaning a hat
How to wash a baseball cap by hand

What to know before cleaning a hat

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Color test the fabric.
Make sure your hat will stand up to cleaning by rubbing a small amount of detergent or OxiClean stain remover powder mixed with water on a hidden part of the hat, like the underside of the bill. If any color comes away, use only water to clean the hat.

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Got an older, vintage cap?
Since older hats often have cardboard bills instead of today’s more durable plastic, avoid soaking the hat and spot clean only to preserve the material. Generally, hats made prior to 1983 will have a cardboard bill—if you flick or tap the bill and it makes a hollow sound, you can assume that it’s cardboard.

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Skip the dishwasher.
You may have heard that it’s okay to clean a hat in the dishwasher. The high heat and harsh, bleach-based dish detergents can damage fibers and remove color, so it’s not recommended.

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Avoid the washing machine.
It’s possible to wash a hat using the delicates/gentle cycle, but you still run the risk of the hat losing its structured shape due to the washer’s agitation.

How to wash a baseball cap
by hand

We’ll guide you through two different ways to clean a hat—the first method shows how to give a quick refresh, and the second method goes into a deeper clean for especially dirty or sweaty caps. Start with the gentlest method first, then work your way up to more serious cleaning if needed.

How to wash a hat step by step

How to quickly refresh a baseball cap

Perk up a hat that’s looking a little dingy with these easy steps:

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Step 1: Fill a sink with water
Fill a clean sink or bucket with cool or warm water and add a couple drops of laundry detergent or about a tablespoon of OxiClean stain remover powder.

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Step 2: Soak
Soak the hat in the water for about 15 minutes.

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Step 3: Rinse
Rinse the hat thoroughly with cool or warm water and gently pat dry with a towel.

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Step 4: Reshape and drip dry
Reshape the hat by placing the cap (the part that sits directly on your head) on top of an upside down coffee can, small bowl or other container that mimics the shape of your head. Leave out to dry.

Cleaning tip: Take extra care when cleaning wool baseball caps since the fabric is more delicate and prone to losing its shape. Using a mild detergent specifically designed for wool, dilute it in water and scrub gently. Reshape the hat either by wearing it until dry or placing it on something that mimics the shape of your head.

How to deep clean a dirty hat

For especially tough stains and sweat marks, follow these steps:

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Step 1: Spot clean
Spot clean extra-dirty areas by using more detergent diluted in water and scrubbing them with a toothbrush or other small brush.

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Step 2: Soak
Soak the hat for a few hours and check the hat occasionally to see if any spots need more cleaning.

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Step 3: Rinse
Rinse the hat thoroughly with cool or warm water and gently pat dry with a towel.

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Step 4: Reshape and drip dry
Reshape the hat by placing the cap (the part that sits directly on your head) on top of an upside down coffee can, small bowl or other container that mimics the shape of your head. Leave out to dry.

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