How to Wash a Hat

Hats tend to get pretty grimy if not cleaned often. So, if you’re wondering how to wash a hat, wonder no more. It’s actually quite easy. It’s even easy enough to figure out how to get sweat stains out of hats.

Types of Hats

The most common hats that need washing are baseball caps1, which range from newer hats made of cotton twill—which is super durable and holds its color well—to wool caps and commemorative caps. Wool hats require hand washing with cool water and a mild detergent. Baseball caps made of cotton twill or a similar material can typically go in the washing machine as long as they do not have a cardboard or paper-filled bill.

Other types of hats that might need washing include knit caps and straw hats, especially those worn outdoors to keep the sun off your face. Knit caps typically require hand washing, although you could wash them in a mesh laundry bag if you can’t bear the thought of hand washing yours. Straw sun hats are the easiest to clean—simply spray them off with a hose and leave to air dry2.

Any kind of structured hat should be spot cleaned if possible to prevent it from losing its shape.

Hand Washing Hats

When hand washing a hat, fill the sink with cold water and add a few drops of high-quality laundry detergent. Slosh the liquid enough to create suds before placing the hat in the sink. For knit hats, submerge and dunk gently a few times, ensuring the water goes through the hat. Rinse clean, very gently wring out excess water with your hands, roll the hat up in a towel to get the rest of the moisture out, and then lay flat to dry. If it’s a shaped hat, try stuffing with plastic grocery bags to help retain its shape.

How to Wash a Hat in the Washing Machine

Pretreat extra dirty areas (like the sweatband, if applicable) with a solvent-based spray or heavy-duty detergent. Run the cap through the wash in cold water on the gentle cycle. Do NOT stick the hat in the dryer. Instead, allow it to air dry.

But how to wash hats in the washing machine without losing their shape? You can buy a cap washer or similar product to help the hat maintain its shape while in the washing machine. You can also air dry it over a large coffee can or similar object.

  1. SOURCE: Life Skill #201: Washing a baseball cap (Aug. 2013). Chicago Tribune. Retrieved Aug. 8, 2017 from:
  2. SOURCE: How To Wash A Hat (May 2017). Real Simple. Retrieved Aug. 8, 2017 from: