How To Clean Caps Without Damaging Them

Posted on October 11 2020

If you own a lot of baseball caps, or hats of varying styles, it's important you know how to clean caps to keep them looking their best. Not all hats clean up well, so it's important to follow a few tips and tricks to keep any possible damage to a minimum.

Photo of pleased young housemaid 20s wearing yellow rubber gloves for hands protection holding

There are lots of recommendations on the Internet today as far as hat cleaning is concerned. Here, we're going to take a look at hand washing, machine washing, and spot cleaning.

Special note: For any baseball cap, never use chlorine bleach or detergent with bleach in it.

Machine Washing Your Cap

Not every hat can be thrown into the washing machine. Usually, machine washing is okay for cotton poly blends, 100% cotton, and acrylic baseball caps. Silk, cashmere, wool, straw hats, and other delicate fabrics should never be machine washed.

  • Before washing, the headband or liner can be pretreated to remove stubborn sweat stains.
  • As an added layer of protection for your hat’s color and shape, use a zippered garment bag, even if you've determined that your hat is machine washable. Keep in mind the color of your hat and the clothes you're washing it with.
  • A delicate cycle should be used because it has an agitation level that is lower than normal settings.
  • When it's time to dry your hat, set it out to air dry – do not throw it in the dryer! Ball up a towel inside to help your hat retain its shape.

Washing Your Cap by Hand

If spot cleaning won't do (see below), cleaning your baseball cap by hand is recommended. Handknit hats, wool hats, or baseball caps do well with this method. Remember, however, that if you have one of the older baseball caps made with a cardboard bill, the cardboard could possibly disintegrate if it gets wet. With hats like this, there isn't a lot of leeway as far as bill cleaning is concerned.

  • Put cold water into your kitchen sink or a small bowl. Colors will remain truer and faster if you avoid hot water.
  • Into the water, stir a little mild detergent. A little goes a long way. (For a couple of minutes, soaking an inconspicuous, small part of your hat will allow you to do a pretreatment test. If the water doesn't end up having any dye in it, you probably don't have to worry about colors bleeding.)
  • Any areas on the hat that are stained should be scrubbed first.
  • Soaking your hat for about 30 minutes will help to loosen up grime and dirt. Longer if needed.
  • To get all the detergent off, hold your hat under cold running water. To remove excess moisture, gently squeeze your hat between your hands.
  • Remember – no dryers! Place a towel on the table and lay your hat on the towel. Ball up a towel inside to help it keep its shape.

Spot Cleaning Your Hat

Of all the methods of cap cleaning, this is the safest by far. The most stubborn stains may not be completely removed doing this, but it's certainly worth a try. Remember that a little patience will go a long way.

Spot cleaning works best on hats that are made of delicate fabrics, old cardboard billed baseball caps, suede hats, leather hats, summertime straw hats, and more. Always test the fabric and flexibility of your hats. You may be better off leaving well enough alone if your hat is extremely fragile. Bills are too fragile for cleaning if they bend, fray, or crack easily.

Embellishments need separate focus. Handle with care any leather accents, beads, rhinestones, buttons, ribbons, and other decorative elements. Sometimes all that is needed is a soft, damp cloth and a gentle swipe.

With dish soap or non-bleach laundry detergent, a little bit of warm water slightly dampening a washcloth may be all you need to spot clean certain areas. If the stain is stubborn, a toothbrush or other soft bristled brush may be used. Once the area has been cleared of any soapy residue, air drying is the best method of finishing your project

Hat Heaven has an impressive array of baseball caps in many styles, colors, by various manufacturers, and more. Shop today for a clean, fresh, well-made baseball cap.


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