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How to Clean a Hat

How to Clean a Hat

It’s an inevitable fact of life: your favorite hat gets dragged through the metaphorical mud of life, collecting dirt, debris, stains and water marks. Hats in the Belfry can help you clean all your best hats at home, ensuring that they endure through your next set of big adventures. When cleaning a hat, you want to make sure you take careful note of the hat material before beginning. In many cases, your hat will be marked to indicate the material and cleaning instructions. You may reference this valuable care instruction symbols guide for more information.

Your hat will need to be cleaned based on its unique construction to make sure that it isn’t further damaged in the cleaning process. Whether you want to learn how to get sweat stains out of hats that have spent too long in the gym or need tips for cleaning a wool hat that’s been stored in the attic for too many decades, Hats in the Belfry can get your best hats back to like-new condition.

If you find yourself asking “How do you clean hats without a professional?” you’ll be happy to learn the ins and outs of hat cleaning with this guide and our great selection of hat care products featuring top-rated felt hat cleaner, felt hat protector, straw hat cleaner, hat cleaning sponges and non-damaging felt hat brushes.

Cleaning Fur Felt Hats & Wool Hats

Learning how to clean felt hats and wool hats is an important aspect of keeping your most expensive hats in tip-top shape. You’ll need a soft bristle brush and, in more extreme cases, a steam cleaner and powdered cleaners.

  1. To clean a fur felt hat or wool hat, brush the top and bottom counter-clockwise with a soft bristle brush.
  2. Set your hat on its top or hang from a peg or hat hook to help it retain its shape.
  3. If your hat gets wet, shake off all excess water, let dry, then lightly brush clean.
  4. Use steam to shape and clean hat. For heavy stains, powdered cleaners may be used.

Cleaning Straw Hats

In addition to regular after-wear maintenance, you may deep-clean your straw hat using things you already have around the house, such as regular old window cleaner. If you prefer something tougher, invest in a bottle of Straw Hat Cleaner that will safely remove residue, dirt and grime from colorfast straw hats.

  1. Keep clean and fresh by brushing with a small whisk broom or sponge lightly with a damp cloth. Use window cleaner for heavier stains.
  2. Store hat on its top or hang from a peg or hat hook to help it retain its shape.
  3. Keep most straw hats from getting soaked with rain. If your hat gets wet, wipe off the excess water with a dry cloth. Then, with the brim turned up, place on a level, clean surface to dry.
  4. Steam your hat to reshape, if necessary.
  5. Do not use artificial heat.

Cleaning Suede Leather Hats

Learning how to clean suede leather hats properly can help ensure that your more expensive suede hats go from shiny and new to vintage and valuable. You’ll need a slightly stuff bristle brush, an emery cloth or fine-grit sandpaper, a suede bar and common household cleaning products.

  1. Brush your hat with a nylon or slightly stiff bristle brush to get out loose dirt and dust. Brushing periodically keeps the suede looking fresh.
  2. Buff any matted suede or caked on dirt with emery cloth or fine-grit sandpaper. It is important to choose a grit that matches the finish of your hat; 120-grit works well with most suede hats.
  3. For light colored leathers, a suede bar (sometimes called a suede eraser) works best on most stains. Move the suede bar in a circular pattern to "erase" the stain. You may need to work the material aggressively for set in stains. Then brush again with the suede brush.
  4. Oily stains from sweat cannot be removed completely. You may remove most of the oils and odors with a mixture of one part baby shampoo and 15 parts warm water. Use this mixture with your suede brush.
  5. When hat gets wet, shake off excess water and let dry. Then brush clean.
  6. Steam clean to get rid of water spots or reshape your hat.

Cleaning Leather Hats

Leather can be one of the more stubborn materials to clean, but when you invest in some specialty products and keep your leather hats away from high heat and moisture, they’ll stay fresh and new for the long haul.

  1. Leather hats should be periodically treated with leather dressing like mink oil, neatsfoot oil, Lexol/Brik4 or similar products. Be sure to avoid saddle soap, as that may dry your leather hat. (Oiled leather hats tend to require less attention.)
  2. Once conditioned, your hat is ready to wear in any season. Avoid getting your hat wet, then placing it near heat. Also avoid placing your hat in direct sunlight for extended periods, as such exposure may shrink the hat to a smaller size.

Cleaning Cloth Hats

Cloth hats are designed for easy maintenance, so you can use a brush and a bit of water to clean them in most cases.

  1. If your cloth hat is waxed or oiled cotton/canvas, simply hose off when dusty or dirty.
  2. If your cloth hat is made of untreated cloth, use a stiff bristle brush to clean. In the event you have heavier, set in stains, powdered cleaners may be used to clean.

Cleaning Canvas Hats

As one of the most rugged and low-maintenance hat materials, canvas hats are designed for easy, periodic cleaning.

  1. You can clean your canvas hats with a damp cloth. For heavier stains, you may use powdered cleaner.

Additional Hat-Cleaning & Maintenance Tips:

  • Treat your hat with a waterproof spray to avoid moisture damage
  • Some hats may shrink when exposed to extreme heat, such as drying by an open fire, so avoid any exposure to high heat
  • Embrace your hat’s unique stretches and permanent marks as signs of authenticity and character — it’s what makes it your own!
  • Store your hats in a hat box and cover your most valuable hats with a vinyl hat cover to avoid dust buildup, staining and odor accumulation