How to Clean A Hat: Baseball Caps, Bucket Hats, & Straw Hats

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It’s almost summer; time to get outside. And time to break out all your summer clothing. While you’re spending a day at the beach, picnicking in the park, or just lounging by the pool, a hat is your best friend. It keeps the light out of your eyes and keeps you looking good at the same time. 

As you wear your hat this season, it’ll soon become dirty, stained, and probably pretty sweaty. So let’s discuss how to keep it fresh and clean. In this article, I’ll cover:

  • How to Clean A Baseball Cap 
  • How to Clean A Bucket Hat
  • How to Clean A Straw Hat
  • How to Clean A White Hat: Stain Removal

So no matter your hat preference, you can look stylish and clean while you soak up the sun! And if you’re looking for more summer cleaning tips, be sure to read, How to Clean a BBQ Grill. 

Melissa wearing a baseball cap in her car

How to Clean A Baseball Cap

Whether you’re a baseball player, a fan, or just in it for the fashion, it’s important to know how to clean your baseball cap. Our summer hats get sweaty and dirty real fast, which can ruin your look and just feel (and smell) kind of gross.

The brim of a baseball cap is usually made from either cardboard or cotton twill. Cotton twill can go in the washing machine but cardboard can’t, unless you want a very soggy and misshapen baseball cap. So before you start this process, be sure to check the fabric care label. And if you need some help with that, check out my Laundry Care Symbol Chart

So if your baseball cap’s brim is made of cotton twill, toss it in the washing machine. Use cold water on a gentle cycle with a small amount of gentle, scent-free detergent. I recommend using a cap washer to preserve your hat’s structure. When the cycle is finished, air dry your hat. To maintain its shape while drying, you can simply keep it in the cap washer. 

If your brim is made of cardboard (or you’re just not sure), then it’s time to hand wash! You’ll need:

  • 1 tbsp laundry detergent
  • Cleaning toothbrush
  • Breathable fabric (like mesh)

Start by rinsing your cap in the sink to get off any excess dirt. Then, fill your sink with cold water and add one tablespoon of laundry detergent. Dip your cleaning toothbrush in the detergent mixture and scrub any stained or heavily soiled areas in small, circular motions.

Next, soak your baseball cap in the sink for five to 10 minutes. Thoroughly rinse the cap until the water runs off with no more suds. 

When you’re finished, snap your cap in your cap washer to preserve its shape as it dries. Or bunch up a breathable fabric (like mesh) and stuff it in your hat. This works the same way that a cap washer does to preserve your hat’s shape. Don’t use a towel or non-breathable fabric for this because it will just suck up all that water and your hat won’t dry properly. 

Pouring detergent into a washing machine

How to Clean A Bucket Hat 

Bucket hats are making a comeback this season, or at least that’s what I’ve seen on Instagram. And lucky for all you bucket hat lovers, they’re super easy to clean. They can be washed almost the same way as baseball caps, but there’s no cap washer for bucket hats as far as I know. To wash your bucket hat, all you need is:

  • Laundry detergent
  • Laundry bag (optional)
  • Breathable fabric (like mesh)

Most bucket hats can be cleaned in your washing machine. For some extra protection, I would suggest washing them in a mesh laundry bag. Make sure you pay attention to laundry instructions specific to your hat, but usually you’ll wash with cold water on a gentle cycle. As always, I like a gentle, scent-free detergent. 

When the cycle is finished, don’t throw your bucket hat in the dryer. High heat can ruin it. Instead, bundle up a breathable fabric to fill the inside of the hat and maintain its shape as it air dries. 

How to Clean A Straw Hat

Straw sun hats are a dream for sitting on the beach with a good book. But chances are yours have gone unused since last summer. This means that in addition to dirt, you probably have dust in all of the nooks and crannies of the straw. So we’ll be using a few different products:

Let’s get the dust out first. Remove any loose dirt and dust with a microfiber cloth. Make sure the cloth you’re using for this whole process is white or very light-colored. Colored clothes can leave colored lint caught in the straw. Next, use a soft-bristled brush to get the dust out of the grain of the hat. 

Generally, you want to use as little water as possible when cleaning your straw hat. Once the dust is removed, use a straw-safe cleaner if your hat just needs a light clean. Test the cleaner first in an inconspicuous area, like underneath the brim, close to the inside. Apply a teaspoon of cleaner to your microfiber cloth, and work in small, circular motions along the grain of the hat. Use a second dry microfiber cloth to wipe off any excess cleaner to finish. 

For a more heavily stained straw hat, fill a bowl with warm water and add one teaspoon of dish soap. Dampen but don’t soak your white cloth in the mixture, and once again test on an inconspicuous area. If the straw does not curl or react in any way, continue by wiping your whole hat in circular motions. When you’re done, use a damp microfiber cloth (with just water) to gently buff the straw. And voila, your super stylish sun hat is just like new.

How to Clean A White Hat: Stain Removal

You can clean your white hat according to the instructions in the previous sections of this article, but it will probably need some extra TLC when it comes to stain removal. White garments basically always get stained. There’s no getting around it. So having a plan of attack will help you keep your white hat looking good all summer. 

If you’re dealing with a stain on a straw hat, you’re going to have to use a product specific for straw and follow those instructions. But this is great for baseball caps and bucket hats with stains.

Start by filling your sink with cold water. Then, add one scoop of oxygen bleach. Soak your white hat for 20 minutes in the mixture, then wash normally, either in your washing machine or by hand. For more about oxygen bleach, read What is Oxygen Bleach?: Laundry Tips.

Melissa wearing a baseball cap and drinking a smoothie

How to Clean A Hat

Whether you have a baseball cap, bucket hat, or a sun hat, you’re ready to take on the sun! Remember to always pay attention to the fabric care label if you plan to throw your baseball cap or bucket hat in the washing machine, and do a test patch of cleaner before applying to the entirety of your straw hat. And when in doubt, hand washing is always a safe bet. 

Now that your hats are looking their best, you’re ready to hit the beach. And since you’re getting your summer wardrobe ready, how about taking care of your smelly shoes next?

AFFILIATE DISCLOSURE: As an Amazon Associate, we may earn commissions from qualifying purchases on amazon.com.
Melissa Maker is an entrepreneur, cleaning expert, founder of Toronto’s most popular boutique cleaning service, and star of the Clean My Space channel on YouTube (but she still hates to clean!). Every week, Melissa delivers new videos dishing expert advice on cleaning products, tools, DIY substitutes, and practical, timesaving solutions to everyday problems. Melissa has appeared on the Today Show, and has been featured in InStyle, Real Simple, and Better Homes and Gardens.

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