Hat Care Guide: Tips for Cleaning Your Hat & Keeping it Safe

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Cleaning your new bucket hat, baseball cap, or beanie can be a scary task.

We've all seen or heard stories of people ruining a great hat because they didn't apply best-practice hat care to it.

This guide tells you exactly how to clean your hat the safe way. We've also thrown in loads of great tips for taking care of different hat styles and fabrics.

Let's dive in.

How to clean your hat

Most hats should be washed by hand in warm water.

While many of our bucket hats can withstand a tumble through the washing machine, we advise against machine washing to minimise the risk of damage. 

If you decide to use a machine, put the hat inside a mesh bag for extra protection.

How to safely wash and clean a hat:

  1. Fill up a sink with warm water
  2. Add a small splash of natural laundry liquid
  3. Swish the liquid until it has completely dissolved into the water
  4. Soak the hat for approximately 15 minutes
  5. Use a soft-bristled brush to gently scrub away any stains or blemishes
  6. Rinse the hat with cold water, lightly squeezing to release any soapy residue
  7. Reshape the hat and pat dry using a towel or napkin
  8. Leave the hat in a dust-free environment to dry

Note: Some fabrics such as paper straw and wool are unsuitable for soaking or washing in water, as this can damage the shape or quality of the material.

Keep reading for specific hat-washing instructions.

equipment for cleaning a hat

Hat cleaning tips for different styles

The good thing about hat care is that it’s relatively the same across all hat types.

But since we’re hat experts, we thought we’d share a few special tips for different styles.

Bucket hats

We recommend washing bucket hats by hand, using the method above.

However, many bucket hats are made of strong cotton or polyester fibres, so they may also be suitable for a washing machine. 

Avoid using a machine dryer on bucket hats, as this may damage or shrink the fabric.

Sun hats and big brim hats

Sun hats and other big-brimmed hats can be washed exactly like bucket hats.

However, as these brims are often made of easily damaged material, it’s best not to machine wash them.

When cleaning a sun hat, make sure you take time to wash every part of the hat - especially inner areas where sweat can build up.


Beanies can be washed using the standard hat-washing method. However, scrubbing is not recommended.

Instead of scrubbing the beanie hat, gently squeeze it and swirl it around the soapy warm water multiple times.

Beanies can gather excessive amounts of sweat compared to other hat types, so they should be cleaned more regularly and thoroughly.

Baseball Caps & Visors

Baseball caps and visors should never be machine washed or dried, as this can greatly damage the shape and quality of the hat.

Always hand wash and only use gentle scrubbing motions. Avoid hot water and excessive use of soap.

white clean baseball cap

Material-specific hat cleaning instructions

Hats come in just about every material under the Sun.

So, while the standard cleaning method applies to almost all of them - you’ll need to take into consideration any special fabric-related requirements.

Cotton hats

Cotton hats are the simplest to clean.

There are no extra steps beyond those featured at the top of this blog.

If they’re 100% cotton and do not contain other materials (such as the solid brim of a baseball cap), then they may even be machine washable.

That said, handwashing is always safer and so is our recommendation.

Polyester hats

Polyester and cotton/polyester hats can typically be washed just like ordinary cotton hats.

However, polyester is more susceptible to heat, so use a warm or low heat.

You may also choose to wash polyester hats in a washing machine or dishwasher at your own risk.

Straw hats

Straw hats must be washed very carefully, using the bare minimum amount of water. This is especially true for raffia or paper straw hats.

The best way to wash a straw hat is by dipping a soft cloth in a mixture of natural laundry liquid and warm water, wringing the cloth so that it is barely damp, and then gently scrubbing at the surface of the hat.

If you are seeking to clean dirt or debris, consider dry washing (without water) to minimise the risk of damage.

Leather hats

Leather hats can be washed using the normal hat-washing method, but should never be machine washed.

Leather can stain more easily than other hat materials, so we recommend cleaning regularly - and whenever a new sweat or dirt stain appears.

If the leather hat contains metal parts, dry these immediately after washing to prevent rusting.

Faux leather hats

Faux leather hats can also be hand-washed in soapy warm water.

This type of fabric is extra susceptible to colour fading, so dry it immediately after washing using a microfibre cloth or tea towel.

Wool hats

Wool should never be washed in warm or hot water. 

Avoid machine washing and drying at all costs, as it may damage the shape of the material.

To wash a wool hat, use a mixture of cold water and wool detergent or other liquid specially designed for delicate fabrics.

Corduroy hats

For dark corduroy hats, use only cold water and be extra gentle. Do not mix with light-coloured clothing or headwear when washing.

For pastel-coloured corduroy hats, you may use warm water. Do not mix with dark-coloured clothing or headwear.

three beanies that have just been cleaned

Hat storage and protection tips

Looking after your hat can be tough if you’re not sure what you’re doing.

Make sure yours lasts as long as possible with the tips below.

Hat care tips for protecting and storing your hat:

  • Regularly dust your hat with a soft-bristled brush or microfibre cloth.
  • Hold and transport your hat by the brim: holding it by the crown may damage the hat.
  • Keep your hat stored in a cool, dry location to prevent fading and loss of shape.
  • Only wash your hat after regular use or if surface damage occurs.
  • Storing your hat on a mannequin head or similar can help it to retain shape for longer.
  • Never share hats: nits aren’t just a children's thing!
  • For bucket hats, roll rather than fold the hat when transporting to prevent wrinkling.


That’s it! Now you’re all ready to go and take amazing care of your hats for the rest of your life. Nice work.

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