How to Wash Hats Without Jeopardizing The Shape

How to wash hats without ruining the shape

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My husband is a hat-wearer and when I say “hat-wearer” that is an understatement. He wears hats everyday. Needless to say, we get some pretty grimy looking hats in our house. Some of his hats have become so dirty, that I didn’t even know what to do with them besides throw them in the washer with the darks to agitate the dirt out of it. I have ruined the shape of several hats before I came up with this solution.

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How to Wash Hats Without Jeopardizing The Shape

Take a leak proof rubber top tupperware container,  Place your hat inside. Add 1 teaspoon detergent. I started using Charlie’s Soap laundry detergent and I am now SOLD on it. This tub does 1250 loads! I can use just 1 Tablespoon in a whole load of laundry and get the same results as I get using a scoop of any other brand. That means, I don’t have to go buy it near as often, there is less plastic container waste because it lasts forever!

Wash hats safelyAdd Blender Bottle Shaker. Fill with warm (not hot) water until the hat is over halfway covered. Note – I used the actual brand Tupperware because of the flexible rubber lid that makes it so that you can see if the heat pressure is building up from the water temperature as you shake it, so the lid won’t pop off and leave you in a mess.

wash hats to maintain shapeMake sure to leave some space for the water to really move around. Close lid and shake. You will immediately see the dirt and grime come into the water and make it turn brown. how to wash your hatsI have even had success with getting the sweat line out of the hat brim (let the line soak in a thin layer of dishsoap overnight first)! I am excited for you to try this.

I have heard that you can do this with other delicates in a mason jar.

I am always looking for a place to get replacement hats for cheap when they wear out too. I found these and they are great! I love that they have no branding on them. If you have a hat-wearer in your life like I do, you might have a get a few;)

Was this washing technique helpful? How do you wash your hats it at home? Has anyone tried those crazy looking hat molds? They seem like a god idea.

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  1. Donna says

    A MUCH easier way is to put the hat on the “top” rack of you dishwasher. My husband does this all the time & it really works – promise!

    • Elaine Bell says

      I tried the dishwasher but the hats always had a soap scum all over it ! What did I do wrong. I even put it back through the dishwasher with out any soap and the scum was still there.

      • Donna says

        Oh my! That has never happened to me. I did use the gel paks, not sure if that made a difference. I also always have my “finish rinse” filled. So sorry it didn’t work for you. I could only imagine maybe the fabric made the problem? Although, we have washed every type of hat we have in our house (and believe me we must have a hundred) in our dishwasher – with the dishes. I would try to run it through again. What do you have to lose – good luck!!!

  2. says

    My mom always washed my dad & brother’s caps in the dishwasher, but some of the nasty caps my husband and 2 sons bring in I really don’t want to put in my dishwasher….I may try this method first. I had to hide my 10 year old’s beloved St. Louis Cardinals caps…it was disgusting!

    • Christy says

      I’m so happy to see I’m not the only one that hides (dirty hats or clothes that are WAY too small that my 9yr old insists on wearing) things from they’re kids!!

  3. Halei Case says

    How do you dry it?
    Ive seen ppl put them on a closed coffee can… but if there is another way Id like to know

      • Connie says

        Just a little suggestion as this is how I’ve washed my husband’s hats (Huge hat guy) – I’ve just used Dawn liquid dish detergent, and a small nail scrub brush that I use only on his hats, rinse well, and to dry the hats, I save a few liquid bleach bottles (the fat bottles) – I turn them upside down in either my laundry sink (which is a deep stainless steel bar sink) and the hat fits perfect for forming on the bottom of the bleach bottle. – Or in other containers on nice days to dry on my deck with a breeze. – I’ve always got every stain out and hats look new for very long time.

    • Suzi says

      That is where a hat mold comes into play. After you wash the hat put it in the hat mold to dry. The hats keep their perfect sporty shape and it keeps them from shrinking and yes they will shrink!

  4. Jo Tell says

    My hub works at a fast food chain as a cook. His hats are SO gross! I will for sure let you know if it works for us! Thanks for sharing!

  5. maria Palacios says


  6. Tracey says

    Love this idea. Can’t wait to try this on my sons caps. He usually washes them when he gets a shower. Definitely trying the dawn to get the sweat line out. He loves to wear his cap

  7. Kristen says

    Did you shake it for a certain time length or did you just shake it til you felt like it was as clean as it was going it get.
    I’m in the middle of attempting this on a beloved WHITE hat. At least it’s supposed to be white. 🙂

    • Ali says

      I shook it until the water was brown and it looked cleaner, 2 minutes? Is it all white? Maybe you could add some bleach or use a bleach pen on the stains. I have saved lots of clothing with those bleach pens. Good luck!

  8. Sarah says

    This totally works!!! I used dish soap and a brush on it first just to get some of the worse grime out but then put it in the Tupperware and added the water. Then came round two with the laundry detergent. What used to look like a black ball cap is now the original two-toned grey again!

    • Ali says

      Yay! I am so happy it worked well for you. Isn’t it a great trick? Thanks so much for your feedback Sarah.

  9. Irene says

    Re: dishwasher use for ball caps, I did read that the dishwasher must be empty of everything but the hats.
    Maybe the dishwasher needed to be “cleaned” first.

  10. Irene says

    I have washed some of my husbands grubbier caps in the clothes washer using one of those plastic “holders”. Kept the bills nice and straight, but the cap part came out a little wrinkled which disappeared when the hat dried.
    I am sure the different fabrics affects the results of any of the different ways to wash them

  11. FL says

    I tried this after seeing it on Pinterest. It worked on a horribly, unwearable, stained beige cap! Placed the cap in a plastic container. Wet the cap with water. Coated the yucky areas with liquid Tide and sprinkled Borax over the Tide. Let the cap sit overnight. Added warm water to cover the cap and shook a few times during the day. Rinsed the cap. Hung outside to dry. HE gets a clean, wearable cap! Thank you so much for giving me the inspiration to try something that actually worked!

  12. Peggy says

    Put hats in dishwasher and run it. If you are more particular, you can put the hat on one of those hat forms before putting it in.

  13. says

    Hello Mama’s Girl,
    I would like to know if I can use this method with a leather hat please.
    I don’t think so but if you can confirm that, it would be great.
    Thank you for your tips.


      • says

        Hello Mama’s grils
        You talk about “Saddle Soap”. It’s a good idea if it was a leader like boots but my hat is made from deer’s hide (buckskin). My problem is to remove the line of sweat of the hat brim.
        Please, tell us if you try and find a right (good) solution, please.
        Thank you.

        • Cathy says

          This sounds nuts, but try rubbing corn meal over the hat in circles, then wipe all of it off. it make take a few times if the hat is really dirty. Use a soft brush like a baby hairbrush to brink up the texture.

  14. Jeane says

    This is great….I used to put dishwasher detergent on them and run through the dishwasher in the top rack…….this looks much better! Thanx!

  15. Brooke says

    Omgosh I just did this and used oxygen abs it came out brand new the part of the hat that was a grimy white is now snow white. Thank you so much.

  16. Sabina says

    I will definatley try this! As a marshal at racetracks I wear a hat in all types of weather, so they get dirty.
    Would be nice if I can get them clean. Especially my Valentino Rossi hat! That’s my favorite one and it should stay yellow!

  17. KAThy says

    Wowed by this my grandson collects league hats that are rather expensive so I was so pleased when they came clean like new. Thanks for sharing this great tip.

    • Ali says

      You know I am not sure, sometimes wool is dry clean only. Does it have washing instructions on a tag somewhere. Let us know how it goes-

      • Donna says

        NO NO NO don’t even chance it. You may be able to use the “dryer cleaning sheets” that are sold in the grocery store, but use the gentle cycle on your dryer. Better yet, I have used these sheets just to wipe down the item, inside & out then leave the item to dry naturally.

        • Rin says

          Be careful with those “use in your home dryer” dry cleaning kits… they made my mom’s dryer stink for the next several loads, and IIRC, started to damage it.

  18. kate says

    This worked great! My daughter threw up on my husband’s favorite hat, so it was really disgustingly dirty. I washed it using the above instructions and also used a brush to lightly scrub the really dirty parts. Also rinsed it using the same method. The hat got very clean and also retained its shape. Thanks!

  19. Drenush says

    In Balkan we wash EVERYTHING and hats too ,soak in water with dry soap and rub the front with a soft brush,rinse and air dry.It don’t take that long to dry,by next day it’s ready to be used again BUT my hubby does tell me after they get washed they get little tighter so he doesn’t want me to wash he’s hats anymore so I don’t .

  20. Ginger B. says

    Would your method help to shrink a hat that has been stretched out do to use. I have a hat I need to reduce the size and am afraid to ruin the hat.

    • Ali says

      I am not sure. I was told this week that agitation and heat are the cause of shrinkage when washing wool garments. Try using hot water and shake extra long and let us know what happens.

  21. says

    Thanks for the wonderful shout-out! Charlie’s probably will clean just about anything. Of, and Charlie’s loves Blender Bottle, too!

  22. michael says

    Dose eny1 know the best way to get fluff and dirt off my hats i have a lot of hats and dont wear them as often as i would like

  23. Janelle says

    What happens next? You haven’t said how to rinse the detergent out of the hat and how to dry it.

    • Ali says

      Point taken. I rinse my hats under the faucet until the water runs clean, then air dry. 🙂 Thanks Janelle

  24. Ruth says

    I fill my dishwasher with my husband’s hats, 8-10 at a time, add cascade, and run it through the cycle. Hang them on the line and they come out clean and maintain their stiffness. So easy.

  25. says

    I actually do this all the time! lol After washing, rinse throughly with cold water inside and out for about ten minutes or you will get a weird soap ring on the hat. The second trick is to let them dry on an old coffee can, (about the size of the hat enthusiast head or a touch smaller), shape the brim the way they like to dry just as a touch up and voila! The rest of it is still in shape and nice!

    As for anyone having scum left on their hats in the dishwasher, (which works wonders if your guy works in the oil field/oil rigs/on cars/or gets in to something particularly greasy nasty), you can’t use gel packs or any rinse additives. I’ve found that those leave funky stuff on the hats if I forgot I had it in there. Hope this helps!

  26. Robin Pasternak-Seggelke says

    The hat frames work really well but, don’t put them in the washing machine. The washer action is too violent and the frame will come apart. Put it in the top rack of your dish washer. The most important thing is to read the label on your detergent. Make sure it doesn’t contain bleach unless your hat is white. I have a hat with the saying on it: “My wild oats have turned to Shredder’s wheat”. It used to be black…now it’s a terrible shade of red.

  27. says

    Edit – I started making my own dishwasher soap, so I don’t have to worry about bleaching my husband’s hats when I run them through the dishwasher and none of the worry of the gel pack residue. I honestly think the homemade formula works better than anything I have found!! Especially if you scrub and pre-soak the really nasty ones!!

    Our leather or leather trimmed ones, I usually use saddle soap on the leather and hand wash the the cloth parts. 🙂

  28. Charlie says

    I only WISH my wife would wash my hats like this for me. If it isn’t in the washer, it’s up to me, just as is ironing. In any case, it’s worth a shot. What have I to lose, but a hat or two out of the many in my collection?

    • Ali says

      You don’t absolutely need it, I just throw it in to help agitate the detergent. If you don’t have one, you don’t need to go buy one, I just like using mine.

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