Skip to Content
HomeCommon Questions

How to Deep Clean A White Hat and Get Rid of Stains

There’s something about white hats, whether it’s a beanie, a panel hat, or even your favorite baseball cap. The color shouts freshness and boldness — no one wears a white hat expecting to go unseen.

The hat makes you look sharp, turning heads until it’s dirty and stained. But, how do you clean a white hat? Read on for a stepwise guide on how to get your favorite hat to its glamor. It’s time to add a skill to your hat maintenance repertoire.

How to Clean A White Hat

Before Washing

Getting your hat cleaned up is the ultimate aim. But before you dip it and start washing, here are a few things you should do.

Read the Labels

read labels before washing hat

Before you start washing, check the labels for any washing advice or even restrictions. These will tell you how to take care of and maintain your hat.

Check what material the hat is made of and the recommended washing methods. While some hats are made of a single material, others may be a mixture of different materials.

That means washing methods will be different. For instance, some baseball caps have visors made from cardboard which should not touch the water.

The labels also tell you the temperature to use, the drying method, and sometimes, even sun protection. Follow the instructions on the label, or else you risk damaging your cap.

If for whatever reason, the label is missing, you can research online for the washing instructions for that particular hat. Alternatively, contact the shop where you bought it but if that’s impossible, look for a fabric professional. Most of them can identify different materials and advise you on how to wash them.

Leave Dishwasher for Dishes

You probably might have read that you can clean your hat in the dishwasher. While it might be an easier option than handwashing, it’s not a wise decision.

Dishwashers are meant for dishes. They use extremely hot water and drying cycles that can shrink, discolor, or even warp your hat.

If you can’t use a dishwasher to clean your family heirloom, don’t use it for your favorite hat.

Bleach or No Bleach?

dont use bleach to wash hats

Sometimes the stains are too stubborn, and you fear they’ll not come out with regular washing. But no matter how bad the stains look, try your best to avoid using bleach.

Bleach is harsh on fabric and can disintegrate the material. Instead of removing the stain, it can make it worse. Instead of making your hat brighter, it can discolor it. You’re better off with your regular detergent.

How Do You Clean a White Hat?

Method 1: Handwashing

handwashing a white hat

Handwashing may be time-consuming and requires more effort, but it’s the safest way to clean your hat. However, some labels may state “dry-clean only.” For such a hat, leave it to the professional dry cleaners.

Some materials such as wool felt, cotton, and synthetic materials are safe to hand wash. You will require to prepare beforehand, but in the end, you’ll appreciate your efforts.

What You’ll Require

  • 1 tbsp of laundry detergent or bleach-free dish-washing liquid
  • 1 cup hydrogen peroxide
  • Oxiclean or baking soda
  • A toothbrush or any brush with soft bristles

Washing Instructions

  • Fill a sink or bucket with water. As it fills, mix 1 cup hydrogen peroxide, one tablespoon of laundry detergent or dish liquid, and one scoop of Oxiclean or baking soda
  • For wool felt material, add the mix to cold water. If cleaning cotton and cotton blends, use warm water
  • Soak the hat for 30 minutes
  • Using the soft-bristled brush, scrub the stains, grime, or dirt gently to avoid pulling on the fibers
  • Rinse the hat with water of the temperature you used to clean. Submerge the hat, agitate, and then drain the water. Repeat until the rinsing water is clear.
  • Leave the hat to air dry either indoors or in the shade. Avoid direct sunlight as it can damage the ultra-violet protection factor (UPF).

Method 2: Spot Cleaning

If your hat is made of delicate materials, spot cleaning is an excellent way to remove stains.

What You’ll Require

  • 1 cup hydrogen peroxide
  • 1 tbsp dish or laundry detergent
  • A scoop of Oxiclean or baking soda
  • A soft-bristled brush or toothbrush

Washing Instructions

  • Mix the hydrogen peroxide, laundry detergent, and baking soda in water to make a thin paste. For straw, synthetic, and cotton hats, use warm water and cold water for wool.
  • Dip the brush in the paste and apply to the stain. Brush it gently, taking care not to damage or pull on the fibers. You can also use a cotton swab, cotton ball, or a white cloth if you feel the brush might be harsh.
  • Rinse the white cloth, then use it to dab away the residue on the hat until the paste is removed.
  • Air-dry it away from direct sunlight.

You should make sure the white washcloth is clean to avoid adding more stains to the hat. Colored washcloths might bleed their color on the hat, especially if it’s new.

Watch the following video to learn how to spot clean your white hat.

Method 3: Machine-Washing

machine washing a hat

Hand-washing and spot cleaning require some preparations and take time to remove the stains.

Yes, machine-wash if the label says it’s okay. However, if it indicates no machine-washing, you’re better off not trying to.

White cotton hats and beanies are okay to throw in the washing machine. Wool and wool blends, however, are not.

What You’ll Require

  • Laundry stain remover
  • Mesh laundry bag for delicate laundry
  • A scoop of Oxyclean
  • Non-bleach detergent

Washing Instructions

  • Pretreat the stains on the inside or outside of the hat and brim with the stain remover
  • Place the hat in the mesh laundry bag to protect it from agitation in the machine
  • Set the machine to a gentle cycle and wash in cold water.
  • Remove the hat and leave it to air dry

Method 4: Brushing

Some hats like suede, leather, and paper-braid hats can get damaged if exposed to water. For such hats, brushing is the best way to remove dust and dirt.

What You’ll Require

  • A soft-bristle rush
  • Cleaning solution (optional)

Cleaning Instructions

  • If the hat has decorations or accessories such as flowers or ribbons, make sure you remove them. If not, brush carefully to avoid crushing them
  • Use a soft-bristled brush to remove dust or a lint roller for lint. Be gentle and brush slowly with the nap of the material

If you can’t remove the hatbands and decorations, blow the dust from them using a hairdryer on low.

To remove oily stains on your white hat, sprinkle talcum powder or cornstarch on the stain, allow it to sit for a couple of hours then brush it away with your soft brush.

For leather hats, use a leather cleaner to remove odor and stains. Leave it to air-dry, then use a leather lotion or condition to keep it supple.

If the stains on your white straw hat are still stubborn and won’t come out with brushing, consider using a cleaning solution. According to the label, if it’s safe to use liquids, mix some dish soap with water and damp a clean rag without soaking it.

Gently rub the rag on the stained area moving with the pattern of the material until the stain is gone.

Things Not To Do When Washing a White Hat

Things Not To Do When Washing a White Hat

While it’s essential to know how to get rid of stains and dirt on your white hat, it’s vital to understand what you should avoid doing while at it.

There are misleading advice and quick tips for cleaning hats, and some may cause irreversible damage to your hat. When it comes to cleaning your white hats, here are some don’ts:

  • Don’t wash your hat in the dishwasher. The water’s high pressure and temperature may cause shrinking and fading.
  • Don’t use bleach, no matter how tempting. Instead of removing stains, you might end up with a yellowed hat.
  • Don’t dry in direct sunlight. Even if it’s faster and your hat may have UV protection properties, the sunlight can still be strong enough to fade and weaken the fabric.
  • Don’t dry in the dryer, too. The dryer uses a high temperature; no wonder clothes dry so fast. But it will damage the fabric of your hat.
  • Don’t fail to read the label and inspect your hat. The label will give you washing instructions while checking before washing allows you to notice any loose stitches, broken brims, or any other damage. If you wash it without checking, the loose stitches might come out.
  • Don’t store your hat if it’s still damp. Make sure the hat has dried entirely before drying. Otherwise, it might develop mildew and a musty smell. Also, don’t store it in a plastic bag as moisture can build up, causing mold on the hat.

So Clean, So Fresh

If you want your hat to look clean and feel fresh, you have to learn how to clean a white hat. Luckily, the methods above will leave your hat as clean as you want it to be.

Just make sure to check out the labels for the cleaning instructions, avoid bleaching, and leave the dishwasher for the dishes. Who knows, the hat may last you for years and perhaps even outlive you if you take good care of it.