How to Hand Wash Your Hats [And Not Change the Shape]

how to wash a hat properly


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.

Supplies Needed to Hand Wash Your Hat Without Ruining the Shape:

Steps to Hand Wash Baseball Hats Without Ruining 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.

wash hat right way





88 thoughts on “How to Hand Wash Your Hats [And Not Change the Shape]”

  1. 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!

    1. 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.

      1. 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. Hard water is most likely your problem… I wash my hats on the top rack as well, make sure If you do try this do not, set your washer to pots and pans settings… ie: any setting with high heat, as it warps the plastic mesh inside the hat… And make sure, whatever dishwasher you have, always, ALWAYS, keep them as far away from the heat coils as you can…

  2. 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!

    1. 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. 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

      1. 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.

    1. 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. 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


  6. 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. 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. 🙂

    1. 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. 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!

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

  9. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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.


      1. 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.

        1. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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.

    1. 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-

      1. 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.

        1. 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. 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. 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. 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.

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

  22. 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. 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.

  24. 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!

  25. Robin Pasternak-Seggelke

    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.

  26. 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. 🙂

  27. 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?

    1. 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.

  28. I wear a hat 6 days out of the week. Usually, because I am trying to grow my hair and I can’t stand the stage it is in now. I have that hat molder plastic thingy and it never stays shut for me. So, I am definitely going to try your way. Thanks

  29. I use the plastic hat molds all the time. They are wonderful. My husband is an electrician. He always wears hats and they get nasty. I put a hat in the mold through it in the wash with , levis, work cloths or old towels (rags). Then I take it out and let it air dry. You can’t tell it was a dirty smelly work hat. You can also wash by putting it on the top rack of the dishwasher and run a regular batch. Personally I can’t stand they thought of that nasty hat washing with or were my dishes wash.

  30. On leather hat, use a mix of hot water and Murphy Oil soap, rinse and air dry, cloth hats, ( soft crown) I use Dawn dish soap and water. Hang on a clothes hanger above a dehumidifier. Structured hats wash the same way (Dawn) and a soft brush allow to dry on a sause pan . I never had much luck with the molds

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