How to Wash A White Hat - Charlie's Soap

How to Wash a White Hat

Between mud, dirt, and sweat stains, your favorite white sun hats, visors, and baseball hats get put through the ringer. White hats of every style can get scuffed, smudged, and stained. So, when your favorite white fedora falls into a muddy puddle, don’t panic. With a little technique (and some help from Charlie’s Soap), cleaning hats is a breeze. Here’s how to bring your white hat back to its former glory.

Are Dishwashers Safe for Hats?

The short answer: no. Though tossing your baseball cap on the top rack is a famous hat-cleaning method, we recommend against it. Dishwashers operate at incredibly high temperatures with extreme water pressure. This can shrink and alter the shape of your hat.

Care Instructions and Material

Before you start cleaning your hat, you’ll want to make sure that the hat isn’t dry clean only. If the washing instructions don’t call for it, you’re probably okay to skip the dry cleaner and wash it at home.

As an extra precaution, check the fabric type of the hat. Most likely, your hat will be made with polyester, a cotton blend, or wool. Wool hats may require some extra care as you wash them. Lastly, check the material of the brim and visor. Today, most hats have a plastic brim. However, if your hat has a cardboard brim, you should avoid washing it.

1. Pretreat

After you’ve made sure that your hat is safe to wash, it’s time to pretreat. Getting tough stains out of white cloth can be tricky. You’ll want to target any remaining stains with an effective pretreatment. A DIY solution such as baking soda may work to lift some of the stain, but, chances are, it will leave your white hate dingy and gray. 

To brighten your hat, you may be tempted to use chlorine bleach. Generally, bleach is a no-go for cleaning hats. Its highly alkaline solution could compromise the integrity of your hat by dissolving the fabric fibers. Yet, if your white hat is in pretty tough shape, it’s not too late to restore it to its former glory. Chlorine-free oxygen bleach has all of the cleaning power of regular bleach without any of the harsh chemicals. When used correctly for short soaks and minor pretreatments, oxygen bleach is so gentle on fabrics that it’s even color-safe. 

For a deep clean, mix a cup of water with a tablespoon of oxygen bleach. Using a clean cloth, apply the oxygen bleach mixture to your hat. An even application of oxygen bleach across the entire hat will make the fabric good-as-new. 

If your hat has particularly tough stains—like those caused by mud—it’s a good idea to specifically pretreat those spots before washing. For a powerful stain-fighting agent, use Charlie’s Soap pretreatment spray. Allow the pretreatment spray to sit for 30 minutes before soaking. It’ll give you a head-start on breaking down stains, so they’re more likely to dissolve and disappear during washing.

2. Soak

To kick-start the cleaning process, fill up a clean sink with warm water. If you’re washing a wool hat, stick with cold or cool water. For best results, include a cleaning agent. You could add a cup of hydrogen peroxide or a few drops of dish soap. These are mild stain removers. If you’re looking for a powerful cleaner to strip away stains, grime, and bacteria, switch that hydrogen peroxide for natural liquid laundry detergent from Charlie’s Soap. Simply add a few tablespoons of liquid laundry detergent to the water and allow the hat to soak for 30 minutes. For wool hats, you can increase the soak time up to one hour. 

3. Wash

Before you wash, check the care label of your hat carefully. Although it depends on the type of hat, hand-washing is often the best choice. Even delicate cycles in the washer could damage the shape of your hat. If you’re unsure, it’s better to play it on the safe side and stick with hand-washing.

Hand Wash

Your hat should be saturated with powerful cleaning agents from the soak and pretreatment. With a soft-bristled brush such as an old toothbrush, scrub the hat gently, focusing on any stained areas as needed. For wool hats, be extra careful while you scrub. After the stains have lifted, rinse the hat thoroughly.

Machine Wash 

The key to cleaning your hat in the washing machine is in the cycle settings. Wash your hat in a mesh laundry bag on a gentle cycle with cold water for best results.

4. Dry

Even if your hat is machine-washable, avoid the dryer. Cool-air cycles can still alter your hat’s shape, and the drying cycle’s agitation could cause additional damage. It’s best to air-dry. Just dab excess water from your hat, then set it top-side-up in a sunny, well-ventilated area. Once it has completely dried, your white hat is ready to be worn.

Cleaning Products You Can Count On

Just like you, Charlie’s Soap wears many hats. We’re there for your laundry conundrums, cleaning catastrophes, and more. Between our stain solutions and our household cleaning solutions, we’ve got a quick fix for every mess. Whatever you’re washing, we’ve got your back. Switch to Charlie’s Soap to get long-lasting clean, for life.


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