how to wash your hat

Your Guide to Washing Hats in a Washing Machine

When you’ve got a great looking hat you love to wear, you surely want to keep it in tip-top shape. Hats are fashion essentials that get dirty over time. When your favorite hat is showing some dirt and grime, it’s time to spruce it up by giving it a good cleaning. But before you toss your hat thoughtlessly into your washing machine, there are a few things to know.

In this guide, we’ll tell you how to wash hats of all types in the washing machine. When you follow these tips, your favorite hats will come out clean and fresh. You’ll never have to worry they’ll shrink or come out faded.

To ensure your hats end up clean and looking as great as they did when they were new, follow these steps below. 

Before Washing: Get to Know Your Hat 

You already know that your favorite baseball cap is in a color you love and that it fits you like a T. But what more do you know about that hat of yours? Before you toss any hat into the washing machine, read the label. Find out what material the hat is made of and look for any washing instructions. 

If you find a label inside your hat that says ‘dry-clean only’, you should follow that advice. The chances are the hat is made of wool or a wool blend. Wool items don’t do well in the washing machine because the water will cause the material to shrink. 

Here’s some washing information you should know about different types of hats:

Cotton Hats: If you find out that your hat is made of cotton, it’s durable enough to withstand running through a washing cycle in your machine. Just remember that cotton can shrink so your hat may come out a little smaller. 

If you happen to have an older cotton baseball cap that needs washing, take a good look at it first. Does the cap have a cardboard brim? If so, you should not toss that hat into the washing machine because cardboard doesn’t play well with water. 

Today’s modern baseball caps have brims made of plastic or other resilient materials. This means these hats are safe to wash in a washing machine.

Canvas Hats: Like cotton, the canvas can be washed in a washing machine. Canvas is a resilient material that can take the abuse your washing machine dishes out. The great news about washing canvas hats is that they won’t shrink. This is because the canvas is thicker than cotton, making it shrink-proof. 

Wool Hats: Wool hats will lose their shape from all the motion inside a washing machine. If you have a wool beanie or cap, you’ll either have to wash it by hand or take it to the dry cleaners. If you decide to do the washing yourself, use a special wool cleaner like Woolite and follow the label directions carefully. 

Hats made of Cotton Blends and Synthetic Materials: Hats made of a cotton blend or synthetic materials like mesh are safe to put in a washing machine. These materials are durable and they hold colors well. 

Washing Machine Instructions

Once you’ve made sure it’s fine to wash your hat in a washing machine, it’s time to get started. Follow this guide to ensure your hat comes out fresh and clean. 

Pre-treat with a Stain Remover

It’s a good idea to pre-treat your hat before putting it into the washing machine. Pre-treatment will help loosen ground-in dirt and stains the washing machine may not get out. 

The general rule of thumb regarding pre-treatment is this: If your hat is made of cotton or a cotton blend, you can spray a stain remover directly on your hat before putting it in the washing machine.

When pre-treating your hat, look for dirt and grime that usually accumulates along the seams. Be sure to spray some stain remover on sweat stains on the headband and inside liner. Once you’ve used the stain remover, let your hat sit for about a half an hour so the solution can effectively soak into the material.

Use a Mesh Bag for Delicate Hats

If you have a delicate knit hat that needs cleaning like a beanie, it’s a good idea to put the hat in a mesh bag before tossing it in the washing machine. When a knit hat is inside a mesh bag, it will keep its shape better.  You can find mesh washing bags at discount department stores.

Be sure to close the mesh bag securely once you’ve put your hat inside. These bags either close with zippers or pull-strings. It’s perfectly fine to put more than one hat in a mesh bag, but don’t overstuff it. Hats need space to move when in the washing machine so they get thoroughly clean. 

Wash Hats in Full Loads and with Similarly-Colored Clothing 

It’s important not to wash hats in the washing machine until you have a full load. Why? Because hats washed in small loads can come out all matted up or stretched out of shape. When preparing to wash your hats, gather a large load of similarly-colored dirty clothing and put them in the machine with your hats.  This way, your hats won’t get all twisted or matted up. Instead, they will gently agitate in the washing machine, using the clothes you added as a buffer. 

Whatever you do, don’t wash white hats with colored clothing. This mistake will end up costing you! Your once-white hat will most likely come out of the machine another color which can be anything from blue, red, purple, or dingy brown.  Just sort your hats with the rest of your laundry and remember all those washing machine tips your mom gave you! 

Use the Right Detergent 

When washing hats in the washing machine, use a good quality mild detergent. If you’ll be washing hats made of more delicate materials, use an extra mild detergent like Woolite or something similar that’s formulated for delicate fabrics. If you’ll be washing colored hats, make sure the detergent you use doesn’t contain any bleach that can fade or remove the dye. 

Use Cool Water and a Gentle Cycle

Hot water is a big NO when it comes to washing hats. Hot water fades color and it shrinks material. That’s why you should wash your hats using cool water. Once you’ve set your machine to run at a low temperature, it’s time to choose a cycle. 

We recommend setting your washing machine on the gentle cycle because the normal cycle is simply too agitating. The gentle cycle won’t rough up your hat excessively when it’s being washed. Once the washing machine turns off, your hat should come out clean and in tip-top shape. 

Don’t Use Your Clothes Dryer! 

When you take your washed hat out of the washing machine, don’t toss it in the dryer with the rest of the load. Clothes dryers can wreak havoc on hats by shrinking them and twisting them out of shape. 

The best way to dry a wet hat is to hang dry it if it’s a baseball cap, panel hat, or dad cap. The same rule applies to snap-back hats, bucket hats, and trucker hats. The best method for drying acrylic beanies or rib-knit beanies is to dry them flat on a dry, clean towel. To avoid stretching out your beanies, don’t hang them up to dry! 


When your hat needs more than a wiping off or a spot cleaning, use the guide above learns how to wash hats in a washing machine. Be sure to follow the tips carefully to ensure your hat comes out clean and undamaged. And by all means, read those labels inside your hats. These labels will tell you what your hats are made of and include the manufacturers’ recommended washing instructions.  

To avoid shrinkage, don’t wash wool hats in the washing machine. These hats should be washed by hand using Woolite or another detergent made specifically for wool clothing and accessories.

A Few More Tips for Cleaning and Caring for Your Hats!

  • At Delusion Mfg, we want you to be happy with how you look, especially with your hats! On top of following the guide above, we recommend using preventative action to keep your hats looking great for as long as possible. 
  • You can protect your hat with fabric protector spray to keep it in great shape. A fabric protector will serve as an invisible shield to protect your hat from the most common problem with hats which is sweat stain. It will also repel rain and make the most accidental spills easy to clean off. For the best results, use a fabric protector after you’ve cleaned your hat. 
  • When you’re not wearing your hat, keep it stored in a safe place to avoid dirt and stains. If your hat starts collecting lint, use a lint remover for clothes. Don’t be tempted to pick lint off with your fingers so you don’t loosen or pull out any threads.
  • All the hats we sell are top-quality and designed to last a long time. However, you do need to take good care of your hats and give them a proper cleaning now and then! 
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