Hats are a difficult item of clothing to clean.
On the one hand, they come under the same category as t-shirts (worn next to the skin), so should be washed regularly.
On the other hand, they’re quite delicate and shouldn’t be washed too often in order to preserve their shape and colour.
But this means we’re often left with sweat-stained hats, particularly if we wear them to work out.
If you need to be careful when cleaning a hat, you’re probably wondering how to get sweat stains out of hats.
Well, you’re in luck, as that’s exactly what we’ll cover below.
Why You Should Be Careful When Cleaning Hats
When it comes to cleaning hats, especially baseball caps or anything else with a brim, you need to be considerate in what cleaning method and products you use.
There are two main reasons for this:
- The brim. Although brims are usually made from plastic, they can lose their shape when washed in hot water or with too much agitation. The same is true for the hat itself, but to a lesser extent.
- The material. Baseball caps are usually cotton or synthetic fabric, which isn’t difficult to wash. However, more formal hats can often be wool, which needs more careful cleaning.
Ideally, your hat will come with some sort of care guide, either as a leaflet or a label inside the hat.
When it comes to removing sweat stains, you should check the care guide first to figure out the best cleaning method.
If that isn’t possible, go with the gentlest cleaning method you can. Removing any type of stain involves deeper cleaning than a standard wash, so you’ll just need to be very careful.
How to Get Sweat Stains Out of Hats
As you may already know, sweat stains are usually slightly yellow (on lighter coloured items) and can leave “tide marks”.
Sweat stains are fairly common on t-shirts and shirts, but removing them can be challenging depending on the fabric and colour.
Hats need far more gentle cleaning, which adds another level of difficulty. To help you out, here are some options for how to get sweat stains out of hats.
Hand-washing your hat
Hats should pretty much always be hand-washed. This is pretty easy. You’ll need:
- A basin large enough to hold the hat
- Mild laundry detergent
- A soft-bristled brush or a cloth
The steps are as follows:
- Mix a tablespoon of detergent into a basin of cool water.
- Using the brush, gently scrub any obvious marks or stains.
- Put the hat in the water and leave for an hour or so. Come back every now and then to swish it around.
- Work over any stains again with the brush or cloth.
- Tip away the dirty water and replace it with clean, cool water.
- Rinse the hat.
- To dry it, ball up a towel and put it inside the hat so it keeps its shape. Dry it somewhere warm but out of direct heat and sunlight.
If your hat is a bright colour, you might want to do a patch test inside to make sure the detergent doesn’t cause it to bleed.
While it’s not the end of the world if this happens, it can dull the colour or affect any non-coloured areas.
Using stain removers on hats
If standard washing didn’t get rid of the sweat stains, you’ll want to try using a stain remover.
Oxygen bleach (such as Vanish OxiAction) is an obvious choice, but it might not always be the best one.
For example, you can’t use it on wool, and it’s often not a great idea to use it on coloured items. Even bleach designed for colours can cause some of the dye to leech out. Of course, if your hat is white, go ahead and use an oxygen bleach to remove stains.
If not, try the following method:
- Mix 4 tablespoons of bicarbonate of soda with around 50 ml of cool water to form a thick paste.
- Apply it to the stained area with a toothbrush or with your hands.
- Let it sit for an hour or more.
- Rinse the hat with clean water.
- Wash it using the method above.
Bicarbonate of soda can be very effective at removing stains, and it’s gentle enough that it shouldn’t affect the hat’s colour.
However, if it doesn’t work, you might want to consider taking the hat to a dry cleaner to see if they can help.
This method should be fine on cotton, synthetic and wool hats. For leather, though, you’ll want to use baby shampoo.
Leather should usually be kept as dry as possible, but washing it with a small amount of baby shampoo and warm water will be fine as long as you dry the hat properly after.
How to Prevent Sweat Stains on Hats
Whether you’ve removed sweat stains from your favourite hat or have bought a new one and want to get ahead of the problem, it’s possible to prevent sweat stains.
One of the most effective methods is to use shoe protector spray, such as Kaps Nano Protector Spray. While it’s designed to repel water from shoes, the same logic applies to repelling sweat from the inside of a hat.
Make sure you find one that’s suitable for use on textiles, although this should be most of them.
Another option is a hat liner (also known as a hat sizer), such as this Village Hats Terrycloth Sweat Band. These are basically fabric liners that go around the inside band of the hat.
While they absorb sweat, they’ll also make your hat smaller, which might not be ideal.
Hopefully, these options will help you to get sweat stains out of hats. Hats are a bit harder to clean than clothes, but it’s possible to completely remove stains with some extra care and attention.
Of course, if you’re unsure whether the cleaning methods above will work, visit a dry cleaner instead.
Jacob is a freelance writer based in Wales, where he lives with his partner and two dogs. All his work is fuelled by extensive research and buckets of coffee.