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Laundry Room | Stains and Fabric Care

How to Clean a Baseball Cap

February 1, 2024

We’ve all seen dirty ball caps where sweat, oils, makeup, etc. have soaked through the sweatband and onto the front panel of the hat. Not cute. 

Washing a baseball cap requires some extra care to maintain its shape and to avoid damage. Read on for 4 easy steps to get your hats looking brand new. 

When you buy through our links, we may earn a small commission. 

Step 1 – Check the label on the hat: 

Always check the label for any specific care instructions. 

  • If you have vintage hats from the early 80s and prior, they will have cardboard visors and need to be washed delicately. 
  • Cotton ball caps may need a quick reshape after washing. 
  • Polyester hats tend to be more durable and keep their shape when washing.

Step 2 – Spot clean the hat:

Before immersing any cap in water, spot clean any visible stains. Spray them with Tide® Rescue, a sprinkle of powdered Tide® and water, or your other favorite stain treatment, and let it sit. For oily stains, pre-treat with blue Dawn® dish soap. Gently work the product into the stains. 
Only wanting to spot treat? Rinse with warm water to remove any remaining stain treatment and reshape.

Step 3 (Option 1) – Hand wash the ballcap: 

This is the gentlest method and is suitable for most caps. Fill a basin or sink with lukewarm water and add a pinch (½ tsp) of powdered Tide®. Place the cap in the soapy water and gently agitate it with your hands, soft brush or cloth. Pay extra attention to soiled areas and repeat spot treatment if needed. Rinse the cap thoroughly with warm water to remove any residue. 

Step 3 (Option 2) – Machine wash the cap: 

If the label allows machine washing, you have a few options:

  1. Put the hat in a mesh laundry bag (USA) (Canada). 
  2. Do a wash cycle with just the hat. 
  3. Use a cap frame (USA) (Canada) to protect the cap’s shape during the cycle. Depending on the frame you buy, you can wash your hat in the dishwasher or in your washing machine (check the instructions as not all can be used in front loading machines). These frames are designed to keep the cap in place and prevent it from getting crushed.
    Pro tip: Use caution and read your labels if you decide to go the dishwasher route. Some dishwasher detergents contain bleach and may discolor your hats. Always skip the heated dry cycle.

Set your washing machine to a gentle cycle with warm water and add a small amount of powdered Tide® to the drum. Do not use fabric softener, it will affect the caps ability to repel sweat and moisture and can damage the firm shape of the hat by coating the fibers with softener. 

Step 4 – Drying the cap: 

To preserve the cap’s shape, do not wring it out or squeeze it too tightly. Whether you hand or machine wash the baseball cap, gently reshape to its original form (or use a cap frame) while it’s still damp. Let the hat air dry on a towel away from direct sunlight or heat sources. Do NOT machine dry, it can cause shrinkage and damage the cap’s structure.

A good ball cap is more than just sun protection, it can make an outfit. Keep them clean because a dirty hat is not the aesthetic.  Hope you liked our hat-vice. 

For more articles on keeping your clothing clean and stain-free, see our Stains and Fabric Care section on our blog

For a list of our favorite products, click here

– Katie @ GoCleanCo

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