How to Clean a Hat

The impact of dirt and weather are inevitable with hats you wear regularly. How to clean a hat depends very much on its material but almost everything can be cleaned. If you need further more detailed advice you can also email the Shappos office and we’ll see how we can help you. Sometimes though you might have to speak to a delicate cleaning professional. 


Cleaning the sweatband inside a hat

Occasionally flip down the sweatband so it can dry and air out. If your sweatband regularly soaks up a lot of sweat or hair oils then make sure you dry it out often. If you must clean the sweatband... be very careful. Try using a toothbrush dipped in a mild soap solution and scrubbing. Rinse and blot very carefully.  

Cleaning a straw hat

For light dirt use a piece of velvet that has been held in the steam for a few seconds. Rub in circles.For very stubborn stains, try some dry cleaning fluid.

For light straw try ½ teaspoon of hydrogen peroxide and ½ teaspoon of warm water. For dark straw hats try ½ teaspoon of ammonia and ¼ cup of water.

Cleaning a felt hat

Remove surface dirt with soft hat brush. Use a dark bristled hat brush for dark hats and light colored bristled hat brush for light hats.

You can use a lint remover or some painters tape to remove stubborn lint.

If your hat gets something sticky or dirty dripped or splashed on it... immediately run under a gentle stream of room temperature water and tap with a fingertip and let dry naturally.

Always let your hat dry naturally. Never use a blow dryer or any forced air to heat/dry it as it may shrink.

Felt hats should be brushed regularly... most hat manufacturers suggest that you start brushing your hat on the left side of the hat and move counterclockwise, brushing towards the back. Be sure to brush the brim and crown in the same direction.


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A dusty hat

Ideally, you’ve stored the hat well and avoided it getting dusty, but sometimes you’ll need to remove some dust. Use a soft bristled brush first to remove most of the dust, then take a damp towel and gently rub the dampened towel in a circular motion over the surface to quickly remove dust. Use a dry part of the towel to finish. 

Oil stains

Oily stains in straw or felt are a bigger challenge. For these, you'll need some baking soda, as it will draw the oily residue out of the hat fibers. Don’t use baking powder on silks and delicates though. 

Brush the stained spot off first. Apply a small spot of baking soda, and let is sit for two or three hours. Brush the baking soda off afterwards with a soft brush or towel. Repeat this process if necessary. When finished, use a rubber sponge to clean away powder that may have penetrated into the felt. If stains remain after all of this, don’t fear but you'll need to seek professional help, you can email us for some details.

Cleaning a wool hat

Some wool hats with very stubborn stains can be gently sanded with a piece of sandpaper. Be careful because you don’t want to create a bald spot.Sometimes when it comes to oil and grease, you can brush that off: sprinkle some talcum powder on the stain and surrounding area and brush with a hat brush. Or, try a mixture of 1 teaspoon of baby shampoo or very gentle shampoo with a cup of warm water... run over it gently with a hat brush.

Cleaning a leather hat

Smooth leather hats can be treated like soft leather shoes. They can be waxed and buffed with a clear shoe polish- and darker polish can often cover scratches.

You can also use saddle soap cream for cleaning and conditioning. 


Cleaning Flowers/Lace/Ribbons/Veils/Feathers

Flowers can be gently wiped clean or dusted. Sometimes, acrylic spray can be used to help old flowers keep their shape.

Lace can often be cleaned by gently rinsing in a dish of warm soapy water...soak and squeeze, soak and squeeze... never rub or twist. Rinse the same way and then smooth out on a towel and place another towel on top.

Some ribbons can be dusted off using a puff of velvet cloth. They can often be steamed. Using a curling iron to restore a curl is possible. Always store ribbons loosely with other ribbons. 

Veils can be dusted and pressed... make sure you use waxed paper and a medium hot iron.

Feathers can be dusted with other feathers... dipped in a mild soapy solution, rinsed and hung up to dry. Do not ever steam feathers.

Never wash painted fruit decorations... just gently dust. Water will probably cause the paint to run.


Help your fellow hat wearers and share more of your tips below. Thanks!