Maintaining Your Hats

Mato & Hash Blog

Unwanted Odors & Stains: A Guide to Cleaning Different Hat Types     

Hats can be stylish additions that not only provide sun-protection or warmth in cold weather but also add a touch of individuality to your outfit.  But, wearing a hat regularly, especially during activities or warmer weather, can lead to sweat accumulation on the hat's inner sweatband.


This can cause unpleasant stains and general wear and tear. However, with the correct cleaning methods, you can restore your hat's freshness. In this article, we will look at various ways to clean off sweat from different types of hats.

I. Cleaning Techniques:

Certain cleaning styles can be applied universally to various hats.  These three cleaning methods are safe for the majority of hats and can remove sweat residue.

  1. Vacuuming:
    • Hats with sweatbands that are not removable, a handheld vacuum cleaner with a soft brush can remove any unwanted debris or sweat from the sweatband.  This method can be particularly useful for hats with sensitive materials that cannot be soaked in water.
Handheld Vaccum
      2. Steam-Cleaning:
    • Steam-cleaning is a method for refreshing and sanitizing hats without immersing your hat in water. Here are the steps to correctly steam clean a hat:
      1. Fill a pot with water and bring it to a boil. Be cautious not to overfill the pot to prevent the overflow of boiling water.
      2. Hold your hat over the steam, allowing the steam to penetrate the hat's fabric. Be careful not to touch the pot or steam directly.
      3. Use your hands or a clean cloth to gently shape the hat while it absorbs the steam. Pay close attention to the sweatband area, where most sweat accumulates.
      4. After steaming, use a cloth remove any dirt loosened up during the process.
      5. Leave the hat to air dry completely.

     3. Deodorizing:

    • Sweat can leave an odor on hats. You can deodorize your hats by following one of the methods below:
      1. Baking Soda: Sprinkle a small amount of baking soda on the sweatband and let it sit for a few hours allowing the baking soda to soak up the odors and stains from your hat.  Clean off the excess baking soda before wearing the hat.
      2. Fabric Freshener: Use a fabric freshener spray designed for hats or fabric that you are going to spray on in order to avoid ruining your hat.  Spray a light mist on the sweatband and allow it to air dry.

II. Different Hat Materials:

Before diving into the cleaning process, it's best to understand the material of your hat.  Some familiar hat materials and their cleaning requirements:

     1. Cotton Hats are popular due to their comfort, cotton can be found in various types of hats from Embroidered Trucker Hats to Bucket Hats. To clean a cotton hat:

    • Spot cleaning: If your sweatband has stains, use a dampened-cloth with warm water and mild detergent. Lightly pat the stained area, working your dampened-cloth in a circular motion. Rinse the cloth and repeat until the stain is not visible.
    • Hand washing: Fill a vessel with warm water and add a small amount of gentle detergent. Keeping the brim out of the mixture submerge the hat and move it around softly. Pay attention to the sweatband, rub it to remove sweat and dirt. Rinse the hat, squeezing out excess water, and proceed to reshape your hat.  Air dry away from direct heat or sunlight.

     2. Wool and Wool Blended Hats such as beanies offer warmth and durability. Cleaning methods for wool hats include:

    • Spot cleaning: With a dampened soft cloth or a sponge with cool water and mild detergent you can gently clean stained areas.  Stay away from excessive rubbing, as wool can be prone to shrinking.  Clean the area with a dampened cloth to remove any residue.
    • Dry cleaning: If your hat needs extensive cleaning, consider taking it to a professional dry cleaner who specializes in hats. Dry cleaning ensures thorough cleaning without risking damage.

Wool Hats

     3. Straw Hats are perfect for warmer climates. Properly cleaning a straw hat first depends on the type of straw used:

    • Woven Straw Hats: Spot clean the sweatband using a dampened cloth with a mixture of mild detergent and room temperature water. Lightly pat the stained area and rinse the affected area.  Allow the sweatband to air dry.
    • Braided Straw Hats: These hats have a tighter weave, making it difficult to clean the sweatband separately. To clean the entire hat, use a soft brush to remove dirt and debris. Mix mild detergent with water and gently wipe the hat using a cloth or sponge. Rinse with a clean, dampened cloth.  Allow the hat to air dry.

Straw Hats 

III. Tips for Maintenance:

Correctly maintaining your hat can prevent excessive sweat build-up and extend the life of your hat. When trying to keep a hat clean and fresh, try to remember these tips:

  1. Sweat Absorbing Accessories:
    • To reduce the number of sweat stains and odors on your hat's sweatband, you can wear sweat-absorbing accessories such as a thin cotton skullcap or bandana under your hat. These accessories act as a barrier, absorbing the sweat before it reaches the hat's fabric.

Hat Accessories

     2. Rotation:

    • Don’t wear the same hat everyday.  Rotate between hats to allow them to air out and dry thoroughly. This reduces the sweat build-up and odor formation.

     3. Hat Brush:

    • Invest in a soft-bristled brush to help remove dust and debris from the hat's exterior. Gently brush the hat in a circular motion, paying attention to the brim and crown. This regular maintenance helps keep your hat looking clean.

     4. Hat Storage:

    • Refrain from stacking hats on top of each other, as it can lead to deformation. If stacking is necessary, place tissue paper or a soft cloth between hats to prevent them from losing their shape.
    • Extreme temperatures and humidity can damage the hat's material.  To prevent damage, store hats in a cool, dry area away from direct sunlight and moisture.   
    • Consider using a hat rack or a hat box to protect your hats from dirt and accidental damage this is a perfect solution especially for snapback hats.

Hat Storage

Cleaning the sweat stains out of a hat is necessary if you want the hat to keep its appearance, prevent odors, and extend its overall lifespan.  By using the correct cleaning methods, based on material, you can remove stains and keep your hat crisp and ready to be worn.  Please remember to always refer to the manufacturer's care instructions and test any cleaning method on a smaller, unnoticeable area before cleaning any larger areas on the hat.

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