How to Clean a Felt Hat in a Few Easy Steps

Whether it's your favorite wool felt fedora, cowboy hat, or that vintage stetson you only wear on special occasions, the truth is that hats will get dirty. Dust, debris, sweat stains, body oils, grease stains, and watermarks can wreak havoc on a hat, but cleaning your headgear doesn't have to be a headache. It just takes three C's: common sense, consistency, and care.

So how do you clean a felt hat?

First of all, let's explain what felt actually is. It starts with wool, a natural fiber derived from sheep. The wool is then treated using heat, moisture, and pressure that melds the fibers together to create wool felt.

While felt can also be made using animal fur from rabbits, beavers, chinchillas, or other furry creatures, the cleaning instructions we've outlined here are for wool felt hats, not fur felt hats. If you have a fur felt hat, chances are you know that these are considerably more expensive hats, so don't cheap out now. Get them professionally cleaned when the time comes.

Just as you need to be careful when cleaning suede hats, leather hats, or straw hats, it's important to take a gentle approach when cleaning felt hats to avoid damaging them.

Clean As You Go

How to Clean a Felt Hat in a Few Easy Steps - Lint roller
Let the good times roll with regular lint rolling and brushing.

The best way to ensure your felt hat stays as spotless as possible is to clean it after each time you wear it. That might sound extreme, but it really doesn't take much time or effort.

All you need is a soft-bristled brush such as a toothbrush or a hat brush specifically designed for this purpose. Gently sweep away any dust or dirt in a counterclockwise direction so that the fabric stays smooth. Another great tool for keeping a felt hat clean is a lint roller —  simply roll it across the hat's fabric to remove dust and debris. You could also just use a piece of tape and dab it across the hat. How easy is that?

Keep It Cool

How to Clean a Felt Hat in a Few Easy Steps
You might see hats right side up in hat shops, but do the opposite when storing them at home.

Proper storage is a key ingredient to keeping your felt hat clean. When not wearing your hat, put it away in a hat box or store it in a cool, dry area away from direct sunlight. This will not only keep it as dust-free as possible, but it'll keep the hat from fading.

Although it might seem strange, the best way to store hats is to arrange them upside down so that the crown is on the bottom. Arranging hats this way keeps the brim in tact. The crown will be fine as long as it's on a clean surface and not smashed or pushed in. If you have more than one hat and need to save space, you can nest them together if they have similar crown shapes.

Spot Cleaning a Felt Hat

How to Clean a Felt Hat in a Few Easy Steps - Spot cleaning

If you're properly storing your hat and regularly using a hat brush, lint roller, or tape to keep it fresh, the cleaning process is going to be a lot easier than if you let the dust settle over time. Even so, you might end up with some stainage that needs extra attention.

Hand Washing a Felt Hat

How to Clean a Felt Hat in a Few Easy Steps - Hand wash

When it comes to cleaning a felt hat, it's kind of scary to douse it in water because there's always a risk of ruining it. Make sure you try spot cleaning the hat before attempting a full-on hand washing.

Machine Wash Your Felt Hat

How to Clean a Felt Hat in a Few Easy Steps - Machine wash
Don’t get caught off guard: Washing machines might leave your hat all washed up if you’re not careful.

If you don't want to put in the elbow grease necessary for cleaning your felt hat, we recommend getting the hat dry cleaned. However, you can also try putting it in the washing machine. Just know that this method ratchets up the chances of damaging the hat. Be sure to read our complete guide on how to wash a hat in the machine before going this route.

All Clean

How to Clean a Felt Hat in a Few Easy Steps - Cleaned up

As you can see, hat care is as much about consistent cleaning as it is about proper storage. And when it comes to wool felt hats, it's really not that hard to keep them in mint condition. Remember: The best hats are clean hats. Do yourself a favor and take a look at our top storage hacks and don't forget to check out these can't-miss guides on how to clean a wool hat and how to shrink a wool hat for even more hat care inspiration.


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