How to Clean a White Hat: Step-by-Step Guide

There’s something special about a pristine, white hat. From cotton baseball caps to wool fedoras, these ivory-hued toppers always look sharp.

Until they get dirty.

So what’s the best way to clean a white hat? While it's important to always proceed cautiously when cleaning any hat, white hats require even more attention since spots, stains, or even the slightest damage can be easily detected. To help you avoid any hat cleaning mishaps, follow these guidelines to determine which method is best for your hat. Once you know what to do, your white hat will be as bright and fresh as the day you first wore it.

Before You Wash

There are a few things you need to know before breaking out the soap and water. Your hat's life depends on it.

Look at Labels

Just as reading food labels is important to know what you're eating, the same goes for reading the label on your hat to know what you're wearing and how to take care of it.

Check the material and follow the washing instructions. If you have an old baseball cap, make sure it doesn't have a cardboard visor — only newer caps feature plastic brims or those made from washable materials.

If the label says "dry clean only," take the hat to the dry cleaners and let the professionals handle it.

Bye-Bye Bleach

Whether you decide to wash your hat by hand, give it a little spot cleaning, or throw it in the washing machine, one thing remains the same: Do not use bleach. Not only could the bleach disintegrate the material, but it could also discolor the hat and actually create stains rather than remove them.

Ditch the Dishwasher

While there are plenty of online articles that suggest washing a hat in the dishwasher is a safe and easy option, don't do it. Dishwashers are high-intensity machines that use hot water and hot drying cycles that will discolor, misshape, and shrink your hat's fabric. Plus, many dishwasher detergents include bleach.

Hand-Washing a White Hat

How to Clean a White Hat: Step-by-Step Guide - Hand wash

Hand-washing is the best method for cleaning a hat. It requires a little preparation and patience, but the payoff is well worth the effort.

Works best for: White hats made of cotton, cotton blends, synthetic materials, wool

Required Supplies


Spot-Ceaning a White Hat

How to Clean a White Hat: Step-by-Step Guide - Spot clean

Sometimes cleaning an entire hat isn't necessary. Spot-cleaning is a reliable way to remove specific stains or marks on a white hat, especially when the material won't do well submerged under water.

Works best for: White hats made of straw, synthetic materials, wool. Especially hats with a strong shape, like a fedora or trilby.

Required Supplies


Machine Washing a White Hat

How to Clean a White Hat: Step-by-Step Guide - Washing machine

While a washing machine provides the most convenient way to clean a white hat (especially a cotton baseball hat), it's not as simple as just throwing it in the laundry. Follow the steps below to ensure you don't end up with unrecognizable headgear that is no longer wearable.

Works best for: White cotton baseball caps and beanies

Required Supplies


Looking Good

Now that you know what it takes to keep your white hat fresh and clean, it's really not such a tough task, is it? Once your hat is spotless, you'll want to keep it that way. Properly storing your hat is part of the solution, so be sure to consult our guide on the best storage hacks for your hats to keep your white hats bright all year round.

Shop This Style: 8 Floppy Hats You’ll Love

Step up your flair for fashion with these fantastic floppy hat finds.

You’ve Got Mail: How to Ship a Hat

To help you find the easiest and most efficient way to ship a hat, we're taking you through the steps so that both sender and recipient are happy.

Style Guide: How to Pick the Best Winter Hats for Women

Find out what to look for in a winter hat, plus shop the hottest looks so that even when the weather is drab, you'll always look fab.