How to Remove Sweat Stains from a Hat

You work hard, you play hard, and your favorite hat is proof of that. Whether you wear a cap on a daily basis or just for fun on the weekends, at some point it's going to get dirty from perspiration. So what's the best way to remove sweat stains from a hat?

It depends on a few factors, including what the hat is made of, how serious the stains are, and whether or not the hat is machine washable. To help you on the path to cleanliness, we've listed easy steps to follow that take into account each of these elements.

But first, it's just as important to know what not to do, so read on.

Just Say No to Dishwashers

How to Remove Sweat Stains from a Hat - Dishwasher

You might be tempted to simply throw your hat in the dishwasher and call it a day. But before you do that, consider that this method poses the greatest risk for ruining your hat.

Even if it's a durable baseball cap that's labeled safe for the washing machine, the dishwasher's high heat, agitation, and other heating elements can fray just about any material including straw, cotton, linen, and wool, not to mention decorative elements and stitching.

Also, dishwasher detergents often contain bleaching agents that can easily fade hat colors. Bottom line: Dishwashers are for dishes, not hats.

Say Bye-Bye to Bleach

How to Remove Sweat Stains from a Hat - Bleach

Even you're washing a white hat, bleach can ruin it and cause yellowish stains. (Kind of ironic, right? But it's true.)

Try a brightening bleach alternative like OxiClean or baking soda if you're cleaning hats that are white or bright. For more foolproof tips, check out these steps on how to clean a white hat.

Know Your Fabric

How to Remove Sweat Stains from a Hat - Different fabrics

Before beginning any sort of hat cleaning, read the care label. If it says dry clean only, do that. If there is no label, use your best judgment and check out our list of different hat materials if you're not sure about your hat's fabric.

Cotton and Synthetic Hats

Chances are that hats constructed of cotton, a cotton blend, or synthetic materials such as polyester or jersey mesh are safe for machine washing.

Vintage baseball hats that were made in the early 1980s or earlier are not safe for machine washing — those might be made with cardboard bills, which will get ruined if exposed to excess water.

Wool Hats

Baseball hats, fedoras, and other hats made from wool or wool felt should only be hand-washed or dry cleaned. For more details, take a look at our primer on how to clean a wool hat.

Straw Hats

How to Remove Sweat Stains from a Hat - Straw hat

Even if your straw hat is crushable, strong, and water-repellent, don't ever put it in a washing machine or fully dunk it in water when washing by hand. Spot-cleaning is the best option for this material.

Knit Hats

This type of hat requires a gentle approach whether it's cleaned in the washing machine or by hand. Knit caps come in different natural fibers such as wool, cashmere, silk, rayon, or synthetic materials like acrylic or nylon.

To Dye For

How to Remove Sweat Stains from a Hat - Color bleeding

Make sure the fabric is colorfast. This means the color won't run or fade when submerged in water. Try this simple test: Dip a white cloth in warm water and rub it on a small area of the hat. If any dye rubs off on the white cloth, then you know the hat shouldn't be washed in water and it's time to take it to the dry cleaners.

How to Remove Sweat Stains


Washing Machine

How to Remove Sweat Stains from a Hat - Washing machine


How to Remove Sweat Stains from a Hat - Hand wash

Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

Thomas Edison famously said "Genius is one percent inspiration, 99 percent perspiration." So if you have a particularly sweat-stained hat, take it as a compliment. And now that you know how to properly remove sweat stains from a hat, it’s time to make it happen, genius.

Psst. If your hate is soiled by more than sweat, try these other methods to clean your hat.

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