June 14, 2022 8 min read

How to Properly Wash a Baseball Cap in 8 Steps

Are your baseball caps living their best hat life? If you haven’t properly washed your hats with a little TLC lately, do your hair a favor + get to it! Follow our 8 easy steps to make your hats look as good as they make you feel. 

 

red ball cap on long brown haired woman

 

Take your Baseball Caps from Ew to Brand New

 

Step 1:  Material Matters

New, old, firm or delicate - baseball caps are made with a variety of materials + need to be cleaned with special care. Cotton is a forgiving textile that can tolerate a good scrub, but treating a cap made of leather in the same way could ruin it forever. A wide range of textiles are used to construct baseball caps + we have all the cleaning tips you’ll ever need.


Cotton + Polyester

 

clean baseball cap

 

Most commonly blended together to make a soft, yet durable baseball cap. Often, the polyester will serve as a lining because of its breathability, while the shell will be strictly cotton. You can treat cotton + polyester with the same care while washing your cap. 

 

Wool  

One of the best, original textiles that we’re still using for baseball caps. Wool absorbs water differently than cotton does, so the cleaning process will take a bit longer to soak up the proper amount of water needed. Although washing wool is similar to washing a cotton/polyester blend, the time it will take to dry out will be more extensive as well.   

Synthetics

Synthetics are used all the time because the fibers are extremely strong + lightweight. Nylon, for example, can wick moisture away, which keeps your hat from holding onto so much bacteria, so you won’t have to wash it too often. When you do need to give it a wash, scrubbing a nylon hat will be effortless + it will take no time at all to air dry. 

Fabric is not the only consideration when it comes to washing your cap, the finish on the fabric also makes a big difference. Sometimes shellac is applied to cotton to create a polished or glazed look - washing something like this will be easy because dirt will only be on the surface. Contrarily, if you have a corduroy finish, you’ll need to pay close attention to all the debris that may have gotten caught in those tiny little grooves. Remember the first important step - material matters - and the remaining steps will be a breeze. 


Step 2:  Simply Soak

black ballcap soaking in soapy water

 

Can you wash a baseball cap in the washing machine? We recommend a more delicate approach. Washing machines use a harsher process than your cap needs. Typical washing machine detergents can get trapped in the fibers of your hat + stain them. Also, a machine can compromise the stiffener used in your bill, causing deformation that is difficult to reshape. You want to keep your baseball caps in great condition, so hand wash them with love, one step at a time.

First step is to soak your cap in any deep container you have lying around, or you can use your sink. Simply fill with room temperature water + add an earth friendly detergent (they’re more alkaline). Submerge your cap + let it soak for about 10 minutes, or the time it takes you to listen to Taylor Swift’s “All Too Well”. Dance around the room for a while + boom, you’re ready to get back to your cap. After soaking, most of the dirt from your hat should start to separate. It’s useful to swish your cap around in the soapy water + rinse it under running water interchangeably. Repeat this step a couple of times to determine whether your cap is getting clean enough for you. You may have a stain or two that won’t lift out - we’ll get to that in step 4. 

 

Step 3:  pH Philosophy

Laundry detergent box with tooth brush

 

Will washing a hat ruin it? If you use cleaners containing harsh chemicals - then, yes! The pH balance, which is the acidity/alkaline level of your soap - can either lengthen or shorten your cap’s lifespan. Take care to choose an earth friendly detergent, because they contain lower pH levels than mainstream brands + are better for your health + the environment - how can you not love that? 


Laundry detergents with a high acidity level can compromise the surface of your cap, making the fibers weak, causing it to tear apart easily. Also, watch out for high pH levels, especially if you have sensitive skin. When pH levels are not either balanced or low, the cleaner can cause your scalp to become irritated when you wear your hat + you won’t enjoy that!  When you utilize a good + neutral detergent, you’re giving your baseball cap a long + healthy life. 


How do you wash a baseball cap with borax? If you haven’t heard of borax, it is normally used as a household cleaner + can be mixed with laundry detergent to boost its effectiveness. Laundry stripping uses a mixture of borax, washing soda (not the same as baking soda), + laundry detergent. Some people have washed their hats with this same concoction using hot water + soaking them until the water cools - around 4-5 hours. The results are nothing to write home about + another thing - Borax is a little controversial. 


Borax, like many cleaners, is not safe to breathe in or inject + if it comes into contact with your skin it will cause some irritation. Also it has been said to be unsafe for your pets + children, so if you decide to use it, do so with that in mind. Many people still feel comfortable storing + using it in their homes. Use your best judgement + get cleaning solutions that will be good for you + your baseball caps. 

 

Step 4:  Softly Scrub

clean ballcap laying upside down

 

How do you get sweat stains out of a baseball cap? All you need is your hands, a little bit of time + the desire to make your cap look amazing. After your hat has been soaking + rinsed a few times, you may notice some blotches that can’t come out without your help - these are an easier fix than you might think.


Soaking in water with a touch of laundry detergent is one way to do it. Another way to scrub off all of the debris that has collected over the years is to use a degreaser. Can you wash a hat with dish soap? Yes! This is an excellent way to get your hat looking brand new again. Follow the same step by step instructions - use a small amount of earth friendly dish soap. Mix the soap with room temperature water + swirl it around to create suds. Then submerge your baseball cap + keep it in the solution for about 10 minutes. 


Using dish soap instead of laundry detergent will pull out oils that have gathered in the fibers of your distressed hat. Oils that come from your hair, your skin, + anything that may have brushed off onto your fingertips. Oils are different from your average loose dirt blemish, because the oils are able to be absorbed deep into the fabric fibers, + don’t merely live on the surface of your cap. 


Scrub Your Baseball Caps Clean

Scrubbing gets the strands of fibers to loosen up, releasing oils + other gross crud you don’t want trapped in your hat. A good way to get this process going is to rub the hat against itself over all areas of the crown. Turn the hat inside out + do the same. This will have the debris detaching from your cap in no time. The bill is a different story because it is typically stiffer than the crown. Rub your fingers against the surface of the bill + remember to rinse under running water so you can see how clean your hat is getting. 

  

Step 5:  Rinse Regularly

running water over black ballcap

 

Now that you have put the time + energy into soaking + scrubbing your hat, the real results will be evident each time you rinse your red baseball cap off. Keep in mind that your water should ideally be room temperature, if it is hot, it could tighten the fabric of your cap. If you have been wearing your cap frequently, it’s possible that it may have stretched out. 


So, how do you shrink a baseball cap? Turn your water from room temperature to hot. The heat will tighten the wool or cotton fibers, resulting in shrinkage. To ensure that your hat shrinks after the washing process, dry it with a hairdryer, put it in the hottest setting. Just like hot water, hot air will tighten your cap if it has loosened up over time. 


If you are strictly washing your baseball cap, + not shrinking it, continue using water without heat for the rinsing process. Since you have been scrubbing, the dirt that has surfaced needs to be washed away. Rinsing regularly gets all of the stuff you have scrubbed out to wash away, + it also lets you see the progress you’re making.  


Step 6:  Stubborn Spots

If the stains are really prevalent, apply your earth-friendly cleaner directly to an old toothbrush + scrub in the desired spot with a circular motion, just like you would while brushing your teeth. Be on the lookout for the stitching in your hat, particularly if your hat is vintage.


If you scrub too vigorously, your stitches could get pulled up by accident. Vintage baseball caps will typically have been made with wool + hand-stitched, like the ones in A League of Their Own. As with all vintage garments, you want to handle your cap delicately so it will continue to age like fine wine.  Rinse + repeat until you have gotten rid of that unwanted spot, then pat yourself on the back for a job well done! 


Step 7:  Last Lather

Your cap will be looking pretty great by now. You want the very best for your hat, so after all of your soaking, scrubbing, + rinsing - give it one last lather in your soapy water. This process will get all of the lingering junk out of your cap once and for all. 


Now is the time to inspect your blush baseball cap for any missed spots or grime. Double-check the headband on the inside, where your hat meets your forehead. Sweat + makeup accumulate there the most + it would be a shame to skip over one of the most important parts. Any makeup remover will do the trick if you’re looking for a quick way to clean your cap. 


Use the same tips as before + your cap will be makeup free. Voile, you are already on to the next + final step.


Step 8:  Drip Dry

wet black hat on hatstand

You made it to the last step, way to go! You can dry your hat many different ways. Use a blow dryer, hang it up, dry it with other laundry, or set it out on a countertop. All of these options are effective, however, none of them will beat drying your hat on an adjustable hat stand or setting it on something similar that will hold its shape. However you decide to dry your hat, be sure to put a towel underneath to catch any water that might drip. 


As much as we hate goodbyes, this is everything you need to know for the wonderful world of baseball cap cleaning tips. You’ll be in awe once your hat dries + you can take all the credit for transforming your baseball cap from ew to looking brand new! xx





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