How to Care for Straw Hats

Comstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images

A straw hat is the perfect light summer headwear. Great for boating as well as walks in the park or an hour in the garden, straw hats are inexpensive to own and easy to maintain. Uncared for straw hats are prone to aging, fraying and discoloration. Consistent cleaning and storage will preserve a straw hat for many summers to come.

Use a soft-bristled brush to remove surface dirt and debris from a straw hat after wearing. Weather, pollen and dust can mar the hat. Regular brushing will prevent a build-up of dirt, staining and discoloration.

Dip a soft cotton cloth into a bowl of warm water containing a small amount of dish detergent and use this to clean the hat. Avoid oversaturation of the straw. Rub stains and grime away with a gentle circular motion.

Preserve a straw hat by applying a light coating of shellac gum resin to the surface with a stiff brush. This will help protect the surface of the hat from showing its age and prevent fraying. Add an equal amount of rubbing alcohol to the shellac to create a balanced mixture and ensure even coverage.

Stuff tissue paper into the inside top of the hat to keep its shape during storage. This will prevent sagging and dipping between uses and seasons. Alternatively, place the hat on a head form in a dry, dark closet to keep the form and shape.

Fix water-laden straw hats by turning it inside out and allowing the inside to air dry fully. Turn the sweat band so it faces the outside to be sure the entire hat is dry.

Keep the straw hat in a hat box between uses. A lidded hat box will protect the straw hat from bugs, dampness and sunlight. If you don’t have a hat box, a hook inside a dark closet is a reasonable alternative.

Place a cotton cloth in a mixture of alcohol and water and gently rub over the exterior of the hat. This will clean the hat at the same time as it gives it a polished sheen.