The term "Stetson" technically refers to a brand of hat made in St. Joseph, Missouri at the John B. Stetson hat factory. The Stetson Company is credited with creating what is more commonly known as the cowboy hat. The Stetson cowboy hat is made from either straw or beaver fur felt and bears a distinctive design featuring a broad, curved brim and a tall crown. Modern usage of the word Stetson frequently refers to any hat bearing a resemblance to this trademark of the American West. Stetson's have high quality and subsequently can be quite pricey, however, with proper care and cleaning they can last a lifetime.
Remove superficial dirt and debris from a felt Stetson by sweeping it away with a soft brush. Begin on the left hand side of the hat. Place the brush against the felt and rub gently, moving the brush in small, counterclockwise circles. Sweep the loose debris toward the back of the hat and then repeat the procedure with the right hand side.
Clean the mud and muck from a straw hat by wiping it away with a soft, damp cloth. Once the hat has been washed, roll down the self-shaping leather sweatband and position the hat so it is standing on the extended band. Leave the damp hat in a warm, dry location and allow it to dry naturally; placing the hat on its crown or on its brim while wet could result in a distortion in the overall shape.
Eliminate greasy stains or oil from a light colored Stetson by sprinkling a bit of cornstarch or talcum powder over the affected area. Allow the powder to sit for several hours to absorb the oil and then brush it away with a stiff bristled brush. If any greasy residue remains, repeat the treatment.
Treat difficult or persistent stains with a mild detergent solution or Woolite. Test the solution in an inconspicuous area, such as near the headband, prior to applying it in a more visible location. If the solution does not cause any discoloration, dab it on the soiled area with a cotton ball. Rub gently to remove the stain and allow the hat to air dry. Alternatively, you could wipe the affected area with a baby wipe.
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Lisa Parris is a writer and former features editor of "The Caldwell County News." Her work has also appeared in the "Journal of Comparative Parasitology," "The Monterey County Herald" and "The Richmond Daily News." In 2012, Parris was honored with awards from the Missouri Press Association for best feature story, best feature series and best humor series.