If you've accidentally spilled a beverage on your hat or notice dark-colored lines from sweat and dirt build-up inside the brim of your hat, it's time to wash it. It's natural to feel slightly apprehensive about washing your favorite hat, particularly if you are unsure how to accomplish this task. Fortunately, most hats can survive the normal rumble and tumble of a washing machine. With a little patience and the right cleaning tools, you can get those stains off your hat in no time.
Read the label, if it's still attached to the hat. Check the small tag for washing instructions and a list of materials that the hat is made out of. Note that most cotton blend or jersey-material hats are machine washable. On the other hand, if your hat is made of wool, it will require extra care and attention.
Test for color-fastness. Put mild detergent or pre-wash stain remover on a wet washcloth. Dab the mixture on a hidden area inside the hat. When done, rinse the area by rubbing it with a clean wash cloth. Allow it to air dry for about five to eight minutes. If there's no color change, it's safe to use the stain remover.
Spray or pour the stain treatment directly on the stain and toss it into the washing machine with similar color clothing. If the hat is a cotton/jersey blend, wash the hat in cold or warm water (preferably cold), if possible to avoid any color changes or shrinkage. If the hat is wool, carefully hand-wash the hat in a sink with cool water and a mild detergent. Gently pat it dry with a small towel.
Hang the hat to air dry on a hook or place it over a head-shaped object, such as a coffee can. You can also purchase a plastic cap form to help your hat retain its shape during the washing and drying process. Do not put it in the dryer as the heat might shrink or destroy your hat.
Jalisa Summerville is a social worker and former high school occupational English teacher who began writing in 2006. She has written grants for nonprofit organizations serving underprivileged children. Summerville holds a Master of Social Work from East Carolina University.