Whether you wear a baseball cap for work or play, there may come a time that it needs a bit of cleaning. Before you start, take time to look at the little tag on the inside of the cap to get an idea of what fiber content and any specific cleaning instructions.
*Test cap for color fastness before following any of the steps outlined below. Some fabrics respond better than others to water/detergent. Using the same mixture listed below, use a cloth to dab a bit of the mixture on the hat in an inconspicuous spot before starting. If the color of the hat comes off on the cloth or seems to run, DO NOT clean the cap yourself. Either take to a professional cleaner or leave as is. If the color seems to hold, you can clean the cap with the steps outlined below.
General Hat Washing Tips:
1. Don’t put caps into the laundry — either the washer or dryer. A high-efficiency washer that doesn’t have a center agitating column can be okay, but even then it has to be cool water on the gentlest cycle, and you also have to be concerned about other clothes in the load squishing the hat’s form. Dryers are too hot, and the tumbling isn’t good for the shape. Better to just avoid the laundry machines altogether.
2. Don’t use any products with bleach in them; you want your ballcap colors to stay nice and bright for years to come.
3. Dispelling the dishwasher myth. You’ve probably heard you can throw caps in the dishwasher on the top rack. Don’t do that. Dishwasher detergents often include bleach, and the appliance usually runs at high heat (both for washing and drying), which can damage the hat as well.
4. Hand-washing is really the best method to retain both the color and shape of the hat.
The Best Way To Wash A Baseball Cap
1. Fill a clean sink or bucket with warm water. Err on the side of cool versus hot.
2. As it’s filling, add a tablespoon of laundry detergent or OxiClean. Dish soap can do in a pinch, but detergent, or a dedicated stain-fighting treatment like OxiClean, is stronger and works harder at getting the stains out of the hat’s fibers.
3. Spot-clean the hat first, as needed. If there are areas that are especially problematic, spot-clean them with a dab of cleaning product right on the hat. After first dipping the hat in the water of your bucket or sink, use a toothbrush or other small scrubber to rub the cleaner into the fabric. Be especially careful around threaded stitching. If you’re too vigorous, the stitching can become misplaced, and the artwork marred.
4. Let the hat soak for up to a couple hours. After you’ve spot-washed, let the hat soak in the soapy water-filled bucket or sink you’ve filled for up to a couple hours, though I found that even just 20-30 minutes will get the job done. About halfway through soaking, take a look at the cap and see how the stains are looking. Although the wetted fabric will hide some staining, they’ll still show through if they’re bad. Using your small scrubber, again spot wash those persistent problem areas, and again, be careful around stitched patterns and logos.
5. Rinse all the soap off with warm water. Give the hat a good rinse before letting it dry.
6. Pat down with a towel to get rid of excess moisture. The hat will obviously be very wet when you remove it from the water; let some of the excess drip off, then pat dry with a towel as much as you can while retaining the shape of the hat, and being gentle with logos. Your goal here is simply to remove the excess so that it can dry on a counter without dripping water all over.
7. Always air dry on some sort of container. You want to find a way to dry the hat so it’s not just crumpled on the counter. Find a coffee jar, a canister, a balled-up towel, or perhaps any mannequin heads you have lying around to set it on. This will ensure the hat’s shape stays true and doesn’t crinkle up. Wearing it is also an option. Throw a towel under the container too; no matter how much patting you do, I’ve found there will always be some drippage. If you want to speed things up, use a small fan to blow air over it, or a hair dryer on the low setting.
Hopefully by following these steps you can preserve your favorite baseball cap and keep in the rotation a little while longer.