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How to Wash a Baseball Cap Using Three Methods

Find out how to wash a baseball cap without damaging, shrinking or fading your favorite hat!

On hot summer days, it seems that a classic baseball cap is a necessity in your wardrobe and your kids’ wardrobe. But caps can go through the wringer collecting dust, dirt and, most of all, sweat. While we have special tips for getting sweat stains out of hats, it’s a whole different thing to give them a regular cleaning.

We’ve found that hand-washing is the safest bet for causing the least amount of damage, but sometimes you might need a deeper clean. Here are some of our favorite methods on how to wash a baseball cap.

Most cap brands like New Era, lululemon and Brixton suggest hand-washing their hats to avoid shrinking or warping the shape. And you should always hand-wash vintage hats; those made before 1983 usually feature a cardboard bill that will warp if it gets wet (current hats have a durable plastic bill). When hand-washing, you can spot-clean or fully submerge the hat. Here’s how to do both:

Spot Clean Method

Remove dust and loose dirt by spraying the hat with condensed air or by using a bristled vacuum attachment. Apply a mild, color-safe detergent (like Woolite) to the sweat band and other visible stains, then scrub with a damp cloth or soft toothbrush. Rinse away the soap with a clean, damp cloth. Air dry on a towel. You can wad up a clean T-shirt and place it under the cap to help preserve the shape as it dries.

According to New Era, you shouldn’t spot clean across color panels. To prevent bleeding, clean only one color at a time.

Soak Method

For cotton twill, acrylic and polyblend caps, Brixton recommends hand-washing by fully submerging the hat. Fill a bucket or sink with cool or slightly warm water. Add a teaspoon of gentle, nonbleach detergent; then swish the water around to make suds. Soak the cap for 15-30 minutes. Rinse the cap under cool, running water until all the suds are gone. Gently squeeze out excess water without twisting or pulling. Air dry.

How to Wash a Baseball Cap in the Washing Machine

Some hats, including cotton, cotton blend, acrylic or mesh caps (with plastic bills) are sturdy enough to wash in the washing machine.

  1. Pretreat any tough stains with a nonbleach stain remover.
  2. Place the hat inside a laundry bag, pillowcase or hat form to protect it from the washer agitation.
  3. Wash the cap along with a small load of clothes on the gentle cycle with slow spin speeds, cool water and a mild detergent.
  4. Air dry on a towel. Never place a cap in the dryer, which can cause damage and shrinkage.

How to Wash a Baseball Cap in the Dishwasher

Baseball cap brands will never officially suggest you wash a cap in the dishwasher, but it’s a popular hack and worth a try if you want to give your hat a deep clean. And because a dishwasher won’t tumble and toss your hat like a washing machine will, some people prefer this method.

  1. Place the hat on the top rack of an empty dishwasher. This is an easy way to wash multiple hats—place as many as you can fit on the top rack. You can use a hat form to better preserve the shape.
  2. Add a gentle, bleach-free dishwasher detergent pod to the soap dispenser.
  3. Run a light wash cycle on a warm or cool temperature. Select no dry or low-heat dry.
  4. The hat(s) should still be a little damp when the cycle is done. Air dry on a towel.

Before proceeding with the dishwasher method, keep in mind that hand-washing is always the best choice if you’re worried about damaging the shape or color of your hat.

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