Here’s How to Get Sweat Stains Out of Your Hat

Product Care

Follow these tips to keep your lid clean and sweat-free.

Last updated: March 2, 2022
4 min read
Tips to Get Sweat Stains Out of Hats

Are you the type of person who throws on a ball cap before going to the gym or meeting up with friends? If so, then you know firsthand the amount of sweat that can accumulate in your hat. But the question is, how do you get all of those sweat stains out of your hat to avoid it getting damaged?

Hint: The washing machine may not be the best solution for removing sweat stains from your hat.

Should You Avoid the Washing Machine When Cleaning Your Hat?

It might be tempting to simply toss your sweat-stained ball cap into the washing machine with the rest of your dirty workout gear, but some experts in the field caution against it.

For example, Whirlpool, a washing machine manufacturer, suggests handwashing your cap instead of throwing it in the washing machine. That way, you can prevent it from bending and potentially damaging its structure.

However, another key washing machine manufacturer, Maytag, says that it depends on the type of hat you’re trying to wash. For example, those made with cotton, a cotton blend, acrylic, or mesh may be sturdy enough to survive the washing machine, especially if you choose a gentle/delicate cycle and wash on cold water.

Pro Tip: Be sure to check the hat’s care label for instructions. If you do clean your hat in a washing machine, follow these directions:

  • Check to see whether the hat has a care label that provides cleaning instructions. It’s best to follow these.

  • Make a cleaning paste. In a small bowl, mix ½ cup of baking soda, 1 tablespoon of salt and 1 tablespoon of hydrogen peroxide.

  • Pick a hidden place on the hat to test the paste.

  • If the test indicates it’s safe to use the paste, gently apply it to the inside of your hat with a soft brush. Focus on the hat’s sweatband.

  • Let the paste set in for about 20 minutes.

  • If possible, dunk the hat in cool, clean water to remove the paste. If not, remove the paste with a damp towel.

  • Let the hat air dry. You might place it on an upside-down bowl or a similar object to return the hat to its normal shape.

How to Wash Your Hat by Hand

First, double-check the cap for a tag that spells out any washing instructions.

Before going into full-on washing mode, rub a small amount of detergent or stain-removal powder with water on a part of the hat that’s not visible to others. If some of the color runs off, stick with just water to clean the hat.

Pay special attention when you’re cleaning a vintage cap. Why? Some older hats feature cardboard bills rather than today’s more common plastic bills. Typically, any hat made before 1983 comes with a cardboard bill. If that’s the case, don’t soak the hat. Instead, only spot-clean it to prevent damage.

How to Wash the Sweat Out of a Hat

If you’ve determined the hat can be washed with more than water, follow these steps:

  1. Fill a sink or bucket with cool or warm water. Then, put in a couple of drops of laundry detergent or a tablespoon of a stain removal powder. Try not to use a detergent with bleach or a bleach alternative so you can preserve the hat’s color.

  2. Soak the hat in the water for about 15 minutes.

  3. Rinse the hat with cool or warm water.

  4. Carefully pat the hat dry with a towel.

  5. Reshape the hat. Place the cap on top of an upside-down coffee can, small bowl or another container that represents the shape of your head.

  6. Let the hat dry completely.

Be particularly careful when cleaning a wool baseball cap. Wool is delicate and can easily lose its shape. To clean a wool cap, use a mild detergent made for cleaning wool, dilute the detergent in water and then gently scrub the hat.

RELATED: How to Wash Your Hoodie

How to Get Tough Sweat Stains Out of a Hat

Let’s say you haven’t washed your hat after a number of heavy duty workouts. What should you do?

  • Spot-clean the extra duty areas with more detergent diluted in water.

  • Scrub the areas with a toothbrush or other small brush.

  • Soak the hat for a few hours, checking it occasionally to see whether any spots need more attention, then rinse the hat with cool or warm water and pat it dry with a towel.

  • Reshape the hat by wearing it until it’s dry or putting it on a head-shaped object.

To get rid of bad sweat stains on the inner brim, rub them with shampoo to break up body oils.

How to Prevent Sweat Stains on Your Hat

If you’d like to keep your hat-cleaning routine to a minimum, consider spraying a stain repellant on it.

To freshen up the hat, sprinkle a bit of baking soda on the inner side of the hat and let it sit for a few minutes. Shake out the baking soda before putting the hat on to go to the gym, softball practice or wherever else your head is heading.

Looking for some new workout hats, sweatbands, or visors? Check out!

Originally published: February 21, 2022

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