3 Easy Ways to Wash a Baseball Cap

Product Care

Check out these simple methods to keep your baseball caps fresh and clean.

Last updated: March 17, 2022
5 min read
How to Wash A Baseball Cap

Whether you’re a hat enthusiast who owns a variety of different styles or someone who has a single go-to, it’s likely most hat owners have at least one baseball cap in their closet.

Not only is a baseball cap a popular type of hat, it’s quite versatile. For example, maybe you’re looking for a hat to provide shade from the sun, cover up a bad hair day or wick away sweat as during a walk — a ball cap is a trusted accessory to keep on hand for all of these situations. Even if you’re not playing a sport, going for a run or doing an outside activity, baseball hats can complete just about any outfit.

To get the most life out of your ball hats, check out these helpful tips to keep it clean and odor-free.

Why You Need to Wash Your Baseball Cap

When you wear something all the time, it’s bound to get dirty, especially if you regularly work out wearing a hat. From sweat stains to dirt, your baseball cap will eventually require a thorough cleaning — bill included!

Here’s the good news: a baseball cap is relatively easy to clean. You may want to consider doing so every few weeks.

Before You Clean the Hat, Check the Bill

Before cleaning your baseball cap, you’ll want to identify the material of the bill. Vintage lovers be aware: Caps made before 1983 tend to have a cardboard bill. In case you’re not sure, quickly check by flicking the bill of the hat with your finger. If the insert is made of cardboard, it will sound a bit hollow when it’s tapped or flicked.

When washing a hat with a cardboard bill, avoid submerging it in water as the moisture will permanently damage the bill. Pro Tip: You should only spot clean hats that have cardboard bill inserts, which are usually ones that were made in or before the eighties.

Most baseball caps made in more recent years tend to have a plastic insert in the bill, which means they’re a bit more durable and usually machine-washable, too. You can clean them with just about any method, but read the label first to ensure there aren’t any special instructions. This is especially the case if the hat’s primarily made of leather or suede.

Don’t miss How to Get Your Suede Shoes Looking Brand New!

Here are three ways to clean a cloth-covered baseball cap with a plastic insert in the bill.

Method 1: Hand Wash the Baseball Hat

Although other methods work, the best approach may be to just hand wash your baseball cap. This way, you can be sure the hat maintains its shape and color over time.

The hand-washing process is pretty easy, but can take a little extra time. Here’s what to do:

  • To start, always use cool water. Fill a clean sink or a bucket and add one tablespoon of non-bleach detergent.

  • Dip the hat in the bucket to get it wet, then remove it in order to spot clean.

  • Attack visible spots by placing a cleaning solution on the dirt spot and gently scrub it with a toothbrush. Detergent will work, but you may want to experiment with different cleaners depending on the type of stain.

  • Once done, put the hat back into the bucket and soak it for a few hours. Check the hat about halfway through to see how things are looking, and do a second spot clean if necessary.

  • Rinse the cap thoroughly with warm water once the hat finishes soaking.

  • Pat down with a towel to remove excess water. Be gentle to avoid tampering with the shape of the hat.

  • Leave to air dry with a balled up towel inside the hat to help maintain the shape. Make sure the hat’s location to air dry can get wet, as the hat is going to drip.

Method 2: Toss It in the Washing Machine

If you don’t have time to handwash your baseball caps, you can toss them in the washing machine. Don’t stress, your baseball caps can be cleaned in the machine without getting damaged. If you’re concerned about the materials or colors, handwashing is almost always a safer bet.

How to wash a baseball cap in a washing machine:

  • Put your baseball cap in a pillowcase or reusable mesh bag to protect it.

  • Use non-bleach laundry detergent.

  • If you’re tossing other laundry in with it, limit the amount of clothes that go in with the hat.

  • Set the machine to a cold water, gentle cycle.

Instead of putting your baseball cap in the dryer, let it air dry. Dryers can get too hot and cause the hat to lose its shape and possibly even shrink. You can also use a balled-up towel for drying in this instance, too.

Method 3: Drop It in the Dishwasher

This method is better to wash multiple baseball caps. You can put in as many as will fit on the top rack. Be sure not to include any dishes in the dishwasher.

After you’ve loaded the dishwasher with the hats:

  • Fill up the soap compartment same as you would if washing a load of dishes. However, try to use a dishwasher detergent that doesn’t have bleach or harsh chemicals, it’s better for your hat.

  • If you can control the water temperature, set it to a warm or cool setting. Run a light wash cycle either way.

  • Select no dry or low-heat dry.

Your baseball cap should still feel a little wet when it comes out of the dishwasher. Let it air dry the rest of the way. If you’re worried about your hat losing its shape in the dishwasher, you can buy a cap washer to protect both the bill and the cap itself.

Bottom Line

With a good wash and air dry, you'll get a clean baseball cap no matter the method. The most important thing to remember is to use a gentle detergent and water that’s not too hot (which is the same advice you’ll want to follow for cleaning shoes!). Follow one of these methods above on a regular basis and you’ll extend the life of your beloved ball caps.

In need of a new baseball hat or want to add a few more to your collection? Consider checking out Nike.com!

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