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How to Wash a Baseball Cap and Not Ruin Its Shape

This is how to make that baseball cap look brand new again.

style
Evan Malachosky

If you're here, your baseball cap probably means something to you.

Maybe you wear to represent your favorite team, city, deli or defunct jazz radio station. Perhaps you've stashed it away since your youth, when you were the starting pitcher on your Little League team. Or, could it be a coveted trucker from a streetwear brand like Kapital, which set you back $170?

Either way, you've held onto it. It's just a little dirty. It happens ...

Resist the urge, however, to throw it in the wash with the rest of your clothing. An intense wash cycle could ruin the brim, permanently reshape the cap itself or break the hardware on the back of it (if it's adjustable).

There are better ways to wash an old baseball cap: soaking in soap and water; gently handwashing it with a brush; or running it through a cycle in the dishwasher (yes, you read that right).

hats
Different hats require treatments. MLB quality baseball hats, for example, have brims that can be flattened if needed. Dad hats do not.
Evan Malachosky

Before You Begin

In order to pick which cleaning method is right for you, assess how dirty your hat is.

Are there visible sweat stains? Did you spill something on it? Is it just dusty? Does it smell?

If there are deep, long-standing stains, you may need two of three methods. Soaking a cap first, for example, can loosen these sort of stains, making it easier for you to scrub them out with a soft bristle brush or a wadded cotton towel.

Regardless of which method you choose, remember this: When a standard baseball cap gets wet, it becomes malleable. Don't bend the bill the wrong way or stretch the cap's panels. It's easy to irreversibly damage a damp cap.

How to Wash a Baseball Cap by Soaking

When to Use This Method

Is there a single stain on your bill? A spot on one of its six panels? Try soaking it. This is the gentlest way to clean your cap, and, as such, it's best reserved for those that are almost clean.

What You Need

  • 1 large bowl or bucket
  • pair of gloves
  • color-safe oxygen bleach or mild dish detergent
  • cotton towel
  • hat frame (optional)

    Steps

    1. Pick between a mild detergent (such as Dawn Dish Soap) and a color-safe oxygen bleach (Clorox ColorLoad Non-Chlorine Bleach or OxiClean Stain Remover). Both of these can be used on any cap, no matter whether it's blue, black, ecru or yellow.
    2. Using gloves, pour a teaspoon of cleaning product into the bowl. You can eyeball it, but don't use too much.
    3. Fill the bowl with room temperature water.
    4. Submerge the cap. Agitate the water until suds form. The volume of suds you can create depends on which cleaning product you're using.
    5. Let the cap soak for at least 45 minutes to an hour.
    6. Remove the cap. Ring it out without stretching the fabric or breaking the bill.
    7. Place it on a cotton towel or a hat tree (optional) to dry. You can optionally accelerate this process with a hair dryer.

        How to Wash a Baseball Cap by Hand

        When to Use This Method

        Dirty caps you could still get away with wearing are best treated by hand. Hand-washing will remove stuck-on sticky stuff, lift stubborn stains and calm discoloration at large. For dirtier caps, though, it's important to be consistent. If there are stains all over, clean all over. You don't want it to look like you stopped short.

        What You Need

        • 1 large bowl or bucket
        • 1 smaller bowl
        • pair of gloves
        • color-safe oxygen bleach or mild dish detergent
        • toothbrush (an old one is fine)
        • cotton towel
        • hat frame (optional)
          hats
          An old toothbrush is the perfect tool.
          Evan Malachosky

          Steps

              1. Pick between a mild detergent (like Dawn Dish Soap) and a color-safe oxygen bleach (like Clorox ColorLoad Non-Chlorine Bleach or OxiClean Stain Remover). Both of these can be used on any cap, no matter whether it's blue, black, ecru or yellow.
              2. Place your hat into the bowl. (Here is when you'd decide whether you need to pre-soak the hat or not. If so, return to method one but only do steps 1-7.)
              3. Using gloves, fill the second bowl with your cleaning product and some room temperature water.
              4. Dip your toothbrush (preferably old) into the cleaning solution. Agitate it until suds appear.
              5. Pick up your cap and begin scrubbing, concentrating on areas with visible stains.
              6. If your cap came with a flat brim, it's OK to flatten it again if it makes it easier to clean. Flattening it is better than bending it into an odd shape.
              7. Scrub the cap until you've covered it completely.
              8. Rinse any leftover soap off your cap
              9. Place it on a cotton towel or a hat tree (optional) to dry. You can optionally accelerate this process with a hair dryer.

                How to Wash a Baseball Cap in the Dishwasher

                When to Use This Method

                Yes, you can put your hat in the dishwasher. Unlike your typical washing machine, which violently tosses clothes around in circles, a dishwasher can dislodge stubborn dirt and stains without much movement to the hat itself.

                However, if you really love your hat, you'll proceed with the utmost caution. Even top-of-the-line dishwashers can inflict irreversible damage to a structured baseball cap. So only use this method for the grimiest of caps.

                What You Need

                • dishwasher
                • mild dish detergent
                • hat frame (not optional)
                  hats
                  Don’t do this. Every hat you put in the dishwasher should be inside a hat frame.
                  Evan Malachosky
                  1. First, make sure that if you are loading your hat in with other dishes, that those dishes are absolutely spotless. Have you ever washed your dishes but they still come out dirty? That's probably because the stuck-on food was circulated by the water, and it stayed there.
                  2. Next, load the hat into a hat frame. You need a hat frame if you plan to dish wash your hat. Not only will it keep it in place, but it'll help the hat keep its shape against high pressure water.
                  3. Place the hat on the top rack, where you'd keep your most delicate dishes.
                  4. Make sure your dish detergent does not have bleach in it.
                  5. Select a cycle that uses cold water.
                  6. Press start.
                  7. Remove the hat but keep it in its frame. Let it dry.

                    Courtesy
                    Haiou Perfect Baseball Hat Washer
                    amazon.com
                    $13.99

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