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Does Water Damage Felt Hats?

By Taylor James


Updated on

It was a pleasant stroll in the rain until your felt hat started to lose its shape because of the downpour. Suddenly your hat gives way, drenching you with rainwater that it worked so hard to protect you from. Does water damage felt hats?

Water does damage felt hats, as they are not waterproof. While they retain their shape and quality under a drizzle, your felt hat will experience water damage if you keep it on while it’s raining or if you keep it in water for longer than a minute or two.

This article will provide all the information you need on felt hats, water damage, and the best tips to prevent this damage from occurring.

How Does Water Damage Felt Hats?

A small amount of water exposure to a felt hat might not damage them, such as light rain or drizzle, or even a bit of snow. Give it a little heat, such as with a hair dryer, and your hat will look as good as new. However, if you expose your felt hat to water for a longer time, the fabric will start taking on water.

Keep in mind, felt is a natural insulator, which will absorb the liquid. Unlike other water repellent materials, felt does not have tight bonds. When the water makes its way into the fabric, it will end up within those spaces, and as a result, the fabric will lose its shape and quality.

But that’s not the only way water will damage your felt hat.

Felt is made from wool, which is a primary source of nourishment for moths. When your felt hat gets wet, and you store it away without drying it out, it will attract moths more quickly because these insects will have a ready water source. As these pests feed on your headwear, they’ll cause more damage like holes and tears, which will lead to your hat getting completely ruined.

wet felt hat
Marek Uliasz@123rf.com

How To Prevent Your Felt Hats From Getting Damaged

To keep your felt hat as good as new, you’ll need to take some steps to protect it from water damage. Follow these steps, and your hat will look as good ten years from now as it did when you first bought it.

If Your Hat Is Already Water Damaged

Felt is a natural fiber, so it will not protect itself against a heavy downpour. However, if you’re wearing a hat outdoors and it does get exposed to a lot of water, invert the band inside the hat so that it sticks out. 

Next, use a leveled, clean surface and place your hat on it upside down. For safety’s sake, place a microfiber cloth or cotton cloth underneath the hat if it’s thoroughly wet, and let the hat dry out on its own.

It will take a day for the hat to become completely dry. Leave the hat alone and don’t use any external heating device, or it may warp the felt fabric even further.

Can You Put Your Felt Hat in the Dryer?

Unless you want to damage it beyond repair, no.

The only option with felt is to air-dry it. No matter how much you’re tempted, do not put your hat in the tumble dryer.

Clean Your Hat As You Go

A drizzle or a sprinkling of snow will not cause your felt hat as much harm. If your hat does get caught in the rain, pat the water off the hat, then let it dry on a flat surface with the brim side down, so it dries throughout, which will prevent any water stains.

Also, keep a handy lint roller, a sponge, and a hat brush at home so you can keep your hat clean of any dust or debris that may attach itself to it. Read more about cleaning a felt hat here.

Keep It Boxed

Storing your hat right makes all the difference.

When you’re not wearing your felt hat, put it away in its hatbox, or store it in your closet away from any direct sunlight. You might want to buy a hatbox since that will keep it dust-free, away from sunlight, and will prevent it from getting squashed or pushed in.

Learn Some Spot-Cleaning Tricks

If you want to keep your beloved felt hat for a long time, it helps to learn some quick spot cleaning tricks.

For example, if your hat gets a dirt stain, all you need is some cool water, a small soft makeup sponge, and mild soap. Use the sponge and water to dab the spot gently but do not saturate the area with too much water. If the hat has any decorative elements, work around them. Do not scrub on the stain, but instead, move your sponge in a clockwise, circular motion.

If your hat is a darker color, use a dark cloth, but use a light cloth if it’s a lighter color. Keep in mind that most felt is dyed. If the stain is stubborn, use baby powder, baking soda, or cornstarch on the stain and rub it in. Keep the powder there for 20 minutes before brushing it away, then air dry your hat.

Final Thoughts

Discover more intriguing facts about felt hats here. While it may seem a little too much, felt hats don’t typically require as much upkeep if you take care of your hat in the first place. Keep your hat firmly on your noggin when you’re out and about. Keep it at home if it rains, and do your best to ensure that no water stains threaten to damage your felt hat.

About Taylor James

As Philip Treacy once said, “How a hat makes you feel is what a hat is all about.” And on that note, I hope you enjoy your hats and find the site useful. Learn more about Hat Realm's Editorial Process.