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How to Waterproof a Cotton Hat

By Taylor James


Updated on

One of the best materials you can wear during warm months is cotton. Cotton is an all natural and breathable fabric that can keep you comfortable even in the warmest temperatures. It’s also durable, making it a great fabric to choose if you’re going to put it through its paces. 

That being said, cotton is also extremely absorbent. Studies have shown that “cotton fibers can hold water 24-27 times their own weight.” This isn’t exactly ideal if you’re sporting a cotton hat and get caught in a torrential summer downpour. In order to reap all of the benefits of a cotton hat, while preventing your cotton hat from turning into a sopping mess, you’ll need to waterproof it. Here’s how to waterproof a cotton hat. 

Woman wearing a hat in the rain

Pick your method of waterproofing. 

There are a few ways you can waterproof a hat: a fabric wax bar, a fabric wax spray, or washing it with a waterproofing treatment. All methods are effective, it just depends on your personal preference and the type of hat you’re waterproofing. If you’re waterproofing a hat with a brim, it might be best to use a spray or bar to avoid damaging the brim of the hat. If your hat is a cotton bucket style hat, it’s fine to go through a washing cycle with a waterproofing treatment. 

It takes 42-72 hours for wax to cure on your hat and spray takes about 24 hours to make cotton water resistant. Washing a hat with waterproof treatment can take 48 hours to air dry, but can be faster if the type of hat allows you to put it through the dryer. In other words, make sure you give yourself a few days to properly waterproof your cotton hat. 

Apply the waterproofing product.

For the purposes of this blog, let’s focus on sprays and waxes, since a waterproofing wash is pretty straightforward. When you apply a wax, you’ll take the wax bar and rub it all over the outer surface of the hat. If your hat has a brim, it’ll be easiest to start there. Don’t worry about the wax building up in the seams of the hat. You can always remove excess wax later with a needle or toothpick. You’re going to need to put in a little effort to create enough friction to deposit the wax on the cotton. Once you get past the brim, put your hat over a hard, round surface, like a bowl, so you have something solid to push against with the bar. Cover the entire hat. 

When you’re using a spray to waterproof your cotton hat, hold the spray bottle a few inches away, so you get a proper mist. Go around the hat, making sure that the spray is saturating the material. Using a product like Water Shield is great, because it’s non-smelling and easy to use. You don’t need nearly as much elbow grease as a wax bar. If you get any drips, just take a cloth and smooth them out. It will dry clear. 

Make sure you’ve applied an even coat. 

Interestingly enough, you know that you’ve properly applied waterproofing wax and spray if the hat looks like it’s wet. If you see light patches anywhere on the hat, you need to go back over those areas with another pass. 

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.