Home > Hat Facts > Straw Hats – Does Water Damage Them?

Straw Hats – Does Water Damage Them?

By Taylor James


Updated on

A straw hat is a great choice to wear in hot weather. They keep you cool and provide protection from the sun. Straw hats aren’t a great fit for wet environments though so be careful not to get your straw hat wet.

Straw hats should not be used as rain hats as water can cause straw hats to swell, lose shape and over time lead to deterioration.

Read on to discover more about why straw is damaged by water, how to protect your hat and what to do if your hat does get wet.

Why do straw hats deteriorate when wet?

When water enters the porous natural straw it swells the material. This swelling will warp the shape of the hat and can leave it distorted, especially if the hat is repeatedly subject to water over time.

Other natural materials such as cotton are also very porous and also absorb a lot of water. These materials can be treated with wax to add waterproofing. Unfortunately the relatively lose weave of natural straw does not make it suitable for waterproofing in this way. The breathable weave of straw does make them ideal for hot weather though.

How to protect your straw hat from water

Due to the highly porous nature of the natural straw fibres you should not attempt to wash the hat with water. A soft brush is the better option for cleaning your hat. A damp cloth can also be used on small areas to remove stubborn stains.

If you do get caught in the rain it would be sensible to place your straw hat out of the rain as much as possible. Certainly you shouldn’t be tempted to take your straw hat into the water when going for a swim.

When storing the hat it should be kept away from humid environments. Moisture and straw can even result in mold which left unchecked has the potential to spread rapidly.

What to do if your straw hat gets wet

If your hat is just damp to the touch placing it in a dry warm environment over night should be sufficient to dry it out. If it gets thoroughly wet the risk of the hat warping is greater. Do not place the hat in front of a heat source. This can have the inverse effect of drying out the fibres to a point where they can shrink. The hat should always be left to dry naturally.

How to reshape your straw hat?

If the hat does warp out of shape you can use steam to reshape the hat. By using a steam source, such as a kettle, the heat and moisture will make the hat fibres malleable and provide the flexibility to reshape the hat. For a more detailed guide on reshaping a straw hat read this article.

Straw hats are stylish, breathable and look great in the sun. Just remember to keep them away from water.

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.