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Tips for Cleaning a Hat in a Washing Machine

By Taylor James


Updated on

Hand washing hats certainly seems to be the generally accepted method for hat owners out there, and it’s easy to see why. Hats are often fragile accessories, requiring large quantities of care and the right techniques to last the longest amount of time in pristine condition.

At the same time, there’s no denying that the practicality of the washing machine can be extremely tempting for those of us with little to no hat hand-washing experience under our belts.

woman looking at washing machine

The first step is always to check whether the hat you are looking to wash can, in fact, go into the washing machine without suffering any lasting consequences like misshaping. If you’re not sure, start off by taking a look at the material (straw hats, for example, are a big washing machine no-no!) your hat is made out of and any specific instructions that may have accompanied your purchase.  

Looking for the best tips for ways to throw your hat in the washing machine with no fear and all confidence? We’ll show you:

  1. Steer clear of your dishwasher
  2. Wash the hat alone or with a very small load of laundry
  3. Use gentle detergent and the gentle cycle
  4. Use a hat form
  5. Let it air dry

1. Steer clear of your dishwasher

Yes, you read that exactly right. It turns out that, when discussing machine-washing hats, our trusty dishwashers tend to slip into the conversation. Perhaps due to their sans tumbling wash, these machines tend to be believed by many to be a great hat washing alternative. We’re here to say… don’t do it!

It might be easy to forget, but dishwashers rise to extremely high temperatures during their cycles in order to sanitize our dishes and the like. In other words, the conditions of our dishwashers are completely inappropriate for your hats and are very likely to cause serious damage to your beloved accessories.

2. Wash the hat alone or with a very small load of laundry

This one is pretty simple: washing your hat with a small load of laundry means there are less things that can bump into your hat while it’s in the machine, making it more likely to retain its shape beautifully all the way through the wash.

3. Use gentle detergent and the gentle cycle

Hats can be notoriously tricky to clean, which means using the gentlest possible detergent is the way to go. Non-aggressive product allows your hat to get cleaned without risking any damage to the material or new, unwanted stains. The same goes for the kind of cycle you select! The gentle cycle is ideal for your hats, so no more worrying about your precious hat being flung around the machine

4. Use a hat form

Hat forms are, well, exactly what they sound like! Forms that fit snugly around your hat to make sure it keeps its shape as it tumbles around (gently, of course) in your washing machine.

While hat forms are not always absolutely crucial to a successful washing, they might be worth the investment if you are particularly attached to one of your hats and don’t feel like taking any risks. Hat forms for baseball hats can be easily found online (check this one on Amazon), meaning your hat can be smelling great and looking like new in no time.

5. Let it Air Dry

Finally, it’s time to deal with what comes after your hat leaves the wash. Air-drying is the best way to ensure that your hat keeps its original shape and quality post-wash. Store your hat in a cool, dry place, away from direct sunlight, and you should be good to go!

You can check out this article for more tips on washing a hat by hand.

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.