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As the weather gets warmer, it becomes baseball cap season. Caps are worn to protect your face and precious skin from the sun during yard work, outdoor workouts, or attending picnics and sporting events. Even more perfect is when you have days you simply just don’t want to style or wash your hair. We have all been there. There is no judgment here. 

Unfortunately, as the weather gets warm and those hats don our heads, they can get hot and sweaty under the brim. Literally. 

Below we will talk about effectively getting sweat stains out of your caps. These methods are not just to keep them looking great. They also prevent dried sweat from being pressed against your forehead and causing acne or irritation from the bacteria trapped in the fabric.

Luckily, getting your hats clean and sweat stain-free doesn’t require much effort or many products. We will go over a few easy methods.

Method 1: Soak the sweat out

This is a super easy method and uses a product that needs to get a lot more attention than it does…activewear laundry detergent. If you’ve never tried it or heard of it, you are about to become a believer. You can easily find this product online, and once you’ve used it for your hats, you will start using it on all your workout wear or clothing you do heavy activity in. It’s that good. Word to the wise, it is essential to use as directed. This is not a product where more is necessarily better, as it can be hard to get your hat or clothing properly rinsed.

Here is what you need for the “soak the sweat out” method:

That’s it! Now onto the easy process of soaking the sweat, stains, and smell out of your baseball caps. If you are just cleaning one or two hats, your kitchen or bathroom sink will work well for this method. When soaking and washing your entire baseball cap collection, you may want to opt for using the bathtub.

Follow these steps to soak your hats clean:

  1. Fill the sink or tub with warm water with enough water to fully submerge the hats. 
  2. Add the appropriate amount of detergent per instructions and agitate so that the detergent dissolves.
  3. Submerge cap(s) into the water. Squeeze hats to make sure they are thoroughly soaked.
  4. Use the toothbrush to scrub the stain lightly and loosen the dirt.
  5. Let soak for an hour.
  6. If the stains are still there, you can use the toothbrush again to gently agitate the stains.
  7. Rinse the hat under running cool water.
  8. Place cap to dry outside or on top of the dryer. 

You will be amazed at the amount of dirt that will come from just one hat when you soak it in this detergent. Fair warning!

Method 2: Washing machine or dishwasher

This method can be a bit controversial to some. When done correctly, this can be a quick, easy and effective way to get sweat stains out of hats. The key to this method is to use a cap washer. This cage-like contraption helps your baseball cap retain its shape when placed in the dishwasher or the washing machine. They are not expensive and well worth keeping your hats in tip-top shape! We’ll go through both the washing machine and the dishwasher methods below.

Washing machine method

This simple method requires just a few items. They are:

To clean your hat in a washing machine, these are the steps to follow:

  1. Spray the stain remover spray on sweat stains until it is fully saturated. 
  2. Let sit for 5-10 minutes, depending on the severity of the stain.
  3. Place the hat in the cap washer.
  4. Throw in the washing machine with detergent on a gentle cycle.
  5. Remove cap and let air dry.

It is advised against putting hats in the washer without a cap washer. This helps to keep their shape intact. While some hats will be fine without, many can end up misshapen and be hard to adjust to looking as they did before. 

Dishwasher method

If you have a dishwasher, there is a similar method below. We shouldn’t have to mention this, but just to be safe, we will. Do not put your hat in the dishwasher with dirty dishes! Your baseball cap(s) should be the only items in there. If it’s been a while since you’ve run a clean cycle on the dishwasher, you may want to do that first before running your hats through. We want to avoid new stain deposits as much as possible.

Ensure the dishwashing soap does not contain bleach or citric acid, which can harm the fabric. Also, be sure to turn off the drying cycle before moving forward.

Here are the steps for how to get sweat stains out of hats in the dishwasher:

  1. Saturate any sweat stains with stain remover spray.
  2. Let sit for 5-10 minutes.
  3. Place the hat in the cap washer.
  4. Put your cap on the top rack of your dishwasher. Secure with clothespins if it does not seem secure.
  5. Run the dishwasher on the warm cycle.
  6. Remove cap and let air dry.

An important note to either method, whether a washing machine or dishwasher, is that you should not place your hat in the dryer. A dryer can shrink your baseball cap even on a cool setting. Once it has shrunk, there will be no way to get it back to its original size.

If your hat happens to be white and dealing with sweat stains, you can pretreat it with baking soda and water paste. This paste can be left on for up to 15 minutes if needed.

Method 3: Spot cleaning sweat stains

If you are trying to clean a vintage cap made before the 1980s, you do not want to put it in the washer or dishwasher or use the soaking method. Many vintage caps had cardboard bills that would be ruined with too much water exposure. This is where spot cleaning is your only option. Let’s go over how to spot clean your vintage cap.

You’ll need:

For this method, it’s best to use a clear detergent and one that is free of any bleach. The process is simple but will take a bit more time. 

  1. Fill a small container with warm water and a few drops of detergent.
  2. Use the toothbrush by dipping into the water, gently scrubbing stains first, and then the entire hat in small circular motions. Be careful around embroidery and appliques.
  3. Lightly wet a dish towel and blot areas that have been cleaned.
  4. Let air dry.

This process will ensure that the vintage material, stitching, and bill stay intact and do not lose their integrity or shape. 

What about special fabrics?

It is important to remember that these methods work best for cotton and cotton blends, jersey mesh, and other moisture-wicking fabrics. They should not be placed in the wash if you have a leather or wool hat. If leather or with leather inserts, then leather wipes can be used. Your local dry cleaner is best to handle wool hats.

Caps, clean caps for all!

With the summer here, it is baseball cap season, and with that come sweat stains. As shown above, with the right tools and methods to get sweat stains out of hats, you can make sure they look and smell clean. When in doubt, always treat your hat gently and use products like cap washers that allow it to keep its shape.

Whether worn for athletics or fashion, it’s natural that sweat stains will occur in the summer. Keep these methods in mind to clean your hats regularly. Your cap and your skin will thank you!