How To Wash Your Baseball Caps The Right Way

From mall-bound teens of the '90s to undercover celebrities today, the baseball cap has found a place in nearly everyone's wardrobe, as evidenced by Savoir Flair. Baseball caps enhance casual outfits, protect your face from the sun, and conveniently wick away forehead sweat during hot summer. Unfortunately, in weeks, your favorite baseball cap could turn into a stinky, sweat-stained mess. Regularly washing your baseball caps is crucial to prevent odors and permanent stains and to preserve your cap's longevity. 

When washing a baseball cap, following the correct cleaning methods is essential to avoid damaging it. Machine washing your baseball caps may seem convenient, but machine washing causes your hat to age more rapidly. You may have also heard that some people wash their baseball caps in a dishwasher, but this isn't ideal either. Hat retailer Tenth Street warns that a dishwasher's hot water and aggressive spray may damage the fabric and warp your cap's plastic brim. In most cases, a gentle soak or hand wash is all you'll need to remove mild sweat stains, dirt, and grime from your baseball caps.  

Gently cleanse the cap

Hand washing your baseball caps is worth the effort to preserve their integrity, and it can be done in just a few simple steps! It's important to note that many vintage baseball caps, especially those made before 1983, have cardboard inside the brim. Nic Hsu, the founder of Baseball Scouter, warns that soaking these caps could damage or dissolve the cardboard and warp the hat, so it's best to only spot-clean your vintage baseball caps. 

For regular, plastic-brim hats, fill your kitchen sink or a large container with lukewarm water. You should avoid using hot water, which can fade your cap's dye. Add a small amount of gentle laundry detergent or dish soap to the water and carefully submerge the hat. Swish the cap in the water, and use your fingers to rub out any visible sweat stains. Let the cap soak for stubborn stains or strong odors for a few minutes. Once the cap is thoroughly clean, rinse it with cold water to remove any remaining soap residue. 

Tackle tough stains

After a gentle soak and wash, most baseball caps will be ready to dry and wear. However, some stains from makeup, grass, deep sweat, and paint can be tough to remove from baseball caps. Attacking these stains with detergent and bleach can be tempting, but it's best to stick to gentle stain-removal methods to avoid damaging the hat. 

Drain and refill your washing basin with fresh, cool water and add a few drops of color-safe bleach. Color-safe bleach differs from standard chlorine bleach; it's perfect for lifting unusual stains and brightening your caps without altering the color, per Clorox. Dip a cleaning rag or toothbrush into the cleaning solution, then gently rub away the stains on your cap. You can apply more detergent if needed to lift the stains, but use as little as possible. If you need a more all-over clean, wear gloves to protect the skin on your hands and briefly submerge the hat in the water before scrubbing. 

Air and wear

Drying your baseball caps correctly is just as important as washing them. Tumbling your baseball caps in the clothes dryer can damage seams, buttons, and the cap's brim. Having a fresh, clean cap is exciting, but you'll need to be patient and allow it to air dry completely before wearing them. Wearing wet clothes doesn't just feel gross; it could increase your risk for skin irritation and fungal infection, according to Healthline

Instead of tumble drying, dab your caps with a towel, reshape them, and hang them to dry. If you don't have a clothesline, hanging caps across your shower rod in the bathroom can work just as well. Alternatively, you can reshape the caps and allow them to dry on a flat surface, but this method may take longer. If you must dry a baseball cap for immediate wear, use a gentle drying method, such as a blow-dryer, or allow it to dry in the sun for at least an hour. Having a fresh and dry hat is well worth the wait!