How To Get Sweat Stains Out Of Hats (5 EASY Methods)

How To Get Sweat Stains Out Of Hats (5 EASY Methods)

Have you got a hat that you don't wear anymore because it's stained or discoloured? Fear not! Whether your hat is black or white, felt or polyester, we're showing you how to get rid of sweat stains.

Getting rid of annoying stains is such a pain, but removing sweat marks from hats is easier than you might think with a few household cleaning methods. Keep reading this article to find out how it's done. 

How to find out what material your hat is made from

Before you get started with cleaning hats, this is the first thing that you need to be cautious of. Different materials require different cleaning methods. 

You can check the label of your hat to find out what material it is made of - simple! If you can't find the label, check out the manufacturer's website for more details or, in the absolute worst-case scenario, scour through Google to find further information about your hat. 

You might also find washing instructions on the label that will help you decide which method to use. Read our guide about what laundry symbols mean for a helping hand.  

How to get sweat stains out of hats

Now that you know what you're working with, let's get started with the best cleaning hacks for your hats. 

1. How to handwash a hat 

Cleaning by hand is the best technique to remove sweat marks. It's also the safest method for cleaning hats, especially when it comes to cotton hats, like baseball caps or golf hats. Please do not try this method if you have a leather, satin, silk, wool or felt hat. To ensure the dye does not wear off, only use this cleaning technique with colourfast hats.

Here's what you need to do:

  1. Fill a bucket or your sink with lukewarm water. Next, put some regular laundry detergent into it (around 1 tbsp will do). Keep stirring this mixture until the detergent has dissolved in the water.
  2. Now, get a spray stain remover like Oxiclean or Spray N Wash to pre-treat the sweat stains on your hat. You can use a toothbrush to scrub the stains if they're stubborn.
  3. It's time to dip your hat into the detergent mixture. Swish it around vigorously and then leave it to soak in the mix for a few hours. Don't forget to give the water an occasional stir.
  4. Around 4 hours later, take the hat out and rinse it thoroughly with cool water. You need to rinse it until all the soap has been washed out. You'll know the soap is gone when the water runs clear. 
  5. Next, squeeze the hat carefully to remove any excess water. Take care, because you don't want to ruin the shape of your hat.
  6. Finally, let your hat air-dry. 

2. Spot treatment

For any heavily stained hats or fragile materials, spot treatment is your go-to method. For example, we'd recommend this method for removing sweat stains from a leather hat. We wouldn't recommend this method for felt hats. Here's how it's done:

  1. Firstly, check how bad the stain is. If it's going to be difficult to remove, it's best to pre-treat the stained areas using a mild stain cleaner. One thing you must take care of is not to expose your hat to chlorine or any other bleaching agent.
  2. Take some mild and bleach-free detergent (or even your shampoo) in a container and mix it up well with cold water. This will be your cleaning solution.
  3. Next, you need to take a clean cloth and dip it in the cleaning solution. Carefully rub the cloth on the stained hat until the marks start to lift. You can clean any other marks and the sweatband of your hat using the rest of the solution.
  4. If you want to pick an alternative for the cleaning solution, we'd suggest white vinegar - it's an excellent stain remover. Like the above steps, you can take around 1 tbsp of white vinegar and use a clean cloth to dab at each stain. Gently scrub until the stains are all gone. We've got more tips for using white vinegar for cleaning, so read next.
  5. Once you're done removing sweat marks, you need to remove the excess soap solution. Take another cloth, dip it in cool water and then wipe it over the hat.
  6. If you have a cotton hat, you can keep it under a slow stream of water to rinse off the soap solution. However, if your hat is made of leather, it's best to use a moist sponge or cloth.
  7. Finally, leave your hat to dry.

3. Putting your hat in the washing machine

If you have a cotton or polyester hat, you could clean them in your washing machine. It might surprise you, but you can even clean them in the dishwasher! We know it sounds weird, but take a look at these other surprising things you can clean in the dishwasher.

This method can be used for colourfast twill hats and baseball caps. Do not put your hat in a washing machine if the brim is made of cardboard.

  1. Using a stain remover, pre-treat the hat. This will be helpful if your hat is quite heavily stained, as a lot of the staining can be manually removed.
  2. If you're planning to wash your hat along with other clothes, we'd suggest that you put your hat in a garment bag to protect the shape of your hat.
  3. Use a non-bleach dishwashing agent to prevent discolouration in dyed hats. There are some colour-safe bleaches available in the market these days, so you could also use those.
  4. You're ready to turn the washing machine on! Set the temperature to cold, because hot water may damage your hat. You should also use a low spin setting.
  5. Remove the hat from your washing machine or dishwasher once the cycle has finished. Use your hands to reshape the hat nicely, and then set it out to air-dry.

4. Dry cleaning

If nothing else works or you're worried about ruining your hat, you always have the option of getting it dry-cleaned. This is a good solution for cleaning felt hats, top hats, and fedoras. Take extra caution when checking what material your hat is made of.

All you need to do is make sure that the dry cleaners are experienced in cleaning hats. Cowboy hats, for example, need to be reblocked after dry cleaning to return to their original shape. A good dry cleaner should know cleaning tips like these.

5. How do you get white stains out of black hats

To remove those annoying sweat marks from your favourite black hat, we'd recommend hand washing, spot treatment or dry cleaning. Refresh your memory by checking out the steps above for each.

You'll need to take extra caution here so that you don't end up removing its colour. We suggest patch testing dyed hats to see how they hold up. You can also check the label, which will have instructions for how to wash as per your hat's material. 

How to dry a hat

Now that you've removed the stains from your hats, there's a thing or two you should know about getting it dry again:

  • Take care not to leave your hat in direct sunlight while drying - it'll only cause more stains and colour fading.
  • Never use a hairdryer or any other heating appliance to dry your hat as this can cause damage. There are many uses for a hairdryer, but this isn't one of them.
  • It might be tempting to put your hat through your washing machine or tumble dryer to dry, but this can fade its colour or ruin its shape. It's best to let it air dry.
  • Roll up a hand towel and stuff it inside the hat to maintain its round shape and soak up any remaining water.

We hope this article of hat-cleaning hacks has answered all your queries and helped you bring your old stained hats back to their former glory! Take care with your cleaning and let us know how you get on.

Next up, find out how to wash smelly gym clothes. We're sharing top tips from a national bikini champion!


What kind of soap should I use to wash my hat in a dishwasher?

Your regular detergent would do in this case, but you must ensure that it does not contain bleach or citric acid. They may cause damage to the fabric.

Can I put my hat in the freezer?

Oddly enough, yes. Hats made of natural fibres like cotton and wool may give out some stinky smell due to the bacteria caused by sweat and dirt. You can treat this by keeping your hat in the freezer overnight - your hat will be just fine. What a great freezer hack!

Can I iron a baseball cap?

Yes, you can. If your baseball cap is made of cotton or polyester, roll up a towel and stuff it into the crown of the hat so that it holds its shape, and then you can steam iron over the wrinkles on a medium setting.

What does colourfast mean?

Colourfast means that the dye from your garment won't transfer. Take a clean, white cloth and dab it with lukewarm water. Try rubbing a tiny part of the fabric with this, preferably an area no one is likely to notice. If the dye gets transferred to the cloth, soaking the item in water would remove the colour. Otherwise, you can be assured that it's colourfast.

Enjoyed this article? Pin it on Pinterest for later!

How to get sweat stains out of hats pin
Let us know in the comments below which type of hat you're trying to clean.

Joanne A


Expert in finding beautiful solutions for small and rented spaces. Would happily spend the rest of my life shopping for homewares and watching Disney movies - I only wish I had Cinderella's army of mice to help me clean!

Leave a Reply Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *