How to Wash Baseball Caps, According to a Cleaning Expert

Baseball caps are a trendy accessory that don’t seem to be going away anytime soon. It’s the perfect accessory for running errands or balancing out your everyday office look. You might even have a favorite that you appear on most often. But how often do you wash it?

If you’re like me, probably not enough. Wearing your hat often, especially in hot and humid weather, requires just as frequent washing. But you don’t have to take our word for it. We asked a cleaning expert and a dermatologist how often we should wash our hats and the best processes to keep them in pristine condition.

How often should people wash their hats?

Jessica Ek, Senior Director of Digital Communications at American Cleaning Instituteand Dr. Paul Friedman, director of Dermatology and laser center in Houston, Texas, the two said how often you should wash your hat mainly depends on how often you wear it, how dirty it is, and what activities you do.

“Clean it when it looks dirty, sweaty or you can’t remember the last time you washed it. Your favorite baseball cap might need to be washed several times a year,” Ek told Shop TODAY in an email.

Friedman added that hats that come into contact with the skin when wearing sunscreen, makeup, moisturizers or hair products or are worn during physical activities should be washed between each use.

“Our bodies shed dead skin cells, exude salt, sweat and sebum every day,” he wrote in an email. “For hats that come in contact with skin for occasional daily use, I recommend washing your hat at least once a week.”

What are the effects on the skin?

As Friedman said, our bodies secrete a lot of things that hats can come into contact with, which is why it’s so important to clean them regularly. Failure to do so could lead to various types of acne breakouts, skin irritation, and at worst, skin infection. He stressed the importance for people with acne-prone or sensitive skin to “be diligent in maintaining hat hygiene”.

Things to consider before washing a baseball cap

Before you start washing your hats, there are a few things Ek recommends keeping in mind:

  • Material. “A hat with a cardboard brim may not hold up to the puck. A wool baseball cap should be cleaned more gently than a cotton cap,” she advised.
  • Dirt level. Ek suggests assessing how dirty your hat is before embarking on a cleaning process. For rooms with lots of sweat stains, she says using a stain remover with enzymes can help break them down. But for hats with only a few marks, you’ll probably be able to get away with a simple spot cleaning.
  • Washing history. If you’ve never washed the hat before, Ek says you might want to try cleaning a small spot first to see if any colors run off. “This is less likely to be an issue with newer hats, but if you’re washing a vintage hat for the first time, this should be taken into account,” she added.

Tips for washing hats

When it’s time to wash your hats, Ek shared some best practices for optimizing the cleaning process.

First, you’ll want to check a fabric care label — a tip Friedman also echoed — for specific washing instructions for your hat’s material. If it’s dishwasher safe, she suggests using cold water on a gentle cycle. If not, she says, the best process is to hand wash with water, a bit of detergent and a clean cloth. In this case, you can simply clean, rinse and air dry.

If you don’t want to wash it by hand but it’s not machine-safe, Ek says you can use the dishwasher! In this situation, you would use the top shelf (without other dishes) and remove it before the drying step so it can air dry. She noted that there is crown inserts you can buy to help the hat keep its shape if you choose this method.

Either way, Friedman suggests using a mild, fragrance-free detergent to avoid irritation.

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