How to Wash a Baseball Hat Without Ruining Its Shape

published Aug 6, 2022
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Post Image
Credit: Taradee/Shutterstock

Whether you wear one on outdoor adventures, while playing sports, or just when you mow the backyard, eventually, your baseball hat will need cleaning. Just like any other item of clothing, hats collect dirt and body oil, which can quickly cause them to appear grimy and smell, well, smelly. Luckily, rejuvenating your baseball cap won’t take too much time — and you may already have most of the tools you need on hand. 

Has your cap seen better days? We’ve got you covered. Here’s how to clean a baseball hat, according to laundry expert Patric Richardson, author of “Laundry Love: Finding Joy in a Common Chore and owner of the Minneapolis-based boutique Mona Williams

What you’ll need: 

  • Damp cloth
  • Spray bottle
  • Vodka
  • Oxygen bleach or dishwashing detergent for deep clean

How to quick clean a baseball hat 

Does your baseball hat need a refresh ASAP? Quickly cleaning your cap is easier than you think — and you’ll only need a couple of supplies. Here’s how to rejuvenate your sweaty, dirty hat in a minute or two. 

  1. With a damp cloth, wipe the surface dirt from the inside and outside of the hat, focusing on visibly dirty or smelly areas. Don’t forget the brim!
  2. Next, fill a small spray bottle with unflavored, undiluted vodka. Any kind will do. The goal, Richardson says, is to kill the bacteria in your sweat that makes the hat smelly. 
  3. Spray the inside and outside with a few spritzes of the alcohol. 
  4. Hang the hat to dry. Alcohol dries quickly, so you should be able to don your hat in a few minutes. And don’t worry, it won’t smell. “Vodka is odorless and colorless, so you can spray it on your kid’s baseball hat and they won’t smell like alcohol,” says Richardson. 
  5. Repeat the process as often as you need, whenever you notice the hat looking or smelling dirty. In general, the more often you wear it, the more often you’ll need to refill your spray bottle.

How to deep-clean a baseball hat 

If your baseball hat needs more than a quick clean, Richardson recommends tossing it in the dishwasher for a spin. “The oil combined with soap or oxygen bleach will break down all the bacteria, sweat, and oil,” he says. Here’s how to deep clean your dirty baseball cap in the dishwasher. 

  1. Put your hat on the top rack of an empty dishwasher. If you’re concerned about the brim, Richardson recommends shaping the hat over the tines of the top shelf. 
  2. Add a tablespoon of oxygen bleach to the dishwasher where you’d normally put soap. If you don’t have any, Richardson says your go-to dishwashing detergent shouldn’t harm the hat. In a pinch, you can just rely on the water. 
  3. Select the quick wash cycle, which Richardson says is more than enough time to thoroughly wash the grimiest hat. 
  4. After the cycle, remove your clean hat and hang it to dry. It should be good as new! 
  5. Repeat as needed whenever your beloved hat needs a deeper clean.

One important caveat to the dishwasher method: If you have a delicate vintage hat with a cardboard insert, definitely skip this method, and soak it in a sink full of oxygen bleach for an hour or two instead.