How to Care for 7 Types of Hats and Sweatbands

Close-Up Of Hat And Scarf Hanging On Stand By Brick Wall
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Some hats are fashionable. Some hats are practical. Almost all hats are fun. Whether structured or soft, leather or felt, learn how to care for different types of hats to keep them looking great.

Start with the sweatband which is often the most stained part of a hat due to perspiration, body soil, make-up or hair products. 

  • For fabric sweatbands, fold them down and clean with a mild detergent/water mixture and a soft brush. Use the brush to scrub the band and then blot with a clean white cloth dipped in water. Leave the band folded down until it air dries.
  • For leather sweatbands, fold it down and use a commercial leather cleaner to remove stains and odor. Follow package directions and allow the band to air dry. When the band is dry, use a leather conditioner or lotion to keep it supple.

Read on for care tips on specific types of hats.

  • 01 of 07

    Baseball Caps

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    Baseball caps have come a long way from a utilitarian part of a uniform to keep the sun out of a player's eyes to the fashion and cultural statement they make today. The caps can be made from synthetic materials, cotton, wool or even leather.  Learn how to safely clean each type of baseball cap.

  • 02 of 07

    Fabric and Straw Fashion Hats

    Woman in a black fashion hat
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    Women's fashion hats make a statement about the wearer and mark some very special occasions. What began as a mandatory accessory to protect a woman's hat and skin from the elements or to protect her modesty in church or from men, has evolved into an accessory to express a woman's personality.

    Women's hats can be made from natural or synthetic straw or fabrics like wool felt, brocade or velvet. The addition of a veil or feathers continues the artistic expression of the hat maker often creating a work of art.

    To keep the body of a fabric fashion hat looking its best, use a soft bristle brush or lint roller to remove dust and lint. Workaround the hat slowly, brushing with the nap of the fabric and taking care not to crush any decorative accessories. If possible, remove trim like ribbons or flowers to make brushing the hat easier.

    If the trim is not removable, use a hairdryer on cool/low to blow away dust from flowers and intricate areas.

    To remove oily stains sprinkle the stained area with cornstarch or talcum powder. Allow the powder to sit for several hours and then brush away with a soft brush. Do not use liquid cleaners on felted hats. For heavy fabric hats like brocade, use a mild detergent mixed with cool water and spot treat stains with a white cloth.

    To restore hat veils to their original best, use steam from an iron, clothes steamer or hold over a pot of boiling water to carefully reshape a crushed veil. Do not over-steam or the entire hat can lose its shape.

    If you want the veil to be stiff and stand away from your face, iron the veil between two layers of waxed paper. Use a medium setting on the iron with no steam. A trace amount of wax will transfer to the veil and make it look crisp.

    If you get caught in the rain when wearing your fashion hat, shake off excess water. Use acid-free tissue paper or clean white cotton cloths to "stuff" the hat to help it hold its shape. Change the stuffing every couple of hours to speed the drying process. Allow to air dry away from direct heat or sunlight.

    Be sure that the hat is completely dry before storing. Always store fashion hats in a correctly sized hat box to prevent crushing and dust accumulation.

  • 03 of 07

    Fedoras and Flat Caps

    fedora hat
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    Care of Fedoras

    The fedora is associated with the Hollywood stars of the 1950s but the hat was introduced in 1882 as a woman's hat in the play, "Fedora" starring Sarah Bernhardt. Thanks to Prince Edward of Britain the style was adopted by men in the early 1920s.

    A true fedora is made of wool felt but today's hats can now be found in leather, synthetic fibers or straw. Learn how to care for a fedora so it keeps that classic shape.

    Care of Flat Caps

    Flat caps were created in the British Isles in the early 14th century. The cap is rounded with a small stiff brim just in front. Most often made of wool for winter warmth, it can also be found in cotton and leather. The cap was adopted by newsboys, golfers, and longshoremen in the United States and is still a popular style for gentlemen today.

    Wool flat caps can be hand washed using a gentle wool wash like Woolite. Simply fill a sink with lukewarm water, add a small amount of the wool wash. Submerge the cap and allow to soak for 5 to 10 minutes. Swish the hat around (do not wring) and then rinse well until no suds are seen. 

    Place the hat on a thick cotton towel and blot away as much moisture as possible.  Allow the hat to air dry on a ventilated rack so air can circulate away from direct heat or sunlight. 

  • 04 of 07

    Fur and Faux Fur Hats

    Care of fur and faux fur hats
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    Fur is one of the warmest types of materials for hats. And whether you choose a natural fur or a faux fur, the hat is going to need the care to keep it looking its best.

    Continue to 5 of 7 below.
  • 05 of 07

    Knit or Crocheted Caps

    Baby in a knit cap
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    Whether your knit cap was a handmade gift from Aunt Polly or one you bought at a cute boutique, this is the most common type of hat for men, women, and children.

    The key to taking care of these hats is knowing what type of yarn was used to create the hat. Learn how to clean wool, cotton and mixed-fiber knitted hats.

  • 06 of 07

    Leather Hats

    leather hat
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    Leather and faux leather hats are both stylish and very warm against winter winds. The leather can be tanned to a slick, more weather-resistant finish or split to create a suede finish. With proper care, both types of natural leather hats can last for many years.

  • 07 of 07

    Stetson Hats

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    The iconic Stetson hat or cowboy hat immediately invokes the images of cattle ranches and a man on horseback. The color of the hat can even suggest whether the wearer is a white hat good guy hat or a black hat bad guy. Western hats can be made from fur felt or straw and found in every price range.

    If you have invested in a quality Western hat, you'll want to take care of it properly. Learn how to clean a fur felt Stetson and a straw Stetson to preserve the shape and your image.