How to Clean and Care for a Felt Stetson Hat

A brown felt hat with cleaning materials

The Spruce / Adrienne Legault

Overview
  • Working Time: 10 mins
  • Total Time: 3 - 5 hrs
  • Skill Level: Beginner

Stetson is an iconic hat brand symbolizing the American West. Whether you have a 10-gallon cowboy hat or another classic style, you'll want to learn how to care for it and make it last through the years. While today's Stetsons are made from a variety of materials, including straw, natural wool, and fur, the most classic choice is felt, usually comprising beaver, rabbit, or wild hare fur. These fur fibers are felted with boiling water to make a solid material that both repels water and provides warmth. Keep reading to keep your hat in the best shape possible.

How Often to Clean a Felt Stetson Hat

If you wear your Stetson hat every day, you'll need to clean it monthly to keep it looking sharp. The most common soil on a Stetson is dust, which can be removed with a soft-bristled brush, like one made for cleaning suede. Don't ever use water when cleaning your hat.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Soft-bristled brush

Materials

  • Talcum powder or cornstarch
  • Leather conditioner (optional)

Instructions

Materials for cleaning a felt hat

The Spruce / Adrienne Legault

How to Clean a Felt Stetson Hat
Detergent Do not use detergent
Water Temperature Do not use water
Cycle Type Do not use a washer
Dryer Cycle Type Do not use a dryer
Special Treatments Use a soft-bristled brush
Iron Settings Do not iron
  1. Brush the Hat

    Start with the left side of the hat, and brush it counterclockwise to remove dust and smooth the surface. Continue brushing toward the back, and gently work around all areas of the hat.

    Someone brushing a brown Stetson hat

    The Spruce / Adrienne Legault

  2. Clean the Band

    To remove grease or perspiration stains from the interior leather sweatband, sprinkle the dry hat with cornstarch or talcum powder to absorb the moisture. Let it sit for a few hours. If the leather headband becomes stiff, use a suitable leather conditioner to restore the suppleness.

    Someone sprinkling cornstarch on a hat's interior

    The Spruce / Adrienne Legault

  3. Give the Hat a Final Brushing

    After the powder has absorbed the stain, brush it away with a soft-bristled brush. If the hat is a dark color, it'll take several brushings to get rid of the excess powder (and, hopefully, the oil). Repeat if needed.

    Someone giving a hat a final brushing

    The Spruce / Adrienne Legault

Storing a Felt Stetson Hat

If you don't need to wear your Stetson felt hat for a while, store it upside down so the brim will keep its shape, and pack it away in a covered hat box to ward off dust. To prevent damage from insects, add a bag of cedar shavings or lavender to the box. Hats should be kept in a conditioned space that isn't overly hot or humid. Never store your Stetson in an attic or basement, where temperatures and humidity levels tend to fluctuate.

A Stetson hat upside down in a box

The Spruce / Adrienne Legault

Repairs

If you have a vintage Stetson or another felt hat, a professional milliner may be able to help you restore it and repair damage. Interior sweatbands and outside trim can be easily replaced. A fur felt hat can be sized down about one full size, but increasing the size isn't simple. A milliner may be able to stretch the hat a little, but it will eventually go back to its original size due to the blocking done during the making of the hat. Always consult a professional before attempting any major changes or repairs to your hat.

Treating Stains on a Felt Stetson Hat

Rain doesn't usually cause staining on a felt hat. However, if you have acid rain in your area, it can sometimes spot the hat's surface. If that happens, use a clothes steamer to relax the material and hopefully loosen the spots. Hold the nozzle at least 12 inches from the hat, and move it slowly around all sides of the hat. Brush the hat thoroughly while it's still damp, and then allow to air-dry. Be sure the hat is thoroughly dry before wearing or storing.

Tips for Cleaning a Felt Stetson Hat

  • To prevent sweat or hair products from staining the leather sweatband and eventually seeping into the felt, turn the sweatband down so it can dry between wearings.
  • Never attempt to use liquid laundry stain removers or cleaners on your Stetson.
  • If your felt hat becomes wet, shake off excess water. Turn down the interior leather sweatband, and stand the hat on the band (not the brim) to dry naturally. If you must speed the drying, use a blow-dryer set on low, and hold it at least 12 inches from the surface.
  • Between cleanings, remove lint or stray hairs by gently patting the hat with the sticky side of masking tape or using a lint roller.