How to Get Sweat Stains Out of Hats

Asian woman wearing hat after exercising drinking water from bottle

Nano Stockk/ iStock/ Getty Images Plus

Project Overview
  • Working Time: 20 - 40 mins
  • Total Time: 20 mins - 8 hrs
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Estimated Cost: $0 to 10

Whether you have a Stetson, baseball cap, or straw hat, the part that usually gets dirty first is the sweatband and the area surrounding it. With just a few supplies, you can freshen and get sweat stains out of a hat.

Read on for our guide on removing sweat stains from several hats.

Stain Type Oil-based, salt
Detergent Type Mild detergent, leather cleaner, laundry stain remover
Water Temperature Warm

Before You Begin

Acting quickly is important. A hat's sweatband is there to capture sweat and body soil before it reaches the remainder of the hat. Clean it regularly to prevent stains on the rest of the hat.

The most important factor to consider when getting sweat stains out of hats is the hat material. If the hat is expensive and your attempts at removing sweat stains are not working, consider taking the hat to a professional dry cleaner or milliner.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • 1 washer or large sink
  • 1 soft-bristled nylon scrub brush
  • 2 white microfiber cloths
  • 1 hat form (optional)

Materials

  • 1 container mild detergent
  • 1 container leather cleaner
  • 1 container leather conditioner
  • 1 container laundry stain remover
  • 1 bottle hydrogen peroxide
  • 1 bottle household ammonia
  • 1 box cornstarch

Instructions

How to Get Out Sweat Stains From a Hat Sweatband

If the sweat stains and body soil are contained to the sweatband of the hat, follow these tips to get out the sweat stains.

  1. Get Sweat Stains Out of a Fabric Sweatband

    • Fold down the sweatband.
    • Mix a solution of warm water and a few drops of mild detergent.
    • Dip a soft-bristled nylon brush (an old toothbrush works great) in the mixture and scrub the band to remove stains and soil.
    • Blot the band with a clean white cloth dipped in fresh water to remove the soapy residue.
    • Leave the band folded down until it air-dries.
  2. Get Sweat Stains Out of a Leather Sweatband

    • Fold down the sweatband.
    • Following label directions, use a commercial leather cleaner to remove stains and odor.
    • Allow the band to air dry.
    • When the band is dry, use a leather conditioner to keep it supple.
    • Allow the conditioner to dry completely before turning the band back up into the hat.

How to Get Sweat Stains Out of a Fabric Hat

Whether you have a fabric baseball cap, bucket hat, knitted or crocheted hat, or sun hat, follow these same steps to get out sweat stains.

  1. Pretreat Sweat Stains

    • Treat sweatbands and sweat-stained areas with an enzyme-based laundry stain remover or a dab of heavy-duty laundry detergent.
    • Work the stain remover or detergent into the soiled areas using a soft-bristled brush, and allow it to work for at least 15 minutes before washing the hat.
  2. Wash the Hat

    Tip

    Some hats can be machine-washed but most will last longer if hand-washed. Avoid excessive wringing or scrubbing to help the hat hold its shape.

    • Mix a solution of warm water and a mild detergent in a large sink or tub.
    • Gently agitate the hat in the soapy water.
    • Use a soft-bristled brush to gently scrub heavily soiled areas.
    • Let the hat soak for at least 10 minutes.
    • Drain the sink and add fresh, cold water for rinsing.
    • Repeat the rinsing step until all the water is clear and free of suds.
    • Gently squeeze to remove excess water.
    • Place shaped hats on a hat form or over a large vase to dry.
    • Lay knitted hats flat on a dry, absorbent towel and roll up the towel to absorb water. Lay the hat on a dry towel to finish drying.

How to Get Sweat Stains Out of a Straw Hat

  1. Remove Sweat Stains from the Straw

    • For light-colored straw, mix one tablespoon hydrogen peroxide and one tablespoon warm water.
    • For dark-colored straw, mix 1/2 teaspoon household ammonia and 1/4 cup warm water.
    • Dip a soft-bristled brush in the cleaning solution and work on a small area, just one to two inches, at a time.
    • Blot each freshly cleaned area with a white towel dampened with water.
    • Allow the hat to dry completely before wearing it again.

    Tip

    Use a clean, damp white cloth to wipe down the hat as soon as possible after wearing it to prevent body salts and oils from staining the straw.

How to Get Sweat Stains Out of a Leather or Felted Hat

  1. Remove Sweat Stains From a Tanned Leather Hat

    • When sweat stains appear on a tanned leather hat, use a commercial leather cleaner. Follow the label directions.
    • Complete the cleaning process by using a leather conditioner to keep the hat soft and supple.
  2. Remove Sweat Stains From a Suede Leather or Felted Fur Hat

    • Prevention is the key to keeping suede and felted fur hats clean.
    • Brush the hat with a suede brush after every wearing.
    • Turn the sweatband down to air-dry to prevent staining to the hat.
    • Sprinkle visible stains with cornstarch to absorb body oils. Let the powder sit for at least four hours and then brush it away with a suede brush.

Tips for Removing Sweat Stains from Hats

Here are some tips for success:

  • Don't wait—sweat stains on a hat won't fade away on their own.
  • Do not use harsh cleaners on most hats.
  • Do not overwet hats that are not machine washable. They will lose their shape.
  • Don't guess about the material of the hat. Do some research so you will not ruin the felt, fabric, or straw.