Hats are back in fashion and many people just love how a nice hat can turn a good outfit into a great one. However, in the hot summer months, a hat creates its own problems: perspiration can soak into the hat, starting from inside the rim and leaking into other parts of the hat. Left untreated, sweat stains turn into foul-smelling, dirty spots, which make the hat all but useless. A stinky hat is worse than no hat at all!
The good news is that it’s very simple to get rid of sweat stains. After lots of research and experiments, here are 5 techniques to deal with this embarrassing problem in just a few hours. Old hats can be clean and smell nice again!
How to Get Sweat Stains Out of Hats
Here are five simple ways to remove sweat stains from hats so they are clean and odor-free once again.
1. Laundry Stain Removers
This can be regular laundry detergent or more concentrated stain removers used for clothes. They are typically designed to attack a wide range of stains, though, in particular perspiration, as it often stains clothes. This is perhaps the most intuitive and straightforward method.
– Apply the detergent or stain remover liquid directly onto the sweat stain on the hat. Make sure to cover the whole stain.
– Use a soft brush, cloth or preferably a discarded toothbrush to scrub the liquid into the stain and the underlying hat material. Take care not to scrub too hard, as that can cause permanent damage to the hat.
– Leave the liquid on to work the stain for around 5 minutes.
– While waiting, fill a container or sink with cold water. Add one tablespoon’s worth of regular laundry detergent (not the stain remover). Stir to mix in the detergent.
– Now soak the hat in the container or sink for around 20 minutes.
– Take the hat out, drain the mixture, and rinse the hat with warm water. This should get rid of the stain, as well as any residual stain remover liquid.
– Wring excess water from the hat, using a towel if necessary.
– Let the hat air-dry, hanging it on a surface that matches its natural shape (such as the top of a clean trash can). Keep out of direct sunlight.
This may not seem like an obvious solution. However, regular hair shampoo is designed to break down oil and grime from hair and scalp. Therefore, it is a natural candidate to remove the same substances from hats.
– Dip an old and disused toothbrush into a mix of shampoo and water, until it starts foaming.
– Use the toothbrush to rub the mixture directly onto the stains. Scrub well, creating lather, for several minutes.
– Now soak the hat in the container or sink filled with cold water for around 10-20 minutes.
– Similar to the steps above, take the hat out, drain the water, and rinse the hat with warm water.
Wring excess water from the hat, and let dry away from direct sunlight.
Although a hat is not a dinner plate, it can be washed like one. This is a convenient and helpful trick. What’s needed is regular laundry stain remover, regular dishwashing liquid and of course a dishwasher.
– First, apply the stain remover liquid directly onto the stain on the hat. In a pinch, regular dishwashing liquid or soap can be used.
– Let the liquid work on the stain for at least 30 minutes, then rinse well.
– Now mount the hat on a plastic frame (to keep its shape). Place it on the top-most dishwasher rack. If a hat frame is not readily available, simply secure the hat to the dishwasher rack using waterproof straps or regular string. Note that without securing the hat to the dishwasher rack, the hat could be permanently damaged.
– Add dishwasher liquid or detergent as usual. Note that it should be free of bleach or acids, as these chemicals can damage hat fabric (unlike dishes). Be sure not to use any kind of rinse aids, including those that add sparkle to glassware.
– Set the dishwasher to a cycle that is preferably cool, or at most warm. A “hot” temperature setting would damage the fabric of the hat. (If “hot” is the only option available, then this method is NOT recommended.)
– Start the cycle and let it end.
– Take the clean hat out of the dishwasher, and let it air dry in the shade.
Note that regular dishes should not be put into the dishwasher together with the hat. Trying to wash both dirty dishes and a hat at the same time, would result in food scraps further staining the hat.
4. Enzyme Cleaners
This is a variant of the laundry stain remover method (See #1 above). Some laundry detergents already come with enzyme additives for that extra stain removing power. Alternatively, pure enzyme cleaners may be available.
– Add the enzyme cleaning solution to a container of water, in proportions recommended on the enzyme cleaner packaging.
– Submerge the hat for more than 20 minutes, ensuring that it is fully soaked especially the sweat-stained parts. For the most stubborn stains, soak for several hours or overnight.
– Take the hat out of the enzyme cleaning solution. Now handwash it with a mix of warm water and regular laundry detergent or shampoo, then scrub with a clean cloth or a disused toothbrush or scrubber.
– Once the stain disappears, rinse well.
– As before, let the hat air-day in the shade, preferably hung on a container to ensure that the hat keeps its natural shape.
5. Baking Soda
Most homes have lots of baking soda. It’s useful not only for baking, but for cleaning as well.
– Mix 4 tablespoons’ worth of baking soda and a small amount of water until a thick, viscous paste is produced.
– Rub the paste into the hat fabric where the stain is. This can be done with using an old toothbrush, a slightly damp cloth, a spatula or a teaspoon, or even just a finger.
– Let the paste work on the stain for about an hour.
– Rinse the hat thoroughly with cold or lukewarm water.
– Check whether the stain has been completely removed. If necessary, add more paste and scrub again, until the stain can no longer be seen.
– Rinse the hat thoroughly and let it air-dry.
Some Tips for Best Results
It’s best to remove sweat stains early, the moment they are noticed. As the perspiration settles into the fabric of the hat, the stain becomes more entrenched.
Hydrogen peroxide can help with the toughest stains. Just add a few drops on the stain, rub it into the fabric, and wait for 10-15 minutes. Rinse it off, then apply the desired method as described above.
A few rounds of cleaning with the desired solution may be needed, before the stain is completely removed. Don’t worry – this is normal!
To ensure that the hat is not damaged, consult the label or instructions on the hat. This is especially important if the hat contains special or unusual fabric.
A clothes dryer or other high-heat environment is not suitable for hats. The fabric or stitching can melt. As for a laundry washing machine, it is typically rougher than a dishwasher, hence not recommended. The structure of the hat could be damaged.
Prevention is Better
Here are some ways to prevent sweat stains on the hat in the first place.
– Just don’t wear it when perspiring: Sweating could be due to many reasons, such as weather, activity, or just one’s psychological state. If these can be anticipated, tailor the hat-wearing accordingly.
– Anti-perspirant: Normal anti-perspirant sprays can be applied to foreheads and faces. This could reduce the amount of sweat and keep the hat safe.
– Hat sprays: Some retailers carry handy sprays that preserve hats, by repelling moisture and perspiration. Sprays that are designed for clothes or fabric can also be used.
– Hat liners: These are thin pieces of cloth, which absorb perspiration and prevent it from reaching the hat.
– Wash face and hair: A clean wearer makes a clean hat! Regular washing prevents the accumulation of dirt and sweat in hair and on faces.