How to Clean a Felt Hat


John asked: How do I clean a black felt hat? It has deep dust stains and lint on it.

Felt hats are classic and versatile hats that have been around for years. Proper care not only keeps the hat clean and looking good, it is essential for extending the life of the hat.  Generally, cleaning and caring for your felt hat is simple and can be done with a few simple steps. Here are the general guidelines for keeping your hat in beautiful, wearable condition.

You Will Need:

  • Soft hat brush (dark colored for dark hats and light colored for light hats)
  • Wide tape such as masking or painter’s tape
  • Water
  • Mild soap
  • Old toothbrush

Steps to Clean the Hat:

  1. Start by removing dirt from the surface of the hat with a hat brush. Gently brush the surface of the hat starting on the left and working counter-clockwise around to the back.
  2. To remove lint from the hat, wrap wide tape around your hand so that the sticky side is facing out.
  3. Gently press the tape against the areas with lint. Apply just enough pressure so the lint will adhere to the tape.
  4. Lift quickly to remove. You should see the lint transferred to the tape.
  5. Repeat until all of the lint is removed.
  6. Lastly, turn the sweatband down and allow it to dry completely. By turning it out, the oils and perspiration will evaporate rather than soak into the felt on the hat.
  7. If the sweatband needs to be cleaned, this can be done with great caution not to get the hat wet. Moisten a towel or toothbrush with water and a mild soap. Gently scrub the sweatband to remove any dirt and stains.
  8. Rinse and blot it with a soft cloth to dry. Again, avoid getting any water/detergent on the hat as it will leave spots.

Additional Tips and Ideas

  • Avoid placing the brim of the hat on a flat surface as it can cause it to flatten and lose its shape. Always set it upside-down on the crown.
  • Store your hat in a hat box or on a clean surface to prevent stains and discolorations.
  • When moving the hat around, try to adjust it using the brim, rather than the crown. Avoid touching the crown to keep away oils and dirt that may cause spots.
  • Heat can cause the sweatband inside of the hat to shrink, leaving you with a hat that is too small. Keep your hat in a cool location.
  • If you need a hat stand, one can quickly be made at home by covering an oatmeal container or coffee can.


  1. Barbara says:

    I have my grandfather’s hat since his death of almost forty-five years ago.

    Although it is in a hat box for protection in the top of the closet, it still got damaged over the years. It has water circles around the brim and is molded spots on it. I want to clean it and keep it as long as can. Do you know what to clean it with or is it to late? Thank you so much for the advise.

  2. Jcauley says:

    My husband spilled Coca-Cola on the brim of a nice felt hat. How can I get the stain out? It is only on the under side of the brim.

  3. Mike says:

    I have an old felt hat that I use for outside work. It is not pretty or fancy. I just want to give a general thorough cleaning, but my wife says throwing it in the clothes washer will make it come apart. How do I give it a good thorough washing without worrying that it will come apart or damage other clothes in the washer? I’d like it to keep the same size and form when dried. Do I need to put it in a form or block it to dry to ensure it keeps the shape and size?

  4. Larry says:

    The brim on my hat has been sweat-stained over several wearings. How do I clean that, and get an even finish again? It has a sweat-darkened area on the brim.

  5. Kryss says:

    “Whatever you do, don’t actually clean the hat itself” is not very helpful in an article called, “How to clean a felt hat.” Assume that the hat actually does need to be actually cleaned, and that’s why I’m looking at an article on how to clean it, and that I do want information on how to actually clean the actual hat. Please.

  6. Steve says:

    I have a 100% wool felt hat; would cleaning be the same that has been listed? Brush, cloth and mild soap, and is there a way to protect it from rain and stains with some known spay for wool/felt hats? Thank you very much for all your help.

  7. Jennifer says:

    One of my kids spilt cereal on my husband’s hat and it has brown cereal all on top of the brim. How do I get it off without tearing off the felt or ruining it? This is the last hat that my husband’s mom bought him before she passed away. It would mean so much to him if I can get all of that off of there and he can start wearing it again. Please let me know if you can help. Thank you and God bless.

  8. Melanie says:

    First, try to determine if the felt is natural (wool) or synthetic. If the hat is wool or if you’re not sure, you can try having it dry cleaned. Another idea is to take the hat to a cobbler (they sometimes work with hats too).
    If it’s synthetic, you can try using a pet enzyme cleaner (pet stain and odor remover that contains enzymes). These cleaners contain bacteria that will eat all of the organic matter (removing all traces of stains and odors), then disappear. They usually can’t be used on wool though because they will eat the wool too. Read the label of various products to see which one might be best for synthetic felt; I would probably choose an upholstery cleaner over a carpet or laundry cleaner. Since it’s best not to get felt wet, try applying it with a cotton swab to just a small spot and seeing how that turns out. You may need to reapply it several times if the cereal residue is thick, but by applying a little at a time, you can probably use it to eat up all the cereal residue without leaving any additional liquid marks. Wait several hours between applications, or however long the directions on the specific product say to wait. This should theoretically work, but having never tried it myself, I’d recommend that you use caution and test a small hidden area first.

  9. Saeed says:

    I bought a felt hat, but it’s shape needs fixing. How can I reshape it to its original shape?
    Many thanks,

  10. Melanie says:

    The most common method for reshaping a felt hat is to hold it over a steaming teapot briefly to steam it and reshape it with your fingers while it’s warm.
    Source: Wikihow – How to Reshape a Vintage Hat
    Source: Village Hat Shop – How to Steam and Reshape a Hat

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