How to Clean a Straw Hat

strawhat

Straw hats can be stylish and functional. They are lightweight, durable and versatile, able to keep the sun off your head while working in the garden or lying on the beach, but not so heavy and cumbersome as to give you a headache just from wearing it. Still, straw hats do tend to get dirty, especially around the brim. With a few simple tricks, you can keep your hat looking brand new. How you will clean your hat depends on whether it is a lighter color, or a darker color.

Cleaning Light Colored Straw Hats

What You Will Need:

  • Soft bristle brush
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Warm water
  • Small spray bottle
  • Soft cloth

The Cleaning Process:

  1. Brush the hat thoroughly, but gently, with the soft bristle brush to remove excess dirt and debris.
  2. In a small spray bottle, mix 1 part hydrogen peroxide with 1 part water. You will not need a lot to do an entire hat.
  3. Spray the solution on a soft cloth.
  4. Wipe the cloth over the entire hat (make sure you test a small, inconspicuous area first to make sure the hat can tolerate the solution without any discoloration).
  5. For stubborn stains, spray the solution directly on the stain and wipe. Be careful not to saturate the straw with solution as this may cause the hat to shrink.

Cleaning Dark Colored Straw Hats

What You Will Need:

  • Soft bristle brush
  • Household ammonia
  • Warm water
  • Small spray bottle
  • Soft cloth

The Cleaning Process:

  1. Brush the hat thoroughly, but gently with the soft bristle brush to remove excess dirt and debris.
  2. In a small spray bottle mix 1/2 teaspoon of ammonia with ¼ cup of water and shake well. NOTE: Always exercise caution when using ammonia. It is a chemical substance and if handled incorrectly, can be hazardous.
  3. Spray the solution on a soft cloth.
  4. Wipe the cloth over the entire hat (make sure you test a small, inconspicuous area first to make sure the hat can tolerate the solution without any discoloration).
  5. For stubborn stains, spray the solution directly on the stain, and wipe. Be careful not to saturate the straw with solution as this may cause the hat to shrink.
  6. To spruce up the color of a dark colored straw hat, add about 1 teaspoon of rubbing (isopropyl) alcohol to a cup of water, dampen a piece of dark-colored velvet with the solution, and rub it on to the straw hat.

Additional Tips and Advice

  • Try not to let your straw hat become overly wet as it will tend to shrink. If it does get wet, if you can stand it, it’s best to wear it while it dries so it will retain its shape and not shrink.
  • If your straw hat becomes out of shape, crushed, or dented, try holding it over steam (i.e. from a pot of boiling water) and reshaping it. Wear oven mitts and exercise caution while doing this as STEAM CAN CAUSE SERIOUS BURNS!!!
  • To clean the sweatband of a straw hat, use a toothbrush dipped in a sudsy mixture of dish soap and water.
  • To protect your straw hat, spray it with a light coat of water repellant (the kind you use for suede). This will help it resist stains and water damage.
  • If you’re storing your hat for a period of time, store it so that it retains its shape, either on a hat stand, or you may try using a coffee can or a liter soda bottle turned upside down.
  • DO NOT put your straw hat into the washing machine. If you do, be prepared to buy a new one.
  • If you are unsure about whether your particular hat can tolerate the cleaning methods suggested here, try taking it to a haberdasher, or dry cleaner specializing in hats.

Comments

  1. Valerie says:

    Hoping you can help me. I recently purchased a fedora hat that I love. It is studded and according to the label, made out of “paper.” The oils from my hair are seeping through the lining and discoloring the hat itself, and I am wondering if you have any suggestions regarding what I can use to clean those spots without damaging my hat. I wrote the people that I purchased the hat from and they did not seem to have an answer. Thank you for your help.

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