Caring for Baseball Caps

Whether it’s a Little League topper or your cherished Cubbies cap, baseball hats are notorious collectors of summertime sweat, dirt, and grime. Don’t worry—we’ve got the clean-up bases covered. Try these techniques to keep your team lids and stadium souvenirs in top condition.

Assess the fabric. Today’s baseball hats are typically made out of sturdy, colorfast fabrics like cotton twill, a cotton-polyester blend, or a jersey mesh—all of which are safe to wash by machine or hand. (It’s even okay to throw them in a load of clothes with similar colors.) Wool baseball caps should be hand-washed, since the fabric fibers could take a beating inside a washer’s drum. Look for a manufacturer’s label on the hat’s interior for specific instructions.

Size up the brim. Newer hats may come with a plastic form in the brim to maintain the shape. So long as this form isn’t made of cardboard, it can survive a laundering.

Check for colorfastness. If you’re nervous that a new hat’s color will run, test for colorfastness by applying a few drops of detergent to a wet washcloth and rub a spot on the inside of the headband. Rinse and let it air dry, then check back. No fading? You’re good to go.

Pre-treat trouble spots. To remove particularly egregious streaks, spots and sweat, have a go at them before the standard wash cycle. To erase tough stains like blood or grass, pre-soak the hat in a solution of cold water and liquid detergent with a bleach-alternative for up to 30 minutes. To get rid of salty sweat residue, pour the detergent directly on the stain and let it sit for 20 minutes.

The rules of the wash. You may have heard people say that they wash hats on the top shelf of the dishwasher, but this is not advised, as bleach from dishwashing detergent could cause spots. Also, you’ll want to be sure to wash your hat in cold water to avoid shrinking the material.

Air-dry for the win. After washing your hat, leave it out in the open to dry. Place it on something roughly noggin-shaped—a ball or a coffee canister, for example—to keep the form.