Long gone are the days when hats were only worn by men and women in uniform or baseball players. It is an accessory and a much-needed one at that. They are a great investment, just like expensive jewelry or a beautiful pair of shoes, and you would want it to look its very best for as long as possible. Which means, your hat needs plenty of TLC.
By taking good care of your hat it can last you your whole life. Here are tips to take care of, and clean, your hats, increasing the longevity of it and keep it looking fresh and brand new.
1. Read the Instructions Tab on the Inside of the Hat
Always, before cleaning your hat, carefully read the instructions tab inside your hat. Mostly it is attached, or sewn into, the sweatband. Following the tab’s unique instructions will ensure that you don’t damage your hat unnecessarily.
2. Storing Your Hat
Always, when putting your hat down on a flat surface, lay it upside down on its own crown, not on its brim. Leaving it on its brim will cause it to flatten out and change shape. You can also hang your hat on a hat rack, just ensure the hook or peg is wide enough to not create a dimple in the hat. However, it is not wise to store your hat on a peg for long periods of time – the force of gravity pulling on the hat can change its shape too. The best place to store a hat is in a hat box – these boxes will support the brim and the crown. Keep the box in a cool, dry place. If you hat boxes are placed near heat or damp areas, it can damage your hat. To keep moths at bay, place some lavender or cedar in the box.
3. Cleaning Your Felt and Wool Hats
Cleaning loose dirt off your Felt hat is fairly easy – take a brush to it. Use a horsehair brush – it won’t damage your hat, whereas a brush with nylon bristles can be too harsh for felt. For a dark hat, use a brush with dark-colored bristles and for a light-colored felt hat, use one with light-colored bristles. You don’t want the color of the bristles to transfer to the bat. Use gentle counter-clockwise motions.
Dust on your felt hat can simply be wiped off with a slightly damp cloth. For smudges and stains on a felt hat, use a sponge such as a make-up sponge to clean the stain. If the sponge doesn’t remove the stain or smudge, buy a good hat cleaner which you can spray on. It dries into a powder which you can then just brush off. Use cornstarch on a greasy stain – rub it into the stain and then brush it off after a while.
Use tape, wrapped around your fingers (sticky side out) and sweep it across the hat to remove pet hair. A wool hat can if so indicated by the instructions, washed by hand or in the washing machine and then dried on a flat surface.
4. Cleaning Straw Hats
You can buy a specific straw hat cleaner – this cleaning product will hep you safely remove residue, dirt and grime from colorfast straw hats. Also, regular window cleaner takes off heavier stains. Getting a Straw hat drenched in water, is disastrous as the water will alter its shape completely. Wipe off the water with a dry cloth, place it, brim up, on a clean dry surface to dry. If necessary, you can steam your hat to reshape it. Do not use artificial heat.
5. Cleaning Suede Leather Hats
Suede and leather hats are expensive and learning how to clean them properly will prolong their lifespan and make them valuable. Brush these hats with a nylon or slightly stiff bristle brush to get any loose dirt out. Buff matted suede hats with caked on dirt with emery cloth or a very fine-grit sandpaper. A suede bar (eraser) works well to remove stains from light colored leathers. The suede bar must be moved in a circular pattern. To remove oily stains and sweat use one part baby shampoo and 15 parts warm water. Steam clean to get rid of water spots. Invest in some speciality products to keep your leather hats clean.
6. Cleaning Cloth and Canvas Hats
Cloth hats allow for easy maintenance – just use a brush and a bit of water to clean them. If you have a heavy set-in stain on your cloth hat, powdered cleaners will work wonders. The same goes for canvas hats.
7. Prolonging the Life of Your Hat
Always handle your hat by the brim and not the crown. The constant holding of the hat at the crown will weaken its ability to hold its shape. Your hands might also cause a crease that at a later stage, might be impossible to repair.
It is also a good idea to always handle your hat with clean hands – the oil on your fingers and hand will definitely soil the hat. What do you do when your hat happened to get wet? Simply allow it to dry naturally, because just like a wool cardigan will shrink from heat or a dryer, so will your hat too. Do make sure you shape the hat back into its proper form before you leave it on a towel to dry by itself.
Whether your special hat is suede, leather, a dressy hat or just a baseball cap, you will need to dust it off and give it a good shake after you’ve worn it and before you pack it away in its storage box or hang it up on its rack.
Hiring a professional hat-cleaning service is a good option, but with all these tips you are covered for every cleaning issue you might face. Remember, your hat is a prominent fashion accessory – take good care of it.