picture of a cleaning a straw cowboy hat

How to Clean a Straw Cowboy Hat

Last updated by Yauni Smith on

Straw hats don’t last forever. If you wear it often, your straw hat will need a little cleaning after a few warm seasons to keep it looking good. Here are some handy tips on how to clean a straw cowboy hat, Panama hat or any other straw hat shape.

Straw Cowboy Hat Cleaning Techniques

Cleaning off Loose Dirt and Debris


If the hat has any patches of loose dirt, dust or debris, use a soft-bristled brush to remove them. A large flat paint brush with soft bristles works well. Brush in a counter-clockwise direction to go in the direction of the weave.

If you don’t have a brush, you could use a dry white microfiber cleaning cloth. This cloth may be slightly dampened with water for added effectiveness. 

Packing Tape

Another way to remove specks of dirt is with packing tape. Roll some around your fingers and press and lift the tape to take dirt off.

Vacuum Cleaner

You may also use a vacuum cleaner to remove dirt. It’s best to place a stocking over the nozzle to prevent dirt getting from the vacuum onto your hat.

Removing Mild Stains

If you’ve removed loose dirt and there is still a stain, you can try these methods. Before you apply any cleaning agent, test a small area of the interior of the crown. This will make sure your cleaning method doesn’t damage or discolor the hat.  

Many factors impact a straw cowboy hat’s resilience. Not every cleaning method in this article is safe for every hat. So always test the interior of the crown first and make sure, so you don’t ruin your straw hat.

Talcum Powder

Try sprinkling a small amount of talcum powder or cornstarch on the stain. Leave it for an hour or two to allow the powder to soak up the stain. Then, brush off the powder to see if the stain is gone. 

Dish Soap

If this doesn’t work, you can blot the stain with a little liquid dish soap and water on a clean white cloth. Any brand of dish soap will do.

Tackling Stubborn Stains

Hydrogen Peroxide Solution

For any embedded dirt, you can use a solution of equal parts hydrogen peroxide and water with a white clean cloth. Gently dab or spray the solution on and use the cloth to wipe the stain away. 

This solution is for spot cleaning only, it’s important to not let straw hats get too wet as they might warp.

How to Clean a Straw Hat Sweatband

If you’re looking to find out how to clean sweat stains from the sweatband of a straw cowboy hat, the above methods also apply. Clean the sweatband using dish soap and water on a clean cloth. If stains remain, then tackle them with the hydrogen peroxide solution. Keep a paper towel between the hat and the sweatband to protect the straw while cleaning.  

You can also remove makeup from the sweatband this way. It’s important to clean off makeup stains as soon as they appear, the longer they are left, the harder they are to remove.

Once you are finished cleaning, flip the sweatband up to dry. Leave your straw hat to dry in the shade as direct sunlight can make it brittle and more prone to tearing or breaking. 

How to Clean Mold off a Straw Hat

The best way to clean mold or mildew off a straw hat is to vacuum it off. If that does not remove it, soak a sponge in bleach (dilute 1/8 cup bleach in 2 cups of cold water).

Wring the sponge out until it is barely damp, then use it to gently wipe off the mold and mildew.

Keep your hat in a cool, dry place to prevent mold and mildew growth.

Reshaping a Straw Hat

If your straw hat has lost its shape, hold it over a steamer (or the steam from a tea kettle) for a minute. You can then reshape it with your hands and leave to dry.

Hold the hat about six inches from the steam source and be careful not to let the steam touch your hands. Steam can cause serious burns so be careful. You can use a rolled up damp towel to reshape the interior crown of the hat if needed. 

Sometimes, it can be difficult to get a damaged hat back to its original shape. It may be easier to buy a new one. You might like to explore our mens straw cowboy hats and womens straw cowboy hats.

Good as New

We hope by following these tips you’ll now have a clean straw cowboy hat. If you’d like to know how to clean a panama straw hat or how to clean a straw fedora hat, the same steps apply.

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