How To Clean Your Wool Felt Hat
What do sweat stains, body oils, grease marks, watermarks, and dirt have in common? They can all wreak havoc on your favorite felt cowboy hat, wool felt fedora, or vintage pork pie. The key to keeping your hat clean is to spot clean it consistently - whenever you notice a stain or mark - and to use as little liquid as possible so you don’t risk damaging its shape.
How to Clean Your Felt Hat Without Damaging It
Many felt hats are made of wool felt, which is created by applying heat, moisture, and pressure to wool that melds the fibers together. The instructions in this post are for cleaning wool felt hats, not felt hats made of other furs. For fur felt hats, we recommend having them professionally cleaned.
And if you need to clean hats made from other materials, check out our other cleaning guides: How to clean straw hats; How to clean suede and finished leather hats.
Ongoing Maintenance to Keep Your Felt Hat in Good Shape
Prevention is the best medicine for your wool felt hat. One of the best ways you can keep your hat looking great, and reduce the chances that you’ll need to really clean it, is by brushing after each wear. You can do this with a toothbrush, hat brush, and/or a lint roller. This will sweep away dirt and debris, and keep the felt smooth.
How to Spot Clean Your Felt Hat
As stated above, the key to keeping your hat in pristine condition is to store it properly and clean it regularly with a lint roller, brush, or even tape to ensure dust never ‘settles in.’ However, if you have a more set in stain, the first thing you should do is try spot cleaning it with a lightly dampened cloth that you rub counterclockwise in a circular motion. If water isn’t enough to do the trick, try adding a little dish soap. If this still doesn’t work, apply baking soda, corn starch, or baby powder directly onto the stain. Rub the powder in using the same motion discussed above, then let it sit for 20 minutes to soak up the oil. If when you brush the powder away the stain is still there, repeat the process a few more times until the stain lightens, or move on to the next sections.
How to Hand Wash Your Felt Hat
This should be a last resort… Dousing your felt hat in water increases your chances of ruining its shape and look. However, if the stain is bad enough that you won’t wear it any longer, then proceed!
First, prep your hat to be doused by removing any decorations and hat bands (when possible), spot cleaning it to brush away as much dirt and debris as possible, and scrubbing away stains (as much as you can) then letting it sit for 10-15 minutes.
Next, do a quick test to ensure dousing won’t ruin the hat. To do this, fully wet a small inconspicuous section of the hat to ensure the color doesn’t run and the fabric stays intact. If this test goes well, then prep your water and get ready to douse.
Fill a bowl or sink with cold water and a small amount of mild soap, such as Woolite. Once this is complete, dunk the hat and let it sit in the water for about 30 minutes (or a few hours for really heavy stains). Once you’re done, rinse the hat under cold water, then place it on a clean, dry cloth and dab it to remove excess water. Then let the hat dry in a cool, dry area away from sunlight.
Should You Machine Wash Your Felt Hat?
Don’t machine wash your felt hat. If your hat is really dirty, or very expensive, we suggest finding a reputable dry cleaner instead of machine washing or washing it yourself.
How to Store Your Felt Hat
The best way to store your felt hat is in a hat box, or sitting upside down - on the crown so as not to damage the brim - in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. The key is to keep your hats away from sunlight to reduce fading, and to cover them so less dust and debris settles on them. And if you need to save space, you can stack multiple hats together and store them all upside down!