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The Dreaded Hat Wash: Can You Really Use the Dishwasher?

The Dreaded Hat Wash: Can You Really Use the Dishwasher?缩略图

Hats are a wardrobe staple, shielding us from the sun, keeping us warm, and adding a touch of personality to our outfits. But let’s face it, washing them can be a chore. Handwashing requires delicate care, and throwing them in the washing machine can be a gamble, potentially shrinking or warping the brim. So, is there a secret weapon lurking in your kitchen that can tackle this dilemma? Can you, in fact, wash a hat in the dishwasher?

The answer, surprisingly, is a qualified yes. While not suitable for all hats, the dishwasher can be a great option for certain types, particularly baseball caps and other casual, unstructured hats. However, before you toss your favorite fedora into the machine, there are some key things to consider.

how to wash a hat in the dishwasher

Is Your Hat Dishwasher-Safe?

First things first: not all hats are created equal. Here’s a quick guide to see if your hat is a candidate for a dishwasher cleaning:

  • Material: Sturdy, cotton hats are generally the best candidates. Avoid hats made of delicate materials like wool, felt, straw, or leather. These can shrink, warp, or lose their shape in the heat and harsh detergents of the dishwasher.
  • Structure: Unstructured hats with a bendable brim fare better than those with stiff brims or internal structuring. The dishwasher’s tumbling action can damage these elements.
  • Label Check: Many hats have care instructions sewn into the inner lining. Always check the label first – if it specifically advises against machine washing, it’s best to err on the side of caution.

how to wash a hat in the dishwasher

Preparing Your Hat for the Dishwasher

Once you’ve confirmed your hat is dishwasher-safe, here’s how to get it ready for its aquatic adventure:

  1. Pre-treat Stains: Address any visible stains with a gentle stain remover before putting the hat in the dishwasher.
  2. Brush Away Dirt: Use a soft brush to remove any loose dirt, dust, or debris from the hat’s surface.
  3. Secure the Shape: If possible, use a hat form (available online or at some craft stores) to help maintain the hat’s shape during the wash cycle. Alternatively, you can stuff the hat with a clean towel for added support.
  4. Secure the Hat: Don’t just toss your hat into the dishwasher – it could get tangled or damaged by the spray arms. Here are a few options:
    • Top Rack: Place the hat, brim facing down, on the top rack of the dishwasher. Make sure it’s stable and won’t fall over during the cycle.
    • Utensil Basket: For smaller hats, you can use the utensil basket. Just ensure the hat isn’t crammed in and has room to breathe.
    • Clip It In: Use clothespins or binder clips to secure the hat to a sturdy part of the top rack, like a prong.

Dishwashing for Hats: A Gentle Approach

Now that your hat is prepped and secured, it’s time for the wash cycle. Here’s how to ensure a gentle yet effective clean:

  • Dishwasher Run: Use a light-wash cycle on a warm or cool setting. Avoid high-heat settings that can damage the hat.
  • Detergent Choice: Opt for a gentle, bleach-free dishwasher detergent. Harsh detergents can be too strong for hats.
  • Skip the Heat Dry: Turn off the heat dry cycle or remove the hat before it starts. Air drying is best to prevent shrinkage or warping.

The Dreaded Hat Wash: Can You Really Use the Dishwasher?插图2

Post-Wash TLC

Once the cycle is complete, it’s time to give your hat some TLC:

  • Air Dry: Remove the hat from the dishwasher and allow it to air dry completely. Don’t put it in the dryer, as this can shrink or damage the hat.
  • Reshape: While the hat is still damp, gently reshape the brim and crown if needed.
  • Sun, Not Heat: Avoid drying your hat in direct sunlight, as this can fade the color. Instead, choose a well-ventilated area with indirect sunlight or air circulation.

Alternatives to the Dishwasher

If you’re still hesitant about using the dishwasher, there are other ways to clean your hat:

  • Handwashing: This is the safest option for delicate hats. Fill a sink with cool water and a gentle detergent, then gently swish the hat. Rinse thoroughly and air dry.
  • Spot Cleaning: For minor stains, use a damp cloth with a mild detergent solution to dab at the stain. Blot the area with a clean, dry cloth to remove excess moisture.

how to wash a hat in the dishwasher

Beyond Baseball Caps: Other Dishwasher-Friendly Hats

While baseball caps are prime candidates for the dishwasher, there are other options:


Similar to baseball caps, beanies made from cotton or cotton blends can often handle a gentle dishwasher cycle.

A Word of Caution: Proceed with Care

Even with these tips, the dishwasher method isn’t foolproof. Here are some additional warnings to consider:

  • New Hats: For new hats, especially those with vibrant colors, a hand wash might be safer to avoid any potential for color bleeding.
  • Embellishments: Hats with glued-on embellishments, buttons, or embroidery might not fare well in the dishwasher. The heat and water pressure could loosen or damage them.
  • Check Each Time: Even for hats you’ve successfully washed in the dishwasher before, it’s wise to check the care label and pre-treat any stains before each wash.

The Dreaded Hat Wash: Can You Really Use the Dishwasher?插图4

The Verdict: Dishwasher or Not?

The dishwasher can be a convenient and effective way to clean certain types of hats. However, it’s crucial to assess your hat’s material, structure, and care instructions before taking the plunge. If you’re unsure, err on the side of caution and opt for a gentler handwashing method.

Keeping Your Hats Fresh Between Washes

Here are some tips to extend the life of your hats and minimize the need for frequent washing:

  • Spot Clean Stains Promptly: Tackle spills and stains as soon as they happen to prevent them from setting in.
  • Air Out Regularly: After wearing your hat, let it air out in a well-ventilated area to prevent sweat and odors from building up.
  • Sweatband TLC: For hats with sweatbands, wipe them down with a damp cloth after each wear to remove sweat and prevent mildew.

By following these tips, you can keep your hats looking their best and minimize the need for frequent washing, whether by hand or dishwasher.