How to Wash a Baseball Cap (the Right Way)

So long, sweat stains!

Colorful baseball caps
Photo: Getty Images

There is a correct way to wash a baseball cap to make sure your favorite hat keeps its shape and lasts for many years (and hikes, and beach days) to come. As with cleaning most things, you'll want to start with the gentlest cleaning method first, then work your way up. If your baseball cap is just mildly dirty, a quick soak in the sink is all it needs. But for serious sweat stains, you'll want to pump up the stain-fighting power. Follow our guide to cleaning a baseball cap, below, beginning with the mildest method.

Tips Before Washing Your Hat

Before you begin cleaning your baseball cap, here are some tips to consider:

  • Can a baseball cap be washed in the washing machine? Baseball caps can be washed in the washing machine as long as the brim is not made of cardboard.
  • Does my hat have a cardboard or plastic brim? To find out of your hat has a cardboard brim, simply flick the brim—if it makes a hollow sound, it's likely made of cardboard. Cardboard was used in vintage hats manufactured before 1983, so if your hat is newer, you probably don't need to worry.
  • Can you put your hat in the dryer? You should not put your baseball cap in the dryer, otherwise it could shrink and become misshapen. Instead, let the hat air dry by hanging it up or laying it on a towel.
  • Do I need to wash my hat if there's just a small stain? If your hat is stained but not dirty enough for a full wash yet, you can quickly remove the stain using a fabric-safe stain removal product like OxiClean. Simply spray the product on the stain, let it sit for a few minutes, and then blot dry with a damp cloth or towel. If the cap has adornments like rhinestones or embroidery, it's helpful to gently brush with a toothbrush to help remove the stain from those areas.

Can You Really Wash a Baseball Cap in the Dishwasher?

While you certainly can wash a baseball cap in the dishwasher, you may not want to. If you have a vintage hat with a cardboard brim, you definitely cannot wash it in the dishwasher. If you do decide to go the dishwasher route for convenience, choose cold water and a gentle cycle to prevent color loss and deformation. Place the hat on the top rack, and check that your dishwashing detergent does not contain bleach. It is strongly recommended, however, that you wash by hand with laundry detergent instead to keep your hat looking its best.

What You'll Need


  • Baseball cap
  • Laundry detergent
  • Cleaning gloves
  • OxiClean (or similar product)
  • Toothbrush
  • Towel


How to Quick Clean a Baseball Cap

Here's how to wash a baseball cap if it just needs an easy refresh.

  1. Fill a clean sink or basin with cool water.

    Add a drop or two of mild laundry detergent. Dunk the hat and agitate the water to create some suds.

  2. Let the hat soak.

    Fully submerge the baseball hat and let it soak for 5 to 10 minutes.

  3. Rinse thoroughly.

    Remove the hat from the water and rinse out the detergent. Gently squeeze any excess water out of the hat, but avoid twisting the brim, which can bend it out of shape.

  4. Reshape and pat dry.

    Use a clean towel to pat down and then reshape the hat's brim. The hat can then be hung up or set on a towel to dry.

How to Deep Clean a Baseball Cap

Here's how to clean a sweat-stained baseball cap so it looks brand new.

  1. Fill a sink with water.

    Before you get started, put on gloves. Fill a clean sink or basin with cool water, then add a color-safe oxygen bleach, such as OxiClean, as directed.

  2. Scrub with detergent.

    To target specific stains, dip the hat into the water, then apply a dab of detergent to the spot. You can use a soft toothbrush to gently scrub the area.

  3. Let the hat soak.

    Let the hat soak in the OxiClean solution for about one hour. Check the hat, and you should be able to see if the stains have been removed.

  4. Rinse and dry.

    Rinse the hat in cool, clean water. Then follow step four above to reshape and dry the hat.

If you have a vintage hat with a cardboard brim, you'll want to avoid fully submerging it. Instead, spot-clean problem areas with water and delicate laundry detergent, being careful not to wet the cardboard.

How Often to Clean a Baseball Cap

Baseball caps worn regularly should be washed three to five times per season. If you wear the hat daily or in the hot summer months, you may want to wash it more often to get rid of stains and smells.

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  1. CDC, Cleaning and Disinfecting Your Home. Date Accessed April 15, 2022.

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