Baseball Cap: How to Wash It Without Losing Its Shape

Baseball caps, whether used for sports, work, or fashion, can quickly accumulate dirt and grime.

It’s easy to overlook the need to clean them since we don’t typically treat them like regular clothing items.

However, over time, dirt, sweat, hair products, and makeup can build up, leaving the cap looking and smelling less than fresh.

When it’s time to give your baseball cap a thorough cleaning, you have three options: machine washing, hand washing, or spot-treating specific stained areas.

It’s important to avoid dishwasher cleaning methods as the steam can cause the fabric to warp. Regardless of the cleaning method you choose, the drying process is crucial to ensure the cap maintains its shape after washing.

Clean a Baseball Cap in a washing machine

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Photo: Clean a Baseball Cap in a Washing Machine

Most baseball caps can be safely cleaned in a washing machine and then air-dried.

Machine washing is suitable for caps worn during activities that may result in sweat or dirt buildup, such as exercise, yard work, or sun protection.

Apply Stain Treatment.

Since baseball caps are often not washed regularly, they can accumulate heavy soiling.

Pre-treat stained areas on the cap with appropriate stain-removing products before laundering.

For protein-based stains like dirt, mud, grass, or sweat, use an enzymatic formula such as Krud Kutter Sports Stain Remover or Zout.

Makeup stains can be treated with OxiClean MaxForce Laundry Stain Remover or Rubbing Alcohol. For food stains, Shout Laundry Stain Remover is recommended, while Pine Sol or Lestoil can be used for oil and grease stains.

Wash with Similar Items.

When machine washing a baseball cap, avoid using cage-like protectors and instead wash the cap with similar items or on its own.

Similar items can include other baseball caps (you can wash a whole load of caps) or small garments like socks, underwear, or lightweight pajamas. Avoid washing caps with heavy or bulky items such as jeans, sweatshirts, or towels, as their weight can deform the cap and ruin its shape.

Select Delicate Cycle.

To minimize the impact on the cap’s shape and structure, wash it in cold water using the delicate or slow setting on your washing machine.

Air-Dry and Reshape.

After washing, it’s crucial to air-dry the cap instead of using a machine dryer.

To preserve the cap’s shape, place a balled-up hand towel inside the crown of the cap to help it maintain its form while drying.

Clean a Baseball Cap by Hand

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Photo: Clean a Baseball Cap by Hand

Hand-washing is a simple and effective method for cleaning items that you prefer not to machine wash.

It is particularly suitable for structured hats, embellished caps, and those with tough stains that require deep cleaning.

Choose a Suitable Washing Area and Fill it with Water.

You can hand-wash your baseball cap in any container that can hold water, detergent, and the hat while leaving space for your hands to move.

Common options include sinks, utility sinks, bathtubs, buckets, or wash basins.

Fill the container about halfway or no more than ⅔ full with water, ensuring there’s enough room for the hat and your hands to maneuver without causing splashes.

Add Detergent.

Using liquid laundry detergent is recommended for hand-washing a baseball cap as it dissolves well in cool or lukewarm water compared to powdered formulas.

Avoid using detergent packs or pods, as they are not suitable for hand laundering.

Avoid using excessive detergent by pouring just a small amount into the water.

Using too much detergent will require extensive rinsing to remove the suds, and excess soap residue can lead to skin irritation or make the cap appear dingy.

Submerge the Hat.

Place the baseball cap in the Soapy Water and use your hands to fully submerge it.

Gently agitate the hat to ensure the water and detergent penetrate the fabric, loosening dirt and grime.

Allow the Hat to Soak.

For moderately dirty hats, let the cap soak in the soapy water for 10 to 15 minutes after agitating it.

If the hat is heavily soiled, allow it to soak for a longer period, up to an hour, or even overnight.

Rinse the Hat and Air-Dry.

After the soaking period, drain the soapy water and thoroughly rinse the hat with Clean Water.

Once rinsed, gently squeeze the panels of the cap to remove excess water. To dry the hat, use the balled-up hand towel method, shaping the towel into a ball and placing the hat over it to maintain its form while it air-dries.

Clean a Baseball Cap with Spot Treatment

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Photo: Clean a Baseball Cap with Spot Treatment

Spot treatment involves using detergent or a stain treatment product to clean a specific area of a hat or garment.

This method is ideal for heavily decorated hats, hats with delicate metal detailing that shouldn’t be exposed to excessive water, and for addressing stains between regular washings.

Identify the Stain and Choose a Stain Treatment Product.

If there is a stain caused by food, oil, grease, or makeup, it is recommended to use an appropriate stain treatment product.

For general stains from dirt or body soil, a small amount of liquid laundry detergent, Dish Soap, or hand soap can be used for spot treatment.

Apply the Stain Treatment.

Dampen a light-colored cloth or sponge slightly and apply the stain treatment or detergent to the cloth, rather than directly onto the hat.

Using a gentle, circular motion, work the soap or treatment into the stained or soiled area.


Once the stain or soil has been removed, rinse the cloth with clean water and go over the cleaned area of the hat to remove any residue.

This may require multiple passes with a rinsed cloth. Afterward, allow the hat to air dry, reshaping it if necessary using the balled-up towel method.

*The information is for reference only.