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The Best Way to Clean a Straw Hat

How to clean a straw hat

As a fair skinned gal living in sunny Southern California, I rarely enter my backyard without putting on my favorite straw hat. In fact, one of my favorite hobbies is experimenting in my garden with my little boys so we spend a lot of time outside gardening (and sweating) in our hats over here…

So I have to clean my straw hat regularly to make sure it stays in good condition. In this blog post I’m sharing the best way to clean a straw hat so that it always looks (and smells!) fresh.

Cleaning tools and materials

How to clean a straw hat

  1. Remove any dirt or debris from the surface of the straw hat using a soft bristled brush. A soft toothbrush works just fine here. Pay special attention to the brim and band of the hat, as these areas tend to collect the most dirt.
  2. Create a cleaning solution by mixing a small amount of mild dish soap with clean water. I use less than ¼ tsp per 2 cups of water.
  3. Dip your cleaning brush into the soapy solution and gently scrub the surface of the straw hat.
  4. Rinse the soap off of the straw hat with clean water or use a cleaning cloth dipped in clean water to wipe away any lifted dirt and/or soapy residue.
  5. Use a clean, dry towel to pat the straw hat dry.
  6. Let the straw hat air dry in a cool, shaded area.

How to clean the inner fabric band of a straw hat

  1. Use a soft-bristled brush to remove any dirt or debris from the inner fabric band of the straw hat. A soft toothbrush would work fine here.
  2. Create a soapy solution by mixing a mild soap with clean water.
  3. Dip your brush into the soapy solution and gently scrub the inner fabric band of the straw hat.
  4. Rinse the soap off of the inner fabric band of the straw hat with clean water. Or dip a clean towel into water and dab/wipe away soapy residue or lifted dirt from the surface of the fabric band.
  5. Use a clean, dry towel to pat the inner fabric band of the straw hat dry.
  6. Let the inner fabric band of the straw hat air dry in a cool, shaded area.

How to reshape your straw hat

After you have cleaned your straw hat, you may notice that it has lost its shape. To reshape your straw hat, simply follow these steps:

  1. Wet the entire surface of the straw hat with clean water.
  2. Use your hands to mold the wet straw hat into the desired shape.
  3. Let the straw hat air dry in a cool, shaded area.

How to flatten a straw hat brim

If the brim of your straw hat is starting to look a little bit floppy, you can easily flatten it by following these steps:

  1. Wet the brim of the straw hat with clean water.
  2. Use your hands to mold the wet brim into the desired shape.
  3. Let the brim of the straw hat air dry in a cool, shaded area.

Removing stains from a straw hat

Straw hats are susceptible to staining, especially if they are worn in the rain or are stored improperly outside. I have even experienced small amounts of mold growing in the fibers of one of my old straw hats – this can be fixed! If your straw hat has a stain, you can remove it by following these steps:

To remove general stains:

Mix one part white vinegar with one part water. Dip a clean cloth into the vinegar solution and use it to scrub the stained area of the straw hat.

Rinse the treated area with clean water or dab it with a second clean cloth dipped in water. 

Repeat these steps until the stain is gone then use a clean, dry towel to pat the area dry.

To remove oil stains:

As soon as you notice an oil stain appear, remove the hat and cover the stain with baking soda, cornstarch, or talcum powder. Let the powder sit and soak up the oil stain as long as possible. 

Brush away the powder to check on the stain and repeat as many times as necessary until the stain lifts.

To remove stains from the inner fabric band:

If your inner fabric band develops stubborn sweat stains or sunscreen stains, try applying a mixture of hydrogen peroxide and water. I mix a 1:1 ratio of these two ingredients then apply the mixture with a cleaning cloth. Scrub gently to loosen the stains.

Finish by blotting the fabric band with a clean towel dipped in water to remove and lingering cleaning solution.

If your hat has stubborn sweat stains, read more about removing sweat stains from hats.

The proper way to store a straw hat

When you’re not wearing your straw hat, it’s important to store it properly to prevent damage. The best way to store a straw hat is by hanging it up indoors on a hook or peg. If you must store your straw hat in a box or drawer, be sure to use a soft cloth to protect the surface of the straw.

And there you have it! Now you know how to clean a straw hat so that it looks and smells fresh all summer long.