How to Remove Sweat Stains from a Hat

  • , by Alex Torres
  • 3 min reading time


Man in a hat

When summer rolls around you will inevitably start sweating in the hotter weather. When you do, your hat will be stained with unsightly sweat. But don't worry, there are some simple ways to get sweat stains out of a hat. With just a little bit of care and the right cleaning solutions, you can remove those salty-looking eye-sores for good, and return your hat to its pristine, new condition.

First, you need to understand that not all hats are cleaned the same way. The technique you use will depend on the type of hat you're are cleaning. A felt fedora can't be cleaned like a straw hat, after all.

Straw fedora hat

Removing Sweat Stains from a Straw Hat

  1. Most straw hats have a sweatband for comfort. Locate and remove this sweatband which is under the hat brim. Usually, this soaks up most of the sweat-but not all of it.
  2. Clean the sweatband separately. Determine what product to use to wash the sweatband. If it is leather, use a leather cleaner. Synthetics can be cleaned with soap and water. First, test the colorfastness of the sweatband by gently washing a small part of it. Wash the sweatband thoroughly and then let dry. Leather sweatbands can use an application of conditioner after drying.
  3. Dip a white (do not use colored rags) microfiber cloth into mild, soapy water. Test clean a small area underneath the brim. Gently scrub in a circular motion. If the color remains, move to step 4. If not, use only water or steam to remove the sweat stains from the hat.
  4. Gently scrub the sweat stains away using your white, microfiber cloth. Clean the hat until you get rid of the sweat stains and it looks like new.
  5. Rest the hat on a hat stand or hat rack and let the hat completely dry. Avoid setting the hat down on its brim. Some hats dry into shape, so this might cause the hat to dry flat, distorting the brim.
  6. Replace the sweatband after the hat is completely dry.
  7. If sweat stains are not fully removed use steam or another product recommended by your hat manufacturer

Remember, sweat and bodily salt can permanently stain straw hats. So, as a precaution, always clean sweat stains from your straw hat immediately with a damp, clean cloth. They leave a permanent mark if left uncleaned.

Black fedora

Removing Sweat Stains from a Felt Fedora Hat

Felt fedoras require much different cleaning techniques than straw hats. If your fedora becomes stained with sweat, as is likely to happen, simply follow these simple steps to remove.

  1. Set the hat on a form or other supportive area.
  2. Gently brush the area with a hat cleaning brush to loosen and remove dirt.
  3. Pull the hatband out of the hat.
  4. Dip a cloth into a felt cleaning solution (you may also use a vinegar and water mixture) and test clean a small area inside the hat for colorfastness.
  5. Gently scrub away the salt stains with your cloth and cleaning solution. Work slowly and steadily until you remove the sweat stains from the hat.
  6. Wash the sweatband with a leather cleaning solution to get rid of the sweat stains on the band.
  7. Set the hat on a rack to dry completely. Do not set the hat down on its brim, the hat shape can distort as it dries.

If you can not get rid of the sweat stains try using steam to clean the hat, or take it to a dry cleaner.

How to Prevent Sweat Stains in a Hat

Your best action is prevention. To prevent sweat stains from forming in your hat always wipe the inside down with a clean, moistened cloth after each use and let it air dry. If possible, take the hat off and let it dry when not in use. This can cut down on the amount of sweat build up in the hat.

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