How to Clean a Baseball Cap

Take better care of your everyday headwear. These tips make it easy to keep your baseball cap clean.

March 28, 2023

Baseball-style hats will last longer with routine washing.

Photo by: Shutterstock/Ahmet Misirligul

Shutterstock/Ahmet Misirligul

Baseball-style hats will last longer with routine washing.

Dust, dirt, oil from skin and hair, sweat, lotion and conditioners can leave your baseball-style cap looking less than new in no time. Whether dirty from tearing around the bases during Little League or after working in the garden, hats and baseball caps will last longer with routine cleaning and washing.

Instead of tossing your favorite cap after excessive use, first try cleaning your hat. Before you begin, refer to the washing directions on your hat’s label. Some athletic hats are constructed using durable materials, and those may retain their shape well with aggressive washing, such as in the washing machine or even a dishwasher. But you can also receive great results with a little hands-on TLC.

Teenage boy with long hair looking away in a black baseball hat.

Handwashing a baseball cap is always the best first effort for cleaning your cap so the brim will retain its proper shape.

Photo by: Shutterstock/tammykayphoto

Shutterstock/tammykayphoto

Handwashing a baseball cap is always the best first effort for cleaning your cap so the brim will retain its proper shape.

How to Spot Clean a Baseball Cap

First, start by spot cleaning your hat for a quick and easy refresh.

  1. Remove loose dust and dirt by using a dry, clean toothbrush and dust any embroidery or embellishments on the hat. A soft brush will easily remove dust and dirt that can get embedded around the stitching.
  2. Spot clean the outer fabric with a fabric spray like OxiClean or a spray bottle filled with a ratio of 1 cup water, 1 teaspoon white vinegar and a few drops of dish detergent.
  3. Use a clean toothbrush or cloth to soak the cleanser into the stain.
  4. Blot the stain with a clean, damp cloth. Remember: Blotting stains is better than rubbing.
Cleaning a dirty baseball cap so that the fabric lasts longer.

How to Clean a Baseball Cap

Use a dry, clean toothbrush to remove dust and dirt around stitching on a baseball cap.

Photo by: Emily Fazio

Emily Fazio

Use a dry, clean toothbrush to remove dust and dirt around stitching on a baseball cap.

How to Deep Clean a Baseball Cap

Spot cleaning the outside of the hat might not be enough to rinse the grime off your favorite cap, so try a deep clean next.

  1. Soak the cap in warm water mixed with a few drops of liquid soap and submerge the cap completely until it’s saturated.
  2. Use a toothbrush or soft-bristled brush to agitate dirt and stains on the exterior of the cap.
  3. Saturate the sweatband with a fabric cleanser and work it into the fabric with a damp sponge. Target only the sweatband and avoid saturating the brim or fabric panels.
  4. Use a clean, dry cloth to massage in the cleaner and begin to lift away oils and dirt.
  5. Rinse the cleanser off the sweatband using a spray bottle of water, blotting the fabric until most of the moisture is absorbed.
  6. Re-saturate the sweatband with clean water and then use a dry cloth to absorb any remaining moisture.
  7. Allow the hat to dry "molded" so that it retains its original shape. You may ball up a towel for "the head" and wrap a rubber band around the brim to reinforce the intended shape.
Cleaning a dirty baseball cap so that the fabric lasts longer.

How to Clean a Baseball Cap

Discoloraton from sweat that's leached from the sweatband onto the brim of your hat could require a deep clean.

Photo by: Emily Fazio

Emily Fazio

Discoloraton from sweat that's leached from the sweatband onto the brim of your hat could require a deep clean.

How to Treat Baseball Cap Bacteria and Smells

If the deep-set stains are resistant to cleaning and if your baseball cap has lingering smells, a hot water bath is recommended to rid fabric of the bacteria causing the stink.

  1. Fill a pot of water on the range with a few drops of detergent or a teaspoon each of borax and washing soda.
  2. Once the solution has heated, but before it boils, submerge the cap, and allow it to soak for 5 minutes. You may want to do this twice if the water is very dirty after the first soak.
  3. Rinse the hat under cool water and allow it to dry, molded, to help it retain its shape.
Cleaning a dirty baseball cap so that the fabric lasts longer.

How to Clean a Baseball Cap

Eliminating bacteria buildup on a baseball cap might require a hot water bath.

Photo by: Emily Fazio

Emily Fazio

Eliminating bacteria buildup on a baseball cap might require a hot water bath.

How to Wash a Baseball Cap in the Washing Machine

If spot cleaning and deep cleaning your baseball cap have not worked, try the washing machine. Before trying this cleaning method, know there is the possibility the washing machine will misshapen the brim of your hat.

  1. Pre-treat any areas on your baseball cap that need extra attention.
  2. Wash with similar items to prevent the cap being crushed. Like items include other caps, socks, t-shirts, or light-weight apparel.
  3. Select the delicate cycle on your washing machine to ensure gentle laundering.
  4. Wash in cold water.
  5. Air-dry to get your caps pre-wash shape back.
Cleaning a dirty baseball cap so that the fabric lasts longer.

How to Clean a Baseball Cap

Soak a baseball hat in warm, soapy water to get rid of heavy stains.

Photo by: Emily Fazio

Emily Fazio

Soak a baseball hat in warm, soapy water to get rid of heavy stains.

Can You Wash a Baseball Cap in the Dishwasher?

While not recommended, you can wash a baseball cap in the dishwasher. Since your dishwasher has a high heat drying method, it is not encouraged to wash your baseball cap using this method, as it may leave you with a misshapen hat. If you decide to try this method, here are the steps:

  1. Check your dishwashing liquid and make sure it does not contain bleach.
  2. Place the cap on the top shelf of your dishwasher.
  3. Wash on the gentle cycle.

Next Up

How to Clean Your Cellphone

Remove bacteria from your phone with these simple steps.

How to Clean Leather Shoes and Boots

Follow these simple steps to clean and condition your leather footwear regularly. Plus, get tips for removing tough stains, scuff marks and more.

7 Tips for Controlling House Dust Mites

These microscopic spider-like critters are a leading cause of allergies and asthma. Here's how to fight back.

How to Shrink Clothes For a Better Fit

Right-size your wardrobe or repair stretched fibers with these tips and tricks for shrinking the size of your clothing.

How to Get Gum Out of Clothes While Protecting Fabrics

Sit in chewing gum? Never fear! Whether it’s fresh and stretchy or a hardened glob, these fabric-friendly solutions for how to get gum out of clothes will help turn around an unlucky day. Get the step-by-step instructions.

How to Get Stains Out of Carpet

A good quality carpet could last for many years with proper care and maintenance. Learn how to remove stains from wine, nail polish, coffee and more.

How to Clean and Disinfect a Wood Cutting Board

Keep your wood cutting boards germ free with a few simple steps.

How to Clean a Humidifier

Improve your home's air quality by disinfecting one of the most important small appliances you’re probably forgetting to clean.

How to Clean a Washing Machine

Keeping a washing machine clean and well maintained will help keep it working for years to come.

Go Shopping

Get product recommendations from HGTV editors, plus can’t-miss sales and deals.

Follow Us Everywhere

Join the party! Don't miss HGTV in your favorite social media feeds.