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How to Get Sweat Stains Out of Hats: 5 Easy Methods

Hats off to these methods!

When you wear a hat, the perspiration from your forehead can leave stains on the front inner rim. This can leak through to other areas of the hat. These stains can be stinky, dirty, and kind of embarrassing if anybody else sees them.

Thankfully, you can remove these sweat stains with a few simple techniques. We’ve researched five different methods to share with you to help you bring your hats back to sparkling clean!

Key Takeaways

  • Use shampoo and an old toothbrush to break down body oils and scrub sweat stains from hats.
  • Wash your hat in a dishwasher on a cool or warm cycle, securing it to the top rack with a plastic hat frame or adjustable straps.
  • Apply enzyme cleaner or laundry detergent with enzymes to remove stubborn sweat stains and hand wash the hat.
  • Create a baking soda paste, apply it to the stain, scrub well, and rinse with cold water to remove stains from hats.

How to Get Sweat Stains Out of Hats

Here are five simple ways to remove sweat stains from hats so they are clean and odor-free once again.

Stain Remover and Laundry Detergent

Many stain removers are designed to remove a huge variety of stains, including sweat. This is a simple and straightforward method to clean your hats.

  1. Use your favorite stain remover product to target the stains. Apply the cleaner directly.
  2. Use an old toothbrush to scrub the stain remover into the hat’s fibers. Don’t scrub too hard as this can wear and tear the hat’s material.
  3. Leave the stain remover for up to five minutes.
  4. Fill a sink or basin with cold water. Add one tablespoon of laundry detergent. Mix well.
  5. Soak the hat for 20 minutes.
  6. Rinse the hat with warm water.
  7. Press a towel over the hat to remove excess water.
  8. Let the hat air dry over a rounded container like a trash can to help it keep its shape. Keep it out of direct sunlight.


Shampoo breaks down body oils so it can help to remove sweat stains from hats.

  1. Mix together a good bit of shampoo in a bowl with a bit of water.
  2. Dip an old toothbrush in the solution and apply it directly to the sweat stains.
  3. Scrub it really well for a few minutes.
  4. Fill up a sink or basin with cold water.
  5. Submerge the hats in the water for 10 minutes.
  6. Rinse the hats well.
  7. Let the hats dry in the shade.

Pop It in the Dishwasher

Did you know you can wash your hat in the dishwasher? With the right safety measures, this is a neat trick.

  1. Spot treat any stains first with your favorite stain remover product. You can also use dish soap to remove the stains. Apply it to the stains, let it sit for 30 minutes, then rinse away.
  2. Place the hat on a plastic hat frame and put it in the top rack of the dishwasher. If you don’t have a plastic hat frame, use adjustable straps to secure the hat to the top rack of the dishwasher. Do not put the hat in the dishwasher without securing it as this can damage the hat.
  3. Add your dishwashing detergent. Make sure that it’s bleach- and citric acid-free as these ingredients can damage the fabric. Do not use a rinse aid.
  4. Use a cool or warm cycle. If you only have hot temperature options, you shouldn’t wash that in the dishwasher.
  5. Start the cycle.
  6. Let the hat air dry.


Don’t put dishes in the dishwasher alongside your hat. The food scraps could stain your hat.

Enzyme Treatment

Enzyme cleaners are great for removing sweat stains, so why not put them to use on your hat? You can use straight-up enzyme cleaners or laundry detergents with enzymes in them.

  1. Mix together your enzyme cleaner in a bucket of water following the manufacturer’s advice.
  2. Soak the hat in the solution for 20 minutes. If the stain is really stubborn, soak it for up to two hours.
  3. Hand wash the hat in lukewarm water, laundry detergent, and scrub with an old toothbrush.
  4. Rinse the hat well.
  5. Air dry over a container that will help the hat keep its shape.

Baking Soda

We love baking soda in our house! It’s incredible for removing stains.

  1. Pour four tablespoons of baking soda into a bowl. Add a little bit of water until you have a thick paste.
  2. Apply the paste to the stain using a cloth, old toothbrush, back of a spoon, or even your finger.
  3. Use an old toothbrush to work the paste into the stain well.
  4. Let the paste sit on the hat for up to an hour.
  5. Rinse the paste away with cold water.
  6. If the stain remains, repeat the process. If not, air dry the hat.

General Tips for Getting Sweat Stains Out of Hats

To make this process even easier, here are some important tips to keep in mind:

  • Remove sweat stains as soon as you notice them. This will make them easier to remove.
  • Got tough stains on white hats? Apply a few drops of hydrogen peroxide onto the stain, scrub it in and let it sit for 10 minutes before rinsing.
  • You can repeat any of our recommended processes if the stain persists.
  • Always read the care label on the hat to see if there are any extra precautions you should take.
  • Never put your hat in the dryer. It can melt! We also recommend avoiding the washing machine as it can bend or break your hat.

How to Prevent Sweat Stains on Hats

Those yucky sweat stains are nobody’s favorite. It’s better to prevent them in the first place. Here are some tips you could try:

  • Don’t wear the hat if sweaty: If you know you’re going to sweat due to anxiety, hot weather, or exercise, maybe avoid wearing the hat. You can also reduce head sweating by using an antiperspirant that’s safe for the head and face.
  • Hat Saver spray: You can use these products to repel sweat and moisture on hats. This will keep it in a stain-free condition for longer between cleans.
  • Use a hat liner: These barriers can prevent sweat stains from ruining your favorite cap.
  • Keep yourself clean: Make sure to wash your face twice a day to prevent sweat stains and bacteria build-up on your hat.
  • Keep the hat clean: Clean your hat before you notice these pesky sweat stains. This will stop them from setting and potentially ruining the hat.


How Do You Get Sweat Stains Out of a Straw Hat?

The best way to get sweat stains out of a straw hat is to wash it with a mild detergent and a soft cloth. The sooner you clean the stain the better because sweat contains salt, which can be tricky to remove when dry.

How Does Vinegar Remove Sweat Stains From Hats?

Vinegar removes sweat stains from hats by dissolving the stain. Vinegar is mildly acidic, and attacks by lifting any bacteria and salt from sweat, neutralizing their effects.

How Do You Strip Hats With OxiClean?

The best way to strip hats with OxiClean is to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines on the packet. Drop the required amount of OxiClean into a basin of cold water and submerge the hat.

Can You Steam Out Sweat Stains?

You can steam out sweat stains from hats and clothing. The steam penetrates deep into the fibers and lifts the stain. However, it can bake on the stain in some instances, making it harder to remove.

How Do I Know If My Hat Brim is Plastic or Cardboard?

The simplest way to tell if your hat brim is plastic or cardboard is to tap the brim and listen for a solid sound. Cardboard is also much softer, so if you can bend the hat easily, it is probably cardboard.

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About the Author

Beth McCallum

Beth McCallum is a freelance writer & book blogger with a degree in creative writing, journalism, and English literature. Beth firmly believes that a tidy house is a tidy mind. She is always looking for new ways to sustainably clean and tidy her house, that's kind on the environment but effective in the house, too!