When you shop through links on our site, we may receive compensation. This educational content is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice or consultation.

How to Wash a Hat in the Dishwasher: Without Damage

Hats off to this method. 

Did you know you can clean your hat in the dishwasher? Not all hats can go in the washing machine as the spinning cycles can cause damage or breakage. But the dishwasher is friendlier.

If you can secure your hat to the dishwasher racks, use warm water and turn off the drying cycle — you can definitely use this method. We’ll teach you how to wash a hat in the dishwasher so that it’s fresh and odor-free!

Key Takeaways

  • Clean your hat in the dishwasher using bleach-free and citric-free detergent, warm water, and turning off the drying cycle.
  • Spot clean any stains with pre-treatment or liquid dishwashing detergent before placing the hat in the dishwasher.
  • Secure your hat to the dishwasher racks using a plastic frame or straps and clothespins to prevent movement during the cycle.
  • Air dry the hat in a warm spot, using newspaper or paper towels to maintain its shape while drying.

Can You Wash Hats?

Yes, you can wash your hats. And you should, as they get dirty, too! To properly wash a hat, we recommend checking the care label for specific advice for the type of hat and material.

However, there are different ways to wash hats. You can do a deep clean (using the washing machine or dishwasher) or you can spot clean hats.

Spot cleaning is more for surface level stains from water, food, sweat or other elements. Not every kind of hat can go in an appliance. So you may need to spot clean your hat when it gets dirty, rather than putting it in a machine.

Does Putting Your Hat in the Dishwasher Work?

Putting your hat in the dishwasher is definitely an option. Some people swear by it, and others recommend against it. We recommend trying it out with a hat you’re not protective over, just in case anything goes wrong.

Putting your hat in the dishwasher can provide a deep clean. But since dishwasher detergent isn’t designed for fabrics, it may wear down, fade or damage the hat. Other people have experienced the dishwasher bending, breaking or warping the hat from the high heat.

Our tips will walk you through how to wash a hat in the dishwasher with the lowest risk of damage.

What Kind of Soap Do You Use to Wash a Hat in the Dishwasher?

You can use your regular dishwashing detergent, but make sure that it doesn’t contain bleach or citric acid. Both these ingredients can damage the fabric.

Can You Use Laundry Detergent in Your Dishwasher?

You may be considering using laundry detergent. After all, you’re washing a garment. But you should never use laundry detergent in your dishwasher (1). It can damage the dishwasher and cause an overflow.

How to Wash a Hat in the Dishwasher

Now that we’ve set you up with a few facts about washing hats, let’s get into our preferred method for washing hats in the dishwasher.

What You Need

  • A dishwasher.
  • A hat.
  • Laundry stain remover (optional).
  • Dishwasher detergent (free of bleach and citric acid).
  • A hat frame or adjustable straps.
  • Clothespins or clips.

Step by Step Instructions

1. Spot Clean

If your hat has stains or scuffs that could do with a pre-treatment, grab your laundry stain remover. Dampen the stains with a lukewarm cloth and apply the stain remover. Follow the stain remover instructions for how long to leave it on the hat. Once the time is up, rinse the laundry stain remover away.

If you don’t have a commercial stain remover, you can use dishwashing liquid. Apply it to the stains, scrub in with an old brush or cloth. Let it sit for 30 minutes. Then rinse away.

2. Place the Hat in the Dishwasher

If you have a plastic hat frame, put the hat in that. It will keep the hat in the correct position throughout the cycle. Secure it to the dishwasher racks using clothespins or clips.

If you don’t have a hat frame, use adjustable straps to secure the hat to the dishwasher racks. You don’t want the hat to move around during the cycle so it’s crucial that you secure it in place.

Important Tip

Don’t have dirty dishes in the cycle. This could cause food to get onto your hat, creating more stains. To prevent wasting energy, wash a few hats during this cycle.

3. Add Detergent

Now add your dishwashing detergent. Make sure it’s free from bleach and citric acid. You may use a powder, liquid, or tablet. There’s no need for a rinse aid.

4. Choose Dishwasher Settings

Choose a warm cycle. Do not use hot water as this could warp the plastic in the hat. Make sure to turn off the heated dry cycle as this could also damage the hat. If your dishwasher does not have a warm cycle, then it’s best to hand wash the hat to prevent damage.

How to Dry a Hat

When the cycle is finished, remove the hat. Put it on a dish drying rack in a warm room with good airflow to completely air-dry overnight. You may need to stuff it with newspaper or paper towels so that it holds its shape while drying. If it’s really flimsy, put it over an upturned bowl to dry.

How Do You Clean a Stinky Hat?

Cleaning your hat in this way should kill bad odors. However, we have a couple of other tips you can try.

First, mix together a 1:1 solution of rubbing alcohol and water. Spray the inner panels (not the brim) and this should kill the bacteria that’s causing it to smell.

You could also mix together a 1:1 solution of distilled white vinegar and water. Submerge the hat in the water and use a cloth or brush to scrub the hat clean. Soak the hat in the solution overnight. In the morning, bad odors should be gone.

How Do I Get Rid of Sweat Stains on My Hat?

Sweat stains on hats are a common issue. Not all sweat stains can be removed, but using a pre-treatment will definitely help. Apply your stain remover to the sweaty areas of the hat and let it sit for up to 30 minutes, depending on the manufacturer’s advice.

In between uses, spray the sweat-affected area with a 1:1 solution of distilled white vinegar and water. Air dry before wearing again.

It’s easier to prevent sweat from staining than it is to get sweat stains out of hats.


Is It Better to Wash a Hat In the Washing Machine or Dishwasher?

It might be better to wash a hat in the dishwasher rather than the washing machine because it may lose its shape in the washing machine. However, check it is washable and contains no cardboard before placing it in your dishwasher.

Can You Use Vinegar to Clean a Hat?

You can use vinegar to clean a hat because vinegar is mildly acidic and dissolves stains. Add one cup of vinegar to a bucket of water and soak the hat for a few hours.

Why Do White Hats Turn Yellow?

White hats turn yellow because of sweat stains. When you wear your hat in hot weather, the brim soaks up perspiration, turning it yellow.

Does Putting a Hat In the Dryer Shrink It?

Putting a hat in the dryer will almost certainly shrink it. Subjecting your hat to extreme heat cause it to shrink and loses shape.

Can You Dry a Hat In the Oven?

You cannot dry your hat in the oven because the temperature isn’t high enough for fabrics to dry. It is also a huge fire risk, especially for gas ovens.

Take Me Out to the Ball Game

Now that your hat is looking clean and smelling fresh, you can happily wear it again without grossing out the people around you!

Remember to only clean it in the dishwasher if you have the option to use warm water. It’s also important to secure the hat in place and turn off the drying cycle of the appliance. If not, handwashing your hat is also a super easy and effective way to clean it.

Feedback: Was This Article Helpful?
Thank You For Your Feedback!
Thank You For Your Feedback!
What Did You Like?
What Went Wrong?
Headshot of Beth McCallum

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!