How to Wash Hats in the Dishwasher (And Why It’s So Important!)

baseball cap on top of plates

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Your favorite baseball cap protects you from sunshine, wind and rain. It’s with you on every adventure, which also means it’s soaking up sweat and dirt. When you’re ready to wash it, avoid the temptation to put it in your laundry machine. Use this guide to learn how to wash hats in the dishwasher and keep them looking brand new.

Is It Safe to Wash Hats in the Dishwasher?

No one wants to accidentally ruin their belongings, especially if it’s something they love. Risking your favorite hat just to make it clean might make you nervous. The good news is your dishwasher has built-in components that make it safe.

The shelf prongs will hold it while supporting the brim’s curvature. Detergents will also get the job done. The soap is equally effective on fabric and dishes. You only need to follow a quick guide to ensure your hat’s safety.

Why Are Laundry Machines Bad for Hats?

There are a few reasons why laundry machines can damage hats. First, you might be among the majority of people who don’t consider the chemical ingredients in detergent before restocking your household supply. The chemicals can stain sensitive fabric, which can be part of limited-edition or rare collector’s hats.

Additionally, laundry machines have spin cycles. The inner drum spins fast enough to create mild g-force effects even during a low spin cycle mode. The laundry pushes against the walls, squeezing excess water from the fabrics so they dry faster afterward.

The squeezing and intense force will flatten your hats. Although you can push them back into shape after one wash, repeated wash cycles can flatten curved brims, loosen the sweatband and fray the stitching.

How to Wash Hats in the Dishwasher

When you’re ready to wash your favorite hats, follow these steps to run them through a dishwasher cycle safely.

1. Apply Stain Removal Products

The biggest threat to your hats is a stain. Baseball caps, flat-brimmed hats and all other types of headwear exist to draw the eye. If someone sees stains instead of a cool accessory, your hat will only look like an unsightly addition to your sense of style.

Select a stain removal product at your local grocery store. You could use a brand you already trust or try something new. Read the instructions on the packaging to ensure you use it correctly. Some need 30 minutes of soaking, while others rely more on scrubbing.

Apply the stain remover as directed and open your dishwasher when it’s ready for a cleaning cycle.

If your hat needs to soak in the stain remover, it might be a good time to apply it to the shirt you were wearing during your sweat-inducing activity. Unless you wore one made with sweat-wicking fabric, you’ll likely have pit stains that ruin the shirt’s appearance. It can go through your washer machine while your dishwasher takes care of your cap.

2. Place the Frame Correctly

Some hats come with plastic storage frames. They’re also available online. If you have a frame that doesn’t feature cardboard, place it inside your hat. It will ensure the cap’s form stays in place while it receives its much-needed cleaning.

Place the frame and hat on the top shelf of your dishwasher without anything else in the machine. If you’re nervous about the hat flying around, you can connect it to the shelf prongs with bag clips.

3. Add the Dishwasher Detergent

After positioning or securing your hat, add your preferred dishwasher detergent. It should be unscented to prevent excess chemicals from eating away at your hat’s fabric.

It’s also best to avoid any detergent with bleach. Bleach is a powerful chemical that will fade or remove your cap’s colors. It can also be too intense for sensitive fabrics and cause fraying. Check the detergent bottle’s ingredient list to ensure it doesn’t have bleach before adding it to your dishwasher like when you’re washing used dinnerware.

4. Pick the Best Settings

Close your dishwasher and select a gentle cycle that uses warm water. The warm temperature helps lift dirt and stains away without shrinking your cap. Never run your hat through hot water or a heated dry cycle so it stays the size you need.

5. Let It Air Dry

After your dishwasher cycle ends, pull your hat out and place it somewhere to air dry. It should remain on its frame or sit on a stand if it came with one.

The area should have enough air circulation to dry the fabric before it can start smelling musty. Leave a ceiling fan on above your cap or place it near an air vent.

If you don’t have a frame, you can always place a bowl upside down and put the hat over it. The bowl should fill the cap like your head to sustain the shape.

Other Ways to Preserve Your Hat’s Shape

Wrinkled or misshapen hats aren’t a lost cause. You can get it back to its original shape in these creative ways.

Boil Some Water

Turn on an electric kettle or fill a pot with water. When it boils and produces steam, place your hat over the moisture cloud and hold it there without exposing your skin. The steam will soften any wrinkles so the fabric becomes pliable. Place it on a frame, stand or bowl to let it dry.

Hang It Before Your Shower

Shower steam is a less direct way to apply steam to your cap’s fabric. Hang it in your bathroom after placing the frame inside the hat. When your bathroom fills with steam, the material will relax and reshape into its original appearance.

Store It With Tissue Paper

If your hat looks flat when you remove it from your closet, it could mean you need to store it differently. Place crumpled tissue paper balls inside the curve of your cap and store it right side up. When you’re not wearing it, the pile of tissue will sustain its shape.

Start Tossing Your Hats in the Dishwasher

Now that you know how to wash hats in the dishwasher, you can take better care of the caps you love. Consider which have stains or need reshaping before placing them on the upper or lower dishwasher rack. You’re one cycle away from making them look new again.

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