How to get sweat stains out of hats

Hats are a wardrobe staple for many people, providing protection from the sun, adding a stylish accent to an outfit, and keeping hair in place. However, one downside of frequently wearing hats is that they can quickly become stained and discoloured from sweat and oil buildup. Unsightly sweat stains on the brim or crown of a hat can ruin its appearance and make the hat look old and worn out.

Fortunately, there are several effective methods you can use to remove stubborn sweat stains from hats and restore them to like-new condition. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll walk you through the best techniques for getting sweat stains out of different types of hats, from baseball caps to fedoras to sun hats. With the right approach, you can refresh and revive your favourite hats so they look crisp and clean again.

get sweat stains out of hats

Why Do Hats Get Sweat Stains?

Sweat stains on hats are caused by a combination of perspiration, body oils, and dirt or grime that accumulates on the hat over time. When you wear a hat, your body heat and the friction of the fabric against your skin cause you to sweat. This moisture then mixes with the natural oils and sebum produced by your skin, as well as any dirt or pollutants in the air.

The wet, oily mixture soaks into the fabric of the hat, causing visible discolouration and staining. Hats that sit close to the head, like baseball caps and beanies, tend to develop sweat stains more quickly than wide-brimmed hats that don’t make as much direct contact with the skin.

Sweat stains can be especially problematic on light-coloured hats, as the discolouration stands out more against pale fabrics. Hats made of natural fibres like cotton, linen, and wool also tend to show sweat stains more readily than synthetic materials like polyester or nylon.

How to Remove Sweat Stains From Hats

The best approach for removing sweat stains from hats will depend on the type of hat fabric and the severity of the staining. Here are some of the most effective sweat-busting methods to try:

1. Hand Wash with Dish Soap

One of the simplest and most gentle ways to clean sweat stains from hats is to hand wash them with a small amount of dish soap and cool water. Dish soap is an excellent degreaser that can cut through the oily buildup that causes sweat stains.

To hand wash a hat, fill a clean sink or large bowl with cool water and add a small squirt of liquid dish soap. Submerge the hat in the soapy water and use your fingers to gently rub the stained areas. Avoid scrubbing too vigorously, as this can damage delicate hat fabrics.

Rinse the hat thoroughly under cool running water to remove all traces of soap. Then, blot the hat dry with a clean towel and allow it to air dry completely before wearing. This method works well for hats made of cotton, linen, wool, and other natural fibres.

2. Use a Baking Soda and Vinegar Solution

Baking soda and white vinegar make a powerful cleaning duo that can tackle even the toughest sweat stains on hats. The baking soda helps lift and absorb the oil and grime, while the vinegar disinfects and deodorizes.

To make the cleaning solution, mix 1 tablespoon of baking soda and 1 tablespoon of white vinegar in a small bowl or cup. Add enough cool water to form a thick paste. Use an old toothbrush or your fingers to gently scrub the paste into the sweat-stained areas of the hat.

Let the solution sit for 15-20 minutes to allow the ingredients to work their magic. Then, rinse the hat thoroughly under cool running water until the water runs clear. Blot the hat dry with a towel and allow it to fully air dry.

This baking soda and vinegar method is especially effective for hats made of cotton, polyester, and other synthetic fabrics. However, you’ll want to do a spot test first on delicate materials like wool or silk to ensure the solution doesn’t cause any damage.

3. Try an Enzymatic Cleaner

For stubborn, set-in sweat stains, an enzymatic cleaner can be a game-changer. Enzymatic cleaners contain special enzymes that break down the proteins and oils that makeup sweat stains, allowing you to lift and remove them more effectively.

Look for an enzymatic cleaner specifically formulated for use on clothing and textiles, such as Biz Advanced Enzymatic Stain Remover. Apply a small amount of the cleaner directly to the sweat-stained areas of the hat, following the product’s instructions. You may need to let the cleaner sit for several minutes before scrubbing and rinsing.

Enzymatic cleaners work well on hats made of cotton, polyester, and other synthetic materials. Avoid using them on delicate fabrics like wool or silk, as the powerful enzymes could potentially damage the fibres.

4. Soak in Denture Cleaning Tablets

Believe it or not, denture-cleaning tablets can also be an effective solution for removing sweat stains from hats. The active ingredients in denture cleaners, such as sodium bicarbonate and citric acid, help break down and dissolve the oils and minerals that cause sweat stains.

To use this method, fill a container with enough warm water to fully submerge your hat. Drop in 2-3 denture cleaning tablets, such as Efferdent Anti-bacterial Denture Cleanser, and let the hat soak for 30 minutes to an hour. The tablets will fizz and dissolve, working to lift the stain.

After soaking, gently scrub the hat with an old toothbrush or your fingers to further dislodge any remaining stains. Rinse the hat thoroughly under cool running water, then blot it dry and allow it to air dry completely.

This denture tablet soak works well on hats made of cotton, polyester, and other synthetic fabrics. However, it may be too harsh for delicate materials like wool or silk.

5. Use a Cap Cleaner or Washing Machine

For hats that are machine-washable, you can also try using a specialized cap cleaner or washing the hat in your washing machine. Cap cleaners are products formulated specifically to clean and refresh baseball caps and other hats, such as Clorox Laundry Caps.

To use a cap cleaner, simply follow the product’s instructions, which typically involve spraying or brushing the cleaner onto the stained areas and then rinsing. You may need to scrub lightly with a soft-bristle brush to work the cleaner into the fabric.

Alternatively, you can machine wash your hat on a gentle cycle using cool water. Add a small amount of mild detergent or a cap-specific cleaning product to the wash. Avoid using hot water, as this can cause the hat’s shape to become distorted.

After washing, reshape the hat and allow it to air dry completely before wearing it. This method works well for baseball caps, bucket hats, and other machine-washable styles. Just be sure to check the hat’s care label for any special washing instructions.

Tips for Preventing Sweat Stains on Hats

In addition to knowing how to remove sweat stains, it’s also important to take steps to prevent them from occurring in the first place. Here are some tips to help keep your hats looking fresh and clean:

  • Wash hats regularly. Aim to hand wash or machine wash hats every 3-4 years to stay ahead of sweat and oil buildup.
  • Apply a fabric protector. Spraying your hats with a fabric protectant, such as Scotchgard Fabric & Upholstery Protector, can create an invisible barrier that repels sweat, oil, and dirt, making stains less likely to set in.
  • Wear a sweatband. Lining the inside of your hat with a sweatband or headband can help absorb moisture before it has a chance to soak into the hat fabric.
  • Air out hats between uses. Allow hats to fully dry out and air out after each wear to prevent bacteria and odour buildup.
  • Store hats properly. Keep hats in a cool, dry place when not in use, and avoid crushing or folding them, which can set in wrinkles and creases.
  • Choose breathable fabrics. Hats made of natural, breathable materials like cotton, linen, or mesh tend to be less prone to sweat stains than synthetic fabrics.

By following these simple preventative measures, you can keep your favourite hats looking their best for longer and minimize the need for intense stain removal efforts.


Sweat stains on hats can be an annoying and unsightly issue, but with the right cleaning techniques, you can easily restore your headwear to like-new condition. From hand washing with dish soap to using baking soda and vinegar to trying enzymatic cleaners, there are several effective methods you can use to lift and remove stubborn sweat stains.

Remember to also take proactive steps to prevent sweat stains, such as washing hats regularly, using fabric protectants, and choosing breathable hat materials. With a little TLC, you can keep your go-to hats looking sharp and fresh no matter how much you wear them.

So don’t let sweat stains ruin your favourite hats – try out these proven cleaning tips and techniques to get your headwear looking spotless again. Your perfectly coiffed style will thank you.

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As the founder of Clean It Spotless, I am Melissa Walker, a leading expert in removing tough stains from fabrics, carpets, and upholstery. With over 10 years of experience in the cleaning industry, I have developed my own natural, non-toxic stain-fighting formulas that lift stains while preserving the integrity of the underlying material. My stain removal tutorials are widely read online, and I have appeared on local TV segments demonstrating my techniques. I also present popular stain removal workshops at community centers and schools.