Ever wondered if you can toss your favorite cap in the dishwasher? Well, you’re not alone! I’ve been there, staring at a grimy hat and wishing for a hassle-free cleaning method. Today, I’m diving into the nifty trick of washing hats in the dishwasher, a method that’s sparked debate among hat enthusiasts.

The Method Behind Washing Hats in the Dishwasher

My journey into the perfect hat-cleaning routine led me to the dishwasher method. This approach, while not conventional, boasts simplicity and effectiveness, but it’s important to understand the process thoroughly to avoid any mishaps.

The first step involves prepping the hat. Make sure to check the label for any specific care instructions. If your hat’s label indicates it’s dishwasher safe, you’re good to go. You’ll want to remove any detachable parts and pretreat stains with a prewash stain remover. This helps ensure the best possible outcome.

Once prepped, your hat will need something to help it maintain its shape. I’ve found that using a hat frame or cage is essential. This device keeps the hat from being tossed about during the wash cycle, which could bend or warp it.

Regarding the dishwasher settings, I recommend the following steps:

  • Place the hat on the top rack to keep it away from the heating element, which can cause warping or shrinkage.
  • Use a gentle detergent that’s free of bleach or other harsh chemicals. Some people swear by detergents made especially for delicate items.
  • Select a gentle wash cycle with a cool or warm water setting; avoid high heat.
  • Skip the heated dry option. Air drying is the safest bet when it comes to preserving your hat’s shape and material.

Throughout the years, I’ve noted that it’s vital not to mix your dirty dishes with the hats. Residue and food particles can easily transfer and leave your hat looking worse than when you started. Always wash hats separately to keep them looking their best.

As for the frequency of washing, it’s about striking the right balance. Over-washing can deteriorate the fabric and shape, but under-washing could lead to a built-up grim and sweat stains. I tend to wash my hats this way every few months or when they are visibly soiled. Remember, each hat is unique so pay attention to how your particular headgear responds to the dishwasher method. With careful observation and adjustments, you’ll find the sweet spot for maintaining its fresh, clean look.

Things to Consider Before Putting Your Hat in the Dishwasher

Before diving into the process of washing your hat in the dishwasher, it’s crucial to evaluate some important factors. Not all hats are suitable for this cleaning method, and overlooking these considerations can lead to damage, affecting both the hat’s appearance and its lifespan.

Material and Construction

The first aspect you need to check is the material and construction of your hat. Most baseball caps are made of cotton, polyester, or a blend that can withstand the rigors of the dishwasher. However, hats made from wool or silk, sporting leather bills, or adorned with embellishments should never be dishwasher-washed. The heat and water pressure can cause these materials to warp, shrink, or disintegrate.

Color Fastness

Next, check the color fastness of your hat. Run a simple test by dabbing a damp cloth on an inconspicuous area to see if any dye comes off. If the hat bleeds color, it’s safer to avoid the dishwasher altogether, as the heat can set stains and make them more difficult to remove.

Age and Condition

Consider the age and condition of your hat. If it’s an older cap that you’ve been wearing for years, the dishwasher method might be too harsh and cause it to fall apart. Opt for hand washing in such cases.

Dishwasher Settings

  • Ensure your dishwasher offers a gentle cycle with cooler temperatures.
  • Disable features like high heat drying which could harm the hat’s shape and material integrity.

Pre-Treat Stains

Before you place the hat in the dishwasher, pre-treat any noticeable stains. Use a stain remover or a gentle detergent and apply it directly to the affected areas. This increases the chances of the stains coming out during the wash cycle without the hat needing multiple rounds, which can be hard on the fabric.

By considering these details, you give your hat the best chance at coming out of the dishwasher looking fresh, clean, and in its proper shape. Remember, a little bit of prep goes a long way in ensuring your favorite hats maintain their look for seasons to come.

Step-by-Step Guide on Washing Hats in the Dishwasher

Once you’ve confirmed that your hat is dishwasher-safe, it’s time to move on to the actual cleaning process. I’ll walk you through the steps to ensure your headwear comes out looking as good as new:

First, you’ll want to pretreat any stains on the hat. I use a gentle stain remover or a mixture of baking soda and water to do this. Apply the mixture directly to the stain, let it sit for about an hour, then brush off any residue before proceeding.

Next, it’s important to secure the hat inside the dishwasher. This prevents it from getting tossed around during the washing cycle. You can use a hat frame or a homemade solution like an empty jar to maintain the hat’s shape. Place the hat on the top rack to keep it away from the heating element, which can warp or shrink some materials.

Choose the washing cycle carefully. A gentle or delicate cycle with cold water is usually your best bet. Make sure to turn off the heated dry option and skip using strong detergents. A small amount of mild laundry detergent or a dishwasher-specific cleaner designed for caps is all that’s needed.

Add a second item for balance. I like to put a small towel or another light item in the dishwasher to help keep it steady during the washing cycle. This step’s especially important if you’re only washing one or two hats and don’t want them to be alone in the dishwasher.

Fire up the dishwasher and let the cycle run its course. Once complete, remove the hat immediately to maintain its shape and prevent any mildew. Reshape it if necessary and let it air dry fully on a clean surface or over an object that’ll help retain its shape — never in direct sunlight or in a dryer.

Remember, being diligent in the prep and washing of your hats can dramatically increase their longevity and ensure they look sharp and clean. It’s all about giving your cherished headwear the TLC they deserve.

Tips and Tricks for Successfully Cleaning Hats in the Dishwasher

Mastering the art of cleaning hats in the dishwasher isn’t just about loading them in and hoping for the best. It’s about optimizing the process to ensure your hats come out looking fresh and maintaining their shape. I’ll share some insider hacks that have served me well.

Secure Your Hat. We can’t emphasize enough how important it is to keep your hat from tossing around during the wash cycle. If you don’t have a hat frame, secure it to the top rack using a few clothespins or a custom rig. With a little creativity, you can prevent your cap from ending up with an unintended new shape.

Opt for Mild Detergents. If you’re wondering about the best cleaning agent, always opt for a mild, bleach-free detergent. Harsh chemicals can tarnish the material and cause colors to fade. I’ve found that even a small amount of a mild liquid detergent can do the trick, so there’s no need to overdo it.

Use the Top Rack. There’s a sweet spot in your dishwasher specifically set out for more delicate items, and that’s the top rack. By placing your hat there, you minimize exposure to intense water jets and heat. It’s also worth noting that the top rack is typically further away from the heating element during the drying phase, reducing the risk of any heat damage.

When it comes to the wash cycle, Choose the Right Setting. Your dishwasher likely has a range of settings, and while it might be tempting to pick the one that promises the most thorough clean, this is a time when less is more. Go for the gentle or delicate cycle with cold water—it’s your best bet for keeping hats in tip-top shape.

Balance the Load. If you’re throwing in more than one hat, make sure to distribute them evenly to maintain balance during the cycle. An unbalanced load can cause your dishwasher to work harder and potentially lead to uneven cleaning.

Remember, patience is a virtue. Once you’ve run the cycle, resist the temptation to pluck your hat out immediately. It’s crucial that you give your cap some time to dry naturally. Avoiding artificial heat sources like a dryer can prevent shrinkage and warping. Instead, set it out on a clean, dry towel and reshape it as needed while it’s still damp. This step is key in making sure your hat keeps its original form.

Alternative Methods for Washing Hats

While using a dishwasher is a handy technique, I don’t always rely on it for cleaning hats. There are alternative methods that are equally effective, depending on the material and how dirty the hat is.

Hand Washing with Care

Hand washing is my go-to method for hats that are either too delicate for a dishwasher or have a build-up of sweat and dirt. I start by filling a basin with cool water and a gentle, bleach-free detergent. Submerging the hat, I use a soft-bristled brush to gently scrub away any stubborn stains. Here’s my quick checklist for hand washing hats:

  • Always check the care label first for instructions
  • Use cool water to prevent shrinking or color bleeding
  • Don’t soak the hat for too long to avoid fabric breakdown
  • Rinse thoroughly to remove all soap residues
  • Gently squeeze out excess water without twisting the fabric

Spot Cleaning for Quick Fixes

Sometimes, all a hat needs is a bit of spot cleaning. I dab the dirty area with a cloth dipped in a mixture of water and detergent, targeting the stain precisely. This method is perfect for minor stains or when I’m in a hurry.

The Benefits of a Hat Cage

For those who prioritize keeping the shape of their hats, a hat cage is a lifesaver. It’s a protective shell that holds the hat in place during a wash cycle. Whether I’m opting for the dishwasher or a machine wash, placing the hat in a cage ensures it comes out looking as good as new.

These alternative cleaning methods provide additional options to ensure every type of hat in my collection gets the care it deserves. Different materials and levels of durability call for specific approaches, and I’ve found great success by adapting my cleaning techniques to the needs of each individual hat. Remember to always air dry hats to maintain their shape and quality.


I’ve shared my insights on keeping your hats clean and maintaining their shape. Remember, while the dishwasher can be a convenient option for certain types of hats, it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution. Hand washing and spot cleaning are your go-to methods for those delicate pieces in your collection. And don’t forget, a hat cage is a game-changer for preserving the form of your hats in the dishwasher. No matter which method you choose, air drying is crucial for that fresh, ready-to-wear finish. Here’s to ensuring your hats always look as good as new!

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