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How to Clean a Felt Cowboy Hat in 3 Steps

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A felt cowboy hat is a classic hat that requires proper care to keep it clean and to maintain its color and shape. The felt is delicate fabric, and you should be extra careful when cleaning it not to damage the texture.

Fun fact: The felt cowboy hat was first made by John B. Stetson in 1862 and he named it “The Boss of the Plains”!

To clean your felt cowboy hat, you will need:

  • A soft hat brush
  • A clean cloth
  • Masking tape
  • An absorbent powder
  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Cheesecloth
  • Toothbrush

Let’s jump right in.

1- Light Cleaning

Lint roller on a black background

Cleaning your felt cowboy hat requires a hat brush with soft bristles so that you don’t damage the delicate fabric of the hat.

  1. Place the hat on a stable place and brush anticlockwise. Begin brushing from the front and go around consistently.
  2. Use tape or a small lint roller to remove any dust and debris from your felt hat. Hold the tape with one hand and wrap it around the hat smoothly, ensuring the sticky side of the tape is on the outer side.
  3.  Gently dab and sweep the tape along the hat surface. Repeat the process with clear tape. Press the tape with enough pressure to pick up all the dirt.
  4. When removing the tape, lift it quickly, and you’ll see the dirt particles on the masking tape. Repeat until satisfied that all the dirt is gone.
  5. Take a clean and dry cloth and carefully wipe the felt cowboy hat to remove any dust from your felt hat.
  6. To remove any stubborn dirt that remains, wipe with a moist cloth.

2- Stain Removal

stained cowboy hat on white background

If your hat has stains, first determine the type of stain it is. For instance, it can be grease, body oils, color stain, or dried dirt. Most dried dirt will brush off quickly, but you need to treat it differently if it is a stubborn stain.

What you need:

  • A wet cloth
  • Soft sponge
  • Gum eraser

Dried Dirt Stain

  1. Dab the spot with a soft sponge (You can also use a dry-cleaning sponge, especially made so it can absorb dirt, dust, or any soot on your hat).
  2. Spray some water on the stain. Be careful not to soak the hat.
  3. Wipe with a wet cloth and let it air dry.

Grease/ Body Oil Stain

  1. Sprinkle some cornstarch on the hat and use your fingers to rub it in gently.
  2. Let it rest on the stain for about 5-10 minutes.
  3. Brush off the cornstarch with a soft hat brush.

Color Stain

  1. Get a clean cloth and dip it in a stain remover.
  2. Use the cloth to rub on the stain.
  3. Rinse the cloth with clean water and rub the spot again to remove the stain remover from your felt hat.

3- Freshening

blue felt cowboy hat

Freshening your felt cowboy hat helps remove the smell of sweat from your hat.

  1. Take an absorbent powder and sprinkle it carefully on your felt hat. Ensure the color of the absorbent powder is close to the color of your felt cowboy hat to avoid cases of discoloration on your felt hat.

For instance, if your felt hat is white, use baking powder to freshen it up. If your felt hat is tan or beige, go for cornmeal, and for a darker felt cowboy hat, use wheat germ as an absorbent powder.

  1. Leave your hat to rest for 3-4 hours with the absorbent powder to absorb the sweat on your hat. Avoid leaving your felt cowboy hat on a flat surface, as it can lose its shape.
  1. Shake all the absorbent powder off your hat. Use a good vacuum cleaner and remove the remaining powder. Ensure your vacuum cleaner has a detachable hose or is a cordless mini-vacuum cleaner. Take the cheesecloth and place it over the hose or your mini-vacuum cleaner to avoid damage to your hat that high suction power can cause.
  1. Check if the sweatbands are clean. If not, wash the sweatbands with water and mild soap. Use a toothbrush to scrub until the sweatbands are clean. Be careful when cleaning the sweatbands, so no water goes to the rest of the hat.
  1. Rinse gently and allow the hat to dry for several hours or overnight.
hanged cowboy hat on wooden wall

Felt Hat Maintenance

  • Storage. Store your hat in a clean and cool place to ensure it maintains its quality and shape. Avoid storing it in a hot place. Heat can shrink the sweatband and make the felt cowboy hat unwearable. Do not store the hat facing down on its brim, which will ruin its shape. It’s recommended to use a hat rack or place the hat facing up on a flat surface.
  • Protection from water damage. A water-repellant protection spray is essential. It will protect your felt hat from water damage when it rains. The spray also helps extend your cowboy hat’s shelf life.
  • Handle your hat well. When removing or wearing your hat, avoid touching the top. Your hands contain oils and dirt, which you can transfer to your felt hat. Practice removing or wearing your felt cowboy hat by holding it gently by the brim.
  • When traveling. Pack your hat in a box to keep it clean and safe from damage or dirt and to maintain its shape.
  • Restoring the shape of your felt cowboy hat. If your felt hat has lost its shape, you can restore it by steaming it and molding it to the right shape with your hands. Then let it dry on a hat rack.

Ready To Clean Your Felt Cowboy Hat?

Use the correct cleaning gear to brush off the dirt, remove the stains, and freshen it up to keep it looking good for a long time. By following the above cleaning steps, you will have a felt cowboy hat that is clean, smells fresh, is in good shape, and has kept its original color.