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How to Clean a Straw Cowboy Hat (5 Steps)

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Straw cowboy hats are classic and stylish. 

High-quality straw hats can last for years with proper care, but this material can be challenging to keep clean. Natural oils from your hands will stain the brim over time, and sweat from wear can give the hat an unpleasant odor.

straw cowboy hats hanging on hat hooks in a home

Learning how to clean your straw hat correctly is vital, as these cowboy hats will lose their shape when soaked in water.

So, how do you clean a straw cowboy hat?

Here’s the best way to clean a straw cowboy hat: 

  1. Remove any trimmings or ribbons.
  2. Wipe and brush hat.
  3. Gently vacuum the hat.
  4. Use cleaning solutions.
  5. Dry the straw hat.

Keep reading to learn how to follow these five steps to keep your straw cowboy hat clean and ready to wear.

How to Clean a Straw Cowboy Hat

Here is a detailed step-by-step guide on how to clean your straw cowboy hat. 

Before cleaning your straw cowboy hat, remember to check if it has a label or tag. This tag may include information about the type of material and cleaning solutions you can safely use. 

However, most straw hats are safe to hand-wash with the following steps.

Remove Any Trimmings or Ribbons

Some straw hats have extra trimmings, like ribbons, for decoration. Remove these materials to clean separately if they aren’t interwoven with the straw.

Ribbons are easier to clean than straw. Simply use a brush to dust the ribbon and spot-clean it with a wet cloth. 

You can also use an iron or steamer to smooth the ribbon material, but never use an iron on a straw hat.

Straw cowboy hat on display

Wipe Down and Brush the Hat

Next, use a soft bristle brush to gently remove grime, dirt, and dust from the crevices in the straw. 

Aggressively scrubbing the straw hat will fray the material, so only use light pressure.

Wiping the hat with a damp, clean cloth will also help remove dust and dirt. Use a white cloth to prevent color dye transfer and avoid soaking the fabric in too much water.

Gently Vacuum the Hat

A brush might not be enough to remove stubborn dirt and sand from every straw fiber. If you frequently wear your hat in dusty or sandy environments, gently vacuuming the straw can help give it a deeper clean.

Covering your vacuum’s hose with pantyhose will allow it to suck up debris without damaging the straw material.

Use Cleaning Solutions

Hydrogen peroxide in glass and white cotton on a plate on the table

To sanitize your straw hat, create a mix of equal parts warm water and hydrogen peroxide. You can also use a tablespoon of mild dish soap in a small bowl of warm water.

Before using any cleaning solution on the entire hat, test a small area to verify the mixture won’t damage the material. 

Then, apply a small amount of the solution onto a clean cloth. Use a gentle circular motion to remove any grime left after the previous steps.

Avoid using excessive water on straw, so don’t rinse your straw cowboy hat. Instead, wipe down the hat with a fresh cloth dipped in clean water, and follow up with a clean, dry cloth to soak up extra moisture.

Dry the Straw Hat 

Allow your hat to dry in a cool area out of direct sunlight. Don’t lay hats with curved brims on a flat surface, as this may cause the hat to lose its shape.

Straw Cowboy Hats Care Guide

Proper storage and care are essential for keeping straw cowboy hats in good condition. Check out the tips below if your hat has lost its shape or still has stubborn stains after cleaning.

How Often to Clean Straw Cowboy Hats?

American west rodeo cowboy white straw hat and authentic western rope on weathered wood floor in an old barn

Unless your hat gets extremely dirty or sweaty, most straw hats only need deep cleaning about twice a year. 

Spot-cleaning stains and using cleaning methods that don’t involve water can keep your hat in good shape for longer without unnecessary scrubbing.

Removing Stains From a Straw Hat

Sweat and oils are the most common causes of stains on straw hats. Spot-cleaning these stains as soon as you notice them is the best strategy to prevent permanent damage.

Sweat stains frequently come out with the hydrogen peroxide solution described above. 

If your hat has a dark-colored straw, use ammonia instead. Add one teaspoon of ammonia to half a cup of water. Dip a soft-bristled brush in the solution and gently scrub the stain before blotting it with a damp towel and allowing it to dry. 

Spot-Cleaning Straw Hats Without Liquid

Oil stains often lift with cleaning methods that don’t require liquid or water. 

Use cornstarch or talcum powder to dry-clean the affected area by patting the powders onto the stain. Allow the powder to sit for a few hours, then wipe it away to check if the stain is gone.

Storing Straw Hats

Cowboy hat with red bandanna hanging on antique rustic wooden background

Store your straw cowboy hat out of direct sunlight in a dry, cool area. Sunlight can fade the straw, and excess moisture can cause mold and mildew to grow. 

Storing the straw cowboy hat on a cone or in a hat box is the best way to keep its shape. Refrain from using plastic bags, as they can trap moisture and allow mold growth.

Store cowboy hats with curved brims upside down to prevent the brim from flattening.

Reshaping a Straw Cowboy Hat

Incorrect cleaning or poor storage can cause your straw cowboy hat to lose shape. 

Sometimes you can reshape the hat by hand or use tissue paper to hold the crown shape in storage. You can also flatten brims that have curled up by laying a flat, heavy object on the brim.

If those methods don’t work, steaming the hat will allow you to reshape it more effectively. 

Hold the hat about six inches from a clothing steamer for 60 seconds, taking care not to let your hands touch the steam. Then, shape the hat and leave it to dry. 

Rack of straw cowboy hats


Cleaning your straw cowboy hat doesn’t have to be difficult. Following the steps above will remove stains, while allowing the hat to retain its original shape. 

If you use an appropriate cleaning solution, avoid excess water, and remember to store your hat correctly, you’ll keep your favorite straw cowboy hat in optimal condition and ready to wear.