Can You Wash Hats in the Dishwasher: A Practical Guide

Hats are versatile accessories that add style and functionality to our outfits. But what happens when your favorite hat gets dirty and needs a good cleaning? You might wonder, can you wash hats in the dishwasher? This article will delve into the intricacies of cleaning hats and whether using a dishwasher is a suitable method. Let’s explore the do’s and don’ts of hat cleaning to ensure your headwear remains fresh and fabulous.

Understanding Hat Materials

Before we delve into the dishwasher debate, it’s crucial to understand the materials hats are made of. Different materials require different cleaning methods to prevent damage. Whether it’s a baseball cap, a wool beret, or a straw hat, knowing the material will guide your cleaning decisions.

Cotton and Polyester Hats

Cotton and polyester hats, such as baseball caps, are sturdy and often withstand machine washing. However, tossing them directly into the dishwasher may not be the best idea. The dishwasher’s high heat and powerful water jets could cause the hat to lose its shape.

Wool and Felt Hats

Wool and felt hats are more delicate. The dishwasher’s heat and agitation can lead to shrinkage and deformation. These hats are better off being cleaned using gentler methods.

Straw and Wicker Hats

Straw and wicker hats are highly susceptible to moisture. The dishwasher’s water exposure could result in warping or discoloration. It’s best to avoid the dishwasher altogether for these types of hats.

The Dishwasher Debate

Pros of Using the Dishwasher

  1. Efficiency: Dishwashers are known for their convenience and time-saving benefits. Tossing a hat in with your regular load might seem like a quick solution.
  2. Water Temperature: Hot water in dishwashers can effectively remove oil and grime from hats.
  3. Hands-Free Cleaning: Using a dishwasher requires minimal effort compared to handwashing.

Cons of Using the Dishwasher

  1. Shape Distortion: The dishwasher’s mechanical action and high heat can warp, shrink, or stretch hats, especially those made of sensitive materials.
  2. Color Fading: The heat and detergents in dishwashers might cause colors to fade or bleed.
  3. Agitation: The intense water jets and movement can damage delicate embellishments like buttons or logos.

Safe Hat Cleaning Methods


Handwashing is often the safest bet for cleaning hats, especially if they are made of sensitive materials. Follow these steps:

  1. Fill a basin with lukewarm water and add a mild detergent.
  2. Gently agitate the water to create suds.
  3. Submerge the hat and use a soft cloth to spot-clean stains.
  4. Rinse the hat thoroughly with cool water.
  5. Gently reshape the hat and allow it to air dry.

Spot Cleaning

For minor stains, spot cleaning can be effective:

  1. Use a mixture of mild detergent and water.
  2. Dampen a clean cloth with the mixture and gently dab the stained area.
  3. Blot with a clean, damp cloth to remove detergent residue.
  4. Allow the hat to air dry.


In the quest to maintain the longevity of your hats, the dishwasher might not be the ideal cleaning method. Different hat materials necessitate distinct cleaning approaches. While the convenience of the dishwasher is tempting, the potential risks to your beloved headwear are significant. Opting for gentle handwashing or spot cleaning ensures your hats remain in tip-top shape for years to come.


Can I wash my wool beanie in the dishwasher?

Wool hats are better suited for handwashing to prevent shrinkage and distortion.

Will using the dishwasher completely ruin my hat?

While not guaranteed, dishwashers can damage the shape, color, and embellishments of hats.

Are there hats that can be safely washed in the dishwasher?

Some sturdier hats, like cotton baseball caps, might withstand dishwasher cleaning, but caution is advised.

How often should I clean my hats?

Cleaning frequency depends on wear. Spot clean as needed and give hats a thorough clean when they appear soiled.

What’s the best way to store hats to reduce the need for cleaning?

Use a hat rack or hooks to store hats off the ground and shape-maintaining products, like hat forms, to retain their form.

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