How to Wash a Trucker Hat: Hand Clean, Dishwasher & Washing Machine
Trucker hats first became popular during the early 1970s when they were used as promotional giveaways from U.S. farming supply companies.
These hats are not only versatile but also comfortable. But with regular wear, your hat won’t stay clean for long. You need to figure out how to wash a trucker hat without ruining it.
Below is an in-depth guide that takes you through how to get rid of the accumulating sweat stains, oil, and dirt on your trucker hat.
Can You Wash Trucker Hats?
Yes, you can wash your trucker hats when they get dirty. You can wash by hand, use a dishwasher, or opt for a washing machine.
However, not all trucker hats can go in an appliance. To give your hat a proper clean, we recommend checking the care label for specific advice on how to wash your type of hat.
Still asking how can you wash a trucker hat? Below is a guide on how to clean it by hand, using the dishwasher, and washing machine.
How to Clean Trucker Hats by Hand
Hand-washing is a great option for cleaning most trucker hats including mesh hats, Patagonia hats, Richardson hats, and even your baseball cap. It is also the perfect wash technique if your hat has sentimental value or if it already has tears or frayed edges. Let’s go through how to clean a trucker hat by hand.
You will need:
- Mild detergent
- Lukewarm water
- A toothbrush or any soft brush
- A hand towel
- A wash basin or sink
Once you have everything you need, follow these steps:
1. Fill Your Container with Water
Whether you’re using a sink, bucket, or bathtub, fill it with warm water about halfway. This leaves enough room to submerge your trucker hat and move your hands without sloshing soapy water everywhere.
2. Add Detergent
While you don’t need a specialty detergent to hand-wash your trucker hat, using mild liquid laundry detergent is recommended since it dissolves well in lukewarm water compared to powdered detergents. Add a little detergent to the water.
Don’t pour an entire capful of detergent. Too much detergent forms a lot of suds that’ll need excessive rinsing. The residue from the soap can also give your trucker hat a dingy appearance.
3. Soak the Hat
Place your hat in the soapy water fully submerged. Use your hands to toss the cap so that the soapy water can penetrate its fibers, dislodging grime and dirt. Then, let it soak.
If your hat is moderately dirty, leave it to soak for 10 to 25 minutes after tossing it. For a heavily soiled hat, let it soak for an hour or longer.
4. Clean the Hat
Use a toothbrush or soft brush to go over the dirty areas. Scrub gently so you don’t damage your trucker hat.
5. Rinse Hat and Air-Dry
Drain the dirty water and rinse the hat well with clean water. Ensure you remove all the soap residue from the cap. Once you’re done, gently squeeze the cap’s panels to remove excess water.
Then, let it air dry it using the balled-up hand towel technique. This will help you keep your favorite trucker hat in good condition longer.
How to Wash a Trucker Hat in the Dishwasher
Since some hats can’t go in the washing machine due to the aggressive spinning cycles, a dishwasher is a friendlier option.
For this, you will need:
- A dishwasher
- Mild dishwasher cleaner
- Hat frame
- Lukewarm cloth
- Soft brush
- Stain remover (optional)
All set? Here's how you can make your dirt-stained trucker cap look brand new using a dishwasher:
1. Spot Clean
If your trucker hat has stained areas, consider doing a pre-treatment. Dampen the stains with a lukewarm cloth and rub on the stain remover. Let it sit for a while and then rinse.
If you don’t have a stain remover, apply a mild dishwashing liquid to the stains and scrub with a soft-bristled brush or cloth. Rinse after the cap soaks for about 30 minutes.
2. Fit the Cap in a Hat Frame
Worried about your trucker hat losing its shape?
You can fit it in a hat frame. It will keep your hat in proper shape throughout the cycle and prevent bending.
To use it, open the frame and place your trucker hat over the arched dome. Ensure the hat brim is inside and close the frame to secure the cap.
3. Put the Hat in the Dishwasher
Place your hat on the top rack of the dishwasher so that it’s far away from the heating element. Any plastic in your trucker hat may melt if you put it on the bottom rack.
If you aren’t using a hat frame, use flexible straps to secure your hat to the dishwasher racks. Your hat mustn’t move around during the cycle.
Don’t wash your hats with regular dishes. Food residue can lift off of your utensils and get caught in the seams of your hat.
4. Add Detergent
Fill the detergent compartment with 1 tablespoon of mild cleaner before closing it. Avoid using dishwasher detergents with bleach or citric acid since they can “bleach” the color of your hat.
To see how your detergent will affect your trucker hat, rub a small amount on a discreet spot and monitor the color changes. You can use powder or tablet cleaners.
5. Choose Dishwasher Settings
Select a gentle cycle. Do not use hot water as it can lead to the formation of wrinkles or creases in your hat. If your trucker hat is made of plastic, it can warp it.
You can run a cold wash cycle if your dishwasher doesn’t have a warm cycle. Make sure the cycles are short. Also, use the china or delicate setting if your dishwasher has those options.
6. Dry the Hat
When the wash cycle is complete, remove the hat from the dishwasher before the drying cycle starts. The heat can make your hat shrink or melt any plastic pieces.
Next, place the hat in a warm room and let it air dry. You can stuff it with a dry towel or set it on top of a jar so that it doesn’t reshape while drying.
How to Wash Trucker Hats in a Washing Machine
Washing trucker hats in a washing machine can be a viable option if you are short on time or cleaning space. Having a clean trucker hat is essential in increasing the lifespan of the hat! To get started with this cleaning method, you will need:
- A stain treatment product
- A mild laundry detergent
- Hand towel
- Washing machine
Once you have the tools to clean hats, here is a step-by-step machine washing trucker hat guide to follow:
1. Pre-Treat the Hat
Since trucker hats aren’t always washed regularly, they can get very dirty. This is why it’s important to pre-treat it with a stain remover before laundering. This will help get rid of sweat, grease, makeup, or oil stains.
Apply the stain treatment to the hat and let it sit for 30 minutes to break down the oils and dirt. Then, rinse the product off.
2. Set the Washing Machine’s Water Temperature
Use warm or cool water when washing trucker hats in a laundry machine. Avoid hot water as it can shrink or melt your hat.
3. Use the Right Detergent
Pour in mild laundry detergent. To protect your hat, stay away from detergents with bleach.
4. Place the Hat in the Washing Machine
Put your cap in the machine and submerge it in water. When machine washing your trucker hat, you can clean it alongside other hats or with a few lightweight garments like socks, underwear, and more.
Don’t wash your hat with bulky items like towels, jeans, and sweatshirts. Their weight can crush the hat, ruining its shape.
If you’re only washing one trucker hat, place it in a mesh wash bag. It will protect it from the harsh wear and tear of the spinning cycles.
5. Choose the Right Cycle
Run a delicate cycle. It uses a slow/slow approach when cleaning your hat, lessening aggression and preventing wear and tear.
Set the spin speed to the slowest your washing machine offers. This will ensure your hat doesn’t shrink, stretch, or bend. Also, confirm that the water temperature is cold/warm before turning on the washer.
Like with using a dishwasher, skip the dryer and let your hat air dry. Place a clean, dry, and balled-up hand towel in the hat to keep its shape while it dries. This washing process is ideal for cleaning a two-tone trucker hat.
Key Takeaways on Washing a Trucker Hat the Right Way
A clean trucker hat makes for a good fashion accessory. You can ensure your hat stays sparkling in several ways, but hand-washing is the best. While using a dishwasher or washing machine may seem like a convenient way to clean your hat, both methods pose a minor risk of damage.
You can also implement these cleaning methods for your snapback hats, baseball hats, beanies, sweatband, and other ball caps.
Trucker Hat Cleaning FAQs
Is a hat frame necessary when cleaning my trucker hat?
Yes. A hat frame is essential especially if you want to retain the shape of your trucker hat. When your hat is a dishwasher, the hat frame prevents it from bending. This keeps your hat in good shape throughout the wash cycle, lasting longer.
Can I get rid of stains on my trucker hat?
Yes. Stains can be hard to eliminate, but it can be done. Before you wash your trucker hat, ensure you pre-treat with a stain remover. Apply the stain remover and let your hat soak for about 30 minutes, and rinse. This will get rid of any sweat, oil, or grease stains on your hat.
Can I clean my trucker hat in hot water?
No. Avoid using hot water, especially if you have a Patagonia hat. They have a plastic mesh forming the back panel and sides, which can warp or melt in hot water. Consider using lukewarm or cold water when washing hats.
Can I dry my trucker hat with a dryer?
No. You should never put your trucker hat in a dryer. The tumble action and high heat can warp and shrink your favorite hat. Instead, let your hat air dry. Ensure you set the hat on top of a jar or stuff it with a clean towel so that it retains its hat form while drying.
How do I know the best way to clean my trucker hat?
Always check the recommended washing instructions on the hat’s care label. It will help you determine if it’s safe to deep clean your trucker hat in a dishwasher or washing machine. But handwashing is always recommended especially if you have an embroidered trucker hat.