Can You Wash Hats In The Dishwasher?

By Cory White
Can You Wash Hats In The Dishwasher?

Hats are stylish accessories that can accumulate dirt and sweat over time. Cleaning them properly is essential to maintain their shape and freshness. But have you ever wondered if you can wash hats in the dishwasher?

Fortunately, you can wash hats in the dishwasher with some precautions. It’s also crucial to understand not all types of hats are suitable for this technique, and a careful process needs to be followed to ensure no damage.

In this article, we’ll explore the pros and cons, discuss hat materials that are dishwasher-safe, and provide alternative cleaning methods to ensure your hats stay clean and ready to wear. Let’s dive in!

The Dishwasher Hat Washing Debate

There are advantages and drawbacks to washing hats in the dishwasher, stirring up an ongoing debate among hat enthusiasts. Understanding these can help you decide if this is the proper method for your cherished cap.

On the positive side, washing a hat in the dishwasher:

  • Is convenient and hands-off.
  • Can be efficient if multiple hats need cleaning.
  • Effectively kills bacteria due to hot water.

On the flip side, chances of damage and subpar results have fuelled the counter-argument:

  • Not all hats are dishwasher-safe, especially woolen or delicate fabric ones.
  • There’s a risk of color fading or bleeding.
  • Even dishwasher-safe hats can lose shape if not properly positioned.

Types of Hats and Dishwasher Compatibility

The type of hat significantly impacts whether it’s suitable for a dishwasher cleaning session. Different materials react differently to water, heat, and agitation, making dishwasher compatibility quite varied.

Hats that typically do well in the dishwasher include:

  • Baseball caps, especially those made of cotton or polyester.
  • Other sturdy fabric hats that are not prone to shrinking or distortion.

However, there are certain types of hats that should avoid the dishwasher treatment:

  • Woolen hats, since wool can shrink and distort in hot water.
  • Delicate fabric hats that could easily be damaged.
  • Hats with embellishments or decals could get ruined.

Pre-wash Preparations

Before enthusiastically popping your hat into the dishwasher, there are some preparatory steps and tools necessary to ensure it comes out clean and maintains its shape.

Here’s what you need to do before the wash:

  1. Inspect the hat for stubborn stains, and treat them with a gentle fabric cleaner.
  2. Detach any removable parts such as pom-poms or other decorations, as these may not fare well in the dishwasher.
  3. Acquire a cap washer or similar tool to help your hat keep its shape while washing.

Positioning Your Hat in the Dishwasher

The way you position your hat in the dishwasher can strongly impact the result of this cleaning method. Correct placement reduces the risk of damage and helps maintain the hat’s shape.

Key points to remember when positioning your hat are:

  • Place the hat on the top rack to keep it away from the intense heat at the bottom.
  • Make sure the hat is secure and won’t be knocked around by water jets. This can be facilitated using a cap washer or by wedging the hat between dishes.
  • Ensure the shape is well-supported. Utilize a cap cage or stuff the hat with a towel to maintain its form.

The Importance of a Clean Dishwasher

man pours rinse aid into dishwasher

Having a clean dishwasher is an often overlooked but vital factor for successfully washing a hat. The cleanliness of your dishwasher influences the outcome as it interacts directly with your hat.

Here are the main points to consider:

Unwanted Residue: Leftover food particles, oils, or detergents can potentially stain your hat or worse, stick to it.

Dirty Water: If not regularly cleaned, the dishwasher can recycle dirty water, leading to less efficient cleaning or undesirable odors.

Contamination: Germs and bacteria can thrive in leftover grime, leading to unsanitary conditions that can contaminate your hat.

Choosing the Right Wash Cycle

Choosing the right wash cycle on your dishwasher is critical when it comes to washing your hat without damaging it. The right settings ensure your hat receives a gentle and effective clean.

Always consider the following when choosing your dishwasher’s cycle:

  • Use Only Cold Water. Heat can potentially distort or shrink hats, especially those made of certain materials like wool.
  • Gentle Wash Cycle. Choose a gentle cycle, such as ‘light’ or ‘delicate’, to avoid vigorous washing that could damage your hat.
  • Skip Heated Dry. Opt out from using the heated drying phase, as this can warp the hat. Instead, air-dry your hat post-washing.

Extracting and Drying Your Hat

Extracting your hat carefully from the dishwasher and picking an ideal drying method is the final crucial step toward a successful hat wash.

Here’s how to do it well:

Extract with Care

Carefully remove the hat from the dishwasher to avoid unintentional misshaping.

Don’t Wring Out

Resist the urge to wring out any excess water as this could distort its shape.

Air Dry

Place the hat at room temperature on a towel in its natural shape. This helps preserve the structure and avoids any potential heat damage.

Stuff The Inside

Consider stuffing the hat with a clean, dry towel to help it maintain its shape while drying.

Alternatives to Dishwasher Hat Washing

If dishwasher cleaning is not suitable or preferred for your hat, don’t worry, there are other effective alternatives to keep it clean.

Consider the following hat-cleaning methods:

  1. Hand Washing. Submerge the hat in a mix of cold water and mild detergent. Massage gently with your hands, rinse, and air dry.
  2. Spot Cleaning. Apply a minimal amount of mild detergent to stained areas. Use a soft brush to work on the stain, then rinse and air dry.
  3. Professional Cleaning. For particularly delicate or treasured hats, consider taking them to a professional cleaner who can properly care for them.

These alternatives offer more focused, delicate cleaning methods, ensuring your prized caps remain in peak condition, even when they steer clear of the dishwasher.


In a nutshell, washing hats in the dishwasher can be a convenient option, but it’s crucial to approach it carefully. By following the right steps and precautions, you can give your hats a new lease of life while ensuring they maintain their style and functionality.

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