Hat care guide: how to clean and store your hat
So, you've decided to invest in a high quality designer hat and you really want to take care of it. We hear you! An artisan made hat can be quite an investment. Protecting and caring for your hat is a must. We've put together a list of tips to help you care for your hat and properly store it while not in use.
Extend the life of your hat with these simple tips
- Store your hat in a cardboard hat box when not in use
- Never leave your hat in the sun or in the car
- Avoid hanging your hat on a hook for extended periods of time
- If your hat gets wet allow it to air dry. Never use heat to dry a hat.
- Handle your hat by the brim instead of the crown
What is the best way to store your hat?
The experts all seem to agree on this one. If you have the space, storing your hat in a proper hat box is the best way to preserve and protect your hat. Ideally a hat box should have an insert with a hole cut out for the crown and the hat itself should be stored upside down. The crown should be suspended so it doesn't hit the bottom of the box. The box should be large enough that the brim doesn't hit the sides. The brim should be suspended so that it is completely free. You don't want the brim to be bent or touching the sides. The box should be stored in a cool, dark, dry place.
If it's a wool hat, you may consider adding some cedar balls or blocks to protect them from moths. If the hat is dirty be sure to clean it first. Dirt can cause damage or discoloration when a hat is stored for long periods of time. There are a number of good quality brushes on the market made specifically for cleaning your hat.
Do not store your hat in plastic for long periods of time
We've read reports of beautiful vintage hats that were destroyed when stored in plastic. No Bueno! Lack of air flow can cause your hat to rot or dry out. When straw dries out it becomes brittle and breaks easily. We suggest a cardboard hat box or something similar that isn't airtight.
Avoid leaving your hat in direct sunlight when not in use
It can be tempting to leave your hat on a hook or on a shelf when it's worn regularly. We have to admit that hats look really cool in the entry way as part of the decor, just be careful not to leave your hat in the sun. Direct sunlight can cause your hat to become dull, faded or discolored. Likewise, your hat can get dusty when left out on a hook or shelf. Sun exposure and dust are two things that will age your hat more quickly.
Definitely avoid leaving your hat in your car
True story. A customer contacted us completely heartbroken over the condition of her hat after leaving it in her car for less than a week. Her hat was faded and bent and she wanted us to send her a new one. Unfortunately, we weren't able to help her out with that one. It really doesn't take long for a hat to lose it's luster when forgotten in the back seat of a car exposed to the sun. Always keep it out of the sunlight when it's not being worn and definitely do not leave it in your car. Your hat will last much longer if you avoid this common mistake.
Can you hang your hat on a hook?
It's okay to hang your hat on a hook for short periods of time, but be careful that it doesn't lay against other objects or against a wall. If you know you will not be wearing your hat for an extended period of time, it's always best to store it in your hat box. Make sure your hook is wide and smooth. A sharp hook may cause damage to your hat over time. Prolonged usage of a hook may also cause dimples due to gravity.
Storing the hat in a box will protect it from dust, sun exposure and it will also protect the shape. Storing incorrectly can cause the brim to become warped, the crown can become crushed. Once a hat loses it's shape, it can be extremely difficult to get it back to it's original condition.
How to handle your hat
It's always best to grab your hat by the brim rather than the crown. Handling by the crown may weaken it over time. It also could create a dimple or a crease that changes the shape of the hat.
Make sure your hands are clean when handling your hat. This might seem obvious, but it's worth mentioning. For instance, if you just put lotion on your hands, it's probably best not to handle your hat right away. The same goes for sunscreen and other skin products. Just be aware that product residue can transfer from your hands to your hat and cause stains. These types of stains can cause discoloration over time and can be very difficult to get out.
How to care for a straw hat
Straw hats need special care. We suggest storing your straw hat in a cardboard hat box that isn't airtight, preferably in a cool dry place. Avoid storing your hat in plastic for long periods of time as it can cause your it to dry out and become brittle causing breakage.
Do not leave your hat in the sun for extended periods of time or in your car where it can fade or become discolored. If your hat needs cleaning, dust it softly in a circular motion with a fine brush made specifically for your type of hat.
If your straw hat gets wet, pat the excess water gently with a towel and set it upside down on it's crown on a soft surface, Reshape as needed and allow it to air dry, drying it upside down will allow the brim to be suspended and should help to prevent the hat from losing it's shape. Your hat will dry to the shape it is in when wet, so be sure to reshape if needed. Do not use a hairdryer or heat of any kind to dry your hat. Heat can cause shrinkage and could permanently alter the shape and fit of your hat. It's always best to air dry your hat and make sure it's not exposed to the sun while it dries.
If the sweat band gets wet flip it down to dry. This will allow perspiration to evaporate and will prevent the oils from staining your hat. If your sweatband needs cleaning flip it down and clean with a brush, and a mild detergent diluted in room temperature water. Dab any excess with a clean wet cloth and keep the sweatband flipped down until it has dried. Always allow it to air dry. Do not use heat.
How to clean a wool felt hat
The number one rule is to treat stains as quickly as possible. The longer you wait, the harder it can be to remove. Use a lint roller to remove lint and pet hair. If your hat has a stain you can spot clean with a damp felt sponge or cloth and a mild solution of 1 tbs of detergent in a cup of water. Be sure not to use a dyed cloth since the color may transfer to the hat. Dab the stain gently. Do not rub. Be sure not to saturate the hat with detergent or water. Then remove any excess water with a dry cloth and air dry. You can remove dust and dirt with a soft bristled brush made specifically for fabrics or felt. Be sure to brush in the same direction as the nap of the fabric.
If your wool hat gets wet we find it's best to just let it air dry naturally. You can remove excess water with a dry cloth. Be sure not to use a hair dryer or any sort of heat to dry your wool hat. Heat can cause the hat to shrink and lose it's shape. Keep it out of direct sunlight when drying. Reshape as needed.
What to do when your hat loses it's shape
Depending on the materials, you may be able to reshape a crushed or dented hat. We've had a limited amount of luck reshaping straw hats with steam, but it really depends of the type of straw. Be sure to hold the steamer at least 6 inches away from your hat. If steam doesn't do the trick you can try a spray bottle with water. Once the hat gets damp it can be reshaped gently if the damage isn't too bad. We've had varied success with both methods. When in doubt, we suggest taking your hat to a professional hat maker or milliner who specializes in hat repairs.
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