How to Unstinkify Hats
September 26, 2016 2:42 PM   Subscribe

My husband's hats smell like sweat and dirty hair. Does anyone have best-practices recommendations for washing hats like this or this that won't result in a misshapen or shrunken hat? Would dry cleaning remove the body oils and smell without damaging the shape?
posted by erst to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (9 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I bought a desk off Craigslist last year that had been in a home with a smoker, and the smell had really baked into it. After some searching and a false start with just regular cleaning, I came across PureAyre. I sprayed the desk down and it got rid of almost all the smell, and then took the drawers out, discovered an additional layer of stinky fireproofing material, and sprayed the hell out of that. The result: no smoke smell whatsoever remains.

I've since been using the stuff to spray down my office chair, couch cushions, and compost bin, and it's worked wonders on everything, and not stained the fabric at all. Cheap, effective solution, and possibly worth giving a try here.
posted by majuju at 2:50 PM on September 26, 2016 [2 favorites]

We used the Mad Men set designer tip of filling a spray bottle with cheap vodka and spraying liberally to get the smell out of a whole stinky sofa. Worked like a charm. No after smell and no damage at all.

Hooray for the depressingly named 5 O'Clock vodka in the plastic bottle.
posted by merocet at 3:27 PM on September 26, 2016 [1 favorite]

Is there a good hat store in your area? The folks there will probably have the best advice.
posted by Lexica at 3:54 PM on September 26, 2016

Popular in the theater world: vodka solution in a spray bottle, 70% vodka/30% water.

Popular in the raw denim world: wrapping in plastic and putting it in the freezer for a few days.
posted by Karaage at 4:50 PM on September 26, 2016 [1 favorite]

I learned this from my aunt: put them in the top rack of the dishwasher. My cousins played baseball year round and their hats were all cleaned that way.
posted by guster4lovers at 5:58 PM on September 26, 2016

The Kangol hat can be hand-washed. Here are some tips. I'm not entirely sure about the wool cap, since wool can shrink and get out of shape.

I wouldn't do the dishwasher - it gets way too hot in there!
posted by radioamy at 8:35 PM on September 26, 2016 [1 favorite]

(In the UK) I use "Dettol" spray on my hats. Then let them dry. It's great! (Dettol is disinfectant).
posted by JtJ at 6:32 AM on September 27, 2016

Heads are icky- they are oily and sweaty. Imagine using a pillowcase every night for 2 years without washing it. That's what's happening inside the hat! Hats therefore have a shelf life- say, 500 all-day wears, less if they're worn while sweating. Your husband's hats have outlasted their shelf lives. Buy some new hats and ditch the sweaty rags! Even if you spray them with something, maybe the two of you can't smell them any more- but presumably you like your husband's smell and he's mostly immune to his own smell- so you may not find them offensive any more, but I bet strangers can smell those hats. I can definitely smell people's dirty hats if I hug them. New hat time!
posted by pseudostrabismus at 9:57 AM on September 27, 2016

You can definitely just wash a hat in a dishwasher, or by using a hat form to wash in a washing machine, but I've found that to be pretty harsh on the materials - the hat will wear out pretty quickly.

I've had good luck with filling a large bowl/bucket with water (enough to submerge the hat, then using just regular shampoo to gently wash and rinse the hat - just like washing your hair. I then hang the hat somewhere to air dry for the day.

That method has worked pretty well for me. It's gentle on the fabric, and seems to remove the smell/dirt.
posted by owls at 11:31 AM on October 1, 2016

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