How to wash a baseball cap

A while ago, I posted a few entries about wanting to know a good method
to wash my old Dodgers baseball cap.  Many loyal Cruft readers sent in suggestions.

As an unexpected side effect I get hit several times a day by people looking for
how to wash baseball caps via search engines.  Rather than disappoint them,
I thought it would be good to write up this page and answer their question clearly.

There are two basic concerns people have about washing baseball caps:

1) The shape of the cap and brim will be wrecked.
2) The cap itself will shrink or be damaged by washing.

Let's address concern number one.  Most hats today use plastic inside to form the brim and not cardboard.  The plastic can withstand a wash with no deformation. 

Concern number two is a little more complicated.  Some ball caps are made of wool.  Wool can shrink in water and/or heat situations.  Most people don't wear wool caps.  Most caps today are cotton or polyester, both of which can stand up to a washing.  Personally, I wear a wool cap.  My brother has instructed me to only wear fitted wool caps.  He says those kinds with the plastic snaps are for pansies.  I guess the ones with the the leather or fabric straps straddle the cool/pansy line and are OK on occasion.

There are many inventions out there to help people wash their baseball caps.  There are little plastic hat cages.  There are chemical cleaners that look like underarm deodorant.  There a suggestions to wash your cap in the dish washer.  IMHO, these ideas are all whack.

Here are my guidelines for cap washing:

1) If the cap has been made in the last ten years,  and it's made of polyester or cotton, simply toss it in to the clothes washer with the rest of your clothes.  After the wash, take it out and let it air dry.  Viola!  A clean cap.

2) If you have concerns over the fragility of the baseball cap, get some Woolite, and wash the cap in the kitchen sink with lukewarm water.  Don't soak the cap in the water, just use enough Woolite & water to get the grime off.  Let it air dry and you are good to go.

If these too methods still seem to harsh to you, I suggest that you may not be the kind of person that should be wearing a baseball cap.  Maybe you need one of those floppy beret things that art students wear in coffee houses.

Feel free not to take my advice and use one of the other methods, but don't come crying to me when the stupid plastic hat cage has melted in your dishwasher. 

Of course, no discussion of ball cap washing would be complete without mentioning the third option, not washing the cap.  The idea of washing a hat is not usually brought up by a man.  It is usually his wife/girlfriend that brings up the idea.  Women are all hung up on the cleaning thing.  Personally, I think they get a little too worked up over the cleaning thing.  They also get all worked up over the whole linens thing and want them clean all the time too, but that's another topic.  You can resist the significant other on hat washing if you want.  You just need to be ready for them to roll their eyes at you for a while.

There's nothing wrong with a dirty hat if you are OK with it. If you want a clean cap, then wash it.  If you don't want a clean cap, then don't wash it.  Don't let others make this decision for you.

Now if you are a women and are reading this, you may think, "Ha!  I'll wash it while he's not wearing it and he'll never know!", but you are wrong.  We may not notice you got a haircut or that the room got painted or that the kids are running with scissors, but we will notice if our cap gets washed.  If you do it anyways, you may find some piece of your fancy silk clothes accidentally got washed the whites load with bleach and hot water.  So keep your hands off your man's cap.


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