How to Wash a Baseball Cap (and Why You Should)
Noticing sweat stains on your favorite baseball cap? Find out the best way to wash your cap and why it’s more necessary than you might think.
Stylish, practical and inherently casual, the baseball cap is one of those menswear accessories that any guy can pull off with ease. This versatile hat serves multiple functions, from blocking sun from our eyes to protecting our scalp from sunburn.
Plus, it has a tendency to make us look a lot sportier than we really are. It’s no wonder that so many guys never leave home without their trusted baseball cap.
Unfortunately, constantly wearing your baseball cap means that it can get smelly and dirty quickly. If you’ve never washed your baseball cap before, then consider this your guide for how to properly clean your favorite hat.
Here is what you need to know about washing your baseball cap the right way:
- Your scalp constantly produces oil and sheds dead skin cells that can travel to your hat.
- Not cleaning your baseball cap can result in skin and scalp problems such as acne, dandruff and dry scalp.
- Wash your cap gently with a mild detergent and never throw it in the dryer.
Here’s Why You Should Wash Your Baseball Cap
Even if you wash your hair regularly and have a daily skin care routine, this doesn’t mean that your baseball cap is clean. Your scalp is constantly producing oil and shedding dead skin cells, some of which inevitably makes its way onto your hat.
Dead skin cells and oil in your hat aren’t necessarily a big deal. That is, unless you’re sweating in your cap or wearing it on a hot summer day. When you sweat profusely in your hat, the combination of dead skin cells, oil and moisture create the perfect environment for bacteria to thrive.
This can eventually lead to the following problems:
Acne Breakouts—If you have acne-prone skin, wearing your cap day-in and day-out can cause you to break out in pimples on the forehead and along the sides of your face. This is often caused by a specific type of acne known as acne mechanica, which occurs as a result of friction, pressure and heat.
Your cap’s uncleanliness also probably isn’t doing your acne any favors. The dirt and grime that sticks to your hat can clog pores, which can make even loose-fitting caps attract more dirt and debris that can cause acne breakouts. (If your skin is acne prone, look for an acne treatment than contains Salicylic Acid, like the acne cream in our Acne Systems.)
Dry Scalp/Hair— If you exercise in your baseball cap, the accumulation of sweat in your hat could be drying out your hair and scalp, which many experts believe could potentially lead to hair loss. Though studies on the subject are scarce, a 2017 study published in the British Journal of Dermatology analyzed Google Trends and found that searches for “hair loss” were higher in the summer and fall, when outdoor exercise is most prevalent (see claim: “The results of this secular trend study suggest…that hair loss occurs most frequently in the summer and autumn.”)
Dry scalp caused by excessive sweating is often more problematic for guys. In a 2010 study published in Experimental Physiology, it was found that guys tend to sweat more per gland than women (see claim: “The degree of the increase in SR with physical training was greater in males than in females at higher levels of exercise intensity.”)
Dandruff—Guys with dandruff, be warned: Failing to clean your baseball cap can make dandruff worse. Malassezia, a microbe that lives on everyone’s head, thrives off the natural oils in our scalp. When you don’t clean your hat, dirt and grime can inhibit your baseball cap’s natural ventilation system, creating a warm and moist environment that is ideal for this oil-loving microbe.
On top of these hair, skin and scalp issues, cleaning your baseball cap is necessary for one simple reason: No one wants to see a cap with sweat stains sitting on their table, or wherever you put your hat when it’s not in use. By giving it a good cleaning every so often, your hat can look almost as new as the day you bought it.
How to Wash Your Baseball Cap
Now that we’ve made our case for why you should wash your baseball cap, it’s time to give it the good scrub it needs. To avoid permanently ruining your favorite hat, here’s how you should be washing your baseball cap:
- Look for a Tag—First, check for a tag on the inside of your hat to see if it has washing instructions. If it does, you’re golden. If there isn’t a tag, move on to the next step.
- Check the Material—Examine your hat to see how well-made it is. If your hat is well-made and is relatively new (i.e., made in the last 5-10 years), it can probably withstand a good cleaning. Older hats made from 1990 and earlier may have brims constructed from cardboard, which will be ruined with too much water.
- Wash by Hand—Although some guys can toss their caps in the washing machine or dishwasher with no problem, the best way to clean your hat is by hand. Rinse your cap with cool water and scrub with a washcloth or sponge using a mild detergent such as Woolite.
- Allow it to Air Dry—Finally, allow your baseball cap to air dry by flipping a bowl upside down and using it to prop your hat upright. This will help your baseball cap retain its shape as it dries.
Enjoying Your Baseball Cap for Years to Come
If you never go anywhere without your baseball cap, it’s safe to say that it holds some meaning to you. Treating it with the care it deserves will not only benefit your scalp and hair, but also keep your favorite hat clean and in peak condition.
Seasonality of hair loss: a time series analysis of Google Trends data 2004–2016; Sex differences in the effects of physical training on sweat gland responses during a graded exercise;