Skip to Content

How To Shrink A Snapback Hat (The Easy Way)

December 21, 2022
How To Shrink A Snapback Hat (The Easy Way)

Although snapback caps are often marketed as being ‘one-size-fits-all’ due to their adjustable plastic strap, there are still situations where your snapback might be fitting too loosely around your head than you would like. You’re about to learn how to shrink it

Maybe you’ve stretched the fabric out through repeated wear, or the brim of the cap is simply too wide for your head shape. 

Whatever the reason, this article will take you through the steps you need to follow in order to shrink your snapback cap. 

Let’s get started.

How To Shrink Your Snapback Cap In 5 Steps

The overarching principle when it comes to shrinking a snapback cap is getting it wet and then allowing it to naturally shrink as it dries.

Image From Deposit Photos

There are several different ways to achieve this.

This article condenses the most common methods into one easy to follow step-wise guide.

Let’s go through the process in more detail. 

1. Find Out What It’s Made Of 

Before you start the shrinking process, it’s important to know what material your snapback is predominantly made of, as this will affect what you need to do to achieve optimal shrinkage.

Snapback hats tend to be made of 1 of 3 of the following materials; cotton, wool or the more modern polyester.

All 3 of these materials will be susceptible to shrinking if they are soaked and dried.

However, polyester tends to be more resistant to shrinkage than either cotton or wool. 

For this reason, we’ll include any adjustments you might need to make if you are shrinking a polyester snapback in the steps below. 

2. Wet It

To start the process of shrinking your snapback cap, first, you need to get it wet with warm to hot water.

For predominantly cotton or wool hats, the best ways to do this are either to use the hand wash method or the shower method.

For the hand wash method, fill a pot that’s large enough to completely submerge your cap in with hot but not boiling water. If you’re heating the water on the stove, it should be steaming but not boiling.

If you allow the water to start boiling, you risk warping the shape of your cap.

Once the water has started to steam, take your snapback cap and fully submerge it into the water, with the help of some kitchen tongs. It should stay submerged on its own once completely soaked.

For the shower method – simply take your snapback cap into the shower with you. The water should again be comfortably hot so that you can stand under it. 

Simply pop on your cap and stand under the showerhead once the water is warm enough, and let it get soaked.

The benefit of this method is that the warm water allows the cap to start to mould to the shape of your head early.

If you own a polyester cap, both the shower method and the hand wash method can be used, but for more effective shrinkage you may want to use the washing machine method.

This involves washing your cap on a regular heat wash cycle, allowing it to get completely soaked in the drum. If you need more dramatic shrinkage, you can put the wash on a hot water cycle. 

Add a small amount of detergent to wash your hat simultaneously. It is best to put your snapback cap in a garment bag to protect it from excessive movement in the drum and possible warping. 

It’s also recommended to wash your cap with similar colored laundry, as this creates some pressure in the drum which helps along the shrinking process.

The washing machine option isn’t suitable for cotton or wool caps as they are more susceptible to distortion or over shrinkage than polyester, so reserve this method for your polyester caps only.

3. Soak It

So you’ve submerged your snapback cap in water – now you need to let it soak a little.

If you’re using the hand wash method, let your cap soak fully submerged in the warm water for 5-10 minutes. If your cap is polyester and you’re using this method, you’ll need to soak it for 30 minutes.

For the shower method, it’s recommended to stand directly under the showerhead for 3-5 minutes wearing your cap. Make sure the crown is completely soaked. 

With the washing machine method, simply allow the wash cycle to run to completion. If you only want minor shrinkage of your polyester snapback cap, simply take your cap out of the wash after the initial wash cycle. 

Once you’ve allowed your cap to soak, it’s ready for the next step where most of the real shrinkage happens; drying.

4. Dry It

This step is where most of the magic happens.

As I mentioned before, the drying stage encourages the natural shrinkage of the material fibers to occur. If you add in a little heat, the shrinkage becomes even more effective.

Let’s start with the best ways to dry your cotton or wool snapbacks.

If you’ve got all day and don’t mind your hair getting a little damp, you can simply wear the cap until it dries. 

Simply shake it out to remove excess water so that it doesn’t drip down your neck, and put it on. It will usually take about a day to completely dry, depending on the climate.

By wearing the cap, it will shrink exactly to the shape of your head as it dries.

It’s best not to wear the cap outside if it’s rainy or damp. If you need to pop out, simply leave your cap to dry near a fan or air conditioning vent and check in to see how it’s doing throughout the day. 

If you don’t like the idea of sitting around with a damp cap on for most of the day, you can speed up the process by using a hairdryer. Whilst wearing the cap, aim a hairdryer on a low setting over the cap to speed up the drying.

You need to exercise caution with this method, however, as wool and cotton hats may shrink rapidly if too much hot air is applied. With wool and cotton caps, therefore, it’s always best to allow them to dry naturally if you have the time.

Polyester snapback caps, on the other hand, are a little more resistant to heat shrinkage. 

When drying your polyester snapback, you can choose to use the wear-it-while-it-dries method, or you can use a dryer.

Using a dryer to shrink your polyester snapback is especially good if you need more dramatic shrinkage. Simply throw it into the dryer on a medium heat drying cycle, and stop the dryer every 10 minutes to check the hat and try it on.

Once the hat is at the size that you want it, remove it from the dryer. 

If you choose the wear-it-while-it-dries method, you can use a blowdryer to speed up the process on a low-to-medium heat setting. There is less risk of over-shrinkage when using a blow dryer with a polyester snapback than with cotton or wool caps. 

5. Maintain It

Once you’ve successfully shrunk your snapback cap, you may wonder if there’s anything you need to do in order to maintain it at this size.

Over time, your shrunk snapback cap may gradually stretch out again due to repeated wear. How long this process takes depends a lot on how much you wear your cap, and how much you shrunk it in the first place.

But generally speaking, it is likely the cap will enlarge again over time. 

If you find it getting too loose, simply repeat the shrinking process and you’re all set. 

As long as you don’t submerge it in water that is too hot or a dryer setting that is too high, you are unlikely to ruin the cap with this repeated shrinking process and can shrink your snapback down to the size that you want, when you want.


So there you have it – now you know the best and easiest ways to shrink your snapback caps.

Using this guide, you can hopefully resurrect any snapback caps you may have thrown to the back of your wardrobe because they were too loose or didn’t fit quite right around the brim. 

As well as saving you some money, you can give your old caps a new lease of life.