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How To Wash A Trucker Hat (Without Ruining It)

August 12, 2023
How To Wash A Trucker Hat (Without Ruining It)

Trucker hats are great – versatile, comfortable, and stylish. But unfortunately, like every item of clothing that has been worn a few times, it will eventually get dirty.

With their foam front section, trucker hats are especially prone to accumulating sweat, dirt, and oil over time.

But cleaning a trucker hat isn’t as straightforward as simply sticking it in the washing machine. 

In this article, I’ll take you through how to wash a trucker hat without ruining it. 

N.B – Always check the hat’s label instructions or the manufacturer’s website for specific cleaning instructions. All hats are made differently and these instructions may not be suitable for your specific needs.

How To Quickly Wash A Trucker Hat In 4 Steps

There are 2 main methods when it comes to cleaning your trucker hat. Which you choose depends on how dirty your hat is. 

From Shutterstock

For lightly soiled hats, you can follow a quicker method to get your hat looking good as new in no time.

Let’s go through how you can quickly wash a trucker hat.

1. Prepare Your Equipment

First things first, gather together all the equipment you’ll need to wash your trucker hat. 

It isn’t a lot; all you need to quickly wash your hat is a tub or a sink, some mild laundry detergent, and a towel.

Make sure the sink or tub you’re using is nice and clean before you start.

And that’s it for equipment. Now you’re ready to move on to the next step.

2. Soak The Hat

Next, we need to soak the hat.

Fill your sink or tub with cool or lukewarm water. Avoid hot and definitely boiling water, as this risks warping or deforming the shape of your hat permanently.

Add a couple of drops of your chosen laundry detergent to the water. 

From Deposit Photos

Add in your hat and submerge it completely, moving it around to ensure it’s completely soaked and to create some suds.

Now, simply let it soak for 15 minutes. This length of time is enough to get rid of lightly embedded dirt and more superficial stains.

3. Rinse The Hat 

A thorough rinse removes any more resistant dirt and also prevents soap stains on your trucker hat.

Once your 15 minutes of soaking is up, let the water drain out of the sink or remove the soaked hat from the tub.

Run it under cold water to thoroughly rinse out all of the detergent from the trucker hat fabric. 

Once you’ve rinsed it well, gently squeeze excess water out of the hat, but avoid putting too much pressure on the brim of the hat so as not to affect its shape.

4. Dry The Hat

The most important thing when drying your trucker hat is to avoid using any heat drying method or dryer. If used, this can cause shrinkage of the fabric. 

Instead, using your towel, gently pat dry the hat after you’ve squeezed out the excess water.

Then, lay it out to dry over a small bowel or another rounded container that mimics the shape of your head. 

If you don’t mind your hair getting a little damp, you can even wear the hat as it dries so that it shapes even more perfectly to your head. 

Then simply let it air dry over the course of the day at room temperature. 

If you are in a rush use only the cool setting on your blow dryer to speed up the drying process but avoid the medium or high settings. 

And that’s it – once dry your hat should be clean and looking as good as new. 

How To Deep Clean A Trucker Hat In 4 Steps 

To deep clean a trucker hat you need to soak it in water and detergent for a few hours, as well as spot clean the heavily stained areas before you soak the hat. 

A deep clean is useful if the trucker hat is very dirty or has sweat stains. 

Let’s go through the steps in more detail.

1. Prepare Your Equipment

To deep clean your trucker hat, you’ll need a tub or sink, laundry detergent, a towel, an old toothbrush or small cleaning brush, and some gloves to protect your hands.

The reason you need gloves to deep clean a trucker hat is that there is more handling and scrubbing of the hat involved in this process compared with the quickwash method.

2. Spot Clean Your Hat

This added step when deep cleaning your trucker hat helps to get rid of sweat stains as well as more deeply embedded dirt particles.

To do this, dilute some of your laundry detergent then dip your brush in this mixture. Take your hat and dip it in cool water.

Find the areas of your hat that have stains or dirt marks. Using the brush, scrub these areas to get rid of these marks as much as you are able to prior to soaking the hat.

Do this for all of the stains that you can see. 

3. Soak The Hat

Similar to the quick wash method, we need to soak the hat.

Fill the sink or tub with cool or lukewarm water and add your laundry detergent, mixing the detergent into the water to create some suds.

Now take your trucker hat and fully submerge it in the water.

In order to deep clean the trucker hat, you now need to leave it to soak for several hours. This will ensure that deeper stains are removed and that the detergent fully penetrates and loosens any dirt from the fabric. 

Check on the hat every so often to see if any areas need further scrubbing, and if necessary scrub these areas again with more diluted detergent.

4. Rinse And Dry

These steps are the same as the quick wash method.

Once your hat has soaked for several hours and any visible stains have disappeared, remove the hat from the sink or tub and thoroughly rinse it under cold water.

Make sure all of the detergent is washed from the hat.

Then simply pat the hat dry using a towel to remove excess water, and either wear the hat throughout the day until it dries or use a container that mimics your head shape to dry the hat on.

And that’s it – you’ve successfully deep-cleaned your trucker hat.

Frequently Asked Questions 

Although we’ve discussed the 2 main ways to clean your trucker hat, there are a couple of other methods of washing your trucker hat that people often ask about.

People also often ask how to wash particular types of trucker hats, such as Patagonia or foam trucker hats.

I’ll answer these queries in more detail. 

How To Wash A Trucker Hat In The Dishwasher 

You can wash a trucker hat in the dishwasher, and here’s how you do it:

  1. Spot clean your hat before you wash it. Using a laundry stain remover and a damp cloth, first dampen any stains and then apply the laundry stain remover. 
  2. According to manufacturer instructions, leave the laundry stain remover on for some time to work. Once the recommended time has elapsed, rinse off the laundry stain remover with cold water.
  3. Place the hat onto the top rack of the dishwasher. Secure the hat to the racks using clips if possible.
  4. Add dishwashing detergent to the dishwasher. Make sure that it doesn’t contain bleach or citric acid, as this could discolor your trucker hat. 
  5. Choose a warm cycle from your dishwasher settings. Never choose a hot setting, as this could ruin the plastic in your hat and warp its shape. Also, make sure the heat drying function is switched off. 
  6. Once the cycle is finished, you can remove the hat from the dishwasher and allow it to air dry at room temperature. 

If you don’t carefully follow the recommended dishwasher settings when washing a trucker hat in the dishwasher, there is a risk of warping the hat shape if it’s exposed to high heat.

If you aren’t familiar with your dishwasher settings and how to adjust them, it’s best to avoid this method. More things can go wrong when using a dishwasher to wash your trucker hat compared with the hand wash methods we discussed earlier.

If, however, you’re confident you can manipulate your dishwasher settings, you might want to give this method a go.

Can I Wash A Trucker Hat In The Washing Machine?

Although it’s tempting, it’s best to avoid washing your trucker hat in the washing machine as there is a risk of irreversible damage to your hat. 

High heat and the spin cycle can lead to color loss and warping of the trucker hat shape. Trucker hats are often made with a foam front panel and so have more of a structured, raised look at the front.

It is this front panel that can become warped if washed in the washing machine.

The safest option for washing your trucker hat, therefore, remains the hand washing method. 

How To Wash A Foam Trucker Hat

It is best to wash trucker hats with a foam front panel by hand, so as not to risk warping the shape of the foam. 

However, you can use the following routine if you want to wash a foam trucker hat:

  1. Fill a tub or sink basin with cool to lukewarm water and add some mild laundry detergent. 
  2. Let the foam trucker hat soak in the mixture for at least 15 minutes, longer if it is more heavily soiled.
  3. Once soaked, rinse thoroughly under running cool water, gently squeeze out any excess water, and pat dry with a towel.
  4. Let it air dry over the course of the day, either wearing it while it dries or putting it over a bowl to mimic your head shape as it dries. 

Avoid using the dishwasher method for trucker hats with a foam front panel.

How To Wash A Patagonia Trucker Hat

The best way to wash a Patagonia trucker hat is to handwash the hat in cool to lukewarm water with some mild laundry detergent.

Handwashing is preferable to using the dishwasher method for Patagonia trucker hats because they have a plastic mesh forming the side and back panels which can warp or even melt at high heat.

The pressure of the water in a dishwasher combined with the higher heat achieved can lead to a misshapen Patagonia trucker hat.

Simply follow the same process as you would for handwashing any trucker hat, as mentioned above. 

How To Clean A White Trucker Hat

To effectively clean a white trucker hat, it is best to use a hand washing method, in addition to spot cleaning any stains.

White trucker hats look great, but unfortunately, even the slightest bit of dirt will show up obviously.

In order to combat this, it’s best to spot-clean any stains prior to handwashing your trucker hat.

Simply take an old toothbrush,  dip it into some diluted laundry detergent, and scrub at the most stained areas.

Whatever you use, be sure to check your hat’s label to make sure these chemicals won’t ruin your hat.

Once spot cleaned, simply proceed to follow the same process for hand washing your trucker hat as mentioned earlier on in this article. 

How Do You Get Sweat Stains Out Of A Trucker Hat?

To get sweat stains out of a trucker hat, a deep clean will often be necessary. Spot-clean the stained area with a mixture of baking soda and water. Let the paste-like mixture sit for 30 minutes before rinsing with cool water. Avoid bleach or other harsh chemicals as they may damage the fabric.

Ultimately, sweat stains can be difficult to remove and special care needs to be taken to avoid damaging the hat in the process of trying to clean it.

How Do You Wash An Old, Vintage Trucker Hat?

Washing an old, vintage trucker hat does run the risk of damaging the delicate fabric and design. Consider spot-cleaning it with a mild detergent and water using a gentle touch. Avoid scrubbing too hard. Once this is done, gently rinse with cool water.

If the hat is especially valuable, it’ll almost always be worth getting it professionally cleaned to reduce the risk of damaging it.

Are Trucker Hats Waterproof?

Trucker hats are not usually waterproof as they are often made from materials like cotton, polyester, or fam which are not typically water-resistant. While some may have a water-resistant coating, this isn’t a common feature.

Trucker hats can be treated with waterproofing sprays and other similar products to make them more water-resistant. They may come in handy when you want to prevent the hat from becoming waterlogged or damaged in wet conditions.


Having taken you through the A-Z of cleaning your trucker hats, hopefully, you can see that the process is simple and uses equipment that you will mostly have on hand.

Remember, gentler methods are best when it comes to cleaning your trucker hats. 

This way, you can preserve their structure and keep them looking as good as new time after time.