Don’t clean your caps in the dishwasher or washing machine UNTIL YOU READ THIS - Premium Cap Cleaning Products | Cap Cleaning Blog & Tutorials

Don’t clean your caps in the dishwasher or washing machine UNTIL YOU READ THIS

​At some point, I'm sure you have ​looked down at your 'well worn' cap and wondered if chucking it in the washing machine or dishwasher is really that bad?

​A simple google search on cap cleaning, ​throws up many blogs and Youtube videos which give this method the green light. However, ​​cleaning your caps ​this way could be causing them long-term damage​.

​Let’s​ take a look at why and how else you can safely clean your caps without damaging the colour or shape.  

What’s all the fuss about?

From the jump, I’m going to eliminate using the dishwasher. I wouldn’t wish this on any cap, not even a Manchester United one.

​A dishwasher is just too harsh. For starters, the temperature of the wash and rinse cycle is too hot for safe cap cleaning. When you combine this with dishwasher detergent, it’s a recipe for disaster.

Still, your caps will inevitably get dirty at some point. Even if you brush regularly and store your caps correctly, it only helps to a point. What happens when you spill something on your cap or drop it in a muddy puddle?  

Don’t just pop your cap in the machine. Although many people do clean their caps this way (I have - and it didn’t end well) there are effective, safe alternatives. Keep reading to find out how to safely clean your cap.

Instead of asking “Can I put my cap in the ​washing machine,” the question should be “Is this any good for my cap?” 

To that my response is NO. Compared to the alternatives, ​The washing machine is only going to damage the shape, colour and shorten the life of your cap. ​

What do the manufacturers recommend?

​If you look at the label inside your cap, it most likely advises against using a washing machine. It may even say your cap is unsafe to wash at all.
I’ve heard some whisperings on cap forums that this is meant to induce you to buy more caps. I don’t believe this is completely the case because there are some legitimate reasons why it’s not advised, and here are a few.

Cleaning caps is more complicated than cleaning shoes. There are more ways to ruin a cap. It’s possible cap manufacturers advise against washing caps at all because they’d like to avoid the headache of customer support they would have to offer. Should you put your cap in dishwasher? Here are a few things to consider first.

Occasions when you may be able to get away with washing your cap in the machine:

  • ​Your cap is unstructured with a plastic brim.
  • Your cap is an old cap I use for work/gardening/painting and ​you are not worried about altering the shape or colour.

Things to consider before deciding to use the washing machine:

  • Is it safe to wash your brim? Only wash your cap if it has a plastic brim, not cardboard.
  • If your cap has a structured crown (like fitteds and snapbacks) will you be able to reshape it afterwards?
  • Do you have a washing bag or cap cage to keep your cap protected during the cycle?

​What are the alternativ​​​​es to washing your caps in the machine?

My mantra is use water only when necessary. Going in guns blazing puts the fabric and structure of the cap under unnecessary stress, which causes the cap to look worn out much quicker.

Learn these safe methods to maintain and clean your cap to keep them looking their best for longer.

Which method is best for your cap? Find out below...


I am often surprised at how quickly a good ol’ brush can make my caps look amazing again.  In an ideal world, brush your cap before and after wearing it. It can take a while to get into the habit. Keeping a Cap brush nearby your stored caps is a great reminder. 

How to brush:
​Use light stroking motions with the ‘grain,’ not against.

Why it matters:
Brushing prevents dust and soil from building up. When left on the cap, the soil gets ingrained and attracts more dirt.

​​Spot Cleaning

If your cap is stained, it needs more than a brush. If it’s stained or you want to clean the sweat band, try spot cleaning.

Spot cleaning is a great way to clean stains off small areas of your cap without having to expose your cap to a full-on clean.

​You can download my ‘Ultimate Guide to Cap Stain Removal’ for a detailed look at this method, or watch my tutorial below:

​Deep Cleaning

I deep clean my caps when its completely dirty.  I use a professional machine for full restoration projects.

​However, ​hand washing your cap is a good deep cleaning method, it is not as damaging to your cap as  using a washing machine.

​​It's best to only use this method when spot cleaning wont do. I will be covering the in detail how I deep clean caps in another blog. In the meantime here are a few pointers:

  • Always check the type of fabric from the care label and ensure you only use the appropriate detergent. One specifically for hand washing is preferred.
  • Check for colour fastness in a hidden part of the cap​. See tutorial here.
  • Don’t scrub stains or dirt. Use a cloth or sponge to blot or wipe over.
  • Do not mix detergents. Doing so could neutralize both chemicals or worse case scenario create a new chemical altogether!
  • To protect the colour, wash wool in cool water and cotton, poly cotton and jersey in warm water.
  • Ensure cap is rinsed thoroughly in cool water. Never hot.
  • Always brush your cap before cleaning, remove as much dry dust and soil without scrubbing.

​It’s not so much that your cap is going to self destruct in the washing machine as that it speeds up wear. When I show you the potential negative outcomes, understand these signs don’t necessarily appear in the first wash.

​In fact, if you wash your cap in the washing machine, it may come out fresh and clean! However, consistent machine washes will cause your cap to lose colour and damage the shape at a faster rate. 

This is why hand washing  or spot cleaning is preferable for anyone who wants great results the first time with minimal wear. Personally, I don’t recommend washing a new or valuable cap in the washing machine. Other cleaning methods are much safer, so try these first!

Got any washing machine horror stories or even some restoration triumphs? Please do comment below.

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