How to Clean a Snapback: A Geardo Guide to Headgear Maintenance

A snapback, or any type of ballcap, really, doesn’t do much for you in terms of protection, but it does help keep bright light, debris, and rain out of your eyes and face. Not to mention, they tend to round out an outfit and leave you looking pretty snazzy when it’s time to hit the town. 

However, they also tend to attract dirt nonstop. You sweat the most out of your head, and all that sweat and grime from your hair gets soaked into the hat, and every time you touch it, oils and debris on your hand get transferred to the hat, too. There’s also all the crap in the air that you have to worry about. 

Just like any piece of gear, it’s your job to maintain your snapback and keep it looking fresh for years to come. 

Today, we’re going to go through the step-by-step learning process of how to clean a snapback.

Let’s get down & dirty!

1: Do Not Machine Wash

First and foremost, the washing machine is snapback's worst nightmare. It will ruin the sizing, damage the bill, and generally leave your awesome hat limp and busted. 

To properly maintain your hat, you’re going to have to put in a little effort and wash it by hand. Not only will you be able to preserve the fabric and the crisp, flat bill that snapbacks are known for, but you’ll be able to give it the proper tender love and care that provides cleaner results. 

All you’re going to need for this process is some warm water, a mild detergent or soap, and a bucket. The hand-washing process itself doesn’t take too long, but you can’t use a dryer to dry the hat. You’ll damage it beyond repair.

Do not, under any circumstances, use bleach or harsh chemicals. Most snapbacks, especially rope snapbacks, are heavily decorative, and bleach can damage the coloring of the hat. Other harsh chemicals can destroy the fabric or the plastic framing used for the size adjuster or the bill. 

So, since air drying is your only option, make sure you set aside a solid 2-3 hours and don’t wash it right before you plan to wear it. 

2: The Initial Cleaning

First, fill your bucket with warm water. It’s important not to use hot water, though. If it’s too much for you to hold your hand under it for more than a few seconds, it’s too hot. 

Add in your detergent or soap while you’re filling the bucket to create a good amount of suds, and get ready to start scrubbing. 

You can use a sponge, rag, or just your hand for this, but the goal is to knock off as much noticeable debris as possible initially. If there are any deeply set stains, try to put some elbow grease into them to help loosen them up and raise them out of the fabric as much as possible. 

3: Swirl and Rest

Now, you’re at the most crucial step in cleaning a snapback: the soaking process. This time-intensive yet hands-on part requires you to immerse the hat in a bucket of soapy water for a duration ranging from 30 minutes to 2 hours, depending on the hat's level of dirtiness.

Don’t just toss it in the bucket and walk away, though. You want to swirl the hat through the water every few minutes

This swirling motion ensures that the water and soap are continuously moved through the fabric of the hat and is able to gently lift and push any dirt, sweat, or other issues out of the fabric.

Just a good few swirls with your hand every few minutes is enough. You don’t have to hover over the bucket or anything like that. 

4: Rinse

Before you start this phase of the cleaning process, try to pull the hat out of the water and let it drip off a bit. This will give you a good idea of how clean the hat is. Remember, we said that the swirling process could take anywhere from a half hour to 2 hours. So, if your hat has some particularly nasty stains, it might not be ready yet. 

If your hat does look ready to go, take it out of the bucket, clean the bucket, and fill it back up with warm water. 

Use that bucket of lukewarm water to rinse the hat and remove any remaining dirt particles and the soap. You want to make sure the hat is fully rinsed. If soap or detergent is allowed to sit in the fabric, it can leave your head itchy, or it can damage the fabric over time. 

If you need to, feel free to run the hat under a warm bath or sink water for this phase of the process. 

5: Air Dry

Finally, you’re at the air dry phase. As we said, you can’t really speed this process up with a dryer or blower dryer. You need to let it air dry to prevent shrinkage or damage to the plastic components within the hat

If it’s a hot summer day, feel free to hang your hat up outside and let the natural air dry it out. If it’s rainy or you’re in the cold season, sitting your hat in a heated bathroom is the best way to go.

Bathrooms tend to be the warmest rooms in a home when the furnace is on, and it will help speed up the process without damaging the house. Just don’t put the hat right on top of a vent. 

This will take anywhere from 2 to 3 hours, but luckily, you don’t need to do anything but let it sit. 

Get the Perfect Snapback for Your Outfit at Combat Iron Apparel

Now that you know how to clean a snapback, it’s time you get one (or two) for yourself.

At Combat Iron Apparel, we’re most known for our less-than-ordinary clothing, but we offer tons of accessories and gear, as well. 

If you’re looking for a new snapback to complement your hot new gym outfit or civilian combat garb, check out our headwear today.

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