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How to Clean a Hat? Part III

Submitted by on January 7, 2012 – 11:22 pm 8 Comments

The Hat Whisperrer demonstates how to sand a hat.

Okay. YouÔÇÖve brushed your hat, youÔÇÖve powdered your hat, youÔÇÖve steamed your hat and you still canÔÇÖt get that little spot out. Maybe itÔÇÖs dirt or a bit of oil or debris. What ever it is, you want it off of your handsome fur-felt fedora.

It is time to go to Def Con 5.

When it comes to cleaning a hat, sandpaper is the nuclear option. You really just donÔÇÖt want to go there if you can avoid it because it can quickly ruin the look and/or finish of your hat.

Having been duly warned of the dangers of using sandpaper on a fur felt hat, if used properly with a little bit of luck, sandpaper can be a big help. HereÔÇÖs how.

Most felt hats have been dyed all the way through, so there shouldnÔÇÖt be an issue with the color, but, just in case, you might want to first try sanding a small patch of felt on the bottom or inside of the hat just to make sure there wonÔÇÖt be a substantial difference when you sand off the first layer.

To get started, use a piece of sandpaper with a 220 grit or finer. The goal is not to sand a hole through your hat.

Cut out a two-inch square of the sandpaper and fold it over your index finger. After performing your test, apply the sandpaper to the spot in question. Lightly sand using small, light circular motions. Check on the spot every pass or two. It doesnÔÇÖt take much sanding to lift out a stain or spot. If the stain is deep, there is probably nothing you can do to fix it. DonÔÇÖt sand a hole in your hat trying to get the stain out.

Depending how much sanding you do, the sanded space might be a shade or two lighter or darker than the rest of the hatÔÇÖs crown or brim. Lightly sand with a single stroke the area around the spot to help the color blend. When blending, it is critical to sand in the direction of the grain of the felt if any exists. You might even have to pass over the entire crown or brim once if the case is severe, but it should even out the color better.

Remember, when it comes to sanding a hat, less is more.

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  • tony bazemore says:

    how do you clean a winter white felt hat with hand and oil from finger prints.with what do you clean or where can i go to receive this cleaning.

    • Nathaniel Cerf says:

      Hi Tony, I’m not exactly sure where you can send it for a deep cleaning these days. However, the advice in this post should work, especially if the oils haven’t sunk too deep into the fur felt. A sand paper 220 grit or finer might help to lift out the prints. With a white hat, you will want to be especially careful about blending the color. Maybe you will have to sand a couple layers out of the fingerprinted spots, but then they will be much whiter than the rest of the hat. You will then, most likely, need to sand off the first layer around the crown or brim or both until everything matches. Be careful not to be too zealous with the sand paper; you easily can sand right through the hat. –Nathaniel

  • TERRY R HEBERT says:

    What about a Beret on the cleaning ,shaping, and storing .I found an addiction I can live with

  • TERRY R HEBERT says:

    I have a beret —- Splendid —PURE LAINE —-IMPERMEABLE —MADE IN FRANCE ——D o you know of this type of Beret ? Is it a good brand ? Is yours better ? I see yours in made where my family came from in France. Thank you again

  • Padam Rat says:

    Hello there,
    I did the dumbest thing ever washed my jaxon pork pie hat with soap but now its totally out of shape i can’t bring it back to shape is there anyway that i can bring it back to shape without using steam?
    thanks in advance

    • hpblogadmin says:


      It sounds like your hat needs to be reblocked. If you have a local hat store they may be able to do it for you. Unfortunately, without steam, there isn’t much that is able to be done.

      Hats Plus.

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