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No symbol is more synonymous with cowboys and the American West than the classic felt cowboy hat. Whether you wear yours daily for working on the ranch, never ride without it, or only reach for it on special occasions, knowing how to clean a felt cowboy hat is essential.

Not only does this keep your hat looking its best, but proper cleaning will also extend its life and ensure you get many years out of it. Keep reading for cleaning tips to ensure the relationship with your favorite cowboy hat is one of your longest.

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How to Clean a Felt Cowboy Hat

Before touching your hat with any special cleaning tools or solutions, check the interior for special care instructions. These may be on a tag, label, or hidden behind or inside the band.

There are many cowboy hat styles, and not all felt hats are created equal. Some contain wool, while others may contain a different type of animal fur. Others may have protective finishes, so following the instructions specific to your hat is essential.

Use a Hat Brush and Lint Roller for Light Cleaning

Every cowboy wants to keep his felt hat looking its best. That’s why our first cowboy hat cleaning tip is to lightly clean your hat on a regular basis. For this, you’ll need a hat brush.

A hat brush and lint roller both come in handy for this, helping to keep dust, dirt, lint, and hair at bay.

With a brush, start at the front of your hat and move toward the back, going counterclockwise as you work. Use short, consistent strokes in the same direction. Don't use any ol' brush for this; hat brushes have special soft bristles that won't damage the fibers in the felt.

Ranchman hat upside down showing inside

Invest in a Hat Sponge

Wondering how to clean a felt hat, but your brush isn't doing the trick? It’s time to turn to a hat sponge. Typically sold in a two-pack (one for light colors and one for dark colors), hat sponges do a fantastic job removing smudges, dirt, and other light stains. Use small circular motions, taking care not to rub the stain, as that can cause it to set in deeper or even permanently.

Hat sponges are generally used dry. But you can use a special felt hat cleaning solution or a gentle fabric stain remover for more stubborn spots. Before using it, test a small, inconspicuous section of your hat for colorfastness.

Attack Grease With Cornstarch

Like the Hatfields & McCoys, grease and felt are arch enemies. Grease quickly sets into felt, so once you notice the stain, it's important to clean it as soon as possible.

To do so, sprinkle a teaspoon or so of cornstarch directly onto the grease stain. Gently dab it in (remember, an important rule of how to clean a cowboy hat is to never rub!) and let it sit for about 10 minutes. Keeping with cowboy hat etiquette, you should turn your hat upside-down on its crown while it's sitting.

Using your hat brush or sponge, carefully brush away the cornstarch. If the stain is deeply set, you may need to repeat this process once or twice.

Don't Forget the Headband

As you think about how to clean a felt hat, it's easy to overlook the interior—don't! Dry powders like cornstarch or baking soda, applied directly to the band, are the most effective, helping to absorb the build-up. Sweat, grime, and oils accumulate on the headband, and your hat will undoubtedly benefit from a periodic clean.

You can also use leather cleaner if your headband is badly stained or has a foul odor. Just apply it with a cloth and take extra care not to get it on the hat. The band will need to completely air-dry, so consider cleaning it just before storing your cowboy hat for the night.

Woman wearing cowboy hat on horseback

Tecovas Can Help You Wear it Well

Now that you know how to clean a cowboy hat, it's time to upgrade yours and wear it well. With our signature shape and 100% rabbit fur felt, The Ranchman is an authentic, traditional western cowboy hat. Pair yours with handmade Tecovas cowboy boots or women's boots, and while you're here, browse the blog for more outfit and lifestyle tips.