dealing with vintage hats, purists never wear them,
less strict collectors wear them when their hair is
very clean, and nobody takes the aging hat out in a
downpour. Stiff hats will collapse. Keep a close
eye on the weather when wearing vintage hats. If you
are caught in the rain with your felt hat, turn out
the sweatband to dry it and to provide a platform for
the hat to slowly dry on.
Gently push out the
creases and dents to make the crown as rounded as possible.
Never use a hair dryer as this will wrinkle and damage
the hat. Once the hat is dry, gently reform the crease.
Whether vintage or modern,
dust your hat daily with a soft-bristled brush.
Stiff bristled brushes will tear the felt. Western stores
frequently sell hatter’s brushes for this dusting
job. Use a dark-colored brush for dark hats and a light
colored brush for light hats.
A damp towel with a slight nap can
also be used to remove dust. Gently rub the dampened
towel in a circular counterclockwise motion over the
surface to quickly remove dust. A soft towel used to
dry off with after a shower will work. Remember, do
not try this with a stiff hat, moist shellac is a terrible
For stubborn stains the brush will
not reach, try using a soft, small-pored sponge such
as a makeup sponge or a bit of foam rubber. Rubber sponges
are slightly sticky and will coax surface soiling away
from the felt. An art-gum eraser will work as well,
as long as your remember to rub with a counterclockwise
motion to the grain.
deeper stains, sanding is required. Using the
finest sandpaper on the market, move the sandpaper counterclockwise
very gently and gently touch the dirty spot. Be careful
not to dig in or use your finger to push up against
the spot from underneath as either of these will cause
the sandpaper to dig in and create a weak spot. When
sanding is required, make sure to remove only the tiniest
layer of felt.
Oily stains are a different
matter. For these you need to head to the paint or drug
store and fine Fuller’s Earth. It has
the consistency of baking powder, will not stain hats,
and will draw the oily residue out of the hat fibers
Brush the stained spot off first. Apply roughly one-eight
inch worth of Fuller’s Earth, and let is sit for
two or three hours. Brush the power off afterwards with
a soft brush or towel. Repeat this process if necessary.
When finished, use a plastic or rubber sponge to clean
away power that has penetrated into the felt.
If stains remain after all of this,
find a professional renovator for your hat. Heavy sweat
stains, for example, need professional attention as
they penetrate deep into the body of the felt.
A Straw Hat
“How to Clean Everything” by Alma Chesnut
||Keep them well brushed and they will be
damaged less if caught in the rain.
||To clean them, wipe with a cloth dipped
in warm suds, made with a synthetic detergent
or soap. Rinse with a cloth wrung out of plain
water. Do not get a straw hat too wet or it
||Limp straws can be stiffened by brushing
them over with a light coat of clear shellac,
diluted with an equal amount of alcohol. To
brighten the color and renew the gloss of
dark straws, rub them with a dark cloth dampened
with alcohol, diluted with one quarter the
amount of water, then polish them lightly
with a piece of dark-colored velvet.
This practical headwear
information is courtesy of Village Hat Shop from the
pages of villagehatshop.com. For more information on
the history of hats and other hat facts, check out villagehatshop.com