how to clean a leather hat guide

Cleaning Leather Hats: A Comprehensive Guide

Leather hats are popular fashion accessories that not only look great but also provide protection from the sun and other elements. Whether you wear a leather hat for style or for its functional aspects, it’s essential to keep it clean and well-maintained to ensure it lasts as long as possible.

Leather hats are often exposed to various weather elements, including rain, sun, wind, and snow. These elements can cause damage and discoloration to the leather material, making it essential to regularly clean and condition your hat.

A good cleaning routine can also help to remove dirt, sweat, and oils that can accumulate on the leather over time, which can cause the hat to become stiff and uncomfortable to wear for longer periods.

By cleaning your leather hat regularly, you can enjoy it for years to come and keep it looking great no matter what weather conditions you face. We’ve prepared two separate cleaning guides for you.

  1. Cleaning Top-Grain & Full-Grain Leather Hats
  2. Cleaning Suede Leather Hats

How To Clean Leather Hats

Cleaning leather hats is an important step in maintaining their appearance and extending their lifespan. However, not all leather hats are created equal, and different types of leather require different cleaning techniques.

cleaning top grain full grain leather hat

It’s important to mention that proper cleaning removes dirt, sweat, and oils that can cause damage and discoloration, while conditioning the leather helps to keep it soft and supple, preventing cracking and stiffness.

In particular, suede leather hats are more delicate and require special care to avoid damaging the finer leather. In this section, we will focus on the cleaning of top-grain and full-grain leather hats.

1. Use a Microfibre Cloth To Wipe Off dust

When using a microfibre cloth to wipe off the dust from a leather hat, it is important to be gentle to avoid causing any unwanted markings, scratches, or setting existing stains deeper into the leather.

In order to do this safely, use a soft microfiber cloth and gently wipe the hat in the direction of the grain, taking care not to rub too hard or press too firmly. This will help to remove any dust or dirt from the surface of the hat without damaging the leather.

2. Apply a Leather Cleaner

To apply a leather cleaner to your leather hat, start by wiping it down with a clean, dry cloth to remove any loose dirt or debris. We recommend using Bickmore’s Foaming Dark (for dark-colored leather) or Foaming Light (for light-colored leather), as they are specially formulated to clean leather hats.

If you have access to a dedicated leather cleaner, follow the instructions on the label and apply it using a soft-bristled brush or sponge. Gently work the cleaner into the leather, ensuring not to oversaturate the material.

If you don’t have access to a dedicated leather cleaner, you can make your own by mixing equal parts white vinegar and water in a spray bottle. Then, shake the bottle well to ensure that the mixture is thoroughly combined.

Then, spray the mixture onto the hat. Finally, use a soft-bristled brush or sponge to evenly distribute the solution and work it into the leather. 

3. Condition Your Leather Hat

Before conditioning your leather hat, it’s important to ensure that it is fully dry from any previous cleaning or treatment. Once the hat is dry, you can apply a suitable leather conditioner to help keep it soft and supple.

Start by applying a small amount of conditioner to a clean, dry cloth. Rub the conditioner into the leather using circular motions, taking care to cover the entire surface of the hat.

Remember to pay special attention to any areas that are particularly dry or worn. It’s important to note that conditioning your leather hat is especially important if it has been exposed to the sun and rain.

These elements can cause the leather to dry out and crack, so regular conditioning can help extend the life of your hat. After applying the conditioner, allow it to absorb into the leather for several hours or overnight.

Then, use a clean, dry cloth to buff the hat, removing any excess conditioner and leaving it with a soft, supple finish. Repeat this process as needed, depending on how often you wear your leather hat and how frequently it is exposed to the elements.

How To Clean Suede Leather Hats

Cleaning a suede leather hat requires more delicate handling and special cleaning products, compared to ones that are made of top-grain or full-grain leather.

cleaning suede leather hat

Suede leather is made from the inner layers of the hide and has a much softer and finer texture. This makes it more prone to staining and discoloration than top-grain and full-grain leather.

Therefore, you should only use products that are formulated to clean finer leathers such as suede.

1. Absorb Stains With a Suede Eraser

If your suede leather hat is riddled with stains that are harder to remove, such as oil stains or scuff marks, we highly recommend using a suede eraser.

Start by gently rubbing the eraser back and forth over the stain, being mindful not to press it too hard or scrub it too aggressively. Remember that you’re dealing with fine and potentially brittle leather!

The eraser should lift the stain from the suede, allowing you to brush it away (suede eraser kits typically include a brush). However, if you don’t have access to a suede eraser, you can try using chalk instead.

Choose a piece of chalk that matches the color of your hat and rub it gently over the stain. The chalk should absorb oils and other stains, making it easier to brush away. Also, remember to remove stains that are on the side of your hat.

2. Brush Off Eraser Marks

If you find leftover eraser marks on your suede leather hat from using a suede eraser, you can often remove them by using a brush. To do this, start by brushing the hat in one direction to remove any loose dirt or debris.

Then, using the same brush, brush the hat in a different direction to address both sides of the suede nap. This will help to lift the natural fibers and remove any visible eraser marks.

For particularly stubborn eraser marks, you may need to use a suede brush with stiffer bristles to help lift the nap. Brush the hat in a circular motion, working from the outside in, to help restore the texture of the suede. 

3. Wipe Heavily Stained Areas With a White Vinegar Solution (optional)

If you notice stubborn stains on your suede leather hat that you weren’t able to remove using the abovementioned steps, you can try wiping these areas with a white vinegar solution.

Please remember that this step is optional and should only be used if the previous cleaning steps have not been successful.

To make a white vinegar solution, mix equal parts white vinegar and water in a bowl or spray bottle. For particularly stubborn stains, you can increase the proportion of vinegar up to a 30/70 mix.

Dampen a clean microfiber cloth or sponge with the vinegar solution and gently dab the stained area, taking care not to saturate the suede. Once you’ve wiped the stained area, use a clean, dry cloth to blot the hat and remove any excess moisture. Then, allow the hat to air dry completely before wearing it again.

4. Brush the Entire Suede Hat 

To keep your suede leather hat looking its best, it’s important to brush it regularly to remove any dirt and marks that may have accumulated on the surface. Since suede is a more delicate type of leather, it’s best to dry clean it regularly to prevent damage to its natural fibers.

Brushing The Outside

To brush the outside of your suede hat, start by choosing a suede-friendly brush. A natural bristle brush is a good choice, as it’s gentle enough to use on suede without causing damage.

Begin by brushing the entire outside surface of the hat in one direction, taking care to work gently to avoid flattening the nap of the suede. Then, brush the hat in the opposite direction to address both sides of the nap.

Brushing The Inside

One reason why it is important to also brush the inside of a suede hat is to remove any loose dirt, dust, or sweat that may have accumulated. Over time, the sweat and oils from your scalp and hair can cause the suede to stain and even discolor.

By brushing the inside of the hat regularly, you can help to prevent this buildup and keep the suede looking and feeling its best. Simply hold your suede leather hat upside down in one hand, and use the other hand to brush the inner surface gently.

5. Use a Dedicated Suede Cleaning Solution (optional)

A dedicated cleaning solution is an optional step that we typically recommend for deep-cleaning suede leather hats. Take note that you shouldn’t deep clean suede too often as it may potentially damage the material or discolor it.

If you have decided to choose to use a suede cleaning solution such as the Care & Cool Suede and Nubuck Cleaner, make sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully.

The general method is to spray the solution onto the suede and let it sit for a few minutes to penetrate and lift any dirt or stains. Then, using a soft-bristled suede brush, gently brush the hat in a circular motion to remove any dirt or grime that has been lifted by the cleaning solution. After that, you’re all done!

About Gerrit

Co-Founder, Researcher & Writer At Leatherskill

I’m a leather enthusiast who spends most of his free time crafting, researching, and writing about the many facets of this versatile material. Thanks for reading!