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  • stevecowles

New Life for Old Hats

Updated: Dec 20, 2020

We all gather favourite possessions during our life, from ornaments or CDs to clothes or anything in-between. It is a sad day when one of our favourites reaches the end of the road.

Like many blokes of my age, I have pretty thin coverage on top and generally wear a hat of some sort in most environments unless it is not permitted. This is more to avoid sunburn (prone to it) or cold than for vanity.

My preferred headgear depend on the circumstances but includes

  • Cycling helmet; I hate them but a necessity on the bike, particularly on the roads

  • Baseball cap; for general wear

  • Leather Aussie cowboy hat; reserved for stock car meetings, my friends from that part of my life probably assume I always wear them

  • Beanie; great when it is too cold or windy for a baseball cap.

My two favourite baseball caps have both had a challenging life

  • A cheap Primark crimson hat, much like wee Jimmy Krankie's, which I have worn most days over the last couple of years. When it was almost new, I had it blown from my head in a gale and it disappeared off down the road to be potentially lost forever. About a week later I found it in a soaking and grimy in a gutter. I took it home and left it to dry, cleaned it with a dustpan brush and have worn it ever since despite oil marks and other stains. I was in the bank the other day and noticed the assistant staring intently at the top of my head, when I got home I realised just how bad it was, maybe time to go to the wheelie bin.

  • A black Durakit workwear (great brand) marketing freebie which I used every day for 2 years while working in my local pub so it must have seen some interesting happenings. Literally thousands of times it had dragged through the PVC refrigeration curtains in the beer cellar until the branding has been rubbed off. Covered in sticky beer and generally disgusting. This one had been relegated to a decorating / dirty jobs hat, I should have chucked it but didn't want to let it go.

Anyway, back to the point; before I throw these away, is there any way of cleaning them without destroying them? The washing machine would destroy the shaping of the peak and a conventional hand wash would also be pretty much impossible. Looking at the label of a newer cap it was marked as 'dry wipe only'.

I checked on YouTube and there are lots of tips, all from the US and involving cleaning products I've never hear of. They also feature caps with flat peaks, I'd not trust the judgement of someone who would wear such a monstrosity. Well, nothing to lose so got as close as I could.

My method was

  • Spray the greasy areas with white vinegar from Wilko and allow to soak for 10 minutes

  • Dissolve a measuring cup of Tesco Oxi washing additive in water at the maximum temperature my hands could tolerate and soak the hat for 15 minutes

  • Use a toothbrush to scrub the seams

  • Scrub all over with a scotch-brite scouring pad

  • Rinse well in cold water

  • Hang from the 'snap-back' to drip-dry

I have been really impressed with the results, the caps look very clean as can be seen in the photo, all of the marks and sweat stains have gone but they still look faded and used (I really don't like the look of new ones).

Hopefully good for another couple of years.


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