The Trick To Washing Beanies Is Simpler Than You Think

From wool styles to hats with pom poms.

by Melanie Richtman
Originally Published: 
If you're wondering how to wash beanies without ruining them, check out these expert tips, products,...
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Winter is here, and the best part of dressing for the cold? Layering. And that doesn’t just mean a sweater and a coat on top. With scarves, gloves, and beanies in rotation, accessories are one of the best parts of keeping warm.

Though winter hats come in all shapes, sizes, and materials, beanies are one of the most common style staples when it comes to head gear. Not only do they keep your head warm, but they also look cool and are great at covering up a bad hair day.

It feels like everyone wears and love beanies, from Rihanna at the Met Gala red carpet to Meghan Markle and Prince Harry going for a stroll. But one thing that’s not as openly discussed is how to care for them.

In fact, you might find yourself wondering should you wash beanies? It stands to reason that they may need a good cleansing; sweat, makeup, and hair products can certainly build up and make your beanie look less than pristine. But the process is not as simple as it seems.

Ahead, everything you should know about washing your beanies, from the best technique to the most effective products.

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Can You Wash Beanies?

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The short is answer is yes, absolutely yes. "You wouldn’t go without washing your hair, right?" Jennifer Ahoni, senior scientist at Tide, tells Bustle. "Well, many of the 'gross' things you are washing out of your hair are also ending up on your hats, which makes it important to wash them regularly to keep them clean."

To really put things into perspective, Ahoni goes on to note just how dirty anything we wear on our bodies can get in just a single day. "Our bodies produce a liter of sweat, 40 grams of sebum — that greasy, oily substance that our skin produces — 2 billion skin cells, and 10 grams of salt," she explains. "We don’t think about it, but some of that sweat, sebum, and dead skin is produced on our scalps and ends up on our hair. As you wear hats, these substances are transferred to the fabric and build up over time which can cause them to get dirty and maybe even smelly."

How To Wash A Beanie Without Ruining It

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Just like any other knit item, the first step should always be to look at the tag for care instructions. You can either hand wash it in cold water with gentle detergent or put it in the machine on the delicate cycle.

Unsure of how to wash your knit beanie? Watch this how-to tutorial from Dadaglobal. It'll show you exactly how to wash your beanies or knit hats, especially if they are on the more delicate and elastic side.

If you're still nervous about washing your beanie, take it to the dry cleaners. It won't cost you much, and you can bet they'll take good care of it.

But regardless of how you wash it, you should let it air dry, rather than throwing it in the dryer. There are two different ways you can do this. If you happen to have a wig stand, then you can place your beanie on the wig stand to keep the round head shape as it dries. If you are like most people and do not have a wig stand, you can just lay it flat to dry.

How To Hand Wash A Beanie

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If your washing machine isn’t super reliable or your knit is more intricate than most, you may want to opt for hand washing instead. If you go this route, start by filling a basin or sink with lukewarm water and a teaspoon of detergent or liquid fabric soap. Swirl around with your hand to make sure that the suds are fully dissolved or mixed in. Then, submerge your beanie in the soapy mixture to make sure that it’s soaking wet.

Swirl it around for about five minutes — yes, five whole minutes — and unless there’s a spot that needs special attention, that’s all it takes. Resist the urge to rub, twist, or knead at it.

Drain and fill your basin with clean water and repeat this process until the water is sud-free, swirling your beanie in the liquid. Lay on a towel to air dry.

How To Wash Beanies With Pom Poms

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For beanies with pom poms made of the same knit thread, fully submerge the beanie and pom pom together. Take care not to rub at the pom pom itself, however, simply letting the water and soap movement itself get rid of any unwanted dirt or dust.

Take note, however, that if the pom pom is made of an alternate material — like faux fur or faux exotics — it should not get wet at all. So, don’t fully submerge those hats in water to protect the pom pom detail.

How To Wash A Wool Beanie

Wool beanies can actually be put in the washing machine, if you so choose, on a gentle cycle. Make sure that the detergent that you’re using is safe on wool or, better yet, wool-specific.

After washing on cold, do not place your beanie in the dryer. Instead, lay it on a drying wrack or on top of a dry towel and let it air dry until there’s no moisture left whatsoever.

Here are some products to use when washing:

Additional reporting by Kayla Greaves.

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