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Removing stains from felt

Discussion in 'Hats' started by Chas, Apr 5, 2008.

  1. Chas

    Chas One Too Many

    I've got this vintage fedora - light tan with some stains on the inside edges of top edge (roof? crown?).

    It's chiefly grime, I think. Nothing too serious like ink or coffee. Any suggestions for removal?

    Thanks, all for any replies. The second pic is a tad blurry, but shows the color.

  2. I need to know this too!

    I recently scored a vintage grey Stetson Whippet (to keep my brown one company!) and the open crown needed a little coaxing in order to accept a bash and front pinch/dents. Usually I use teapot steam but for once, I decided to dunk it in water as I have read this works fine as well.

    So I dunked. And Bashed. And pinched. And it looked good so I let it dry.

    Then I saw where it seems the old dark (probably was once black) ribbon appears to have "bled" some of its dye onto the crown near the bow and onto the brim around almost the whole circumference.

    DANG! I haven't even worn it yet, and didn't count on that happenin'. The "bleeding" color looks faintly blue against the warm grey of the felt. Once dry I brushed it well and used the orange rough sponge deal. That softened the apperarance of the damage but the stain remains.

    Chas and I need your cleaning suggestions, folks!

  3. AlanC

    AlanC My Mail is Forwarded Here

    If you're just doing basic creasing I think that spritzing with distilled water on the areas I want to crease (eg, top, front, etc) then massaging it in with my fingertips gets it wet enough to do anything I need to do. It seems to me that dunking a hat, especially one that's open crown, is killing a gnat with a sledgehammer.
  4. As for cleaning run a search here for Naptha or white gas and you may even try coleman fuel. You should get info on self cleaning a fedora with that.

    Good Luck
  5. Thanks folks...

    ...Good tips!
  6. Stoney

    Stoney Practically Family

    My opinion as other may disagree. That it for what it is worth to you.

    The general rule to follow when cleaning lids is to use the least destructive methods first then move on to the potentially hazardous ones only if you must.

    For grime start with a soft sponge and a little water and work it gently to avoid damaging the felt.

    Wetting the effected area with warm water is the nest step up from that.

    If the stain is protein based or sticky you can try denatured alcohol before moving full bore into a Naptha bath.

    When using Naptha also use caution. I've read of folks on here who dunk the entire hat is Naptha with no problems occurring and everything coming out fresh and clean as a daisy. I've alse read of some horror stories resulting from the same action. Remember that Naptha is a cleaning solvent and can react badly with anything that is petroleum based. For instance, someone may have treated the leather with a petroleum based product. :eek: A twisted sweatband is on it way. The artwork in the liner may be affected, just discolored or worse bleed into the felt and ruin it for good.
    My point is that although a Naptha bath can turn a dingy grimy old hat into a fresh new lid, it can also ruin a vintage hat for good. If you're going to put one in Naptha I suggest you remove the ribbon and liner first and clean each individually again using the least destructive method possible.

    The same is true of dunking in water as Gene can tell you first hand. Most of us will take the risks with a water dunk but some of us treat Naptha with a little more respect.

    You're always better off in the end If you don't rush the job when cleaning a lid.

    Edit: One other thing on the Naptha use. Since there have been problems with sweatbands being ruined you may want to test a small section of the sweatband using a few drops of Naptha, front and back of the sweatband, before dunking the entire hat. If you see no reaction to the Nepatha, then it may be safe to remove the liner and ribbon and dunk the hat. There is still a risk involved, but I feel this minimizes it for you. Again that's just me. I'm a cautious person by nature and one who is more cautious after ruining a hat or two myself.

    Oh and don't forget about using Woolite in your kitchen sink as a cleaning agent as well.
  7. mtechthang

    mtechthang One of the Regulars

    Have you proper brush and supplies?

    To start off, :)

    Do you have hat brushes and some hat specific cleaning supplies? I'd agree with the, "Start gentle and proceed carefully" notion. You tried the cleaning sponge (the soft or dry cleaning type sponge might be a better first step). Then I'd try the "spot remover for hats" (grainy in a shaker- Scout makes one) with the soft sponge. Then the orange sponge and then the spot remover with the orange sponge. Going to anything more abrasive than that will require much care and I would advise caution! It might be worth using the cleaning services of our FL experts if you go past that point. Sandpaper etc requires proper technique or you'll wind up with a divot in the felt!! Then you get into dampening and burnishing and pouncing, etc.

    Oh. And replace the ribbon!! I'd like to hear from the experts but that sounds wrong (cheap or non-hat ribbon would be my uneducated guess). If you get it fixed and it rains back comes the stain (it may be that you just noticed it or it got a little worse after the dunking. I'd replace it though.) Good luck. Let us know what works.
  8. Stoney and Mtechthang; Thanks for those details! It may be hard for Chas to know what put the marks on the crown of his hat but in my case I'm pretty sure its dye from the ribbon. Now I'll have to figure out what cuts or neutralizes dye.

    I agree with the notion that if it gets rained on it'll probably happen again and that it should therefore go. Darn it though, I sort of liked its faded appearance.

    Oh well. I got caught in a helluva downpour and had to walk several blocks in last Thursday while wearing an old Open Road 3X. Second rain that hat was under that week and this one was a gullywasher. That hat never seemed to notice! Totally held its shape and dried out good as new...er, old...y'know what I mean. Since the possibility of getting caught in the rain is real, it salved my conscience a little for causing the water dunking problem on the Whippet. I mean if I hadn't been a dope it could have gotten rained on and that would've caused it too. Small comfort.
  9. Instead of starting a new thread I thought this would fit here.;)

    My dad came over today for my daughter's birthday party wearing his Biltmore open road style silver belly hat I gave him for Father's day. It's one I traded a hat with Colby Jack for since it was too small for him but was my dad's size.

    Anyway when he came in he was visibly upset and showed me a black grease stain about the size of a dime on the top of the brim. He could not figure out how it got there. When we were at majormoore's shop the day after the Memphis meet he gave us a small pad with some "stuff" on it he had created which he calls Potion #9.
    Thinking that nothing would take that stain off, I said what the heck and tried it. After lightly brushing it started to lighten and after a minute was completely gone!! I never thought that anything would remove it so no I did not take pics but REALLY wish I did.:eusa_doh: After that my Lab came in and being excited with all the visitors hit a cup of fruit punch with his tail sending about 10 drops onto the hat. The funny comments came out about bring out the "potion #9" and it removed them. We were pretty amazed of course he did decide to don his hat and leave it on after the 2nd go around!lol

    I have no idea what that stuff is but if you have something like that shoot a PM to Mike and see what he can do. This stuff really works!!
  10. Dinerman

    Dinerman Super Moderator Bartender

    Get a hat sponge. they're pretty good at taking care of must surface stains.
    I've used scout hat cleaner, but don't like it, I feel it changes the way the felt feels.
  11. Jabos

    Jabos A-List Customer

    HELP with INK stain!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I have my beautiful silverbelly Art hat on my desk at work. I reached over to move it just now and put a 1/2 inch ink pen mark across the front of the crown. :rage: :rage: :rage: :rage: :rage: :rage: Stupid move!

    Help!!!!!! My wife thinks the Tide Stick is a gift from God, but I'm afraid to just go off half cocked and really screw it up. What about the Potion #9? Denatured Alcohol? Scotts? I'm just afraid of spreading it.

    I got the brilliant idea of marking on my Art sample and testing on it rather than the hat. Please help! Thanks
  12. rlk

    rlk I'll Lock Up

    Try just the hat sponge first, you may get lucky if its just on the surface.
  13. I used Zippo cigarette lighter fluid to get felt-tip marker out of a vintage hat recently. Do a search because I remember somebody getting an ink pen mark out of a hat in the Lounge. BEST of luck.
  14. Jabos

    Jabos A-List Customer

    I went back and found this thread dealing with ink on silverbelly-a more specific thread than this one I believe.

    I don't know about using the brush. I only have an orange one like Dinerman mentioned in the other thread. I think I'll try that one first. I'm then leaning toward the denatured alcohol second, since I have some at home. But, I'm still open to suggestions!

    And what about the corn starch idea mentioned in the other thread by J.T. Marcus. Man, that is something I'd never think of in a million years. Perhaps a generation thing (no offense intended J.T.!!!).
  15. That was the thread (I just hit it on search too).

    Most stain removing products for clothes is basically vodka. Only thing with spot cleaning the ink mark is surrounding felt may become lighter than rest of the hat. I didn't notice anything like that when getting the felt marker out of that other hat but it was not near a VS Custom in value.
  16. Jabos

    Jabos A-List Customer

    Thanks. My wife found a thread about using hair spray to remove ink off a felt pool table. I'm too scared of using hair spray. Like you say GTD, I'm worred about either causing the ink to bleed on the surrounding felt or lighten the felt overall. I'll post pics of my experiment tonight. Let this be a warning to you kids to keep your ink pens away from your hats!!!!;)
  17. Stuff happens Jabos! I'd try a q-tip soaked in alcohol or lighter fluid to see if it would soak the ink out. Keep us posted & be safe out there!!!
  18. Inusuit

    Inusuit A-List Customer

    I was just about to suggest...

    I don't know if Zippo lighter fluid will work on ink, but I used it successfully to remove stains of unknown origin (looked oily or greasy) from an older 4X Stetson silverbelly western that I bought cheap on Ebay. I used a terrycloth fabric, soaked a spot the size of half a dollar bill and then rubbed the stain briskly. Took a couple of times to get it right. I learned to rub the area around the stain also, otherwise there was a tendency for the process to leave a "ring" that wasn't dissolved by the lighter fluid. This worked so well on the stains on the crown that I also used it on stains on the brim at the back of the hat which were probably from oil on the previous owner's hair. gtd's suggestion to use a Q-tip is probably a smart way to start with the ink line.
  19. ScottF

    ScottF Call Me a Cab

    I've seen plenty of hats here that have the green metal corosion on the felt near where the sweatband is sewn together. In the case of a recent purchase, the green is all the way through to the top of the brim.

    Any experiences getting out the "green pain" stain?
  20. Jabos

    Jabos A-List Customer

    I'll try the dry sponge, then the denatured alcohol, then the lighter fluid. I bet the alcohol would work on that "green stuff" too. I have a couple of old WW2 items with those green stains-a sure sign something is original. I wonder why we don't get that green corrosion on newer items? Does it come out only after 40 years or so? I've cleaned it off parts of the leather jacket in the avitar and it keeps coming back. I guess it is the nature of the composition of the metal. I've seen it on the round metal rings used as vent holes on hats and jackets, as well as zippers, etc. The mysterious "Green Stuff".

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