Discussion in 'Hats' started by RBH, Nov 15, 2009.
Excellent suggestion - less is more. Strain/filter the naphtha and it is good for many hats.
This is pretty much my approach.
For my last bath I used a 10 gallon ziploc bag to better control the naphtha and areas to soak most. It was very convenient.
I use the same bags to store hats.
I go for the bath technique. I usually use 1.5-2 gallons of fluid to completely saturate the hat, bathe it for several hours, agitating periodically. For my money (and YMMV), just brushing with a little bit of fluid is merely moving the dirt around. Given with some hats, the bottom of the bucket can have 1/8" of crud in the bottom after, I think it's best to flush the hat through. I picked up one of those mesh pizza warmers to toss in the bucket to keep the hat from settling into the crud.
After, I pour it through coffee filters back into the original container.
Also, I have had some luck using white vinegar to attack some stains, such as verdigris. Do this prior to the bath so you wash out any watermarks.
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I know this is nothing like Coleman Fuel , but has anyone seen or heard of this ? I saw it in a Lehman's Catalog ...
Hmmmm...there may be some applications for us.
It's still soap. You would be adding it to water. I'd be concerned, then, about it's effect on the sweatband, etc. Perhaps a dry cleaner would be a good person to bounce this one off of.
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Yeah , I thought about that . I have a hat coming that has an extra bad spot . I was thinking maybe Coleman Fuel and this on the Spot might help , with some brush scrubbing . I've never cleaned a Hat with Naptha at all . I just happened to spot it , and it made me think (rare occurrence) .
I took my "beater" No. 1 apart so the only thing left on it is the brim binding. Naptha* soak, 6 hours, and brushing with a toothbrush removed zero dirt. When I strained the coleman fuel* back into the can the only thing left in my paper towel filter was detritus... looked like accumulated dead skin cells to me. The color of the fuel was still clear and clean looking.
So after the naptha had dried from the felt, I filled the kitchen sink with hot water and dissolved a little clothes washing detergent and OxiClean into the water and plunged my hat into the water. It soaked for about two hours, then I brushed it inside and out with an old toothbrush. The water was filthy, dark brown and most of the dirt was removed from the felt. Not all, though.
I rinsed the felt over and over to remove the soap, then put the hat on a plastic hat stand, put a thick towel underneath and let it dry. It took about 36 hours for it to dry completely. I was worried about the felt shrinking up so every few hours I would force it down over my head, clear over my eyebrows.
Now that it's completely dry I can still see traces of the dirt but it's much improved from what it was. If anything, by periodically using my blockhead as a hat block, the hat/felt is a bit looser fit than it was before. But clearly, the hat needs to be reblocked and reflanged.
I believe it will still be my "beater" No. 1 Quality hat, but it will look a lot better than before. The paint stains are all gone, and most of the stained in dirt. The crushed sides of the crown went away, too.
I don't have a proper block, or a flange. I looked online but the available blocks and flanges are either really expensive or the wrong size.
That brings up a question: How big does your block need to be so that you have enough room to add a reeded sweatband and retain the size you need to fit your head? I'm about 23-3/8", which is in between size 7-3/8 and size 7-1/2.
I might just send it to Mike at NW Hats to reblock and put in a new sweat, but retain the No. 1 Quality satin liner. I'll try and get pics in a few days. The next couple days are filled with all kinds of errands, plus office work.
Having cleaned many hats using naphtha, water, and various other things, a few things:
You are still cleaning a "fabric." It's fur felt and different from cotton or polyester, but many of the same principles apply. While you should take care, it ain't rocket surgery.
Naptha isn't a magic elixir. Just as dry cleaning your suit won't necessarily wash out that wine stain, not all stains will come out using naphtha. Some require special attention. As with any other cleaning process, you must be sensitive to the material you are cleaning and the dyes which go into the makeup. Naptha will remove dirt, but certain stains may require special treatment. As an example, blood is best cleaned using hydrogen peroxide. However, you might want to try a little of that on a small portion of the hat or on another hat you don't care about prior to tackling the job. It may have an effect on the dyes or coloration. I have successfully used white vinegar on fur felt hats, and even chanced OxyClean on a milan hat with no ill effects. However, YMMV.
Water, especially hot water, and the drying process, can shrink a hat and ruin a vintage sweatband. Be careful. Unless you are willing to completely deconstruct the hat and are prepared to properly block it, your results could wind up being a hot mess and you may - may - have a ruined hat.
As with everything else, the proper tools for the job are recommended. You don't try to tune up your Shelby Mustang without a timing light. If you're really going to tackle a complete restoration of your vintage Stratoliner, have the right blocks, flanges, etc.
It is my experience, however, that just giving your hat a naphtha bath is a fairly low-risk activity. You bathe it and set it out to dry. It should not shrink, it should retain it's blocking, and even the flanging effect will be minimal. There seems to be no harm to the sweatband, labeling, or liners (though sometimes liner tips may be washed out. I believe this to be a deterioration to the tip's dyes, which the bath cleans up, rather than an actual attack on the liner tip).
Good advice, Jim.
Here's a few pics of the hat after cleaning. Much cleaner and the crushed sides on the felt are gone. I've not done anything else since except wear it around the house as my Jed Clampett/Beverly Hillbillies hat, LOL.
Beater No. 1
Let me tell you all a story bout a man named Fed , poor ... . LOL ! Looks Great Doug !
Ha! That got me to laugh!
Turned out great. Looks like about a 1" ribbon is the smallest you can go on this one.
I've moved the moth bitten front to the back, plan to increase the crown height about 1/4", and reducing the brim the same amount from 2-3/4" to 2-1/2". Then, a little wider ribbon will cover the dirt stains and moth bites well. Also considering a darker, color fast dye for the felt...
This item was a staple of my mother's. Always a bar of it in our 1950's laundry room to tackle the rough stains.
so I attempted my first bath on Sunday ... I must admit that I am more than pleased with the result
I bathed my 1930s Stetson No.1 Quality that had some pretty deeply soiled areas due to hard wear in its time.
I first treated the heavily soiled areas with a white vinegar solution then dropped the hat in the bath for about 8 hours agitating it every 2 hours or so ... then simply hung it to dry
I treated the sweat with leather conditioner before and after ... I see no ill affects
The before shots
after treating with the vinegar solution and bathing
some heavy rain was predicted so I tented the situation
The hat looks fantastic... better than the photos show .
I was hesitant to try this at first and admittedly skeptical of what the result would be ... sure glad I did it
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