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Cleaning spots, stains and soiling from felt hats

photobyalan

A-List Customer
Question about cleaning

I have an older Biltmore felt fedora that has a few spots and I would like to clean it using a dry cleaning solvent, "Afta", which is recommended for cleaning clothing and furs. I plan to submerge the hat in solvent and let it air dry.

My question is, what do I do about the satin liner and leather sweatband? Do they need to be removed from the hat or can they simply be turned inside out and kept out of the solvent as much as possible? I'm assuming I can't just dunk the hat as-is and expect good results.
 

feltfan

My Mail is Forwarded Here
Messages
3,191
Location
Oakland, CA, USA
I don't know how many people you'll find here
with experience using dry cleaning chemicals.
I know there have been quite a few posts about
using Scout, a hat cleaning product, and vinegar.
Do a search for "Scout".

I also know that leather should not be put through
a regular dry cleaning process. Beware.
 

fedoralover

Call Me a Cab
Messages
2,006
Location
Great Northwest
why do you need to completely dip it? I have used Naptha, laquer thinner and assorted other cleaning products. Including the Scout foam and the stuff that looks like Kitty litter, (little granules that you rub into the felt). Oh yes, I've also used white vinegar. But I've never dipped them, I just use a terry cloth and wipe the entire hat counter clock wise. I've gotten the best results with the naptha and the kitty litter. I had some serious stains on my Stetson 100 where the old crown creases were and I was able to get them out to where now you have to have them pointed out to you before you can actually detect them.

I've never heard of the stuff you mention but try using a cloth first and see what results you get. Just make sure you use it outside and with rubber gloves and stay up wind. Remember to wipe the entire hat or it will show where you stopped and started.

fedoralover
 

mosandel

New in Town
Messages
5
Location
Austin, Texas
Cleaning solutions...

I've heard you can use naptha (from a paint store, cheaper than lighter fluid) or denatured alcohol but BE CAREFUL both are highly flammable, no flame, no sparks! And watch breathing fumes!) or I've used Woolite (much safer). I submerged and gently agitated the hat after removing leather sweatband and hatband but I was intending to reblock it completely, new leather and hatband. Came out great.

Again be careful with alcohol and naptha, think about what you'll do if you suddenly find yourself with an armload of fire and have a plan.
 

fedoralover

Call Me a Cab
Messages
2,006
Location
Great Northwest
Kitty litter cleaning

I think several companies make it, but the one I have is made by scout. It's called a spot remover. It literally looks like kitty litter, but basically you put a little bit of it on the spot you want to remove and rub the granules in small circles and it takes the spot out. I pushed the crown in a little to form a dish and then put the granules in it and then rubbed them around and it did wonders to get rid of the old crease marks. It was shaped like a regular cowboy hat and I changed it to a front pinch. The old lines showed up pretty bad until I used the granules. They worked better than the Naptha. I found this product at a western store that had lotsa hats and other cleaning products.

Here's a pic. You can hardly tell they are there.

DSCN0332.jpg


fedoralover
 

besdor

Vendor/Sponsor
Messages
1,726
Location
up north
There is a product called Everbloom cleaning product that is great with removing stains . It's very similar to acetate and works good with certain stains . There is another product called "Goop Off" that you can get in a hardware store(comes in a little yellow can) that is realy good .But just use a little . You can get high just opening the can!!
Better yet , bring it to a hat renavator if they still exist . I found one in Brooklyn NY called Palace Hats one day .If you lit a cigarette in the place , the building would go up with all of the chemicals ,but they were very busy cleaning all of the black hats from the neighborhood .
 

Andykev

I'll Lock Up
Bartender
Messages
4,117
Location
The Beautiful Diablo Valley
Naptha.

I have spot cleaned a hat, fur felt, with Naptha. Use a clean terry cloth rag, out on the back porch with NO OPEN FLAMES. You wet the towel and then rub the spot on the hat. Dust off the hat first or you will make it worse.

Sometimes you find out that the spot is now cleaner than the rest of the hat. Many hat shops clean the hat in Naptha. You have to remove the liner. The sweat remains insde the hat. It gets soaked and scrubbed as needed. Then spun on a spinner in the solvent tank. It air dries over night. They then reblock and brush the hat, re-sew the liner, and you have a good as new clean hat.

I recommend sending it to Optimo for this..they have the proper equipment, and you don't have to expose yourself to cancer causing nasty chemicals.

I hear denatured alcohol works well also, but I haven't tried it.
 

fedoralover

Call Me a Cab
Messages
2,006
Location
Great Northwest
Andy, could you clarify this. are you saying the sweatband stays in but the liner comes out when they dip it? I was never sure if they took all the insides out or not when they did this.

thanks fedoralover
 

photobyalan

A-List Customer
There are several spots I want to get rid of, dipping the hat seems like the best way to avoid what I would call "high water marks" where the cleaning solvent soaked into the hat.

I think maybe I'll just send it out and have it cleaned by someone who knows what they are doing. It's a perfectly good, if a bit soiled, hat now. I see no reason to risk screwing it up to save ~30 bucks. Hmmm... that doesn't sound like me at all. Is this a sign of encraoching maturity?
 

varga49

One of the Regulars
Messages
247
Location
Central Texas
Well after reading all about naptha and doing my own cleaning...I'll defer to a pro. I have an old Mallory that needs restoration I.E. the sweatband looks to be whip stiched in place, it's dirty, and limp but in otherwise sound structural condition.. no moth holes not too faded. So I'm sending it to Paris Hatters in San Antonio a full restore is around 55 dollars! they've been around since 1918..I hope this translates in to a good job!
 
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