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Cleaning spots, stains and soiling from felt hats

ryan_289

Familiar Face
Messages
81
Location
Arkansas
Naphtha bath time!
Funny you mention that. I won a beater western hat on Ebay a couple days ago just because I wanted to try that out. Might do both at the same time. Is there a good thread to read about the process? I'm not sure about ribbons and sweatbands.

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Messages
18,996
Location
Central California
Messages
10,474
Location
vancouver, canada
I checked all my other hats and they were fine. This is our normal closet which is connected to the bathroom so there could be some humidity from that. No other mold issues as far as I can tell and all clothes in closet smell fresh? I'm wondering if I boxed it up after wearing last time and it was sweaty. I'm guessing I should take the liner out and soak it? It appears to have something on it as well.

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Well that is great news. Mold is nasty and can be very harmful to your health depending on the type. Up here in the rainforest we swim in a sea of air born mold. So a water leak or ingress of even small amounts are very bad news as the mold will soon follow. As it is just the one hat something anomalous has occurred. Have fun with the naptha bath, it is easy and fun. I have never had a problem with any ribbon work in the bath. With the leather sweat I just make certain I don't immerse it for a in the naptha…..not sure if that is necessary or just me being ultra cautious.
 

Dumpster Diver

Practically Family
Messages
952
Location
Ontario
That looks like regular old basement mildew from my grannies crawlspace, I'd be pretty delicate with cleaning it, not a expert on Dyes and moulds (No pun intended) but I see that mould may actually feed from the dye itself, or who knows, but it could be oils from sweat from handling who knows...But dark closets and damp will make just about anything break out with some mildew. I've cleaned a bag that was mouldy only to find that the colour ran where the mould spots were, and it makes me want to believe that the mould fed off, or broke down the mordant in the dye, I don't want to scare you off from cleaning it, but hopefully it's not too bad and if you plan to use naptha you might also use a respirator mask IMHO.
 

DaveProc

I'll Lock Up
Messages
4,070
Location
Rhode Island
For your reading pleasure
The American Hatter July 1916
Cleaning Soft Hats, The Gasoline Bath for All Soiled Hats


"In working with gasoline there are several precautions you must bear in mind, ignorance or neglect of which has brought many a man into trouble.."
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Messages
10,474
Location
vancouver, canada
For your reading pleasure
The American Hatter July 1916
Cleaning Soft Hats, The Gasoline Bath for All Soiled Hats


"In working with gasoline there are several precautions you must bear in mind, ignorance or neglect of which has brought many a man into trouble.."
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It is always interesting when I restore an old hat how much damage the sun inflicts on the ribbon and the felt. It is not easily detected until it is deconstructed and I get to see the reverse side of the ribbon. I will reuse the original ribbon as long as it is not frayed and the sun bleaching is uniform. The felt sun bleaching is revealed when the ribbon is removed and the original felt colour is shown. Sometimes the difference is dramatic. But to me it means the hat was well used, well worn as protection from the sun.
 

skylize

New in Town
Messages
30
Update:

Well, I've gone and done it. I got a Dobbs Homburg from an eBay auction and the stench from cigarette smoke was unbearable. I decided to try dipping the hat, lining, leather, and all, in a big bowl of Afta cleaning solvent.

I dipped and swished and dipped some more, then let the solvent run through the crown and the brim. I let as much solvent drip back into the bowl as possible, then left the hat to air-dry overnight with the sweatband turned out. The hat looks and smells like new, no ill effects to the satin, plastic crown lining, or leather, and no shrinkage. Heck, it didn't even affect the center dent or the shape of the brim. It did, however, dissolve the cement that held the satin lining in the hat. A couple stitches will fix that just fine.

This method worked so well that I have gone ahead and dipped two other lids that really needed cleaning. They look great, too.

The only real downside is the nasty fumes from the solvent. It's definitely an operation that needs to be done out of doors, preferably on a breezy day.

Replying to a very old post here, but I think it's worth mentioning:

If your only problem is the smell of smoke, you should be able to simply spray the hat with Febreeze, instead of dunking it in solvents. The discovery of the primary active ingredient of Febreeze as a "cleaning" product came from a scientist who smoked working with that chemical, and then coming home to a wife confused why he did not smell like an ashtray.
 
Messages
10,474
Location
vancouver, canada
Replying to a very old post here, but I think it's worth mentioning:

If your only problem is the smell of smoke, you should be able to simply spray the hat with Febreeze, instead of dunking it in solvents. The discovery of the primary active ingredient of Febreeze as a "cleaning" product came from a scientist who smoked working with that chemical, and then coming home to a wife confused why he did not smell like an ashtray.
In the theatre and film world the costumers use Vodka to spritz clothing to rid odours. Many people cannot abide the smell of Febreze....its perfumy odour turns a lot of people off so the costumers stay away from its potentially negative impact. Vodka works very well and like naptha leaves zero odour.
 

skylize

New in Town
Messages
30
In the theatre and film world the costumers use Vodka to spritz clothing to rid odours. Many people cannot abide the smell of Febreze....its perfumy odour turns a lot of people off so the costumers stay away from its potentially negative impact. Vodka works very well and like naptha leaves zero odour.

The perfumes are a secondary addition to the primary ingredient that makes Febreeze what it is. Unfortunately, I don't think they offer it with none (and no idea what that chemical smells like on its own).

Seems like, with as large a variety of fragrances as they offer now, you could find one that doesn't bother you. And the fragrance will dissipate with time, while the removal of the foul odor will persist.
 
Last edited:
Messages
10,474
Location
vancouver, canada
The perfumes are a secondary addition to the primary ingredient that makes Febreeze what it is. Unfortunately, I don't think they offer it with none (and no idea what that chemical smells like on its own).

Seems like, with large variety fragrances as they offer now, you could find one that doesn't bother you. And the fragrance will dissipate with time, while the removal of the foul odor will persist.
The downside of Febreze is the fragrance does not flash off as vodka, alcohol, naptha....it lingers for a very long time. And people with an aversion to fragrance react negatively to fragrance period...not just a particular fragrance be it Febreze or Chanel #5. That is why professionals do not use Febreze. There is an interesting thread in the Outerwear section of a fellow trying very hard with little success to rid a waxed cotton jacket of Frebreze.
 

skylize

New in Town
Messages
30
There is an interesting thread in the Outerwear section of a fellow trying very hard with little success to rid a waxed cotton jacket of Frebreze.

Interesting. A failed search for the referenced thread brought up a lot of negative comments about Febreeze. I had no idea there were so many people with such a hatred for it.

I have an aversion to fragrances only when they are much too strong. E.g. it makes me nauseous standing next to someone who doused themselves in tons of perfume 3 minutes ago. But that doesn't seem to compare at all to people going on about how terrible Febreeze is, trapped in fabric long after use.

I'm wondering to what extent Febreeze-haters hate all Febreeze vs just hating the perfumes of the original fragrance (which for several years was the only option). I generally use the Lavender scent.

It would be great if there was a fragrance-free version for commercial use. I'm thinking I need to lookup the Febreeze patent. If it happens to be expired already, then the magical primary ingredient might be available from some manufacturer without all the added perfumes.

Anyway, I still stand behind my suggestion ... for personal use ... if you are not an anti-Febreezer. ;)

Good to know that simple spritzing of solvents can likely work too, without the risk of only replacing one odor with another.
 
Messages
10,474
Location
vancouver, canada
Interesting. A failed search for the referenced thread brought up a lot of negative comments about Febreeze. I had no idea there were so many people with such a hatred for it.

I have an aversion to fragrances only when they are much too strong. E.g. it makes me nauseous standing next to someone who doused themselves in tons of perfume 3 minutes ago. But that doesn't seem to compare at all to people going on about how terrible Febreeze is, trapped in fabric long after use.

I'm wondering to what extent Febreeze-haters hate all Febreeze vs just hating the perfumes of the original fragrance (which for several years was the only option). I generally use the Lavender scent.

It would be great if there was a fragrance-free version for commercial use. I'm thinking I need to lookup the Febreeze patent. If it happens to be expired already, then the magical primary ingredient might be available from some manufacturer without all the added perfumes.

Anyway, I still stand behind my suggestion ... for personal use ... if you are not an anti-Febreezer. ;)

Good to know that simple spritzing of solvents can likely work too, without the risk of only replacing one odor with another.
The only things I use are naptha and vodka. Naptha works best to rid grime and stains. I don't use it on odours as I found it to be spotty in its effectiveness. Naptha does however gas off very quickly and that includes any odour. Not a big fan of the naptha smell and the first time I bathed a hat in it I was very skeptical of the results due to the odour. But within 24 hours the felt was totally scent free.

Vodka is my first choice as it leaves a slight odour for just a brief period. Industrial strength vinegar works better than vodka but the odour lingers and if it is used on clothing I walk around for a few days salivating as I can't get the smell and Pavlovian thought of french fries out of my head.
 

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