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Sweat stains ruining felt hats & panamas: is that a real thing?

Genuine Classic Gangster

One of the Regulars
Messages
162
Location
Canada
Lately I've been watching a youtuber who works as a hat salesman for a living at a retail hat store.

In his videos, he claims that a lot of times people have to get rid of their hats after they develop sweat stains around the brim of their hats in front, and/or on the crown in the front.

I've been wearing hats like these for over 20 years, but that's never happened to me, not one out of any of the many hats I've worn have ever developed any sweat stains that are visible to the eye.

And I've worn my summer hats in sweltering heat that sometimes exceed 35 degrees celsius, and I definitely have sweat inside of my hats a ton.

So, I'm not sure how to reconcile my personal experience of never gaining visible sweat stains on my hats, with this hat salesman's claims that it happens all the time.

What say you to this matter? Are sweat stains in felt hats and panama hats a real thing? Or is this salesman just making stuff up?

And if they are a real thing, then how come it never happens to my hats? (it definitely wouldn't be from lack of sweating inside of my hats).
 

Mighty44

One Too Many
Messages
1,714
I had a modern Borsalino straw hat I bought from JJs and wore for 7 or 8 years. It had a cloth sweatband and eventually developed sweat stains on the ribbon and brim and I ended up retiring it because it didn’t look so good but that was years of wear when it was my only summer hat.

David
 

dkstott

Practically Family
Messages
715
Location
Connecticut
I've seen it much more often in unlined vs hats with liners.

a lot depends on a individuals physical chemistry. I know guitar players whose finger oil & sweat corroded strings in a few weeks. Whereas, I know guitar player's who play just as frequently & their strings last 6 months.
 

Xylophile

One of the Regulars
Messages
132
Location
Shenandoah Valley of Virginia
Lately I've been watching a youtuber who works as a hat salesman for a living at a retail hat store.

In his videos, he claims that a lot of times people have to get rid of their hats after they develop sweat stains around the brim of their hats in front, and/or on the crown in the front.

I've been wearing hats like these for over 20 years, but that's never happened to me, not one out of any of the many hats I've worn have ever developed any sweat stains that are visible to the eye.

And I've worn my summer hats in sweltering heat that sometimes exceed 35 degrees celsius, and I definitely have sweat inside of my hats a ton.

So, I'm not sure how to reconcile my personal experience of never gaining visible sweat stains on my hats, with this hat salesman's claims that it happens all the time.

What say you to this matter? Are sweat stains in felt hats and panama hats a real thing? Or is this salesman just making stuff up?

And if they are a real thing, then how come it never happens to my hats? (it definitely wouldn't be from lack of sweating inside of my hats).
I imagine to some degree it may depend on how "oily" a person's skin is, such that the more oil in the sweat, the more staining you get, as the sweat may evaporate while the oil remains and maybe continues to migrate. For me it shows up on pillow cases and the like, not on felt hats yet though.
 
Messages
10,375
Location
vancouver, canada
Lately I've been watching a youtuber who works as a hat salesman for a living at a retail hat store.

In his videos, he claims that a lot of times people have to get rid of their hats after they develop sweat stains around the brim of their hats in front, and/or on the crown in the front.

I've been wearing hats like these for over 20 years, but that's never happened to me, not one out of any of the many hats I've worn have ever developed any sweat stains that are visible to the eye.

And I've worn my summer hats in sweltering heat that sometimes exceed 35 degrees celsius, and I definitely have sweat inside of my hats a ton.

So, I'm not sure how to reconcile my personal experience of never gaining visible sweat stains on my hats, with this hat salesman's claims that it happens all the time.

What say you to this matter? Are sweat stains in felt hats and panama hats a real thing? Or is this salesman just making stuff up?

And if they are a real thing, then how come it never happens to my hats? (it definitely wouldn't be from lack of sweating inside of my hats).
I am a custom hat maker that also does refurbishments of vintage/aged hats. Yes, it is a thing. For me personally it is not as I live in a temperate climate and am not a heavy sweat guy. But I have cleaned hats (felts) that are sweat stained. I find it more often in western hats as they are more often a working hat....worn for multiple hours in a day under the sun whilst working. Sweat I think is also a factor in the rotting of the leather sweat bands. Over time the salts/oils in our sweat rot the leather......how quickly is dependent on the leather quality. Some of the cheap composite leathers disintegrate rather quickly while the good leather stands up for much much longer. The good news is that sweat stains are easily removed. It is one of the stains that can be cleaned completely....even from the crown ribbon/bow.
 

jlee562

I'll Lock Up
Messages
5,049
Location
San Francisco, CA
Don't get me started on Kevin......

Yes, sweat can mess up your hat. Yes, it is somewhat dependent on the individual. I refurbed a 7xCB where the owner had already gone through one sweatband, and sweat through the replacement, and it even had the extra oil skin barrier. I replaced the sweat because it was starting to dry out.

 

Short Balding Guy

I'll Lock Up
Messages
9,578
Location
Minnesota, USA
Lately I've been watching a youtuber who works as a hat salesman for a living at a retail hat store.

In his videos, he claims that a lot of times people have to get rid of their hats after they develop sweat stains around the brim of their hats in front, and/or on the crown in the front.

I've been wearing hats like these for over 20 years, but that's never happened to me, not one out of any of the many hats I've worn have ever developed any sweat stains that are visible to the eye.

And I've worn my summer hats in sweltering heat that sometimes exceed 35 degrees celsius, and I definitely have sweat inside of my hats a ton.

So, I'm not sure how to reconcile my personal experience of never gaining visible sweat stains on my hats, with this hat salesman's claims that it happens all the time.

What say you to this matter? Are sweat stains in felt hats and panama hats a real thing? Or is this salesman just making stuff up?

And if they are a real thing, then how come it never happens to my hats? (it definitely wouldn't be from lack of sweating inside of my hats).

My experience is that with hard effort the sweat and grim stains do appear from the leather sweat ring on the outside. The sweat barriers work well, but not perfectly. Older leather sweats I have destroyed wearing them hard. I have a hard time telling whether the leather is going to fall apart on me or be sturdy. They look sturdy and then -boom, they crumble. Replacing one is an easy way of extending the wearabiity of your hat.

Cleaning with white gas and cleaning the ribbon and even dish soap the liner have all been solutions I continue to use. I try hard not to get the hat in this state by wearing multiple hats for hard efforts, carrying a cotton handkerchief to wipe my brow during efforts (like a hard hike), and generally having a few hats that I devote to wearing during hard efforts.

Delicate and valuable hats I try to wear gently. I have to say that a vintage Stetson OR 25 and my Akubra CampDraft are my go best hard effort hats. "They take a licking and keep on ticking."

Cheers, Eric -
 
Last edited:

AbbaDatDeHat

I'll Lock Up
Messages
8,644
Lately I've been watching a youtuber who works as a hat salesman for a living at a retail hat store.

In his videos, he claims that a lot of times people have to get rid of their hats after they develop sweat stains around the brim of their hats in front, and/or on the crown in the front.

I've been wearing hats like these for over 20 years, but that's never happened to me, not one out of any of the many hats I've worn have ever developed any sweat stains that are visible to the eye.

And I've worn my summer hats in sweltering heat that sometimes exceed 35 degrees celsius, and I definitely have sweat inside of my hats a ton.

So, I'm not sure how to reconcile my personal experience of never gaining visible sweat stains on my hats, with this hat salesman's claims that it happens all the time.

What say you to this matter? Are sweat stains in felt hats and panama hats a real thing? Or is this salesman just making stuff up?

And if they are a real thing, then how come it never happens to my hats? (it definitely wouldn't be from lack of sweating inside of my hats).
Count your lucky stars
B
 
Messages
18,925
Location
Central California
Lately I've been watching a youtuber who works as a hat salesman for a living at a retail hat store.

In his videos, he claims that a lot of times people have to get rid of their hats after they develop sweat stains around the brim of their hats in front, and/or on the crown in the front.

I've been wearing hats like these for over 20 years, but that's never happened to me, not one out of any of the many hats I've worn have ever developed any sweat stains that are visible to the eye.

And I've worn my summer hats in sweltering heat that sometimes exceed 35 degrees celsius, and I definitely have sweat inside of my hats a ton.

So, I'm not sure how to reconcile my personal experience of never gaining visible sweat stains on my hats, with this hat salesman's claims that it happens all the time.

What say you to this matter? Are sweat stains in felt hats and panama hats a real thing? Or is this salesman just making stuff up?

And if they are a real thing, then how come it never happens to my hats? (it definitely wouldn't be from lack of sweating inside of my hats).


I’ve permanently discolored a couple shantung hats, including one that was worn only one day. I have a couple of Panama hats (toquilla) that have some serious sweat stains. Several of my felt hats have been sweated through where there are salt stains and a line of discoloration. The presence or absence of a liner hasn’t made any difference for me as I’m sweating through the leather sweatbands and a thin piece of satin or silk isn’t going to make a difference.

It’s hard to say definitively what has caused the damage to a 75 year old sweatband on a hat that I’ve only own for three years, but I strongly suspect my perspiring has ended the life of more than one vintage sweatband. I try to have a handkerchief on me to wipe the sweatbands in warm weather. Different periods of sweatbands also seem to be more or less resistant to rotting. I’ve paid to have the sweatbands replaced on several hats. I also have some hats with sweat stained ribbons.

I don’t know why you haven’t had a similar experience. It’s happened to me on vintage hats and new hats, custom hats and off the rack hats, and hats made in the US and hats made in a few other countries. Maybe you’re just living more righteously than I am? ;)

Then again, the distressed and stained look carries a $500 premium with some hatters.
 

Genuine Classic Gangster

One of the Regulars
Messages
162
Location
Canada
I’ve permanently discolored a couple shantung hats, including one that was worn only one day. I have a couple of Panama hats (toquilla) that have some serious sweat stains.
It’s happened to me on vintage hats and new hats, custom hats and off the rack hats, and hats made in the US and hats made in a few other countries.
Are you able to fix those by removing the stains? Or do you know of no way to remove them?
 
Messages
10,375
Location
vancouver, canada
Are you able to fix those by removing the stains? Or do you know of no way to remove them?
I have never tried to remove stains from a shantung or Panama hat.

To clean felt hats properly they require a full teardown and immersion in a naptha bath. The ribbon washed in a gentle mild soap bath, hat reblocked and flanged and sewn back together. The felt should come out looking as new. Some staining such as automotive grease is hard to remove completely. I just refurbished a hat worn by a vintage car restorer with stains on the top of the crown from leaning in under the hood. It came out better but not pristine.
 
Messages
18,925
Location
Central California
Are you able to fix those by removing the stains? Or do you know of no way to remove them?

I can do most of the simple hat servicing operations myself. I have several blocks and several flanges. I can remove some stains and at least lessen others. Eventually they would require a complete strip down and rebuild and that’s something I send them out for.

I have enough hats in the rotation that I can spread out the wear and tear. I also have several that I’ve relegated to beater status and those take the most abuse. I also rarely wear felt from mid-spring to mid-autumn. My warm weather hats take a lot of abuse and because of that I don’t have many really nice straw hats.
 

jdbenson

One of the Regulars
Messages
213
Location
Cincinnnati, OH
Yes, sweat can stain a hat, but even worse can happen due to sweat. A couple of years back, I bought a mid-priced genuine panama off of ebay. In spite of the listing claiming it had a leather sweatband, it came with a padded cotton sweatband. The seller claimed the correct hat was sent to me, but the listing was in error, it should have said a cotton sweatband. He refused to send me a new hat with a leather sweatband, but promised to send me a leather sweatband I could have installed. However, before I even received the new leather sweatband I wore the hat to a festival. Of course it was about 95F/35C and about 90% humidity. I sweated through the sweatband and through the cheap black ribbon that came with the hat. That ribbon was NOT colorfast, so black dye bled out of the ribbon onto the hat (and onto my HEAD). Nothing I could do would remove the dye from that hat, so that was the end of my panama days.

I switched to palm fiber hats by Sunbody. I wear them without worry because when they get sweaty or dirty, I can wash them with soap and water and they clean up beautifully, and they cost much less than a panama.
 
Messages
10,375
Location
vancouver, canada
Yes, sweat can stain a hat, but even worse can happen due to sweat. A couple of years back, I bought a mid-priced genuine panama off of ebay. In spite of the listing claiming it had a leather sweatband, it came with a padded cotton sweatband. The seller claimed the correct hat was sent to me, but the listing was in error, it should have said a cotton sweatband. He refused to send me a new hat with a leather sweatband, but promised to send me a leather sweatband I could have installed. However, before I even received the new leather sweatband I wore the hat to a festival. Of course it was about 95F/35C and about 90% humidity. I sweated through the sweatband and through the cheap black ribbon that came with the hat. That ribbon was NOT colorfast, so black dye bled out of the ribbon onto the hat (and onto my HEAD). Nothing I could do would remove the dye from that hat, so that was the end of my panama days.

I switched to palm fiber hats by Sunbody. I wear them without worry because when they get sweaty or dirty, I can wash them with soap and water and they clean up beautifully, and they cost much less than a panama.
The same thing happened to me with a cheap Panama hat bought locally at a SAmerican boutique. Hat cost me $50 . Fabric sweat bled black dye into the hat.....and I am not a heavy sweat guy. Donated it to Goodwill. Didn't give up on Panama hats just upgraded and only buy quality ones now.
 
Messages
18,925
Location
Central California
Yes, sweat can stain a hat, but even worse can happen due to sweat. A couple of years back, I bought a mid-priced genuine panama off of ebay. In spite of the listing claiming it had a leather sweatband, it came with a padded cotton sweatband. The seller claimed the correct hat was sent to me, but the listing was in error, it should have said a cotton sweatband. He refused to send me a new hat with a leather sweatband, but promised to send me a leather sweatband I could have installed. However, before I even received the new leather sweatband I wore the hat to a festival. Of course it was about 95F/35C and about 90% humidity. I sweated through the sweatband and through the cheap black ribbon that came with the hat. That ribbon was NOT colorfast, so black dye bled out of the ribbon onto the hat (and onto my HEAD). Nothing I could do would remove the dye from that hat, so that was the end of my panama days.

I switched to palm fiber hats by Sunbody. I wear them without worry because when they get sweaty or dirty, I can wash them with soap and water and they clean up beautifully, and they cost much less than a panama.


I like SunBody and other Palm hat straw hats, but they are heavier, hotter, and much less refined than a nice Panama. In my life, both have their uses and places in my rotation, but I don’t see them as interchangeable.
 

jdbenson

One of the Regulars
Messages
213
Location
Cincinnnati, OH
I like SunBody and other Palm hat straw hats, but they are heavier, hotter, and much less refined than a nice Panama. In my life, both have their uses and places in my rotation, but I don’t see them as interchangeable.
Yeah, the Sunbodies are definitely heavier, and much more casual. But they are much more rugged. If I knew I would be outside for an extended period on hot days, I would always pour a cup of water into the hat. The evaporation kept me cool. Unfortunately, my old sunbody is starting to fall apart, and now I only wear it while working in the garden.

My 'good' summer hat is an Akubra Country Club. It's made of polypropylene so I don't have to worry about it getting wet in a pop-up downpour of rain, and it has a leather sweatband to boot.

https://akubra.com.au/products/country-club-cream?_pos=1&_sid=5da9a72f6&_ss=r

FYI - didn't pay nearly that much for mine....
 
Messages
18,925
Location
Central California
Yeah, the Sunbodies are definitely heavier, and much more casual. But they are much more rugged. If I knew I would be outside for an extended period on hot days, I would always pour a cup of water into the hat. The evaporation kept me cool. Unfortunately, my old sunbody is starting to fall apart, and now I only wear it while working in the garden.

My 'good' summer hat is an Akubra Country Club. It's made of polypropylene so I don't have to worry about it getting wet in a pop-up downpour of rain, and it has a leather sweatband to boot.

https://akubra.com.au/products/country-club-cream?_pos=1&_sid=5da9a72f6&_ss=r

FYI - didn't pay nearly that much for mine....

I have a Country Club too. I generally like it a lot, but the crown is very low. I’m also a fan of the hemp Milan hats.
 

Edward

Bartender
Messages
24,764
Location
London, UK
I've seen it much more often in unlined vs hats with liners.

a lot depends on a individuals physical chemistry. I know guitar players whose finger oil & sweat corroded strings in a few weeks. Whereas, I know guitar player's who play just as frequently & their strings last 6 months.

I hear you on that. I'm lucky it seems with my strings. Rory Gallagher (maybe it's something to do with Cork men vs Antrim men?) must have sweated pure acid, looking at the state of his beloved Strat...

Yes, sweat can stain a hat, but even worse can happen due to sweat. A couple of years back, I bought a mid-priced genuine panama off of ebay. In spite of the listing claiming it had a leather sweatband, it came with a padded cotton sweatband. The seller claimed the correct hat was sent to me, but the listing was in error, it should have said a cotton sweatband. He refused to send me a new hat with a leather sweatband, but promised to send me a leather sweatband I could have installed. However, before I even received the new leather sweatband I wore the hat to a festival. Of course it was about 95F/35C and about 90% humidity. I sweated through the sweatband and through the cheap black ribbon that came with the hat. That ribbon was NOT colorfast, so black dye bled out of the ribbon onto the hat (and onto my HEAD). Nothing I could do would remove the dye from that hat, so that was the end of my panama days.

I switched to palm fiber hats by Sunbody. I wear them without worry because when they get sweaty or dirty, I can wash them with soap and water and they clean up beautifully, and they cost much less than a panama.

I hear a lot of good things about Sunbody. A few years ago I had designs on a couple of their hats, but at the time they only did super-expensive postage to the UK. I think that's changed, so I am considering a couple for next Summer - a fedora style, and the homburg. I don't know if it's possible with palm leaf, but a coloured version would be excellent. I'd just adore to have one of their homburgs in black.



Yeah, the Sunbodies are definitely heavier, and much more casual. But they are much more rugged. If I knew I would be outside for an extended period on hot days, I would always pour a cup of water into the hat. The evaporation kept me cool. Unfortunately, my old sunbody is starting to fall apart, and now I only wear it while working in the garden.

My 'good' summer hat is an Akubra Country Club. It's made of polypropylene so I don't have to worry about it getting wet in a pop-up downpour of rain, and it has a leather sweatband to boot.

https://akubra.com.au/products/country-club-cream?_pos=1&_sid=5da9a72f6&_ss=r

FYI - didn't pay nearly that much for mine....

I've often wondered what the difference between the Country Club and the Capricorn is. The only real negative I've ever found with my Capricorns is that one of them - my grey one - I've worn so much that the pleather sweatband flaked. It left residue on my head when I wore it to the point I eventually just pulled it out. Works fine without it, fortunately, but a proper leather would be better (I'd even prefer a grosgrain or similar if the idea were to be cheaper than leather).

I've been tempted by the cream Country Club; I have a white Capricorn, but the cream looks a little bit classier. The white can look a bit..... 'cold meats counter' until the sheen wears off. Never seen the CC in a colour other than cream - is that the only one they do?
 

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