Care Tips for your Panama Hat

Your Panama hat is a thing of beauty and with the right care it can stay looking as good as new for years to come.  

Our Panama hats are made of Toquilla straw, which is an organic material so they are particularly susceptible to damage from water and humidity.  It’s a very sad sight to see a glorious pristine Panama hat reduced to a sad floppy mess in the midst of a monsoon downpour and it’s virtually impossible to restore it to its former glory if this happens.

Similarly with humidity, for example leaving your hat in a hot car in blazing sun all day.  The combination of sweltering heat and lack of humidity can make the straw brittle which could result in cracking.  

Once you are armed with the knowledge to avoid torrential rain and leaving your Panama hat to bake in an overheated car, or on a sunny windowsill, here are 5 basic care tips that will help keep your hat in tip-top condition for years to come.

Step 1 - How to reshape your hat

If your hat gets a bit crumpled as general wear and tear is to be expected, there are some easy ways to reshape and freshen it up again.  If the brim is looking worse for wear, a simple way to rectify this is to place a clean cotton cloth over the brim and iron on a low heat.  It should come out looking like new again.

If the crown shape has been compromised, it can easily be reshaped by placing it about 6-8 inches over steam, a boiled kettle is ideal for this.  Obviously be careful not to burn your hands or face, and don’t place the hat too close to the steam, as it can damage the straw fibres.  The steam will make the hat fibres soften allowing you to re-shape as desired.

Be mindful if your hat has any leather, felt, suede or velvet pieces as these should not be exposed to steam.  If your Panama hat has a fitted band with any of these materials, then direct the steam to the inside of the crown.  If your hat doesn’t have a fitted band but the inside hat rim has a leather lining, then direct the steam to the outside of the crown. 

Step 2 - How to handle your hat

You might be thinking this sounds a bit over the top, but there is a recommended way to pick up and place your Panama hat!  The instinctive way is to lift it by the crown, but this pinches the material and can ultimately damage the shape, so it’s best to always handle your hat by the brim.

Step 3 - How to Store your Panama Hat

Your Panama hat comes with a dust bag and box provided so place inside, keeping the hat turned upside down.  The dust bag also doubles up as a useful, lightweight backpack when you’re out and about and need to take it off.   

When not in use, store your hat in a dry, ventilated room and use a hat hanger if you can.

Do not store in the back of the car or in direct sun light, this dries out the straw which in turn can distort the shape and cause it to crack.  

Step 4 - How to treat water damage

We’ve already covered the damage a heavy rain shower can cause but your Panama hat can withstand a certain degree of water damage.  If your hat does get wet, try to get it dry immediately.  The best way to dry it, is to use natural methods, so keep it away from artificial heat like radiators, open fires, and direct sunlight (for example on a sunny windowsill).  

Allow it to dry in a well-ventilated room with the top of the crown facing down.  This will help retain its shape.

Also, never use a clothes dryer, the combination of heat and the spinning action in the drum will deform the straw fibres.

Step 5 - How to treat Stains

Light stains can be removed with a gentle touch.  Using a clean cloth, dip it into lukewarm water with a small amount of soap dissolved.  Ensure the cloth is fully wrung out and damp, and gently wipe away the stains.  For badly stained hats it’s best to seek help from your local hatter.

It’s also advisable to wipe your hat after you have finished wearing it, particularly if you notice moisture or sweat on the inner band.  Simply wipe around the inside with a clean, damp cloth.  This will help prevent staining on lighter colour hats also.

By following these quick and easy tips we’re confident your timeless Panama hat will see you through many years to come. 

If you have any questions on caring for your hat, please don’t hesitate to contact us at: