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How to Clean Military Dress Hat

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By Carol Gertz

My Laundry Question

I have my son's USAF dress blue hat, and would like to know how to clean it and then preserve it. It needs to have some type of filling to reshape it, and then hold it. His new wife would like to refurbish the hat, and make a shadow box with the hat as a center piece, with his ribbons and medals to honor his service to his country.

Please advise & thank you for your time

Share a Little Background Info

The hat was stored in an attic space, and not protected from dust. The black patent brim is smudged and dull. We tried simple things to just freshen it, but it has not been restored enough in my opinion to be put on display.

Any suggestions would be appreciated. I thought I could find a professional cleaner to do this, but I'm finding I need to devise my own solution.

Lessons Learned

  • Just brushing has not worked well, and I'm fearful of using chemicals
  • Took to a drycleaner who would not attempt to clean it. If there is a service offered somewhere to professionally clean, I'd be interested in contacting them. Or will also "do it myself"

Mary Marlowe Leverette, About.com Laundry & Laundry Rooms, says:

Please thank your son for his service. A memory box is an excellent way to showcase his service. To clean his dress hat or cover, first remove all of the insignia that you can. If you feel that brushing was not enough to remove the dust, use a vacuum with a brush attachment. You can also dip a white cloth in distilled water and, working in a small area at a time, wipe down the fabric.

To restore the brim, use petroleum jelly and a soft cloth. Work in a small area at a time and buff to a high shine.

If you still feel that it needs more care, contact your local museum who can recommend a restorer or dry cleaner that will do the work for you. When you are ready to create the memory box, be sure to use acid free tissue paper to stuff and shape the hat.

Good luck!

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