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How to Fix a Squashed Straw Hat

Three Methods:Steaming and Wetting the HatReshaping the HatProtecting the Hat

It can be pretty easy to end up with a squashed straw hat, especially when traveling. You probably don't need to throw it away, though. It's pretty simple to reshape a squashed straw hat.

Method 1
Steaming and Wetting the Hat

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    Steam the hat. You may want to try steaming the hat first. The most common way to steam a straw hat is to use a steamer or the steam setting on an iron. You could also take the hat to a hat store that has an industrial steamer, but it's usually not necessary.
    • Apply the steam around the entire brim of the hat first. The steam will loosen the fibers. The steam will help the hat regain its natural shape.
    • You could use steam from a pot of boiling water if you don’t have a steamer, but be very careful around boiling water.[1]
    • If the steam seems like it’s saturating the hat too much, stop for a few minutes before restarting the process.[2]
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    Pop the brim up and steam all around the brim. Keep the steam about 6 to 8 inches away from the straw hat so the steam doesn’t damage it or hurt your hands. Pop the brim back down.
    • After directing the steam around the brim, put steam throughout the inside of the hat’s crown.
    • The steam should start popping the dents in the hat back out. You don’t want the steamer or iron to actually touch the straw though.
    • Continue steaming until the hat is damp. Don't worry that you are getting too much moisture in the hat because the moisture is what will help straighten it out.
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    Use your fingers to mold the hat. After you wet it or while you are steaming the hat, push everything back into shape, constantly molding the straw with your hands throughout the steaming process.
    • Pull the fibers apart with your fingers as you mold the hat. You could also use a spoon to mold the hat’s shape while it’s steaming instead of your fingers.
    • After you’ve steamed the hat, put a bowl, folded towel, or other object inside the hat. This will help its crown further regain its shape.
    • You may need to wear garden gloves or oven mitts when steaming the hat. It can be dangerous to be around hot steam, so be very careful that you don't burn yourself by getting too close to it.
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    Wet the hat. If steaming the hat doesn't work, you may want to wet the hat instead. This approach can especially work with a squished straw hat brim. Spray the hat with water. It should dry back in shape because the moisture will make the straw more pliable.
    • Just spray the hat with a misting of water. If that doesn’t work, you may want to dip the hat’s crown into a bowl of warm water. You don’t want the hat to be too dry or the straw could crack.
    • Make sure it’s evenly wet by turning it around and around in the bowl.[3]After wetting the hat, you will want to mold it back into shape with your fingers or another object.
    • It might worry you to get a straw hat wet, but don't worry about that. It's one of the most common ways to reshape a hat.
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    Let the hat sit and dry out. When you're done steaming or wetting it, you need to give the straw hat a chance to dry.
    • Start the steaming or wetting process all over again if the hat still hasn’t regained its perfect shape.
    • It depends on the hat and amount of damage. Some hats only require one steaming or wetting, but other hats may need to go through the process a second time.
    • Try for one steaming or wetting if possible, though, because you don't want to constantly reshape a hat.

Method 2
Reshaping the Hat

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    Roll up a towel to mold the hat. Instead of wetting or steaming the hat, you could try molding it back into shape. You could moisten the towel for good measure. The moisture will help the straw relax even more. Basically, the towel is going to substitute for your head.
    • Now, put the straw hat on top of the rolled-up towel. Let it sit there for a while to help the straw hat reform into the right shape.[4]
    • You want to make sure that you roll the towel widely enough and that you put the hat as far into it as you can. The towel method is a good choice if you’re on vacation and don’t have access to other hat-sized objects.
    • You could also stuff the hat with tissue paper or with pieces of crumpled up newspaper.[5]
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    Put a round object inside the hat. Instead of a towel, you could put a bowl inside the hat or any other round object that will snugly fit inside the hat. This should help it take a head-like shape again.
    • Weights, clips or strings can also be used to hold down the hat, so that it starts to take its original shape.[6]
    • You could use any round object for this purpose, but you want to make sure that it fits perfectly inside the hat’s crown or it won’t help.
    • If it’s too big, it could damage the hat or actually make it more misshapen. Any object that is the right shape to fit inside the hat's crown should work.
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    Iron the hat. Rest the brim of the hat wrong side up on the edge of an ironing board. Place a damp cloth onto the brim. Set the iron to a fairly hot temperature.
    • Press the iron around the brim over the damp cloth. Press very gently and quickly and do not let the iron rest on the brim. This is very important or you could burn the straw.
    • Rotate the brim to move it around in its entirety. Iron the tops. The tops require careful treatment depending on their style. Be very careful when using an iron on straw. If you don't put the damp cloth between the iron and straw, you could burn the hat.
    • Take care not to get the hat crushed or squashed again, as the straw is already weakened from the first squash. Each time the hat will become less resilient until the individual straws begin to snap and loosen.

Method 3
Protecting the Hat

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    Buy a head block. These are Styrofoam heads that your hat can sit on when you aren't wearing it. This is the best way to regain the hat’s shape because it’s literally a fake head.
    • These aren’t as tough to find as you might think. You actually can buy them from many beauty supply stores because they are often used for people to store wigs. Just ask for a Styrofoam wig head.
    • After you wet or steam the hat, put the hat on the Styrofoam head block. Position it so that it’s sitting firmly on the block. Or just regularly store your hat on such a head block when you aren't wearing it.
    • You could insert pins through the brim into the Styrofoam to maintain the shape. Shape the brim with your hands.
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    Place a heavy object over the hat. You want the object to sit on top of the hat’s brim in order to keep it flat and from curling up.
    • For example, you could take a small wastepaper basket or an ice bucket and put it on top of the hat, leaving it to sit against the brim for a few hours. The item needs to fit on top of the entire crown of the hat.
    • The weight of the basket or bucket should press the brim back into flattened shape. You want to make sure the basket or bucket large enough not to squish the rest of the hat, though.
    • This method is designed to flatten out a squashed straw hat brim, not to fix the dents in the crown of the hat.
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    Keep the hat protected. It’s a good idea to make sure that your hat doesn’t get too squished in the first place. There are ways you can keep your hat’s shape protected.
    • When traveling, carry your hat in a hat box or simply wear it on your head. Jamming a straw hat into a suitcase is a recipe for disaster.[7]
    • Avoid flexing the hat repeatedly, or it could become misshapen and some of the straw could even crack. You don’t want to weaken the hat’s crown or brim too much.
    • To clean light straw hats, you could use ½ teaspoon of hydrogen peroxide mixed with ½ teaspoon or warm water. To clean dark straw hats, mix ½ teaspoon of ammonia with 1/3 cup of water. You could also rub the hat with a piece of velvet that you’ve held in steam for a little bit.


  • If the hat has a brim facing up, iron carefully to the brim edge; the edge should retain its shape.
  • Avoid direct contact between the iron and the straw hat at all times.

Article Info

Categories: Hats | Millinery