How to add water repellent to your hat

Springtime is just around the corner, meaning more sunny days ahead but also some spring showers. While you should never purposefully wear a straw hat in the rain, you can add extra protection to help prevent any water damage to your hat. Like clothes and shoes, Panama hats and similar straw hats can undergo water repellent treatments that will allow them to resist water damage should you get caught in a storm.

Before you begin you’ll need the follow things:

Prepare the hat

It is important for the hat to be as clean as possible before you begin. Water repellent adds an invisible film over the surface in which dirt or stains can get permanently trapped.

Prepare your hat
First, use a horsehair brush to clean off any dirt. A slightly damp microfiber cloth can be used next to spot clean any stubborn stains.
Water Repellent - Prepare your hat 2
We recommend using our hat cleaning wipes for stains. Make sure the hat is completely dry before moving on to the next step.

Position the hat

Pick an area that is well ventilated and find a way to prop the hat up so you can apply the water repellent without touching the hat. Be aware of your surroundings; excess water repellent can leak or drip onto nearby surfaces.

Position the hat
Display racks such as the one shown work great for this.

Prepare the water repellent

Not all water repellents are the same. Before buying your water repellent, you need to consider two things: coloring and adhesiveness. The repellent mixture must be clear and dry clear so that it does not discolor the straw. Likewise, you should choose a repellent specifically designed for organic fibers. They will last longer and cure better than other repellents. Let’s not forget the sprayer bottle. If you can get your hands on an atomizer sprayer bottle, those will provide the best application.

Prepare the Water Repellent
Start by doing a test spray. This allows the sprayer to clean its nozzle and provide a uniform spread. We recommend using latex gloves and doing this in a well-ventilated area.

Apply the treatment

Stand 6-10 inches away from the hat and either hold it securely from within the crown or let it rest on a rack.

Water Repellent - Apply the treatment

Quickly spray the repellent across the top of the hat in very light coats. The goal is to apply several very light coats rather than heavy, fewer coats. Allow the hat to dry for 5 minutes per coat.

 Apply the treatment
If you apply too much water repellent, you can clean up the excess using a clean microfiber cloth.

Once the top (exterior) of the hat has been treated, allow the hat to sit for 1 hour before applying the water repellent to the interior. This step is optional but will provide greater water resistance.

 Allow the hat to dry

Allow the hat to dry for a whole 24 hours to fully cure. Make sure the hat sits in it’s desired shape.

If you applied the repellent correctly, water should bead off the straw
If you applied the repellent correctly, water should bead off the straw just like this (we recommend not trying this).

That’s it! Now your hat is protected in light rain showers. Now if you hat is already soaked, you might want to check out this article, what do to if your hat gets wet.

Also if you need all the gear we used for this article, we make a nifty water repellent KIT with all the essentials to treat several hats.

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4 comments

    • We haven’t tested this specifically but we would think not. The reasoning behind it is the repellent makes the hat water repellent but not resistant or waterproof. Since the sweat sits on your head until you take off your hat this is akin to letting you hat soak. While light rain will immediately bead off the hat. It could help but we would not say it’s a solution. Rather we do offer custom linning services if you are interested.
      https://ultrafino.com/products/hat-care-services

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