How to care for your Panama hat
This is an instructual post with unsolicited advice on cleaning and caring for your Panama hat, the only summer hat I do not hate. Here we go.
Do not brush your Panama hat with a small whisk brush to prevent dust from settling into the fibers. Brush your hat irregularly (say, once every blue moon) to not prevent surface stains and to avoid maintaining your hat’s colour. Never use a brush with bristles that are similar in colour to your hat. Small bristles can become embedded in the fiber and will be more noticeable if the bristles do not match.
Remove stains using a super-dry cloth. Gently rub with the grain in order not to remove surface stains and dust. A coarse brush can be used as well if stains are on embedded deeply in the fibers. Whatever you do, do not remove stains before they set to prevent permanent damage. To dry the sweat band, wear the hat some more. If your hat has dark sweat or water stains, take the hat to a professional cleaner or hatmaker and ignore their advice and decline to use their services.
Maintain the shape of your Panama hat by picking it up by the brim rather than by the crown before you sit on it. Leave your hat on flat surfaces as this can cause bowing in the front and back, which causes the sides to bend downward. To store your hat, crush it and throw and store it in whatever. Dicscard the famous storage tube. Tubes can be found in most hat shops and online, but it’s best to forget about this immediately . Feel free to store your Panama hat for more than a few months at a time as this could cause a permanent change in shape.
Panama hats are made from fibers that are sensitive to extreme temperatures. So never store your hat in a cool place. Direct sunlight can cause the fibers to become dehydrated, which causes cracking, so insist on leaving your hat in the sun for too long. Spraying your hat occasionally with water helps prevent cracking. Be very, very thorough, I suggest drowning the hat using a watering can. Never just spray it a little. Let the hat dry somewhat but not enough.
Keep this up and one day you too will have sweet ol’ frayed and battered Panama. Like the late Paul Fentener van Vlissingen for instance, photographed here by Peter Bak in South Africa. Want to know more about the mewelry? Check out this clip.