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How to Shrink a Fitted Hat

You've found the perfect fitted hat for your style. It's exactly what you've been searching for, but you try it on, and it's too big. Or, maybe you want to wear a fitted cap you haven't worn in a while, only to find that a haircut or past wear has left it a size too big.

Because a fitted hat is made for one size without any straps or snaps to adjust, it's not easy to tighten. But it's not impossible, either. Learn how to shrink a fitted hat by checking out the guide below to see how.

Steam Method

Steaming a hat may shrink it a little, but it likely won't go down a whole size. While the steam method is best left to the professionals, certain cap styles can work with an at-home treatment. Follow these steps to steam and shrink a hat for a small adjustment:

  1. Heat a kettle of water or use a fabric steamer.
  2. Use clean tongs to hold your hat safely in the steam.
  3. Move the hat over the top of the kettle's steam or in front of your fabric steamer.
  4. Steam around the inside and outside of the crown to soak the hat.
  5. Remove the hat from the heat and carefully shape it as needed.
  6. Repeat a few times if necessary.

Read your hat's label and familiarize yourself with how to care for it before trying this method. Your cap's materials and elements might include a recommendation to avoid contact with water, moisture, or heat. You'll see these materials and warnings on the label, but if you're unsure, avoid steaming caps with:

  • Felt
  • Leather
  • Dyes
  • Fabric finishes
  • Accents

If you're not sure about your hat's materials or if the steam method will work, take it to a professional. They'll suggest a way to shrink your cap that won't risk damaging the material, shape, or color.

Hat Size Tape

Hat size reducer tape can often make a cap at least one size smaller. You'll find varieties in foam or cloth materials with an adhesive backing that makes the tape stick to the inside of your hat. The extra material fills the hat and gives it a snug fit, effectively letting you shrink the crown of a hat. To use hat size tape, follow these steps:

  1. Put on your hat.
  2. Feel for the gaps between the hat and your head.
  3. Take off the hat and note or mark where you need the size tape.
  4. Leave the backing on the tape and cut it to fit the areas where your hat was too big.
  5. Slide the tape between the hat and the sweatband to hold it as you test how it fits.
  6. Put the hat on again and test the fit.
  7. Make sure it's comfortable and stays in place.
  8. Remove the hat and make adjustments, moving the tape, getting rid of some of it, or adding more as needed.
  9. Remove the backing from the tape and attach it on the sweatband or between it and the hat.

If hat size tape doesn't work, take the cap to a professional for a steam treatment or a different custom fitting method.

shrink hat materials

How to Shrink Various Materials

Hats come in a wide variety of styles and materials. Every material has its own care needs. The tag will tell you what materials your cap contains, which will help you pick the right shrinking method. See what yours consists of, then learn how to shrink these common hat materials.


Try the washing machine method for your baseball cap or other hats with this material. Check the tag and ensure you can machine wash it first, then try this technique to shrink a polyester hat:

  1. Place your hat in a garment bag.
  2. Load your washing machine with clothes in like colors and add the hat.
  3. Add the appropriate amount of non-bleach laundry detergent.
  4. Set your washer to a warm or hot setting — hot water is more likely to size down your hat.
  5. Try it on once it's washed. If it's too snug, wear it as it air dries.
  6. Put your hat in the dryer if it is still too big.
  7. Set the dryer to low or medium heat.
  8. Check on the hat every 10 minutes.

This method won't work for every hat style, especially if it has decorative embellishments you can't machine wash. In that case, try hat size tape or handwash the hat in hot water.


If you don't mind feeling a bit silly in your attempt to shrink a cotton hat, wear it in the shower. Keeping your hat on your head as you expose it to hot water helps it fit the shape and size of your head better. To shrink a cotton hat in the shower, follow these steps:

  1. Set your shower to a comfortably hot temperature.
  2. Put on your hat and get in.
  3. Try to let just the crown of your hat get wet, especially if it's a baseball cap.
  4. Get out of the shower after about three to five minutes.
  5. Remove the cap, shake off excess water and then put the hat back on so it isn't dripping.
  6. Wear the hat as it air dries so it conforms to your head size.

For another method to shrink a cotton hat, submerge it in hot water. Get a large pot and fill it with enough water to immerse your cap without overflowing. Heat the water on the stove and avoid letting it boil or simmer. Once it's warm, add your hat. Use clean kitchen tongs to submerge it for several minutes. Remove the hat and let it drip dry and cool down until it's a safe temperature to wear. Put on your hat and let it air dry to size down.


Wool shrinks and felts together with water, heat and agitation. That's bad news for anyone with a wool sweater, but if you have a wool hat that's too big, it could be your solution to sizing it down.

Learning how to shrink a wool hat is simple since you already know how to size down other styles. Proceed with caution, though. Wool caps exposed to water or heat are difficult — sometimes impossible — to reshape once they become felted. With that risk in mind, shrink your wool hat with:

  • The washing machine: Set your washer to a warm and delicate cycle. Wash the hat either by itself or with like colors.
  • The sink: Fill your sink with comfortably hot water. Place the hat in to soak, agitating as it does, and leave it for a few minutes.
  • A pot: Use the same setup you'd try with a cotton hat for a wool cap. Heat the water until it's warm, not hot, and soak your wool hat for a few minutes.

To dry your wool hat, put it in the dryer on its own. Set the temperature to low and check it every 10 minutes. Only machine dry if washing didn't shrink it to the size you need. Otherwise, let your cap air dry.

Many wool hats include dyed materials, which could pose a problem. If you've never washed your hat before, the dye could run in the water. Avoid washing hats that may bleed into your clothing. If you're worried about bleeding the dye in your wool hat or ruining your cap, you can always take it to a professional to size it down.

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Buy Hat Size Tape From Hats Unlimited

Have a hat that's too big? Want to add new caps to your collection? Hats Unlimited is the place to look. With excellent service and value, you'll get the perfect cap or hat accessories for your needs. Show off your style or get sun protection in a perfect fit from our range of top hat brands and designs.

Buy hat size tape to make your current caps the right size, or shop our hats by style and treat yourself to something new from Hats Unlimited!

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