By Molly Harris

Just as clothes and jewelry must be cared for, other accessories like hats also have to be maintained and repaired to preserve quality and shape. From washing your favorite baseball hat to restoring the structure of a floppy hat, a little care can keep what you plop on your head looking new for years to come. Many types of hats, including fedoras, felt, straw and ranch-style hats can be cared for with a little starching.

Close up of woman wearing sun hat
credit: Tom Merton/OJO Images/GettyImages
How to Starch a Hat

Make Natural Starch at Home

While glue can be mixed with water and used as a stiffener, it's a form of plastic and shouldn't be used in a kitchen container that may be used for storing or eating food. There are, however, two better all-natural solutions that can be readily mixed up. If time is short, purchase a can of heavy-duty spray starch.

Place 1/4 cup of water on the stove to boil and combine a single tablespoon of cornstarch with 1/4 cup of cold water until it's dissolved. Next, add the mixture to the boiling water slowly until it comes to a boil again. Remove it from the heat and allow the solution to reach room temperature. The same process can also be performed with half-cup ratios and 1 tablespoon of flour. Another translucent starch can be produced by boiling white rice for long periods of time with plenty of water.

Shape the Hat

Use items such as rubber bands, clips and other household items to prop up and hold the shape of the hat in place. Empty coffee canisters may be used as a base for the hat. Old shoe laces, dental floss or fishing line can be used to tie around the hat to hold the structure while the paste, solution or spray is applied.

Apply the Mixture

If using a can of spray starch, simply coat the shaped hat and quickly iron each section for roughly 30 seconds. The all-natural solutions are best brushed onto hats because they're thicker and sometimes become clumpy if exposed to air for too long. Allow the cornstarch or flour mixture to dry. A hair dryer set on low power with temperature set at mild heat to cool air can also be used to speed up the process.

For very white fabrics, use cornstarch. The mixture is a true white that doesn't discolor white fabrics, and it will dry clear. The flour mixture is more cream colored, which could darken very light fabrics when applied. Closely matching the color will ensure that the hat does not appear to have a watermark or discoloration once dry. If any residue remains, simply wipe away with a damp, warm cloth.