Flag flying may seem simple enough, but properly cleaning and maintaining your flag is a vital part of keeping your flag looking presentable. Cleaning requirements will vary based on the type of fabric used to manufacture a flag. Once you've determined the material used in your flag, follow the rest of this guide for best practices on how to properly clean and maintain your flag.
Keep It Clean
All outdoor flags are made from durable materials such as nylon and polyester. You can launder these fabrics in any residential or commercial washing machine, as long as you wash your flag separately. Start by lightly brushing away any debris and letting your flag soak in a warm water and soap mixture for about 30 minutes to an hour. You can use regular laundry detergent, but avoid anything with bleach so you don't strip the color out of your precious Stars and Stripes.
If you prefer to handwash it, simply fill your bathtub or a large plastic container with warm water and launder in the same way.
Hang To Dry
Once your flag is thoroughly washed, remove any excess water and hang it up to dry. If a clothesline is unavailable, you could drape it over a shower curtain rod or place it on a large flat surface, turning it over mid-way to ensure it dries completely.
If possible, you don’t want to apply heat. If there are visible wrinkles, place your clothing iron on the lowest possible setting and run it over the problem areas to remove the imperfections. A steamer is a great option to remove wrinkles as well.
It is important not to fold or store a wet flag. Water will cause the flag to grow mold, and mildew can grow on any damp part of the fabric. When you need to store your flags for long periods, ensure that the storage location is free of critters and water damage risks. Without taking proper care of your flags, you can cause unintentional damage that will cost you in the long run.
Dry Clean Only
Indoor flags, such as those that hang in stadiums or line business walkways, are commonly made with less durable materials, such as cotton. These materials won’t withstand many washer runs; they are best cleaned by professionals. Having your flag dry cleaned takes the responsibility off you and gives you peace of mind that your flag will be ready to fly again as soon as you pick it up.
Can It Be Repaired?
While you have your flag down for cleaning, it's a great time to inspect your flags for any holes, stains, and tears. If there are any tears or holes in your American flag, it is recommended that you repair it as soon as possible. These issues can get worse during the washing process. Some repairs are fixable, while others may be beyond repair. Flags USA offers a repair service if you need assistance.
If you decide your flag is too damaged, take it to a local flag disposal location. Groups such as the American Legion, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, and Boy and Girl Scout organizations collect flags to dispose of correctly, usually in a ceremony close to patriotic holidays.
Don’t Forget the Pole
Flagpoles don’t require much attention at all. If the pole is visibly dirty, you can scrub it with a sponge and a mix of soap and water. Rinse it off with a water hose for quick cleans. Poles that are bent, loose, or oxidizing can cause the flags to lean and cause damage to the flag or your property. If you do find damage to the pole itself, schedule maintenance right away. They may ask that you remove the flags during this session; this would be the perfect time to run each one through the washing cycle to ensure that you can quickly fly your flag again after maintenance is complete.
Fly Your Flag
Now that you know the basics of cleaning and maintenance, you can set up your outdoor American flag sets and proudly fly our nation’s flag. Many flags, such as team flags or custom business ones, have no flag code or regulations to follow. However, if you choose to fly an American flag, keep in mind that it is a symbol of freedom, strength, unity, and honor to those who have served and are currently serving in our nation’s military. In order to make sure your American flag, or any other flag, remains beautiful for years to come, these are some simple steps you can take to properly care for it.
Additionally, the American flag should never touch the ground, floor, or deck. If you are unable to raise or lower your flag alone, ask someone to assist you. Allowing the flag to touch the ground is not only disrespectful, but it can also lead to further soiling or damage, which is what you want to avoid.
We hope this article has helped you learn how to clean and maintain your flag properly. The steps outlined here are easy and simple, so anyone can feel confident maintaining things on their own without the need to involve professionals.
Remember that fabric will eventually fade from exposure to sunlight over time. There will come a day when you need to replace your flag. When that time comes, Flags USA has everything you need to quickly make the switch and never miss a day to proclaim your country, state, business, or team. Please contact us with any questions.