Keeping your flag clean and in new condition is important and easy to do. The best way to begin caring for your flag is to know when to display it and when not to. Outdoor flags should never be exposed to storms, snow or extremely high winds, as these conditions can shorten its life span. If your flag gets wet, lay it flat and let it dry completely. Folding when wet can create permanent creases and dampness can ruin fabric and cause mildew.
Regularly cleaning your flag will keep it looking its best, and extend its lifetime. If your outdoor flag becomes dirty, it can be hand-washed with mild detergent, then thoroughly rinsed and lay flat to dry. When washing, it is important not to let the flag stand in the wash water for an extended period time because color from the red stripes could run into the white. Indoor and parade flags however, should always be dry cleaned to protect the fabric and richness of the colors. (According to the Federal Citizen Information Center, many dry cleaners offer free flag cleaning in the months of June and July.) You may want to treat your flag with a fabric protection product such as 303 Fabric Guard®. This will waterproof the fabric and protect it from stains, mildew and UV rays.
Another consideration in caring for your flag is deciding where to hang it. A flag should be flown in an area where it cannot come into contact with tree limbs, buildings or cable and telephone wires, since they can create tears in the fabric. If tears occur, repair them carefully using patches that match the flag’s original color, and make sure that the repairs do not alter the original dimensions of the flag. For tears at the end of the flag, repair them by trimming the end and re-hemming. The flag pole is also an important part of keeping your flag in good condition. A rusty pole can cause permanent stains, and some metallic oxides can eat holes through the fabric.
When storing your flag be sure to correctly fold it before placing in a safe, cool and dry environment. Outdoor flags should be sealed in moisture- and bug-proof plastic bags before going into storage. See the table below for directions on how to properly fold your flag for storage.
By follow the simple cleaning and storage guidelines listed above, you can help extend the life of your flag, and keep it flying for years to come.
For properly displaying a memorial, burial or interment flag, consider the use of hardwood flag cases and flag boxes, designed to hold a 5′ x 9 1/2′ flag. Flag cases are designed to assist you in proudly protecting, preserving and displaying your flag.
For more information about caring for and displaying your flag visit: