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How to Clean the American Flag

Our Colors Should Never Run

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How to Clean the American Flag

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There is no more cherished symbol of the United States than the American flag. Whether you fly a flag daily or bring it out to honor our country on special days, taking care of the flag is important. If your flag is looking dingy or is soiled, washing it is quite appropriate. The U.S. Flag Code does not prohibit washing flags.

Washing the flag on a regular basis can prolong its life. Most outdoor flags are now made of polyester or nylon. These can be hand-washed in cool water with a mild laundry detergent. If you have a cotton flag, it can be laundered in the same way.

Do not put the flag in the dryer. Hang it up on a clothesline or drying rack and allow it to drip dry. If it is wrinkled, use a cool iron to press nylon or polyester and a hot iron for cotton.

If you are not sure of the material of your flag or if it is an older flag, take it to a dry cleaner. Many offer free flag cleaning services, especially in the month of July.

State and organization flags can be cared for in the same manner.

Remove Stains from Flag

If your flag has a stain caused by outdoor elements, add some oxygen-based bleach like Clorox 2 or OxiClean to the tub of cool water and allow the flag to soak for several hours. Rinse well in clear, cool water. Follow these steps to remove rust stains.

Flag Repairs

If your flag is in good condition but has a small rip, you can make repairs but make your work as unnoticeable as possible. While the Federal U.S. Flag Code does not give a specific dimensions for the flag; you should not dramatically alter the size of the flag during repairs. Requirements for flag sizes authorized for federal executive agencies can be found in Executive Order No. 10834. 55. These regulations provide that the length of the flag should be 1.9 times the width. If you are not a Betsy Ross, take it to a professional seamstress.

Flags that are excessively torn or frayed should be disposed of properly following the U.S. Flag Code.

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