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How to Clean a Vintage American Flag

Submit an Entry: Your Laundry Questions and Answers

By Paula

My Laundry Question

I have a rather old USA flag that I beleive is made of cotton

Is it safe tohand wash it carefully in cold water with baking soda? or can you recommend an alternative.


Share a Little Background Info

There are several stains which could be simply from old age or handling by various Scout groups over the years. I have kept it in a plastic dry cleaning sack.

It has not been exposed to sunlight or water.

Lessons Learned

  • It was given to me when my Grandfather died in 1969. He was a WWI veteran. However, it only has 48 stars, which tells me it is an heirloom from my Grandfather, and I should have done something with it sooner.

Fabric Content of Item (if appropriate)

Cotton from the early 1900's

Mary Marlowe Leverette, About.com Laundry & Laundry Rooms, says:

I know it is a cherished memento of your grandfather's life. The safest way to clean the flag is to mix a solution of oxygen-based bleach (OxiClean, Clorox 2, Country Save Bleach, Purex 2 Color Safe Bleach) and cool water. Follow the package directions as to how much product per gallon of water. Completely submerge the flag and allow it to soak for at least eight hours. Check the stains. If they are gone, wash by hand with a mild detergent. Rinse and gently squeeze out the water. Do not wring. Hang to dry out of direct sunlight.

Please do not store the flag in a plastic bag. Use a white cotton pillowcase or acid-free tissue paper if you do not put it in a display case. For more on flag care, I have a very good article that should help you.

Good luck!

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