The red, white, and blue of the American flag are iconic colors, and there are few things more patriotic than waving those vibrant colors near your front door. You might wonder what happens if your flag gets dirty or stained. Can you clean the American flag? The answer is yes, you can! To help you keep those colors shining bright, here’s how to clean and maintain your American flag.
Spot Clean Stains
Some American flags have been flying for quite some time, and throwing them in the washer can be a little nerve-wracking. It’s best to clean off stains as they appear to avoid washing the entire thing, and doing so is relatively easy. You may want to gently brush or pat down the flag to remove loose dirt, as this will prevent you from spreading dirt. Then, with a few drops of gentle dish soap, warm water, and a washcloth, you can gently scrub away at stains and leave it to air dry.
Wash Based on Material
If your flag is dirty, you’ll want to wash it entirely. Based on its materials, you’ll have to follow different steps.
If your flag is made of polyester or nylon, brush away loose dirt and place the flag in the washing machine. Put a small amount of gentle detergent and set the washer for a cold water wash on a delicate cycle. Don’t use any scented beads or fabric softeners. Allow it to dry on a flat surface, and remove any wrinkles with an iron on the cool setting.
For flags made of wool or cotton, shake or pat down the flag to remove loose dirt. Fill a tub with lukewarm water and oxygen-based bleach—not chlorine! Leave it submerged in the solution for at least three hours. Depending on how dirty it is, you can leave it overnight. Once clean, rinse the flag with cold water and lay it flat to air dry. With natural materials such as wool or cotton, you can use a hot iron to smooth any wrinkles.
How To Care for Your Flag
The rules to follow when displaying the American flag can help you care for your flag and make it last longer. The top two rules are never letting the flag touch the ground and never leaving it out to get wet in the rain. You should bring it inside if there’s high wind, snow, or hail, as these conditions can damage the flag and rip it. Additionally, you should never put your flag in the dryer; allow it to air dry completely before putting it in storage.
If your flag is too dirty or damaged to fly, never throw it away. The protocol is to burn the flag. You can take it to a Veterans of Foreign Wars post or county government office, which usually has a flag disposal box.
Now that you understand how to clean and maintain your American flag, you can let your patriotism fly knowing those beautiful colors representing our country are as vibrant as the day the flag was made.