Polishing the Stars and Stripes
Broad Stripes and Bright Stars
Any time the seasons change, flag owners perform routine flagpole maintenance. It is at this time that most flag cleanings occur (though certainly not the only time). Cleaning an outdoor American flag is a fairly simple process, but there are some specific things to consider that will help keep your flag looking its best.
Should an American Flag Be Cleaned Seasonally?
As a general rule, flag owners will want to wash their flags when the stripes begin looking dingy, if the flag has greasy or rusty looking areas where the flag has been rubbing the flagpole, or if the flag has otherwise become soiled.
However, no two flags endure the same environmental exposure, so there is not a single prescribed schedule that suits all American flags. Since cleaning the flag will not restore the flag to the original color, flag owners should use their best judgement to choose a cleaning regimen based on the intensity and regularity of the weather and debris their flag is exposed to.
What Should the Cleaning Process Entail?
Here are the steps for cleaning an all-weather American flag made of nylon or polyester fabric.
- Inspect the flag for tatters on the fly end and make repairs before cleaning.
- Brush away any dirt from the surface of the flag fabric.
- Rinse the flag in cold water.
- Use a plastic bucket large enough to fit the entire flag, and create a soak solution. Follow your detergent guidelines, adding 1/2 the recommended amount of laundry detergent per gallon of cold water.
- Fully submerge the flag in the solution for up to 30 minutes, no longer. Weight the flag down, as necessary, to keep it submerged.
- Drain the solution, and place the flag in the washing machine. It is not necessary to use detergent.
- Wash in cold water on the delicate cycle. DO NOT USE BLEACH.
- Immediately hang the flag to dry – do not allow the flag to "sit" in the washing machine. Flag fabrics are colorfast, but the red can bleed onto the white if wet fabric is allowed to sit. DO NOT PLACE THE FLAG IN THE DRYER.
A Review of American Flag Anatomy
Not sure what you are cleaning? Quickly bring your knowledge up to date with this instructional video about all of the parts of American flag anatomy!
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Have a great day, from your friends at LIBERTY FLAGS, The American Wave®.