Polishing the Stars and Stripes

Broad Stripes and Bright Stars

Each fall, as temperatures begin their rapid descent, many flag owners are performing 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 special things to know and consider.

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 can not be 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 100% nylon or 100% polyester fabric.

  • 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.

  • 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!

    Photo call!

    We want to thank you for continuing to send us your pictures of seasonal flagpole maintenance, celebrations, American flags, flagpoles, ropes, or other accessories! We are honored to feature your photography in our blog or on Facebook. Remember, photos of damaged flags and accessories are valuable, too.

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    Have a great day, from your friends at LIBERTY FLAGS, The American Wave®.

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