Flag Care Guide: Repair and Maintenance Tips

The US government estimates that a nylon flag will last about 90 days if flown only from sunrise to sunset in good weather. Flags that are flown 24 hours a day, in the rain or the sun, will typically last one-half to one-third as long. Our flags, however, have a reputation for lasting a lot longer.

A flag’s longevity depends on the weather, location, airborne contamination, and how often you fly it. Remember, your flag is a piece of cloth that works very hard. Throughout its lifetime, your flag shakes, trembles, drapes, snaps, chafes, bakes, freezes, ripples, flutters, furls, twists, flaps, strains, flies, unfurls and hangs! Even well-kept flags may need replacing two or three times a year because of damage from environmental conditions. Wind, water, and the sun are the primary enemies of a flag.

Rest assured, our flags are the best American-made quality offered on the market. Even still, only YOU can ensure you get the most out of your purchase! But don’t worry, we’re here to guide you. We’ve answered some commonly asked questions with crucial tips to lengthen the life of your flag.

Can You Wash an American Flag (or Any Other Flag)?

Yes! Regularly washing your flag can help keep it in good condition. We recommend washing an American flag or any other in warm water with some detergent to remove pollutants and dirt for best results. After washing, let your flag hang to dry completely before storing or hoisting it on your pole to prevent color transfer and mildew growth.

Pro Tip: Keeping your flagpole clean can also help you avoid getting harmful pollutants on your flag. We recommend also cleaning your pole as best you can when you wash your flag.

Can You Iron a Flag?

When done correctly, ironing a flag is a great way to remove wrinkles and creases. Use an iron with a spray function or a spray bottle filled with water to add some moisture while ironing. Do a heat test on a small corner of the flag to ensure that the iron isn’t running too hot. Take a look at our blog and example video for more tips on how to iron a flag.

Too nervous to put an iron against your flag? Don’t worry; you also have the option to steam your flag. This is another great way to remove wrinkles, but it may take a little longer.

Can You Fly a Flag in the Rain?

In addition to the US Flag Code’s mandate that the American flag shouldn’t be flown during inclement weather, we recommend against leaving a flag out in the rain. Rainwater isn’t just composed of pure H2O. There are also various amounts of ions, such as sodium and chloride, depending on the geographical makeup of the region. This happens when compounds in the air or bodies of water dissolve, leading to conditions such as acid rain.

Thus, to avoid damage from whatever pollutants may be in your local rainwater, we endorse taking your flag inside during rain, snow, and other inclement weather. It’s understandable if you aren’t able to take your flag down for every drizzle; just remember to wash the flag regularly.

Additional Flag Care Tips

Repairing Frays

If the ends of your flag begin to fray, trimming the fabric and re-hemming it will help prolong its life. A frayed flag that is left untreated is more susceptible to further fraying and unraveling.

Give Your Flag Some Space

If your flag doesn’t have enough space to fly freely, it will likely get caught on nearby objects and cause rips or frays. If possible, move nearby obstructions away from your pole or relocate the flagpole to a clearer space if necessary. Remember, trees grow (hopefully), so plan ahead before installing your flagpole, if you haven’t already.

Handling Weather Conditions

We recommend taking your flag down to avoid damage on rainy, snowy, or windy days, especially when wind speeds are over 20 mph. Flying flags in winter may necessitate additional precautions, especially if your region gets a lot of snow. If you live in a snowy area and would like to learn more about winter flag flying, check out our blog post detailing tips on how to best fly a flag in cold and snowy weather.

Car & Motorcycle Use

When participating in a parade or out on a weekend ride with friends, it can be enjoyable to display your pride with an American-made flag. However, we suggest maintaining a slower pace of 3 miles per hour (parade speed) or less to ensure your flag remains in great shape.

How Do I Dispose of a Tattered American Flag?

When it's too worn out, or if it's torn or faded and can’t be repaired, that's when you should retire a flag. Some recommended methods for disposing of an American flag include ceremonial burning or burying, which you may do yourself, or sending your flag to an organization to do it for you.

When disposing of any flag, including the American flag, remember to treat it with respect. While you could simply throw it in the trash, we advise treating your old flag honorably. Burning and burying are both excellent options, though we recommend checking flag codes for international flags to see what methods are permitted. Choose a ritual that will make you proud of all you did to repair and care for your flag.

By following these tips and practicing proper flag care, you will help keep your flag healthy and clean, which in turn aids with longevity. It is also important to recognize when a flag is beyond repair, so be sure to replace and dispose of any flags that are too old and worn. With over 30 years of experience in the flag and flagpole business, we can help you take care of your flags to get as much use out of them as possible. If you have any questions about flag care, please call us at 800-858-8776 or send us a message.

Feb 08, 2024 Alana K.

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