It is important to demonstrate respect for the American flag and the nation it represents by adhering to proper flag etiquette. Displaying a worn, tattered flag is a serious violation of this code of respect. Torn, faded flags are inappropriate symbols to represent the strength and valor of the United States. Caring for your American flag properly will ensure that it maintains its splendor for as long as possible.
Find the Perfect Spot
Choose the best possible location to display your American flag. Be careful not to place it in an area where the wind will cause it to beat against tree branches, rough surfaces, cables or wires. Keep your flag away from objects that might cause it to tear, so it will not become tattered. The flagpole should be placed on a surface free from heavy rust, dirt or corrosion to protect it from damage.
The flag should be positioned to flow freely without touching the ground, water or floor beneath it. It should never be displayed or stored in a way that might cause it to be damaged, soiled or torn.
Watch the Weather
Your flag will last longer if you pay attention to the weather and care for your flag accordingly. Even flags designed for outdoor use should not be exposed to exceptionally high winds, rain or snow. Protect it from the elements by taking it indoors before heavy storms.
Keep Your Flag Dry
It is best to shelter your outdoor flag from particularly heavy rain or snow. If your flag does become wet, you should carefully spread it out and allow it to dry completely. A wet or damp flag should never be folded or rolled up.
Keep Cotton Flags Indoors
Only flags specifically designed for outdoor use should be displayed outside. Most outdoor flags are made from durable, weather-resistant materials like nylon and polyester. More delicate flags constructed from materials like embroidered cotton should be kept indoors. Some heavyweight cotton flags can be used outdoors, but only in mild weather conditions.
Clean Your Flag Regularly
You should clean your flag on a regular basis to keep it looking its best. Cleaning it will keep its colors looking bright and prevent stains and discoloration from dirt, dust and other airborne contaminants from setting into the fabric.
Outdoor flags may be hand-washed using warm water and mild detergent. Be careful not to let the flag sit in the wash water, or the color may bleed onto the white stripes.
Professional dry cleaning is recommended for indoor flags. Many dry-cleaning businesses are willing to clean American flags free of charge, especially around Flag Day on June 14 and Independence Day on July 4.
Watch for Wear and Tear
Keep a watchful eye on the condition of your flag and look out for signs of wear and tear. You should inspect it regularly for normal wear of the fabric as well as thread breaks on the fly end. You can extend your flag’s longevity by trimming off and re-hemming any frayed or torn ends.
Watch out for tears along the flag’s grommets, the small metal rings that reinforce the holes in the fabric. Tears around the grommets can lead to more serious damage over time.
Choose the Right Material
When you’re shopping for an American flag, it’s important to select one made from the appropriate material. Selecting a flag made from the material best suited to your local climate will ensure that it maintains its majestic appearance.
Durable nylon flags are the best choice for rainy, all-weather conditions. These flags are specifically designed to resist tearing, fading and shredding. Nylon is the most popular material for both indoor and outdoor flags. This lightweight fabric flies beautifully in even the slightest breeze, dries quickly and stands out brightly in sunlight.
For windy environments with extreme weather conditions, polyester flags are the best option. Flags made from spun, woven polyester are specially engineered to resist high winds, snow and rain. These high-quality flags feature vibrant, fade-resistant colors. Commercial-grade American flags made from 100 percent two-ply, spun woven polyester are the same flags flown by the U.S. government and military around the world.
If you prefer a more traditional American flag, a classic cotton American flag is the perfect choice. These iconic flags are intricately designed with stitched hems and stripes, richly embroidered stars and sturdy polyester headings. These beautiful, heavyweight cotton flags are stunning when displayed at your home. However, they are not as durable or weather-resistant, so you may want to bring them indoors during inclement weather.
Respect Flag Etiquette
The most important guideline for caring for your American flag is respecting flag etiquette. The official U.S. Flag Code outlines specific instructions for displaying the flag in a dignified manner.