Discussion in 'Other US Flag Etiquette' started by EmailPoster, Jun 6, 2006.
Is it ok to wash a dirty flag...
Washing a Flag
Great question Michael! There is nothing in the Flag Code that says you can not wash the flag. It is possible to clean the flag while maintaining respect for it. Here are some suggestions:
1. If the flag only has a spot or two, you can try cleaning it by hand.
2. If the entire flag is fairly soiled I would place it in the gentle cycle of the washer by itself (you might want to check the manufacturers instructions first).
3. If you can not get the flag clean and you feel that it is no longer fit for display than it should be destroyed.
It is not OK to wash a dirty flag...
Yes, that is a very good question. I'm sure a lot of people usually wonder about that and mist would actually think that it is OK to wash a dirty flag. Well, the flag should never touch anything beneath it according to the rules. This means that the flag should not touch anything like water, the ground or any other merchandise. While it seems like a noble thing to do to wash a dirty flag, it's not something to be done. The rule about respect for the flag is as follows:
'No disrespect should be shown to the flag of the United States of America; the flag should not be dipped to any person or thing. Regimental colors, State flags, and organization or institutional flags are to be dipped as a mark of honor.'
I hope that helps. Let me know if you have any more questions.
Ways to Wash the US Flag
Cleaning the US flag is definitly tricky business. The US flag should be stored properly to avoid dirt and damage, but inevitably these things happen.
For newer flags, simply wash by hand in mild soap to avoid damage while cleaning it. Be sure the flag is thoroughly dried before rehanging it.
For older flags, however, it is a good dea to use a vaccuum cleaner attachment covered in cheesecloth. Gently blot the flag to avoid causing rips or tears in the material.
If the flag is beyond repair, contact your local American Legion Hall. They can help by disposing of the flag properly in a flag-burning ceremony.
Yes, the fact that you are even asking the question shows how much you care about the American flag. You are not trying to desecrate it by your actions, instead you are trying to present your flag in the best possible light i. e. clean. We only take care of the things we care about. The only other option would be to throw away or destroy your existing flag, and buy another one. Washing it seems like the more practical and sound response to me.
Washing a Flag
Interestingly, while it is common belief that if a flag lands on the ground or is soiled in some fashion that it must be destroyed, however, this is actually not the case. According to the United States law on the flag, the flag should only be destroyed if it can no longer act as a proper symbol for our country anymore. If the United States flag would become dirty, it is proper etiquette to clean the flag by hand with mild soap and water and let dry before re-hoisting.
You all have a right to your opinions, but I fly a flag 24/7/365. I pay for illumination, I buy a dozen flags at a time from AMVETS. Insstructions from the manufacturer state: "Keep your flag clean. May be laundered in cold water, mikd detergent, no need to dry, it's a flag, remeber?"
Flags are worn out by the microscopic grains of dirt. They become imbeded in the fabric and act as abrasive forces, cutting away at the fibres, (natural or synthetic) and cause fibres to fray, stitches to unravel and the "fly end" to just get beat to living daylights. When do you wash them? When they are visibly dirty? NO! Wash them once a month, they will last longer. As I said, I fly my flag 24/7/365, so if you display yours less frequently, obviously,,,,,launder less frequently. My nearby AMVETS post had a flag burning ceremony last summer, I had to retire 12 flags. Ordered 12 new ones that day. Only had 6 left on hand. Call me patriotic? Go ahead,,,make my day!
I was wanting to ask the same question. You see I have just bought an old 48 star flag and want to clean it before putting it in a glass case. Flagday is a special day for me and I will treasure this flag. Im afraid to hurt it. Is there anyone special to talk to in my city about it?
Hello, Luv2HvFun14, and welcome to the USA-FLAG-SITE Forum!
I understand your caution when it comes to cleaning/washing an older, 48-Star Flag. Although you didn't say what material your Flag was made of I would guess it's made of either wool or cotton, since nylon didn't start being widely used to make U.S. Flags until the late 50's.
Below is my personal opinion as to what you should do to clean/wash your 48-Star Flag. Although I have cleaned a quite a few of my Flags over the years, I have never tried to clean/wash a much older Flag like yours. I am using my memory of similar advice I've read and my own common sense. OK?
BEFORE you try to clean/wash your 48-Star Flag, inspect it carefully for any unraveling, "popped" stitches, holes, et cetera. It is best to have these repaired BEFORE you wash/clean your Flag.
IF your Flag is made of wool, I would recommend having it professionally dry-cleaned. I don't know if it is still a wide-spread "standard practice" or not, but it used to be that a lot of dry cleaners would clean American Flags for FREE. I guess it would hurt to ask, right?
IF your Flag is made of cotton, you can also take it to a professional dry cleaners to be cleaned, OR... you can wash your Flag yourself! HAND-wash your Flag in COLD water, using a very mild detergent (think of "WooLite", or something similar), then HAND-rinse it thoroughly, twice. To dry, lay your Flag out FLAT on some towels. Do NOT put it into a clothes dryer!
Good Luck !!!
Thank You for bringing your Flag-related question to our Forum!
"Your Friendly Neighborhood Flag Man"
Eugene, Oregon, USA.
Thank you, I didn't think about the material. I know it is not nylon. But I don't know which of the other 2 it is. It is a smaller one. I will check it for problems first. Then to the cleaners. Maybe they will know. Thanks again on your help.
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