Can You Wash An American Flag?

In many American homes, there is a flagpole with the national flag, and some even keep it indoors as a decoration; naturally, it will become dusty and, if kept outside, even dirty because of rain, snow, and dust.

Therefore, it is necessary to wash it regularly — yes, you can wash an American flag

How To Wash An American Flag

American Flag

Washing a flag regularly may help it last longer, whether it’s the American flag, a college or special group flag, or a decorative garden banner; most of these modern flags are made of durable materials, like polyester or nylon, while others are made of cotton. So washing one is not an arduous task. 

The flags can be washed in a washing machine or, as an alternative, you can wash them by hand or set your machine to a hand-wash mode and wash the flags in cool water with a mild detergent.

We’ll discuss how to wash the American flag and reveal a few tips that will help you keep its colors brighter for longer.

How To Hand Wash An American Flag

Handwashing a multi-colored flag in cool water with a mild laundry detergent is the safest way to clean it. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to hand wash the flag below: 

Step 1: Test the fabric first if you’re not sure if it’s colorfast. Wet the tip of a cotton swab with plain water and rub it in each color; if any dye transfers to the swab, the colors will most likely bleed when the flag is washed. You’re better off just purchasing a new replacement flag.

Step 2: Add detergent to the solution and pre-soak the flag. After a few minutes, wash the flag and leave it to dry. 

How To Wash An American Flag In The Washing Machine

You can also toss the flag in the washing machine only if the colors do not bleed. To help prevent excessive wrinkling and, hopefully, color bleeding, set the cycle to gentle and always use cold water for the wash and rinse.

Note: Do not dry the flag in a hot dryer. Instead, drape it over a clothesline or a drying rack and let it drip dry. Use a cool iron to press nylon or polyester flags and hot iron to press cotton flags if they are wrinkled.

Take your flag to a professional dry cleaner if you’re unsure about the fiber content or if it’s vintage. Many places, especially during July, provide free American flag cleaning services. 

How To Remove Stains From An American Flag 

If your American flag has stains or is extremely dirty from exposure to the elements, it must be pre-soaked before washing. Here are a few methods you can use to wash it below.

Use Bleach


With bleach, you can remove any stain from your American flag. Here is a step-by-step guide to removing stains from your flag using bleach below: 

Step 1: Add a few drops of bleach to water with added laundry detergent in it. Depending on the size of the stain, soak the flag in the bleach solution for about five minutes to an hour.

Step 2: Check the flag regularly and remove them from the solution when the stain has been lifted to your satisfaction. Rinse and leave to dry.

Note: If the stains persist, repeat the procedure. Launder as usual once no stains remain.

Any color bleeding that occurred during use or previous washings will be removed with the oxygen bleach solution. It will not, however, remove rust stains on grommets or other metals. For stain removal, special treatments and products are required.

Use Hot Water 

Using hot water to remove stains from your American flag sometimes works like magic. It can work for both cotton and polyester flags. 

Here is a step-by-step guide on how to use hot water to remove stains from your flags below: 

Step 1: Place the stained flag in a bowl or flat on the floor, then pour boiling directly onto the stain in a rapid stream. 

Step 2: Pour the water until the stain is invisible, wash the cloth with laundry detergent, and dry. 

Note: Be careful when handling the hot water to avoid burning yourself.

How To Care For An American Flag

care for American flag

If you take good care of your American Flag, you’ll have it to fly high for years to come. Caring for your US flag is not nearly as difficult as you think. Here are simple tips for caring for your flag. 

1. Wash and Dry Carefully

Frequently washing your American Flag with mild soap will help prolong its life. If you want to wash your American flag, you need to follow specific steps. To begin with, if you want to machine wash your flag, run it on a gentle cycle and don’t let it sit too long, or the colors may fade. Don’t use a machine dryer to dry your flag; simply lay it flat until it’s dry.

Also, dry cleaning is a smart option for indoor flags that are not as durable as outdoor flags.

2. Keep Fringe Dry At All Times

If your American Flag has a yellow fringe, keep it dry at all times.

Wet fringe may cause the color to run and stain the rest of the flag; if the fringe of the flag becomes wet, lay it flat on towels so that it can dry properly.

3. Repair Any Minor Rips or Tears 

It may not last much longer if you frequently repair your American Flag. However, once in a while, fix the tears on the flag. If you have a small tear in your flag, it can quickly grow as the flag waves in the wind, so it’s very important to repair it as soon as possible.

Note: your American flag can only be repaired a certain number of times before it becomes too short for regulation use.

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