Caring for the United States Flag: Maintenance and Proper Disposal

Caring for the United States Flag
Owning and displaying a United States Flag is a privilege that comes with important responsibilities, including protecting it with some basic maintenance procedures. So letís look at some tips for ensuring that your flag stays in great shape for as long as possible. Weíll also discuss what to do when it becomes unfit for display.


1. Start out by selecting the right flag for your needs in the first place. Some are intended for only occasional display. Others are made of heavier, more durable materials that can withstand the rigors of daily use. Independence Bunting sells a wide variety of US flags for any honorable purpose. For example, our 2-ply poly flags are built to stand up to the worst that the elements can dish out, including prolonged sunlight and heavy winds. Theyíre ideal for those who fly the national banner on a frequent or daily basis. We also have flags made from other materials that are perfect for displaying a few times a year, such as during national holidays.

2. Any spots should be cleaned using an appropriate cleaning product. Blowing dust, animal waste, air pollution, and other contaminants can all cause stains on the flagís fabric. Look on the label for care instructions. Most dry cleaners will handle this task as well, and usually they have special products that are ideal for this purpose. Ask the manager or owner for details.

3. Examine the flag from time to time for minor rips or tears. These can be repaired with basic sewing procedures, but be sure to use threads with matching colors. If youíre in doubt of your sewing abilities, then let an experienced seamstress handle the job.

4. One way to extend the life of your flag is to have two or three on hand at the same time. You can then rotate their use, displaying one while the others are in storage or being washed or repaired.

5. Take care when raising and lowering the flag. Above all, donít let it touch the ground. This is not only dishonorable, but also it can cause stains.

6. If flown outside of a business, school, civic club, or similar organization, then a member or employee should be appointed keeper of the flag. He or she will inspect it monthly for wear or damage and ensure that itís stored safely when not in use.

How to Properly Dispose of a Damaged, Faded, or Tattered Flag
Like any other man-made object, the United States Flag is subject to the ravages of time. When one becomes unfit for display, it should be disposed of in a respectful manner, preferably by burning. All branches of the US military, Boy Scout and Grill Scout troops, and American Legion institutions will take care of this duty for you when the times comes. Additionally, you can do so yourself, provided itís done in a dignified manner. Here is the general procedure to follow.

1. Find a safe place to build a bonfire. It should be away from trees and bushes. A designated campsite at a state or national park will usually do nicely.

2. Someone familiar with doing so should build the fire, using only dried wood as fuel, not trash or debris.

3. The star pattern should be cut from the flag. The striped portion should then be folded and the star field placed on top.

4. The flag should then be carefully placed into the flames and burned until only ashes remain. Under no circumstances should other materials such as rubbish also be added to the fire.

5. It is appropriate but not required that a short ceremony of a patriotic nature be conducted before or during the burning.

6. After the flag has been thoroughly consumed, the fire should be extinguished thoroughly, following all established safety procedures.

Need a New Flag? Let Independence Bunting Help.
We make both US and other flags right here in the USA, from top-quality materials and with attention to every detail. We also carry American-made Decorative Bunting and other fine products. Browse our site and see how we can meet your patriotic and other display needs.