Proper Flag Care

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How long should a flag last?

This is a common question we get at and one for which there is no exact answer. The U.S. Government generally expects a nylon or cotton flag to last approximately 90 days, based on daily display from sunrise to sunset - but not during periods of inclement weather. Tests have shown that in some cases a flag flown 24-hours a day will last only one-fourth as long as one flown during the daylight hours only. Regardless of how well it is constructed, a flag is, after all, made of cloth and will sooner or later succumb to the elements. It has, however, been well documented that reasonably good care can contribute greatly to longer flag life. It is a serious violation of flag etiquette to fly a damaged flag.

Caring for your American Flag

  • Only flags made specifically for exterior use such as our nylon flags or Tough-Tex flags should be displayed outdoors.
  • For the best results, do not expose your American flag to rain, snow or exceptionally high winds; these forces of nature can shorten a flag's life considerably. Should the flag become wet, it should be carefully spread out and allowed to dry completely. Never fold or roll-up a wet or damp flag.
  • To keep its rich colors looking bright, clean your flag regularly, before soiling and discoloration from dirt, smoke, dust and other airborne contaminants "set" in the fabric. Outdoor flags can be hand-washed with warm water and a mild detergent. Do not let the flag stand in the wash water or you might experience some color "run off" onto the white stripes. Professional dry cleaning is recommended for indoor/parade flags. Many dry cleaners will clean Old Glory free of charge, especially during the period just prior to Flag Day, June 14 or Independence Day, July 4th.
  • Do not place the flag where the wind will whip it against rough surfaces, tree branches, wires, cables, etc. The smallest tear can soon result in a tattered flag. Keep flagpole surfaces free of heavy dirt, rust, scale and corrosion that could damage your flag.
  • Inspect your flag regularly for signs of wear and tear. In particular, look for "normal wear" fabric or thread breaks which may occur in the "fly" end. This is the end farthest from the staff. Trimming off and re-hemming torn or frayed ends will help extend the life of your flag. Also look for tears around the flag's grommets, which can lead to more severe flag damage.

A note about car flags...

Our car flags are among the best you can buy, however, they are designed for short-term use during parades, festivals or during holiday celebrations. Another factor in your flag's life is the speed at which you operate your car with your flag attached. Highway speeds are very tough on flags and will greatly decrease the life of your flag.

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Proper Flag Care