American Flag Care | U.S. Flag Etiquette and Care Tips

Your American flag is not just another accessory used to make your house better to your neighbors. It is a symbol of excellence in this country, one that deserves the utmost respect and care not only when raising it but also in cleaning and storage

How Do I Care For My Flag?

You might be tempted to ask, “Isn’t it as simple as just taking it down and making sure it doesn’t touch the ground?” While right on the surface, there’s a lot more that goes into flag care than most people realize. With a little practice and a lot of focus, you too can make sure that olD Glory is ready for Veteran’s Day, Memorial Day, and beyond.

Are You Supposed To Wash the American Flag?

Unless you are flying your flag on the back of a tailgate or on a wall-mount, it may not get much dirt or debris on it in the short-term. With that said, it doesn’t hurt to wash your American flag every once in a while to make sure it keeps its luster.

How you clean your flag will depend on what type of material was used to make it. Natural materials like wool or cotton lend better to hand washing or dry cleaning and later hanging to dry. With newer flags using nylon or polyester, a washing machine is suitable provided that you use a delicate cycle and cold water. Regardless of how your flag is made, do not use a dryer as this could damage the material.

Are You Supposed to Take The Flag Down When It Rains?

According to the U.S. Flag Code, “The flag should not be displayed on days when the weather is inclement, except when an all-weather flag is displayed.” Not only is this a sign of respect given the time and occasion of flying the flag (we’ll talk about that later), but it can reduce the amount of dirt, debris, and damage your flag will face.

However, as the excerpt mentions, all-weather flags can be sustainable during rainy days. These will be made with synthetic materials like nylon, polyester, or a combination of others that can hold strong against wind and precipitation. Of course, major weather events like hurricanes and tornadoes would probably call for taking the flag down as a precaution.

What Are 3 Things You Should Never Do To The Flag?

So far, we’ve talked about things that you should do in order to take care of your flag. On the other hand, flag care also involves what shouldn’t be done, especially in the name of respect. Three actions in particular stand out, including:

Touching the Flag on the Floor

No matter if you’re lowering the flag for the day or taking it out of the packaging, the American flag must not touch the ground. Keeping it risen on a standard 20 ft. pole is the best way to avoid this faux pas, but flying it closer as a wall-mounted flag can give you easier access.

Oftentimes, the question often brought up is about flying the flag on a tailgate. While there is nothing directly in the U.S. Flag Code forbidding this, it should be noted that it is up to the driver/flyer to be responsible when flying the flag this way in order to avoid it dropping onto the road or even causing an impairment for the driver behind you.

Hanging the Flag Incorrectly

There’s a very particular way of flying the American flag based on its design. The union (the blue field and stars) should be at the top left of the flag while the red and white stripes should be to its right. This means that the flag should not be hanging upside down unless as a signal of distress in the country. It also means that when hanging the flag, it should be attached on the stripe side instead of the union side, though most flags will already have it sectioned off.

The flag can also be hung vertically, but the same rules apply for the union. It too must be featured at the top left, but be wary of it’s length. You wouldn't want to fly it this way and have it touching the ground, right?

Raise Other Flags Higher

The beauty of this great country is the ability to fly whatever flag you want, no matter what you believe in. However, the U.S. Flag Code is very specific about where the United States flag should be positioned in relation to others. According to the Flag Code, no other flag should fly higher than the American flag while on the same pole, so it should stay at the top no matter what other flag is used.

When flying the American flag on a separate pole along with others, it is best to keep it in the middle of the group and ensure that it is still higher. This may require you to get a flag pole that is slightly longer, especially if the others are on the 20 ft. standard poles. As for tailgating flags, the same rules above apply.

Can the American Flag be Flown at Night Without a Light?

There’s nothing better than seeing Old Glory flying proudly when the sun comes up. It’s more than just a good visual, it’s actually a customary presentation. The American flag should be raised as soon as proper lighting is available, which includes the sun.

And yet, what if the sun goes down? Believe it or not, it’s considered disrespectful to keep your flag outside at night. The American flag (or, rather, any flag) looks best when it is completely visible. Before sunset finishes, you should bring your flag inside and store it properly. However, there are ways to keep your flag going even after dark.

One of the best methods to keep your flag going after the sun goes down is with a proper flag light. You could go out and by any normal light and call it a day, but if you’re going to show Old Glory respect, you need a Deneve light.

Deneve’s brand of solar powered flag lights take the guesswork out of bringing your flag inside by giving it enough light to last for hours on end - all fueled by the sun!

American Flag Care is Not Difficult

You might be looking at everything covered today and think that flag care is an insurmountable task. Not to worry! Taking care of your American flag can be very easy as long as you make each step a part of your day-to-day routine. From cleaning your flag to factoring in weather to hanging it correctly and beyond, the Stars and Stripes will be ready for everyone to enjoy.

Did we cover anything? Miss an important flag-care tip? Let us know how you take care of your American flag in the comment section and enjoy flying!