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Care and Repair of your American Flag

The American flag is a symbol of freedom, unity, and strength for over 200 years. It is just right that every individual owning one treat it with due respect. If you want to prolong the life of your flag, then proper care and maintenance should be given to it.

Here are some Quick and Easy Tips to Care for your American Flag

  • If you fly your flag outdoors daily or on special occasions, washing it before storage is recommended.
    • Depending on the material of your flag, you can wash it by hand or simply put it in your machine. Do this regularly to preserve it and spare it from early retirement.
    • If your flag comes with special washing instructions, follow it to a T.
    • Use only mild detergent when washing your flag.
    • If for some reason your flag needs special care due to its material, you can take it to the cleaners who offer flag-cleaning services. Dry-cleaning is preferred for indoor flags because they are usually made from less durable materials, unlike outdoor flags, which are made from tougher fabrics.
    • Immediately dry your flag after washing because the fringe of your flag may run and stain your cherished flag. Hang your flag or lay it flat to dry instead of putting it in the dryer. This will help prevent the colors from running.
  • Prevention is better than cure. Regularly inspect your flag to spot early rips or loosening stitches before they become more difficult to deal with. Mending or repairing your flag should only be done if you can fly your flag without the mended portion showing. The shape and design should be intact after the repair. When the dimension of your flag no longer follows flag-regulations due to much repair, then it may be time to retire your flag.

Giving your flag the proper care will ensure that you’ll enjoy it for the longest time possible.


Retiring Your Flag

When an American flag has served it’s time and has become faded, torn and worn out, it’s time to replace it with a new flag. A flag ceremony may be done prior to incinerating the flag.

Flag Retirement Ceremony

  • Retiring flag should be raised on the pole or staff or held up by hand.
  • Attendees are called to attention.
  • The leader will say, “This flag has served its nation long and well. It has worn to the condition to which it should no longer be used to represent the nation. We pay honor to this flag for the service it has rendered.”
  • Attendees will recite Pledge of Allegiance to the flag.
  • The flag is property folded and handed over to the group leader who will incinerate it.

Here are steps on how to properly retire your flag:

  • Cut the canton out first.
  • Then the flag stripes are cut up stripe by stripe.
  • Some organizations recommend saying the names of the original colonies in order as the stripes are being incinerated:
    1. Delaware
    2. Pennsylvania
    3. New Jersey
    4. Georgia
    5. Connecticut
    6. Massachusetts
    7. Maryland
    8. South Carolina
    9. New Hampshire
    10. Virginia
    11. New York
    12. North Carolina
    13. Rhode Island
  • Some recommend saying all the state names. This depends on the interpretation of the group performing the Flag retirement ceremony.
  • Don’t let the flag touch the ground while the flag is being cut.
  • Put the stripes into the fire and let them burn completely.
  • Put the canton pieces into the fire last and let them burn completely.
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