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Choosing an American Flag: Nylon vs Polyester vs Cotton

What’s the Best Material?

If you’re planning to purchase an American flag, you should consider the material from which it’s made. All American flags feature 50 stars and 13 stripes. The stars, of course, represent the country’s 50 states, whereas the stripes represent the original Thirteen Colonies. While all American flags feature this universal design, they are available in different materials. So, what’s the best material for an American flag?


Cotton is a popular choice of material used in the construction of American flags. Derived from cotton plants, it’s a soft and fluffy material that’s used extensively in the clothing industry. Countless shirts, sweaters, trousers, dresses and other garments are made of cotton. Of course, cotton is also used in the construction of American flags. Cotton American flags are lightweight, so they fly easily in light breezes. Since it is an organic material unlike American flags made of other materials, cotton American flags are mostly used for indoor applications, or laying over a casket when honoring a veteran.


You’ll find many American flags made of polyester. A type of synthetic material, polyester has unique properties that distinguish it from organic materials like cotton. For starters, polyester is stronger and more durable than cotton. While it’s not necessarily immune to damage, polyester can withstand greater stress without ripping or tearing. As a result, you can fly a polyester American flag outdoors without fear of it succumbing to damage quickly. With its synthetic construction, it will hold up well for a long time.

If your polyester American flag gets dirty — which is bound to happen sooner or later — you can clean it in the washing machine. Since it’s a strong and durable material, polyester is machine-washable. While it’s recommended that you hand-wash a cotton American flag, you can machine-wash a polyester American flag.


In addition to polyester, some American flags are made of nylon. In fact, this is the most popular choice of material for outdoor flags because it works best for most areas. Like polyester, nylon is a synthetic material, and the two materials share many of the same properties. Nylon is strong and durable, and it’s also machine-washable. A key difference between polyester and nylon American flags lies in their weight. Polyester American flags are heavier than their nylon counterparts.

Is nylon or polyester better for outdoor flags?

The answer to is nylon or polyester better for outdoor flags depends on where you live and how you will use the flag. If you’re hoping to fly your flag in light breezes, you may want to choose nylon because it is a lighter material and flies well with less wind. In strong breezes, on the other hand, a polyester American flag may work best. Since it’s heavier, polyester American flags fly more gracefully in windy areas. But for both of these materials, you won’t have to worry about them wearing out quickly outdoors like you would with cotton – as long as the craftsmanship is quality like the flags at Star Spangled Flags.

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Nylon vs. Polyester flags

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