There’s no better way to show your patriotism for the United States than by flying the American flag over your home or place of business. Consisting of 50 stars and 13 stripes, it symbolizes our nation’s core values of freedom from oppression and tyranny, and the pursuit of happiness.
But over time, it’s not uncommon for flags to develop dirt, dust and debris. Its once bright colors may now be faded and tarnished. While this typically doesn’t cause any direct damage to the flag, it can affect its appearance. So, what’s the best to clean an American flag?
Check the Material
First and foremost, you’ll need to check to see what material the flag is made of. Most American flags are made of either nylon, polyester or cotton. Cotton is an excellent material, as it’s lightweight, inexpensive and readily available. However, many companies prefer nylon or polyester due to their exceptional strength and durability. Nylon and polyester are also more resilient to dirt and debris, making it an excellent choice for outdoor flags.
Assuming your American flag is only slightly dirty, you can usually clean it simply by wiping it down with a damp washcloth. Take a clean washcloth and run it under a lukewarm water. Once damp, gently run it across the surface of your American flag, paying extra attention to areas where dirt is visible. When you are finished, wait for your flag to dry before hanging it (hanging a wet flag may attract additional dirt and debris).
Of course, surface cleaning alone isn’t always enough to remove stubborn dirt from an American flag, especially if it’s been sitting for months or even years. In this case, it’s best to add a small amount of liquid laundry detergent into the mix. Place the laundry detergent on a damp washcloth and scrub your flag. Now rinse the soapy residue from the washcloth and wipe down your flag one last time to remove any remaining detergent.
You might be surprised to learn that most American flags are machine washable. So the next time your American flag needs a good cleaning, remove it from the pole and place it inside your washing machine, setting it to “gentle” cycle. It’s recommended that you dry your flag on the tumble-dry setting to reduce the risk of damage. You should now have a spotless American flag that’s ready to be flown once again!