Is It Safe to Dry Clean the American Flag?

If you own an American flag, you might be wondering whether it’s safe to get it dry cleaned. Like all flags, the American flag will accumulate dirt and debris when left outdoors for an extended period. It typically won’t happen overnight, but after proudly displaying the American flag in front of your home or business for several months, you can expect it to accumulate a fair amount of dirt and debris. As a result, dry cleaning may sound like an effective solution to revitalize the appearance of your American flag.

Yes, You Can Dry Clean the American Flag

The good news is that it’s perfectly fine to dry clean the American flag. The U.S. Flag Code — the federal law governing the way in which the American flag is displayed, stored and maintained — doesn’t contain any specific provisions regarding dry cleaning. Therefore, you can safely take your American flag to a local dry-cleaning establishment without fear or violating the U.S. Flag Code.

What Is Dry Cleaning?

Dry cleaning is an all-around excellent way to clean the American flag. Upon hearing the term “dry cleaning,” many people assume that it’s a completely dry process that’s devoid of all liquids. However, dry cleaning actually uses a liquid chemical solvent, so it’s not really “dry.” It’s called “dry cleaning” because it substitutes for water for a liquid chemical solvent. During this process, the American flag — or clothes for that matter — is soaked in a chemical solvent that releases stain-causing compounds from the respective material.

Check the Material

While the U.S. Flag Code doesn’t prohibit consumers from dry cleaning the American flag, it’s a good idea to check the material to determine whether it’s suitable for dry cleaning. If your American flag is made of a synthetic material, such as polyester or nylon, you can clean it using most any method. If your American flag is made of an organic material like cotton, on the other hand, you should either spot clean it or dry clean it to protect against damage.

Signs You Need to Get Your American Flag Dry Cleaned

Dry cleaning isn’t something that you should regularly do your American flag. Instead, wait until your American flag is visibly dirty. If there are no visible stains, smudges or blemishes, you don’t need to dry clean it. Wait until your American flag is visibly dirty to get it dry cleaned. While dry cleaning is gentler both hand-washing and machine-washing, it’s still something that should only be done on occasion.

Join thousands of others receiving our newsletter.