Flag care

I’m going to bet that a number of you hung American Flags this past weekend.

Washing Your Flag

Like most clothing, and items made of fabric, regular washings will prolong the life of your flag. Most outdoor flags are now made of polyester or nylon, meaning they are more durable than cotton and can be washed by hand (in the bathtub) or by machine, in warm water. They can be soaked and pre-treated, if needed. Older flags, which were typically made from cotton, are more prone fading, degradation, tears and stains; specifically mildew and rust.

Older flags should never be bleached, or come in direct contact with chlorine bleach, unless it’s diluted. Unfortunately, mildew usually requires chlorine bleach to remove such stains and discolorations. Rust is an easy fix with the right chemical. It’s best to let flags air dry, regardless of the fabric content.

Drycleaning Your Flag 

I wouldn’t want to speak out of turn, but our cleaners routinely offered free cleaning for flags, from Memorial Day through the Fourth of July, charging only for repairs. Very large flags can occupy the whole wheel of the machine!

Brief History of the Flag

Betsy Ross sewed the first American flag in May of 1776 in her house on Arch Street in Philadelphia. By the way, you can see Betsy’s house, and “her flag” in Old City Philly, just blocks from the Delaware River—along with a slew of other historic buildings, museums and monuments. Visit in cooler weather!

—The Clothing Doctor