How to Properly Care for the American Flag

Proper Care & Treatment for the American Flag.

With patriotism at an all time high during 4th of July celebrations, many Americans choose to fly the American flag to show their support for our nation. It is an esteemed honor to be able to fly our flag freely and special care and attention should be given in respect to this privilege. If you are intending on displaying the Stars and Stripes this holiday or anytime for that matter, do so respectfully and follow these tips for proper care and treatment.

  1. Don’t let the flag touch the ground. It is disrespectful for the flag to touch the ground, but it does happen. Should your flag get soiled, carefully brush off the debris and try and not let it happen for a second time.
  2. Don’t fly the flag upside down, unless there is an emergency.
  3. Don’t use the flag improperly such as clothing, to cover something or for a decoration.
  4. Don’t draw or mark on the flag.
  5. To store the flag, fold it in the traditional 13-fold triangle method that includes two lengthwise folds and eleven triangle folds. Never wad it up or fold it improperly.
  6. Do not store the flag where it can get dirty or moldy.
  7. Should your flag get dirty, do not put it in the laundry, bring it to one of Prestige Cleaner’s eight Scottsdale locations. We clean American flags for FREE All Year Long and know how to properly and respectfully clean the flag and prevent the colors from bleeding. Dry cleaning your flag can actually prolong the life of the flag.
  8. Flags can sustain damage from wind, hail, and rain, yet those made of nylon or polyester tend to hold up better in the elements. However, if your flag frays or has small tears, it can be trimmed and sewn, something that should be handled by a professional flag repair service or seamstress.
  9. If rips or tears deem the flag unusable, it should be destroyed by burning it in a dignified manner.
  10. Most American Legion Posts conduct flag burning ceremonies, typically on Flag Day, June 14. Contact your local Scottsdale American Legion Hall for regularly scheduled flag burning services.

According to, “it is a symbol that each American should respect, for it represents the honor, courage and sacrifice of those who struggled to preserve the ideals upon which our country was founded: Freedom, justice and opportunity for all.”

When Should the American Flag be Flown at Half-Staff?

According to

“Flying the flag at half-staff is an area of flag etiquette that most people want to make sure they get right. It is also an area for which the road to error is routinely paved with good intentions. With that in mind, we offer this refresher course as the all-important intersection where knowledge meets benevolence.

FLYING THE FLAG AT HALF-STAFF: The pertinent section of the Flag Code says, “by order of the President, the flag shall be flown at half-staff upon the death of principal figures of the United States Government and the Governor of a State, territory, or possesion, as a mark of respect to their memory. In the event of the death of other officials or foreign dignitaries, the flag is to be displayed at half-staff according to Presidential orders, or in accordance with recognized customs or practices not inconsistent with law.

In the event of the death a present or former official of the government of any State, territory, or possession of the United States, the Governor of that state, territory, or possession may proclaim that the National flag shall be flown at half-staff.” The code also includes other related details including the specific length of time during which the flag should be displayed at half-staff, in the event of the death of a “principal figure”(e.g., 30 days for the death of a sitting or former President, 10 days for the death of a sitting Vice-President,etc.).

GOOD-FAITH MISUNDERSTANDINGS: Although the code is actually pretty clear, confusion continues to occur. For example, former U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno ordered the American Flag flown at half-staff on all U.S. Department of Justice buildings, in honor of several DEA agents who had died. While NFF understands this gesture, the Flag Code does not give Attorney General Reno the authority to issue that order. Closer to NFF’s Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania home, Mayor Tom Murphy ordered all flags flown at half-staff to honor the victims of a plane crash. Here again, a well-intentioned gesture, but one for which no authority exists. NFF points out these “good-faith misunderstandings” not to criticize or embarrass anyone, but rather to head off a growing trivialization of this memorial salute, and to preserve the dignity and significance of flying the U.S. flag at half-staff. To any readers who may think that NFF is insensitive for raising these breaches of etiquette, please be assured that our motives are pure. We grieve these human loses deeply; however, we believe proper respect for our flag must be maintained – no matter the circumstances.




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