Proper flag care is vital for protecting your cherished American flag or other flags. All flags must be treated with care in order to maximize their lifespans. Follow these simple rules for American flag care to keep your flag looking its best.
1. Protect your flag from exposure to storms, snow or abnormally high winds, as these adverse conditions can shorten its life. If your flag should become wet, let it dry completely by spreading it out. Never roll or fold your flag when it is wet or damp as this can also damage the fabric.
2. Clean your flag regularly to keep the fabric looking new. Your flag can be hand-washed with warm water and mild soap, then thoroughly rinsed and spread out to air dry. Do not let the flag stand in the wash water for extended periods of time or some color transfer may occur from the red stripes to the white stripes in the case of American flags.
3. Determining where to hang your flag is also important. Do not fly the flag where it will come in contact with tree limbs, buildings or cables. When the flag is flying, hitting such an object could cause a tear in the material. Even a small tear could result in the flag becoming tattered. Inspecting your flag for any small tears or signs of wear can prevent a small problem from becoming a big problem. If you notice a tear or wear at the end of the flag, trim and re-hem the end, and your flag will be ready to fly again.
Additionally, you may choose to treat your flags with a fabric protection product like 303 Fabric Guard®, which waterproofs fabric and protects it from UV rays, mildew and soiling.
By following these simple rules, you will help ensure a long life for your cherished flag!
How to fly a flag at half-staff
The American flag is flown at half-staff (or half-mast) when the nation or a state is in mourning. To fly a flag at half-staff, the American flag should be raised to the peak momentarily, and then lowered half-way between the top and bottom of the flag staff or flag pole. Before the flag is lowered for the day, the American flag should be raised again to the peak of the staff or flagpole before being lowered.
On Memorial Day, the American flag should only be displayed at half-staff until noon, then raised to the top of the staff.
The President, through a presidential proclamation, a state governor, or the mayor of the District of Columbia can order flags to fly at half-staff.
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 possession, 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 instructions or orders, or in accordance with recognized customs or practices not inconsistent with law.
In the event of the death of a present or former official of the government of any State, territory, or possession of the United States, or the death of a member of the Armed Forces from any State, territory, or possession who dies while serving on active duty, the Governor of that State, territory, or possession may proclaim that the American flag shall be flown at half-staff, and the same authority is provided to the Mayor of the District of Columbia with respect to present or former officials of the District of Columbia and members of the Armed Forces from the District of Columbia.
When the Governor of a State, territory, or possession, or the Mayor of the District of Columbia, issues a proclamation that the American flag be flown at half-staff in that State, territory, or possession or in the District of Columbia because of the death of a member of the Armed Forces, the National flag flown at any Federal installation or facility in the area covered by that proclamation shall be flown at half-staff consistent with that proclamation.
The flag shall be flown at half-staff for 30 days from the death of the President or a former President; 10 days from the day of death of the Vice President, the Chief Justice or a retired Chief Justice of the United States, or the Speaker of the House of Representatives; from the day of death until interment of an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, a Secretary of an executive or military department, a former Vice President, or the Governor of a State, territory, or possession; and on the day of death and the following day for a Member of Congress. The flag shall be flown at half-staff on Peace Officers Memorial Day, unless that day is also Armed Forces Day.
Follow the instructions below to easily fold your flag. If you need help, your local fire department, scouting troop, American Legion or VFW post can also help you fold your flag.
By folding a flag in the following manner, the tri-cornered hats worn by the Colonial soldiers during the War of Independence are symbolically recalled.
For larger flags, it can be easier if you have someone helping you. If so, you can each hold one end of the flag as you follow the instructions below. If you’re alone, you can lay the flag out flat in front of you, with the blue field and white stars in the upper left corner, as shown in the animation below.
1. Fold the flag in half width-wise, from bottom to top. Do this by folding the lower striped section of the flag up to cover the blue field. The folded edge will now be on the bottom part of the flag. Try to keep the flag smooth and flat. Keep the fabric as tight as possible during the folding process.
2. Fold the flag in half width-wise a second time, bringing the folded bottom edge up to meet the top open edge. The stars should now be visible on the left-hand side.
3. Starting at the far lower right corner of the striped end, fold a triangle to the top of the flag, from right to left.
4. Keep folding triangles from right to left until you are left with one triangle made of stars on a blue field. Keep the folds as tight and flat as possible.
5. Tuck in the remaining fabric into the folds of the triangle.
Congratulations! You now have a perfectly folded American flag!
Note: this process can stretch a flag at first, which is normal, but it can make the flag too big to fit into a flag case. If this happens, simple re-fold the flag two or three times. This will tighten up the flag and it will be ready for display in your flag case or shadow box. If your folded flag seems too thick to fit in your flag case or shadow box, you can wrap the folded flag in a bag or a towel and compress the flag beneath a heavy weight to make it less thick.