Can you wash a flag? Yes, of course, and you should do it regularly!
For the US flag to embody the love for your country, it must look amazing as well besides flying high. Weather conditions, air pollution, and many other factors contribute to the fact that the flag loses its good, i.e., clean looks over time.
Here are a couple of ways how the stars and stripes can maintain their glorious appearance.
Check the Colors First
Before washing your flag for the first time, it would be wise to check if any of the colors will be bleeding. This goes for all materials, from poly to wool.
To check this, use a wet cotton swab, rubbing the tip on each color of the flag. In case the swab becomes stained with color (the dirt is not the issue here), then the colors will eventually bleed when washing the flag.
What are you to do? You may try washing it by hand in cold water, but if the fabric is not colorfast, the flag may end up ruined. On the other hand, it is not respectful to keep a dirty flag flying or displayed indoors, so you should better look for ways to properly say goodbye to the old Glory.
Depending on the flag material, you will have to employ different techniques when washing. The drying, on the other hand, mostly comes down to one thing: do not put your flag in a dryer!
● Polyester or nylon — they can be washed by hand in cold water and mild detergent, or you can put them in the washing machine and set the cycle for “delicate.” The water temperature and detergent remain cold, i.e., mild. This goes for all flags made of synthetic materials.
● Hemp, cotton, wool, and other natural materials — they are not the best match for delicate machine wash. You’d better have them dry cleaned, and most dry cleaners do not even charge for this service.
Or you can wash the flag by hand. It is also advisable to use oxygen-based bleach because it can help remove the color bleeding leftovers if any. The water in the plastic container or bathtub should be lukewarm. Soak the flag and leave it that way for four hours minimum. Finally, rinse the flag in cold water.
Of course, it is mandatory to check any care tags or labels on the flag itself perhaps or on the case it came in.
Drying & One Big Exception to the Rule
Made from a synthetic or natural material, a flag is best dried when it is laid flat or vertically in a shade. Hanging the flag on a clothesline is in sync with all the rules.
When it comes to laying the flag horizontally, it is acceptable in this instance to allow the flag to touch the ground/grass, which is otherwise considered offensive.
To Iron or Not to Iron
If the material is synthetic, ironing the flag is not recommendable? No, quite the opposite. Ironing will smooth out the fine (or big) wrinkles on it. Just make sure to set the right temperature. While cotton can endure some heat, that does not sit well with nylon or polyester.
Finally, let your good-as-new flag fly high!