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When Should I Replace My American Flag?

Published on
April 26, 2023 at 8:01:54 AM PDT April 26, 2023 at 8:01:54 AM PDTth, April 26, 2023 at 8:01:54 AM PDT

Outdoor U.S. flags can begin showing signs of wear, including fading, tearing, and ripping, due to their constant exposure to the elements. Even the highest-quality flags can lose their vibrancy and fray. While no rules within the flag code explicitly state when to replace your American flag, you don't want its condition to deteriorate significantly before purchasing a new one.  


If you are searching for guidelines on when to replace your torn, frayed, or faded American flag, look no further than Carrot-Top Industries. With over 40 years of experience in the flag industry, crafting high-quality, American-made flags, we can help your business determine when it's time to purchase a replacement. Keeping a dignified display has never been easier! For more flag-buying advice, please fill out our contact us form to speak with a Flag Pro today!


What Does the U.S. Flag Code Say About Replacing Your American Flag?


Flying the stars and stripes is an honor and a privilege. The U.S. flag code helps ensure it receives the respect it deserves.


In regard to flying a frayed, torn, or faded American flag, the United States Flag Code states, "The flag, when it is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem for display, should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning."


It is important to note that the decision on when to replace an American flag is up to interpretation, with no acceptable amount of damage specifically outlined within the flag code. However, outdoor flags deteriorate over time, and when the damage becomes noticeable, you should consider purchasing a replacement.


Let's take a closer look at the most common conditions affecting outdoor U.S. flags, when they warrant a replacement, and proper flag disposal techniques.


When to Replace Your American Flag?




Tearing is defined as separating or pulling apart. On U.S. flags, tearing can look like long rips along the seams or holes throughout the material, indicating that your flag's fabric has begun breaking down. While high-quality outdoor flags are crafted from durable material, extended exposure to the elements deteriorates the fibers, causing them to loosen and break apart. You should replace your flag at the first sign of tearing since the problem will worsen over time.



Fraying occurs when the ends of the flag begin to loosen and break apart, creating a tattered appearance. Fraying generally occurs due to prolonged exposure to windy conditions, contact with trees, buildings, or other foreign items, and extended outdoor use. Fraying will destroy a flag, so you should replace American flag in a dignified manner at the first sign of this condition.




If your flag no longer appears vibrant and has developed a pale appearance, it is showing signs of fading. A faded American flag appears neglected and indicates the material is starting to break down, which can lead to fraying and tearing. A good rule of thumb is when your flag begins to lose its vibrancy, it's time for a replacement.




Outdoor flags are exposed to the elements, wildlife, air pollution, and more, so it's not uncommon for stains to appear. Many flags are made from waterproof, stain-resistant material, but over time the fabric loses its integrity, and stains become more prominent, especially on the light-colored sewn stripes. If there are noticeable stains on your flag that you are unable to remove, you should consider buying a replacement.


How Often Should I Replace My American Flag?


Many factors determine how often to replace the American flag, including the weather, location, and the flag's material composition. According to the U.S. Government, the average flag of the United States only lasts around ninety days, a fact that comes as a surprise to many business owners. Of course, those who fly their flag daily need to replace it more often than those who only raise it for special occasions since it will have more exposure to the elements.


At Carrot-Top, we craft our flags from the highest-quality materials and include a six-month guarantee with each one, which is above industry standards. Proudly made in America, you can purchase our polyester and nylon flags with confidence!


How Can I Increase the Lifespan of My Flag?


While replacing your old flag periodically is unavoidable, there are steps you can take to increase its lifespan. 

Take Down Flag During Inclement Weather


Flying your flag during inclement weather will reduce its lifespan significantly and is against the U.S. flag code. Strong winds, rain, and hail cause tearing, fraying, and ripping, causing your USA flag to look tattered.


Repair Your Flag 

For small tears and holes, repairing your flag is an excellent way to increase its lifespan and save you from purchasing a new flag; just be sure to use thread designed for outdoor use or a seamstress with flag repair experience. 

Avoid Rough Surfaces 

The American flag should never touch rough surfaces beneath it, like the ground, which can cause tearing and fraying. If placed on the side of a building, be sure the wall is smooth to avoid snagging. 

Look for FMAA-Certified Flags


FMAA-certified flags are made in America from domestic materials and undergo a strict manufacturing process, including stringent monitoring from start to finish. All American flags crafted by Carrot-Top Industries are proudly FMAA certified!


Regularly Clean Your Flag


Regularly cleaning your flag removes dirt, algae, and bacteria that can cause damage. It also allows you to inspect its conditions and make repairs before they worsen. Regular cleaning can help you replace your American flag less frequently. 

Rotate Your Flags 

Rotating your flags ensures your honored Old Glory will remain vibrant and resists fading. We recommend having at least two on hand and then rotating them out every two months. Rotating your flag helps give your U.S. flag a break from the elements and a chance to make any necessary repairs to your flag.


If you live in an area where wind conditions vary, you can purchase a polyester and nylon and switch them out based on the weather. While nylon flies beautifully during low wind days, a polyester will be more durable in harsher weather. 


How Do I Dispose of an Old American Flag?


The U.S. Flag Code specifically defines the proper disposal of American flags, which includes burning, using a disposal box, recycling, and burying. You can also contact the American Legion or a local Boy Scout troop, as they can retire the flag for you. Learn how to properly dispose of an American flag from our blog. Carrot-Top customers can also take advantage of our Stars and Stripes program for convenient flag disposal!


Carrot-Top: Quality American Flags That Last


Carrot-Top Industries is the premier provider of American flags, partnering with the nation's top industries, including the U.S. government, schools, the Boy Scouts, Veterans of Foreign Wars, and more. We also serve all branches of the Armed Forces, including the Air Force, Marine Corps, Army, and Navy, with top-quality emblems.


For over forty years, we've proudly provided our customers with high-quality, American-made Polyester flags and Nylon American flags, military flags, state flags, POW-MIA flags, and flagpoles. Our commitment to excellence includes an industry's best guarantee, unmatched customer service, and expert graphic artists, so you can purchase your U.S. flag with confidence. Fill out our contact us form today and discover why we're the most trusted name in the industry.