Keep Old Glory looking like new.

By Brandi Broxson
Updated June 22, 2018
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If you fly your flag year-round, aim to wash it once a month. Only fly it on holidays? A once-a-season wash is recommended, says Mary Gagliardi, who serves as Dr. Laundry for the Clorox Company. Run a polyester or nylon flag through a gentle warm water cycle (apply a pretreatment on dirt or pollen stains). Lay it flat on clean towels to air-dry.

A cotton flag’s colors may bleed, so handwash it in a basin with detergent and lukewarm water.

After rinsing, roll the flag in a clean towel (like a sleeping bag) and gently squeeze out any water. Place a pillowcase or dish towel over the flag and press with a warm iron—this will quickly dry the flag and help reduce color transfer, says Gagliardi. Unsure of the material? Call your dry cleaner—some offer free American flag cleaning in July and beyond.

If your flag is faded, torn, or frayed beyond repair, retire it, says Jill Druskis, Americanism director at the American Legion. Drop it off at an American Legion or Veterans of Foreign Wars post, or check with your local scout troop about a dignified disposal.