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How to Keep Old Glory Looking Her Best

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Author: Paul Mackenda

She's a Grand Old Flag-Keep Her Looking That Way

Our flag is the symbol of our nation and its history, so our government has put into place some laws that govern how it is treated and cared for. This is an important idea, yet most people, even if they've flown it for many years, don't know proper ways to keep, store and treat the flag.

Depending on the material that it's made out of, some flags nowadays can be machine washed. It also depends on its overall condition. For older flags, hand-washing, however, is generally recommended. Washing machine agitators may cause damage to an older flag.If you wash the flag by hand, use a mild detergent such as Woolite. Also make sure to remove the flag from the water as soon as it's clean. Soaking the flag may cause the colors to run and bleed into each other. Dry the flag flat in a warm area. Find a large are to spread it out in. But the most preferred method of cleaning the flag is to dry clean it. Since this is also the most expensive, due to the size of most flags, you may want to save money by washing it. But to keep it looking good, and make sure that it lasts a long time, be sure that take the trouble to wash it properly.

American flags that are in disrepair should be retired and no longer flown. Depending upon the extent of the damage, however, you may be able to perform repairs on your own. If there are small imperfections, sewing on a patch of the same color and texture of the fabric is permitted. These can be purchased in either the Fabric department of a local department store or through a merchant that specifically deals in selling fabrics. For flags that have larger areas of damage or fraying around the edges, the proper steps should be taken to dispose of them and replacement flags should be purchased.

Exposing it to the elements is one of the fastest ways to ruin a flag. The flag will be whipped about and become shredded if you fly the flag in bad weather with snow, rain, sleet, hail or high winds hitting it constantly. The sun can do a great deal of damage by bleaching out the colors, even in good weather. Bring the flag in whenever bad weather threatens, if you can. If it does get wet, bring it in and drape it in an open area to dry thoroughly. Remember to keep it from touching the ground, when you are doing this. The American flag is never permitted to touch the ground, unless it has been retired the ashes are being buried, according to our laws.

If you fly your flag near trees, shrubs and other obstructions or right next to your house, your flag may be easily damaged. Take care the the flag will not be whipping against the house or the trees or shrubs. Mount your flag on a pole that's away from the house and landscaping is the best way you can do this. Or, use a stanchion type flag pole away from the house, branches and wires.

You must make sure that it is completely dry before you store the American flag, then fold it in its proper format and place it in a flag case or protective wrap. All flags should be stored in a cool, dry, dark location. Then they will always look fresh and nice for use in the future. A flag display in a special flag case is the best condition for storage, but this is usually for ceremonial flags.

Always remember that the American flag is special and should be treated as such. From general upkeep, to cleaning, to storage, Old Glory deserves only the best, and the law requires that proper respect be shown at all times.

About the author

Paul Mackenda operates the website Flag Si, inc. which a site dedicated to researching flag related topics and contains all the very latest flag news and views. For more details please visit http://www.flagsi.com.


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