Whether you celebrate Independence Day by flying the American flag or you display the Star – Spangled Banner year round, chances are you’ll need to store your flag from time to time. However, to give the flag the respect it deserves, you shouldn’t store it just any old way. This summer, fly your flag proudly and explore these six simple storage ideas.
Best Practices for Flying the Star-Spangled Banner
Especially on Independence Day it’s important to understand the best practices for flying the American flag. After all, the Star – Spangled Banner is a national symbol, and it’s one that deserves respect no matter when or where you fly it. Keep these basics in mind when you display the flag.
- Never allow the flag to touch the ground. If it does, examine it for dirt or damage before raising it again.
- Always position the flag properly and display it respectfully. The American flag should appear right-side up and at the peak of the staff, unless you’re flying it at half-staff.
- When flying more than one flag at a time, ensure that the American flag is always largest and positioned the highest. It can share a flagpole with state or community flags, as long as the national flag is at the top.
- If your flag becomes torn or gets dirty, clean or repair it as soon as possible. After excessive wear or significant damage, take the flag out of view and either burn it or contact a local American Legion post for assistance. Whatever you do, never throw it in the trash.
Clean Your Flag Carefully
Most flags collect dirt and dust while they’re on display, so clean yours before storing it. Grab your vacuum cleaner, locate the brush attachment, and cover the brush with a clean piece of cheesecloth. Vacuum the surface as gently as possible. If your flag is a collector’s item or more than a couple of decades old, contact a textile conservator or your local historical center for cleaning tips.
Fold Your Flag Neatly & Deliberately
After you’ve cleaned the flag, it’s time to fold it in the appropriate configuration. Follow these American Legion flag folding instructions to keep it neat and treat it with respect. Start by straightening the flag out and folding it lengthwise twice. As you continue to apply triangular folds, ensure that the union of stars is always visible. When you finish, you’ll have a triangular flag that looks like a three-corner hat.
Flat storage can also be an option for flags, as long as you have enough space. Place the flag in a large, shallow storage bin or on a dedicated table in your storage room.
Protect Your Flag from Dust, Dirt, and Debris
When it comes to flag storage, one of the most important aspects to remember is that you should keep the flag free from dust, dirt, and debris. You can do this by wrapping it with a large sheet of acid-free paper. Use archival paper to protect your flag, as standard paper may contain acids or other chemicals that can damage the flag over time.
Instead of storing the flag in a basement, garage, or other area that’s prone to dirt and dust, consider placing it in a storage locker. If it seals tightly, a storage bin offers another smart solution.
Keep Your Flag Away from Light Sources
Many flags are sensitive to light, and extensive light exposure can affect fabric dyes and cause vibrant colors to fade over time. Sunlight can also lead to fiber breakdown, which means your flag could become more susceptible to tears, holes, and thin areas.
You can’t avoid sun exposure while the flag flies, but you can keep it away from light during the flag’s time in storage. Self-storage units are the ideal places for light-sensitive items like flags, since these spaces usually block out light sources. Opaque storage bins also work well for sealing out the sun and protecting your flag from light damage.
Monitor Humidity Levels
Similarly to light, high temperatures and excess humidity can also compromise a flag. Extra moisture in the air often causes mold and mildew to thrive, and both of these substances can quickly ruin a flag. Keep high humidity at bay by storing your flag in an air-conditioned area of your home or in a climate-controlled storage unit. Inspect your flag for visible signs of mold before flying it again.
Don’t Allow Chemicals in the Vicinity
Keep chemicals like pesticides and cleaning products away from the flag, and never spray cleansers or air fresheners in the vicinity. These chemicals can harm fabric and can destroy your flag over time.
Flag storage isn’t something to take lightly. Display yours proudly this summer, and then follow these tips to keep your flag clean, safe, and secure year-round.