How to Clean a Flag


We all have seen it. That house on the street proudly flying a flag with good intentions but sadly, the flag has seen better days. What came out of the box with bright colors and blinding whites is now starting to look dingy and sad.

Fortunately, with a little bit of effort and a few tips and tricks up your sleeve, it’s easy to clean a flag so that it looks brand new again. Read on to find out how to clean a flag using a machine and what to do if it needs to be hand-washed.

What You Need For Flag Cleaning

Flag cleaning equipment largely depends on what materials your flag is made out of. Polyester, nylon, and other synthetic fabrics are normally safe to wash in a machine. Cotton and wool flags, on the other hand, are more fragile and usually require dry cleaning.

If you still have the washing instructions or a flag cleaning guide from when you purchased the flag, a gentle hand washing might be acceptable. An all-fabric or oxygen-based bleach and cold-to-lukewarm water are recommended for natural fabrics when cleaning a flag.

How to Clean a Flag Using a Washing Machine

Before you begin, place your flag on a flat surface and remove any loose dust using a dry cloth. If you spot any caked-on stains such as bird feces, try to remove these with a damp sponge. For harder to remove stains, you can use a stain remover but do a spot test on the flag first to make sure it doesn’t affect the colors.

Set your machine on a gentle cycle with cool water and a mild detergent. Once washed, do not use the dryer. The heat from the dryer can be damaging to synthetic materials.

Instead, lay your flag flat or hang it up to dry. If you need to, you can use a cool iron to remove any wrinkles once it’s dry.

How to Hand Wash a Flag

For more natural materials and flags that may hold more sentimental significance, like these spring flags, hand washing is the way to go. Your first step is to check if the flag is colorfast. Rub a wet cotton swab on a small section of each color of the flag.

If you see any color transferring to the cotton swab, then it’s likely colors will bleed when washing. In this case, you should stick to dry cleaning.

Otherwise, dust off the excess dirt and clean any caked-on stains as with machine washing. Once you’ve got the majority of the dust off, gently hand wash with a mild detergent and cold water. Thoroughly rinse once you’re done with cold water and lay on a flat surface to dry.

More Flag Cleaning Tips

Now that you’ve mastered the basics of how to clean a flag, it’s time to get out there and revive your once brilliant display.

Cleaning a flag is much easier than most people think, making flag ownership much more accessible. Learn more about flag cleaning and other flag etiquette in our Lifestyle section.