How to Mend Your American Flag

Aug 13th, 2016

Flags are used to show your support for your nation, your state, or your favorite organization. It is inevitable that weather conditions will, over time, cause damage to the flag itself. For example, strong winds may cause fraying and hail can cause rips. The construction of the flag makes a difference in its ability to withstand the elements. Nylon and polyester tend to last longer than other types of materials.


American Flag


If your flag is faded, it is not a good candidate for repair and you should purchase a new flag. The best way to maintain your flag is to take it down and repair at the first sign of fraying or tears. Begin by trimming the frayed ends, and then sew a new hem that resembles the original hem. Make sure that you use a heavy duty thread that matches the colors in the flag. Alternatively, you could use clear, sometimes called invisible, thread. That type of thread is strong, cannot be seen and blends with the colors behind it.


Flags that are regularly repaired at the first sign of damage will last much longer than those that are not maintained. In addition to repairing fraying, flags should be washed occasionally in a mild detergent to remove dirt and grime, and should be taken down on days when the weather is inclement. It is wise to have a second flag on hand to display while the other flag is being cleaned and receiving any maintenance attention that it may need. Some people prefer to have three flags on hand so that they always have a flag flying. The third flag is generally stored for use on special occasions when the flag needs to look clean, fresh, and spotless.


You may repair your flag until the point that the flag no longer resembles its original shape. At that point, the flag needs to be retired.


The National Flag Code states that “when the flag has become tattered and worn and is no longer a fit symbol of the United States, it should be burned in a dignified manner.” Signs that the flag is no longer fit for service include fading, tears and irreparable fraying on the fly end. For a proper retirement by burning, you may want to consider contacting the American Legion Post in your local area. Generally, on or around Flag Day, June 14th of each year, that organization conducts a dignified flag burning ceremony for the benefit of the community member that have flags that need to be retired. Additional organizations that conduct ceremonial flag burning include Boy and Girl Scout Troops and Cub Scout Packs.


Tattered flag


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