Can You Wash A Flag In Washing Machine?



Can You Wash A Flag In Washing Machine

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Yes, you can wash a flag in a washing machine, including the American flag. The U.S. Flag Code does not prohibit washing the national flag.

Flags, whether they symbolize a nation, an organization, or a cause, hold deep significance for those who display them. They represent pride, unity, and shared values. However, with time and exposure to the elements, flags can become dirty and tattered, raising the question: Can you wash a flag in a washing machine?

In this informative guide, we will explore the dos, don’ts, and steps to properly wash a flag in a washing machine, ensuring it remains a symbol of honor and respect.

Dos and Don’ts of Wash A Flag In Washing Machine


  • Check the Care Label: Before tossing your flag into the washing machine, check the care label if it has one. Some flags come with specific washing instructions that should be followed.
  • Use Cold Water: Always use cold water when washing a flag. Hot water can cause colors to bleed and fabric to shrink, potentially damaging the flag.
  • Choose a Gentle Cycle: Opt for a gentle or delicate cycle on your washing machine. This cycle is designed to be less abrasive and is suitable for more delicate fabrics like flags.
  • Use a Mild Detergent: Select a mild, liquid detergent without bleach or harsh chemicals. This will help preserve the colors and fabric of the flag.
  • Place the Flag in a Pillowcase or Mesh Bag: To protect the flag from getting tangled or damaged in the washing machine, consider placing it inside a pillowcase or a mesh laundry bag.
  • Hang the Flag to Dry: After washing, avoid using a dryer. Instead, hang the flag outdoors or indoors to air dry. Make sure it is completely dry before storing or re-hoisting.


  • Don’t Use Bleach: Never use bleach when washing a flag. It can cause the colors to fade and weaken the fabric.
  • Avoid Overloading the Machine: Do not overload the washing machine with too many flags or other items. This can lead to excessive wear and tear on the flag.
  • Skip Fabric Softeners: Avoid using fabric softeners as they can leave a residue on the flag and affect its appearance.
  • Don’t Leave it Unattended: While your flag is in the washing machine, don’t leave it unattended. Be sure to monitor the cycle to prevent any issues.
  • Don’t Iron Directly: Avoid ironing the flag directly. If needed, use a low-heat setting and place a thin cloth or a piece of parchment paper between the iron and the flag to prevent direct contact.

How to Wash a Flag in a Washing Machine: Step By Step

Now that you know the dos and don’ts, here are the steps to properly wash a flag in a washing machine:

Step 1

Prepare the Flag: Remove the flag from the flagpole, and shake it gently to remove loose dirt and dust.

Step 2

Inspect for Damage: Check the flag for any tears or frayed edges. If you notice significant damage, it’s best to repair it before washing.

Step 3

Place in a Pillowcase or Mesh Bag: To protect the flag during the wash, place it inside a clean pillowcase or a mesh laundry bag.

Step 4

Use Cold Water and Mild Detergent: Set your washing machine to a cold water, gentle cycle. Add a small amount of mild liquid detergent to the machine.

Step 5

Start the Wash Cycle: Place the pillowcase or laundry bag containing the flag in the washing machine. Start the wash cycle.

Step 6

Monitor the Cycle: Keep an eye on the washing machine to ensure that the flag is not getting tangled or damaged.

Step 7

Remove and Air Dry: Once the cycle is complete, carefully remove the flag from the pillowcase or laundry bag. Hang it up to air dry, preferably outdoors in a shaded area.

Step 8

Inspect After Drying: After the flag has dried completely, inspect it for any signs of damage or remaining stains. If necessary, address any issues before storing or re-hoisting the flag.

Alternative Washing Methods for a Flag

While washing a flag in a washing machine is a convenient option, there are alternative methods you can consider:

  • Hand Washing: If you are concerned about using a washing machine, you can hand wash the flag in a bathtub or a large basin using cold water and mild detergent. Gently agitate the water and rinse thoroughly.
  • Dry Cleaning: For delicate or valuable flags, you can opt for professional dry cleaning services. Be sure to inform the dry cleaner about the flag’s material and any specific care instructions.
  • Spot Cleaning: If your flag has only a few small stains, spot cleaning with a mild detergent and a soft cloth or sponge may be sufficient. Be gentle to avoid damaging the fabric.
  • Steam Cleaning: Some people prefer steam cleaning as it can help remove dirt and kill bacteria without immersing the flag in water. Use a handheld steamer and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.


Can I wash an American flag in a washing machine?

Ans: Yes, you can wash an American flag in a washing machine following the dos and don’ts mentioned above. The U.S. Flag Code does not prohibit washing the national flag.

Learn More: Can You Wash An American Flag?

How often should I wash my flag?

Ans: The frequency of washing depends on how often your flag is exposed to dirt, dust, and the elements. In general, it’s a good idea to inspect your flag regularly and wash it as needed to keep it clean and in good condition.

Can I use a dryer to speed up the drying process?

Ans: It’s not recommended to use a dryer to dry a flag, as the heat can cause damage. Instead, hang the flag to air dry completely.

What should I do if my flag is torn or damaged after washing?

Ans: If your flag is torn or damaged, consider repairing it using a sewing kit or consult a professional flag repair service to ensure it remains in good condition.

Is it necessary to iron the flag after washing?

Ans: Ironing the flag is not necessary and should be done with caution. If you choose to iron it, use a low-heat setting and place a thin cloth or parchment paper between the iron and the flag to prevent direct contact.

Final Words

Washing a flag in a washing machine is a safe and effective way to keep it clean and well-maintained. By following the dos and don’ts outlined in this guide, you can ensure that your flag remains a symbol of pride and respect. Regular care and proper washing will help preserve the flag’s vibrant colors and extend its lifespan, allowing it to continue flying proudly for years to come.


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