May 11, 2021 2 min read

Since the flag is a national symbol of our country with a deep history, make sure you retire it appropriately. Over time, your flag will wear out, and knowing what to do with a damaged or worn-out American Flag allows you to make the best decision as you dispose of it. 

Disposing of the Flag

Before you destroy your flag, evaluate it and ensure destroying it is the proper action to take. If the flag is dirty, you may want to try taking it to the dry cleaner first. According to the flag code, you should destroy your flag if it's:

  • Overly worn
  • Tattered
  • Sun-bleached

If you cannot repair or clean your flag but recognize that it’s no longer fit to fly, dispose of it honorably.

Retiring a Flag

When the time comes to dispose of your flag, make sure you do so correctly, either by burning it, taking it to a community disposal box, or recycling it.

A Community Drop Box

If you take your flag to a community dropbox, Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts will properly dispose of it on Flag Day with army veterans. On June 14, Flag Day, there is a ceremony to dispose of these worn American flags in the way Flag Code states.

You could also recycle the flag by donating it to the proper organization. For instance, organizations like Stars for our Troops accept flags that are ready for retirement. Before disposing of a flag, volunteers cut the stars out of the blue field and send them to an American soldier.

Recycling a Flag

Depending on your flag's material, burning it may not be the best option, as doing so could be harmful to the environment. However, you could take it to a recycling company if one in your community accepts flags.

Burn the Flag

The final method for disposing of the flag in a dignified manner, as stated in Flag Code, is burning it. You should not burn flags made of nylon or polyester, as the chemicals released by these materials are hazardous.

If burning the flag isn't an option, bury it by folding it into the ceremonial triangle, placing it in a wooden box, and burying it.

Knowing what to do with a damaged or worn-out American Flag ensures you choose the correct method, whether that’s recycling, burying, or burning it. When the time comes to buy a new flag, shop at Federal Flags for high-quality American and state flags as well as commercial-grade flag poles. Then, fly your flag honorably and remember the freedom and liberties it symbolizes. 


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