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How to Properly Care For Your Flag

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The greatest evidence of your patriotism is the proper care and maintenance of your flag.  The flag is symbolic of your emotional connection with the community you live in and is a statement of your loyalty.  While there are many people who would lay claim to being patriotic, there are few who have taken the time to understand how that expression of pride is properly executed.  If you are going to invest in a flag and want to avoid the embarrassment of making the nightly news or having a neighbor stop by to point out the error of your ways, it is worth taking the time to research the rules of etiquette for a flag display.

The Where and the When

If you are zealous and would like to display more than one flag there is an established order that flags should be placed in.   All of the states are part of the United States and share in a junior position to the federal government's national flag.  To make it simple, if you were to hold a national flag in one hand and the state flag in another, do you know which one should be where?  If you are trying to figure out which side the flag should be on, stand where the flags will be posted and face the area that they will be viewed from.  From the flag position looking outward, the national flag should be in your right hand with the state flag in your left.  If you have two state flags, the state that was first recognized as a state in the United States should be in your right with the younger state flag in your left (state rules actually dictate that while in the state of Florida the Florida flag should always be in the honor position (on the right) regardless of the other state presented).  In short, the flags should be in order from left to right if you are facing the flag display area, from oldest to youngest or senior to junior.

Flags should be displayed in the light from sunrise to sunset unless there is going to be inclement weather.  The entire idea behind the presentation of a flag is its symbolic meaning.  Displaying the flag during lighted periods of the day and in good weather is to figuratively keep the state under the favor of God or in the light of wisdom, depending on your viewpoint.  In any case, the tradition behind the rule established by the state of Florida states the flag should be displayed during sunshine times.  After all, this is the sunshine state.

Cleaning and Repair

There should never be a reason to clean your state flag.  The flag should never be permitted to touch the ground and it is illegal to deface, defile, or mutilate the flag under any circumstances.  If your flag does get soiled by a bird or simply needs a good cleaning, there are no rules for how it should be cleaned.  Wash it according to the type of material it is made of.  The only consideration of etiquette for cleaning the flag is that it is lowered and folded in some sort of purposeful respectful manner.  Any repairs follow the same guidelines.


There are ceremonies in official buildings for raising the flag that involves the military or other respected organizations.  This is not going to be the case for an at home display, but there are rules for the display.  The flag should always face north or east depending on the location of your home and where the flag will be displayed.  The flag should be raised all the way to the top before lowering it to half-mast on days someone is being honored.  The flag should always be in the honor position unless the U.S.A. flag, the UN flag, or the POW/Fireman flag is present.  There are special rules for visiting dignitaries, but in the typical at home display these rules will never come into play.  The flag should be raised only after it has been unfurled (rolled out from the rolled up position). 

Regardless of your circumstances, the care of a flag says a lot about your degree of patriotism.  To be well versed in the etiquette and rules will be a significant statement of pride in your state.  If you are unable to follow all of the rules for any given reason, it is best to not display the flag on those occasions.  If you cannot keep the flag lit at night it should be taken down out of respect.   While you may think no one will notice when you don’t put the flag out, and you are probably correct, people will notice when you don’t follow the rules.  These circumstances are best if avoided.  Floridians everywhere have an obligation to make sure their neighbors know how to care for their flags and should politely let the neighbor know when they are failing in proper etiquette.  Don’t let it be you! 

About the author

As a patriot for both his country and his state, Ray Donato makes sure he takes proper care of his flag, and if he needs to replace a flag after normal wear and tear he orders a new one online from the fine folks at You can learn more about Ray on Google+.


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