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Stains and yellowing in flags


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What do you guys do with flags that are stained and yellowed? Would it be okay to wash a flag *48 star flag*?

If washed how should you proceed?


This is just out of curiousity.



Field of interest in WWII and always interested in purchasing items related to the following:

26th Infantry "Yankee" Division

Army Nurse Corps

Purple Hearts/Medal Group (KIA/WIA) to ETO men

Purple Hearts/Medal Group (KIA/WIA)

KIA Purple Hearts specific men


My personal website about the 26th Infantry Division:


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I think it adds to the character of the flag. One of those "if it could only talk" pieces.

Interested in items related to:

-Amarillo A.A.F. / Amarillo Air Force Base

-Military instillations located in the Texas Panhandle, South Plains, and West Texas.

-"F" Company, 142nd Infantry Regiment, 36th Infantry Division (Texas National Guard)

-413th Civil Affairs Battalion (USAR)


In Memoriam:

CSM Juan H. Hernandez - U.S. Army WWII, Korea, Vietnam

RM1c William C. Denney - U.S.S. McDermut (DD-677) Korea


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Generally.. US flags are not washed... not officially anyway.


When you are dealing with cloth that is 50 years old, you need to be gentle with it, no matter what it is. Hand washing would be preferable. I am not sure what would take the yellowing out other than a color fast bleach. But you are taking a big risk that the colors will fade.


If you want a "clean" 48 star flag, they can be purchased new... it just takes some digging..


. http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_0_7?url=search-alias%3Dlawngarden&field-keywords=48%20star%20american%20flag&sprefix=48+star%2Clawngarden%2C218

Gil Burket
Omaha, NE
Specializing in Fakes and Reproductions
of the Vietnam War



"One is easily fooled by that which one loves."


Moliere: Tartuffe





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US Victory Museum

My hard and fast rule is to leave an antique as found regardless of its condition.


Cloth items that stink are placed into plastic bags and exposed to, but do not

come into contact with baking soda. A lint brush / roller may be used to remove

animal hair or dust; however, beyond those two steps do nothing.


I too have a beautiful 48 star silk flag with each star embroidered upon the field

of blue. I suspect that it hung in a VFW for fifty plus years as it has turned yellow

from cigarette smoke and absolutely stinks to high heaven of nicotine.


Even baking soda can't remove that stench. Perhaps one day I shall try an ozone

generator, if I can rent one. Old glory is Red Yellow and Blue. It is what it is.


My advice is worth what you paid for it.



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If it is a valuable or important flag DO NOTHING without consulting a real fabric conservation person.


only try cleaning it yourself if its something you will not cry about if you ruin it.


If it is silk and you try and clean it, it'll probably melt away into nothing. IF it is a typical cotton flag of the ww2 era, you can try having it dry cleaned if you don't want to go very slowly. It USED ot be you could find an old timey dry cleaner where the owner was on site and he could look at it and tell you if it would work or not.



If you must, allow it to soak in water and replacing it until it runs clear, and only then trying something very mild. If it's a flag given to a vet family at a funeral, you can always find them in good condition. But again, all depends upon what it is, what it's made of, and how replaceable it is.

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One thing to remember in this age of everyone using blacklights, is that washing with detergents and dry cleaning may cause the fabric to glow under blacklight



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