US Flag Etiquette in the Rain

The U.S. Flag Code can help you decide how to properly honor your flag.
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Displaying the Stars and Stripes outside your home is a way to show your patriotism and to honor both the founders of our country and those who have served it. The U.S. flag is a symbol worthy of reverence and respect, and as such, we need to treat it with the utmost care. There are times when you may be unsure about whether you should display or protect your flag, and one of the most common is during rain or other inclement weather.

1 U.S. Flag Code

The National Flag Conference on June 14, 1923, Flag Day, produced the U.S. Flag Code, a guide to help the Army and Navy govern use and treatment of the flag. This code became law in 1942. The Flag Code sets out specific rules for handling and displaying the flag in various situations, but it does not impose penalties against those who break these rules.

2 Flags and Inclement Weather

The U.S. Flag Code states that: "The flag should not be displayed on days when the weather is inclement, except when an all weather flag is displayed." If your flag is made of a material that is likely to be damaged by the elements, the code dictates that you do not fly it. If your flag is made of a material meant to withstand harsh weather, you may leave it out all the time.

3 Visibility

The code also addresses the subject of lighting, stating that flags may be left out at night if the flag has proper illumination.

4 Cleaning and Mending a US Flag

If your flag gets dirty, you can hand-wash it carefully using a mild soap and water and hang it up to dry. You can also dry-clean your flag, and some dry cleaners will even provide this service for free. Never fold or store a wet flag. Let it dry completely before putting it away.

If your flag is damaged, you can mend it with a needle and thread or take it to a professional mender. If the edge of your flag is ragged, it is permissible to cut off the tattered edge, as long as the area with the stripes still extends longer than the star field.

Amy Wilde has worked as a grant developer, copy editor, writing tutor and writer. Based in Portland, Ore., she covers topics related to society, religion and culture. Wilde holds a Bachelor of Arts in English literature and classical civilization from the University of Toronto.