Home » Flag Guidelines » What Do You Do With Old Flags? – Options For Retiring Them

What Do You Do With Old Flags? – Options For Retiring Them


In the U.S, flags are symbols of those who fought and sacrificed their own lives for the rights and freedom of every U.S citizen. That is why they need to be respectful and treated like human beings. Every object has an expiration date, a time when it must be discarded. So, what do you do with old flags? We give you incredible options.

where can i dispose of old flags

When to Dispose of an American Flag

Our flags are old, torn, and tattered, we need to buy new ones. The proper ways to retire them should be considered. They have to be disposed of with all of us respect and horror. According to the U.S Flag Code, the U.S. flag is a living entity and, as such, has all the rights thereof, including the right to exist and expire with dignity. It is against the law to throw these flags in the garbage bin indiscriminately. We offer some ways to dispose of them in the right ways as follows.

How to Dispose of a Flag

Flag Burial In Formal Ceremony

how should you dispose of an american flag properly

Burial is a popular method of retiring flags that are no longer in use. But how do we properly bury according to regulations while also showing respect for them? This ceremony is regarded as a small funeral for your country’s flag. After removing one, fold it in the ceremonial triangle, winning the corners and straightening it out. Then, prepare a dignified wooden box, gently place the folded flag inside, and bury it a few feet in the ground. After the burial is complete, you should take a few minutes to pause as horror and goodbye to that flag.

Community Disposal Box/ Donate Tattered Flags

You cannot find the proper ways of disposal your American flag at home, send them to the Qualified Organization for Disposal. In the United States many organizations or police stations throughout the country have set up this Disposal Box for abandoned flags; all you have to act is bring and place them in that box, and that’s it. These organizations’ specific addresses are now marked on Google Maps and are very easy to find. It’s similar to an ATM system in that it’s very convenient to use.

Ceremonial Flag Burning In Respectful Way

how to dispose of an american flag at home

The majority of people prefer burning their flags that are no longer use. If you obtain a permit from the Illinois EPA, you can hold a flag-burning ceremony at your home. The burning procedure is as follows:

  • Your flags should be removed and fold it into a ceremonial triangle with straight, neat corners.
  • Prepare a medium-sized fire, away from the house, with flammable items.
  • Raise it with two hands and enter the burning fire (choose a place or time with little wind). Pause and recite the Pledge of Allegiance or sing the National Anthem while waiting for the flag to burn out.
  • After burning out completely, collect the ashes and bury them.

Noted: Only flags made of organic fabric such as cotton can be burned to limit toxic gases to the environment and human health, not flags made of inorganic materials like nylon or polyester. If yours is made of inorganic fabric, should choose another method of disposal.

Using Shredding Techniques For Retiring Them

It is also acceptable to use the shredding technique to remove your old flag as long as doing so respectfully. When using this technique, the principle is to use sharp scissors to cut off the red and white stripes and doesn’t cut through the blue star field of the flag. You can make a vertical cut and then a horizontal crop. Then, using the methods described above, place that flag cut in a wooden box to burn or bury.

Recycling Old Flags

Finally, if you don’t want to throw away wrong flags, many organizations or businesses will recover and recycle them into new ones in their own unique ways.

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