American Flag Etiquette: Here’s How to Properly Display the American Flag

Get our ultimate guide to displaying the American flag, plus dos and don’ts for folding, cleaning, and more.

There’s nothing like a flag to show off your pride in your country. But do you know all the right ways to handle the patriotic emblem? Whether you’re putting one up for Memorial Day, the Fourth of July, or another holiday, we put together an ultimate guide to proper flag etiquette. Here, learn how to display the American flag respectfully, plus dos and don’ts for hoisting and folding it and more.

How to Display the American Flag

  • When displayed with another flag cross-staff, place above the other on the flag’s own right (the viewer’s left).
  • When displayed on an angled staff from a window or the front a building, the union should be placed at the peak of the staff.
  • When hung horizontally or vertically against a wall or in a window, the flag must be flat and the union should be uppermost and to the flag’s own right (the viewer’s left).
  • No state or city flag may be placed above or to the right (the viewer’s left) of the United States flag. Flags of other nations are to be flown from separate staffs of the same height.
  • If displayed after dark, the flag must be lit.
  • On vehicles, the flag should be fixed to the front, right fender.

American Flag Don’ts

  • Don’t use the flag as clothing or drapery.
  • Don’t let the flag touch the ground.
  • Don’t place any mark, letter, number, or drawing on the flag.
  • Don’t display a faded, torn or tattered flag. Synthetic flags can be washed in cold water with mild detergent, while older flags can be hand-washed with Woolite. Flags damaged beyond repair should be disposed of in a dignified manner, such as burning.
  • Don’t put your flag away unfolded.
  • Note: You’ll need two people.

    1. Holding the flag waist-level and parallel to the ground, fold the lower half of the flag upward in half lengthwise so that the stripes cover the blue field of stars, then again so that the blue field is on the outside.
    2. Fold the striped corner of the folded edge up to meet the open edge.
    3. Turn the outer pointed edge inward to form a new triangle and repeat until the entire flag is folded into a neat triangle.

    How to Hoist the Flag

  • Raise the flag briskly, but lower it slowly and ceremoniously.
  • On Memorial Day, fly the flag at half-staff until noon, then raise it.
  • When flying at half-staff, hoist the flag to the peak for an instant then lower it to a position halfway between the top and bottom.