By Patrick Galvan, Storage.com
After Independence Day celebrations have finished, most American flags are taken down and stored until the next national holiday. Unfortunately, these flags often re-emerge with faded colors and deteriorated fabric because flag owners don’t understand how to properly store them. Sure, the damage is minimal during the first couple times of storage. But with repeated improper storage, flags will no longer be suitable for display.
When putting the American flag away in storage, you need to fold it correctly, be aware of how light and humidity can deteriorate it, and keep it in a climate-controlled storage unit.
Fold and Store Your Flag Properly
Not only does folding your flag the right way continue traditions established by the U.S. Armed Forces, but it prevents unattractive creases and wrinkles as well. It’s also a good idea to place acid-free tissue paper in between each fold before putting your flag into storage, as this will prevent wrinkles and fabric deterioration.
Another thing to consider is the type of container you’ll store your flag in. A flag display case or sealed plastic storage tub are good options for storing your flag. Just make sure not to use a cardboard box, as moisture and fabric-eating insects can get inside.
Keep Your Flag Away from Light and Humidity
It’s important to protect your flag from sun exposure in storage because too much light can cause colors to fade. In most cases, this won’t be an issue since not every storage unit has a window. However, for storage renters with units that do allow some light inside, it’s better to keep the flag tucked away in a dark area.
That being said, your flag’s material can make a difference in how it resists light exposure damage. “Outdoor U.S. flags [made of nylon and polyester] are manufactured for outdoor use and are resistant to fading,” explains Jerry Schuh, Division Vice President for CVS Flags. But even fade-resisting materials don’t always hold up against humidity.
Constant exposure to humidity can be detrimental to your flag, as it results in the growth of mold and mildew, both of which can damage fabric. If mold grows on your flag for too long, it will be difficult to remove, making the damage more noticeable. Also, if mold releases its spores into the surrounding environment, it can start growing in other areas throughout your storage unit—and that can be a costly (and gross) issue to deal with.
According to HeritagePreservation.org, if your flag is in storage for most of the year, you should inspect it at least once for mold, mildew, and other issues. After all, mending fabric damage is easier—and cheaper—when it’s caught early.
Store Your Flag in a Climate-Controlled Storage Unit
“For most textiles and fabrics, including the American flag, we recommend ventilated and dry environments that do not fluctuate in temperature,” adds Ley, who recommends a self storage unit with climate control to protect flags.
Rather than storing your flag in your garage, basement, or attic, where temperature and humidity levels change constantly, a climate-controlled storage unit can keep your flag in pristine condition for much longer.
Although climate-controlled units usually cost more than standard units, a unit equipped with climate control allows you to moderate temperature and humidity levels, which is worth the price. Not to mention, this type of environment is perfect for storing the American flag, as well as other sensitive items, such as musical instruments, antiques, or photos.