Do’s and Don’ts of American Flag Etiquette – Are you doing it right?

Do you know the rules, customs, and etiquette to respectfully display the American flag? Better find out.

It’s that time of year… time to proudly put up your American flag. I’ll bet you’ve already done it, but are you doing it right? Here’s a review of all of the American flag etiquette, rules, and customs you should know to respectfully display the flag.

American Flag Etiquette: how to honor and care for a United States Flag

You CAN leave your flag outside in bad weather IF it is an ALL WEATHER flag, which means it was manufactured to withstand all weather types.

Always make sure your American flag does not touch the ground or anything underneath it and always handle your flag with respect.

There are special days when the flag is flown at half staff. For more information on half staff flying check out these easy to follow instructions on the Home of Heroes website.

How to Properly Display an American Flag

Hanging a flag against a wall

You can hang your U.S. flag against a wall either horizontally or vertically. If you choose to do this, make sure that the Union (the blue part with the stars) is to the observer’s left. When displayed in a window, the Union is to the left of the observer when viewed at from the street. I noticed a violation of this code on a house when I was out running errands today.

Hanging a flag at night

The U.S. flag is to be displayed from sunrise to sunset. The American flag CAN be displayed outside overnight IF properly lighted.

Hanging a flag with other flags

If you are displaying your U.S flag on the same pole as a state, city, municipality or organization flag, the U.S flag is always on the top.  If using separate poles and you have a group these flags, the U.S flag is displayed at the highest point and at the center. If 2 flags are being displayed on separate poles, they are at the same level and the U.S flag is always at the place of honor to the observers extreme left.  The U.S flag is always hoisted first and lowered last.

If you are displaying your U.S flag with a flag of another country, they must be on separate poles at the same level. Flags should be approximately the same size.  International usage forbids the display of one nations flag over another during time of peace. I happened to notice this morning that my neighbor is in violation of this one. Sorry Canada, I am sure he is not declaring war!

What to do with a damaged flag

An American flag that is ruined beyond repair is to be destroyed in an honorable way, preferably by burning.  It is NOT recommended to burn the flag in your own fire pit as dangerous chemicals can be emitted from burning flags. Not to mention your neighbors could call the police on you claiming you’re a terrorist! A better option is to contact your local American Legion, Boy Scout Troop or Girl Scout Troop who will gladly take your flag for proper disposal.

More flag rules to honor the American Flag

If you want to learn more about the U.S. Flag Code, and notice violations everywhere (like me), you can check out this Flag Code description where I acquired the flag rules in this post.

Your American flag is made in America, right?

Look for flag manufacturers that are members of the Flag Manufacturers Association of America which established the “Certified Made in the U.S.A” certification program of American Flags. According to the FMAA website, ” ‘Certified Made in the U.S.A. ‘ certifies that your American flag has been made in the U.S. of materials that are domestic in origin and that all processes in every step of its manufacture were completed in U.S. facilities with U.S. labor”.

Some American made flag makers we’ve recommended before on our Flag Day Guide are Annin and Valley Forge Flag. Be sure to check labels before purchasing and be aware that it is especially hard to find flag hardware made in the USA, but we’ve listed a couple of options for you below.

It's hard to find 100% American Made flag poles. Here is and American Made flag and flag pole set.
Flag poles and complete flag sets can be especially hard to find. Here is one listed as 100% American made by Annin.
For a tall flag pole without the trouble of ropes and extra hardware, you can purchase the Liberty Telescoping Flagpole Kit, another 100% manufactured in America flagpole kit.

We are working on a new Ultimate Source List for American flags and flag hardware, so if you spot a source we should know about, please add it in the comments below or email us to let us know.

Do you know the rules, customs, and etiquette to respectfully display the American flag? Better find out.

About The Author

Post by Tracey Hanson

Tracey Hanson is the USA Love List Green/Family Living Editor. Follow her on Twitter and Pinterest


  1. Thanks for the tips. I see many of these rules broken by well meaning people, who simply don’t know the proper way to display our flag.
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  2. I am so intimidated by flags. I have such respect for what it stands for, and for those that have defended its honor, that I am so nervous to mess up. It is nice that you are doing this. God Bless.

  3. Elizabeth Sunderland says:

    I had to read this since it’s Memorial Day. Thanks for sharing this flag etiquette. It disgusts me how people show little respect for America. We should be proud of our flag and what Memorial Day means. To so many Memorial Day is just a 3 day weekend.

  4. Alison Gibb says:

    Thank you for this information. Most of it I knew. I did not know that if you keep your American flag up beyond dusk that it shoud be properly lit up. I am very proud to be an American. My Mom’s birthday is June 14th, flag day! We have always hung the great Red, White and Blue proudly and always will!!!

  5. I’d love to have a home just so I could have a flag. It would be really great to be able to have the flag on a flagpole. I love reading about flag etiquette, it is so important!

  6. What I don’t understand is why everyone rushes out on holidays to put up a flag. It should be up 365 days a year!

  7. ellen beck says:

    My husband is a disabled Marine, so yes we know how to display a flag. I see so many flying attered flags… I always think maybe they dont now how to dispose of them.

  8. I would never buy an American Flag that is Not Made in the USA! Forget about the cost, it’s our American Pride to Wave our Flag Proudly!

  9. This is really good information. If I ever have a yard, I have always wanted a flag on a flagpole. I would want to make sure I do everything right. And only purchase made in USA!!

  10. Matthew says:

    Good info. I fly my flag day and night without special lighting. If you respect the flag and what it represents and treat it that way I don’t believe you need to follow this so called etiquette. Loving your Country is not lessened if you do it 24/365. Good guidelines but by no means mandatory.

    • If You fly a flag You should do it right,if it not lit up half hour before sun down You must take it down, and yes it mandatory

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