How To Get Rid Of Worn Out American Flag

How To Get Rid Of Worn Out American Flag

Respectful Disposal of Worn American Flags


The American flag is a cherished symbol of national pride and unity. It evokes deep emotions in many hearts and represents the core values of our country. When an American flag becomes worn or tattered, it is essential to dispose of it with the utmost respect and dignity.

This article provides a comprehensive guide on how to properly retire an American flag. It covers various methods, from official flag retirement ceremonies to home-based disposal options. Additionally, it includes an FAQ section to address common questions about flag disposal.

Methods of Flag Retirement

1. Official Flag Retirement Ceremonies

The most formal and honorable way to retire an American flag is through an official flag retirement ceremony. These ceremonies are typically held by patriotic organizations, such as the American Legion, VFW, or Boy Scouts of America.

During the ceremony, the flag is folded in a triangular shape and placed in a designated receptacle. It is then burned in a respectful and dignified manner. The ashes may be interred or scattered in a solemn location.

2. Veterans Organizations

Many veterans organizations offer flag retirement services. They may have designated drop-off locations or conduct regular flag retirement ceremonies. Contact your local veterans organization to inquire about their flag retirement procedures.

3. Municipal Services

Some municipalities provide flag retirement services as part of their waste management programs. Check with your local government or waste disposal company to determine if they offer this service.

Home-Based Disposal

If you are unable to participate in an official flag retirement ceremony or utilize a veterans organization or municipal service, you can dispose of the flag respectfully at home.


  • Worn American flag
  • Sharp scissors
  • White cloth or paper
  • Matches or lighter


  1. Remove the flag from the pole or display. Handle the flag with care and respect.
  2. Cut the flag into small pieces. Use sharp scissors to cut the flag into 1-inch squares or smaller.
  3. Wrap the pieces in white cloth or paper. Place the flag pieces in a white cloth or paper bag or box.
  4. Burn the pieces in a respectful manner. Choose a safe and respectful location to burn the flag pieces. It is important to ensure that the fire is contained and that the ashes are not scattered.
  5. Dispose of the ashes respectfully. The ashes can be buried in a backyard or garden, scattered in a solemn location, or flushed down the toilet with water.

Respectful Handling and Storage

When handling a worn American flag, it is important to show proper respect and care.

  • Never touch the flag with bare hands. Use gloves or a cloth to handle the flag.
  • Never step on the flag or drag it on the ground.
  • Never fly a torn or tattered flag.
  • Store the flag properly when not in use. Fold the flag in a triangular shape and store it in a dry, protected place.


  • Why is it important to dispose of flags respectfully?

It is a matter of national respect and dignity. The American flag represents our country and its ideals, and it should be treated with the utmost care and respect.

  • What can I do if I find a discarded flag?

If you find a discarded flag, contact your local veterans organization or municipality to arrange for its proper disposal.

  • Can I burn a flag in my backyard?

It is generally permissible to burn a flag in your backyard, as long as it is done respectfully and in a safe manner. Ensure that the fire is contained and that the ashes are not scattered.

  • What should I do if I have multiple worn flags?

It is recommended to contact your local veterans organization or municipality to coordinate a larger flag retirement ceremony. They may have the resources to dispose of multiple flags in a respectful manner.

  • Is it okay to bury a flag?

Yes, burying a flag is an acceptable method of disposal. Ensure that the flag is wrapped in a white cloth or paper bag before burying it.


Disposing of an American flag respectfully is a meaningful act that honors our country and its symbol of unity. Whether you participate in an official flag retirement ceremony or choose to dispose of the flag at home, it is important to show the utmost care and respect throughout the process. By following the guidelines outlined in this article, you can ensure that your worn American flag is retired in a dignified and respectful manner.


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