How to Fold a Flag the Right Way

Person holding flag folded into a blue and white triangle

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Folding and storing an American flag in the correct manner is both a sign of respect and dignity and a way to preserve the flag's pristine condition. If you fly a flag for certain holidays like Memorial Day or Fourth of July but then put it away during the time in between, it's important to fold and store it correctly.

There is a specific method that is used to fold the flag and that eventually creates a blue and white triangle shape. You've probably seen this traditional way to fold the American flag, but perhaps never knew it is the correct way to fold and store it. Make sure that the flag is clean and dry before you get started and that there are no rips, tears or holes in it. Once ready for folding, follow the below steps to fold your flag.

  1. Place the Flag on a Flat Surface

    Before you start, check to make sure that the flag is in good condition, there are no tears and it is clean and dry. Begin by placing the flag on a clean flat surface, face side up with the blue section at the top. Straighten out any creases and wrinkles, flatten the corners and make sure the flag is fully smooth.

  2. Make the First Fold in Half

    Take the bottom two corners of the flag and bring them up to the top two corners, making your first fold. The flag should now look like a long rectangle where the red and white stripes cover the blue and white stars section. Make sure that the corners are perfectly lined up and run your hand across the fold to secure it. Smooth out any wrinkles.

  3. Fold Again in Half

    Take the bottom two corners of the flag again, which will be the red and white stripes, and bring them up to meet the top two corners of the flag. What you should now have is a long, skinny rectangle that shows the blue and white stars section of the flag on both sides of your folded rectangle. Run your hand across the folded flag to smooth it out, press down the fold and make sure all sides align and the corners meet.

  4. Start the Triangular Fold

    Now you are ready to start with the triangular fold. Starting at the right end, which is the end with the red and white stripes, take the bottom right corner and bring it up to the folded edge at the top of the flag. The fold will look like a triangle. Check that the top of the triangle lines up with the top of the flag, then smooth it out and neatly press down all your folds.

  5. Continue the Triangular Folding

    To make the next triangular fold, take the top right corner of the flag, which is now the red and white tip of the triangle, and fold it inward, so to the left, folding it so that the top of the triangle fold lines up with the top of the flag. This will give you the second triangle. Continue folding the flag this way, smoothing and flattening it out after every fold.

  6. The Last Fold

    Once you get to the end of the length of the flag, you will have one final fold to do that will leave you with a flag folded into a triangle. The entire folded triangle should only show the blue and white section, none of the red and white stripes should be visible. Flatten it out, check that all the folds are neat and there are no creases on either side.

How to Store a Folded Flag

Once you have folded the flag, it is ready to be stored. Place it in a cool, dark area away from direct sunlight and where the temperature is controlled so that the flag doesn't fade or get musty. You can use a clear plastic bag or plastic container to hold the folded flag for added protection. Another way to store the flag is to display it in a case specifically designed for folded flags. The cases are shaped like a triangle to accommodate the folded flag, usually have a wooden frame and can be customized if the flag that's being displayed has particular personal meaning.