Red, white and blue cleaning

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

PHOENIX -- There is no more cherished symbol of the United States than the American flag. Whether you fly it daily or bring it out for special holidays like July 4th, taking care of the flag is important. If your flag is looking dingy or is soiled, washing it is appropriate.

Washing the flag on a regular basis can prolong the life of it. Most outdoor flags are made of polyester or nylon. These can be hand-washed in cool water and a mild laundry detergent. I like to use Dr. Bonner’s Castile Soap because it is gentle and removes oily dirt. If you flag is cotton, you can launder it the same way. If you have stains on the flag, use your favorite laundry spotter or soak in some all-fabric bleach or ½ cup of 3-percent hydrogen peroxide added to a gallon of water. Rinse well.

Do not put the flag in the dryer. Hang it on a clothesline or drying rack and let it drip dry. If you can’t do that, roll it in a towel to remove water – don’t wring it and hang to dry. You can use a cool iron to press it.

Many dry-cleaners offer free flag cleaning particularly in the month of July.

If your flag has a small rip it is permissible to make repairs. Just don’t alter the shape or size of the flag. Flags that have excessive wear should be disposed of properly by following the US Flag Code.

Now on to stains.

Red stains: Treat with Carbona Stain Devils for sauce or Carbona Stain Devils for juice. Treat as soon as possible and then launder as usual. Be sure the stain is removed before you dry the garment.

Blue stains: This means things like blueberries and blue colored beverages. Mix 1 tablespoon of white vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon of liquid laundry detergent and 1 quart of cool water. Soak the stain for 15 minutes. Rinse with cold water. If any stains remain, dilute all-fabric bleach per the directions on the container and soak for 60 minutes. Flush and then launder as usual.

White underarm stains on dark clothes: Spray with undiluted ammonia and rub firmly. Flush with water, launder but do not dry in dryer until you are sure the stain is gone. If not, apply a solution of 1 part Dawn Original Dish Soap and 2 parts hydrogen peroxide. Work in well, let soak for an hour, rub again and launder as usual.

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