Cleaning and Care of Your American Flag Poles

Cleaning of Mild Dirt and Debris A garden hose with low to moderate pressure can be used to wash off most dirt and debris that may be on your American flag poles. If it still does not come off of the shaft, use of a wet cloth should be tried. If necessary, a mild soap or detergent may be used (items such as Go Jo hand cleaner or liquid soaps). We must warn that the cleaning of any surface that is anodized or painted should be done with great care and that it should be tested on a small ‘test’ area where the finish will not be seen (ground set poles can be tested in the area which will go into the ground sleeve). Rinse away any remaining soap to prevent future reactions with the metal. Cleaning and Removal of Water Stains The following are options to try in removing these stains from shafts in the order of least reactive to most reactive (please follow safety procedures and not let chemicals come in contact with skin or other body parts – if you do come in contact with the chemical please follow directions on the container or contact a doctor immediately). Please dispose of chemicals carefully in correlation with all local and federal guidelines after use.

  • Run a stream of warm or cold water over the stained area using low to moderate water pressure from a water hose. A soft cloth may be used to gently rub the affected spot.
  • Mild liquid soaps can be used to aid in removal of the stain. If the pole is painted or anodized, a small spot should be tested first to verify the finish will not be damaged by the product being used.
  • The solution of Lemon oil + Pumice + Pumic hand cleaner with soft rags can remove most stains.
  • Household cleaners, such as, 4098, Lysol, or Texize, can be applied with a soft cloth and applied in a circular motion. It is best to rub around the shaft, in the same direction as the sanding marks to prevent scratches or scarring.
  • Naval Jelly, Zepalen, Sodium Hydroxide, and Diluted Drano (50/50 dilution with water) can be used and applied in the same manner as #3, making sure to rinse clean when complete.
  • Aluminum Alloy Wheel Cleaner, purchased at most retail stores handling automotive supplies. This cleaner should be sprayed directly onto the stained area of your US flag pole per the bottle’s instructions. A soft cloth should be used to clean the area, in the direction of the sanding marks. In severe cases, the use of a stainless steel wire brush can be used in the direction of the original sanding marks. Depending on the severity of the stain, the process may need to be repeated several times to eliminate the entire stain. If steel bristles are used, rust may set up over time causing the appearance of a stain.
  • EMCEE Chemical has a stain remover sold by the name “Aluminum Stain Remover”. They will accept direct calls or contacts at the following phone number:
EMCEE Chemical: 252-633-5868 Use product per EMCEE Chemical’s instructions.

Cleaning and Removal of Other Types of Stains In rare instances, when a chemical or paint can be spilled onto a shaft of your US flag pole. First, try the options listed above for removing water stains. If the stain is still present, you may also wish to try the following (using the same safety guidelines as defined above).

  • Paint thinner / remover (follow product instructions)
  • Sanding the affected areas as described in the next section.
NOTE: No chemical treatment should be tried on any aluminum flagpole with a painted of anodized finish. Only those with a directionally sanded finish should be considered for these options.

Visible Scratches to Directionally Sanded Surfaces If scratch marks are present, the following procedures can be used to attempt a repair on the shaft’s finish.

NOTE: No sanding should be tried on any US flag pole with a painted or anodized finish. Only aluminum flagpoles with a directionally sanded finish should be considered for these options.
  • Use an aluminum oxide sanding belt, 80 grit or higher, such as is used with portable electric belt sanders.
  • Take the belt and break at one point along the loop to have one long single piece.
  • Pull the belt back and forth (similar to a shoe shining motion) over the stained area of the pole in the same direction as the existing sanding lines on the pole. If care is used in the process, a satin finish equal to the original factory finish can be achieved and restored to your American flag poles.

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