Caring for Your Flagpole 101

Many people assume that they can leave their flagpole alone for years with no maintenance. This isn’t too
far from the truth-flagpoles are resilient. Yet they still require some basic care and maintenance to
continue standing strong and looking grand.

Standing in the outdoors day after day can take its toll on your flagpole. Wind and rain can beat on your
flagpole, leaving dirt and debris and causing its color to fade.

Following these simple maintenance tips can help you display a flagpole you can be proud of.

Routine Cleaning and Maintenance

Check the flagpole every so often for dirt and debris. You can often wash it all off with a garden hose on
a low pressure setting. If this doesn’t work, wipe it off with a wet cloth and a mild detergent or soap.
However, first test the detergent or soap on a small portion of the flagpole to make sure it doesn’t affect
the flagpole’s finish. Finally, rinse the soap with the hose.

You may wonder how to clean the top of the flagpole. Many flagpoles can lower toward the ground-you simply
need to find and use the pivot and lock pin, located near the base, to gradually lower the flagpole to the
ground. If the flagpole doesn’t have a pivot and lock pin, you’ll need a bucket truck to reach the top.

Every so often, you should also check all the cables and parts. Look closely at the mounting bolts and
attachments to make sure they aren’t loose or broken. If the cable is frayed or twisted, you may need to
replace it.

Preventing Discoloration

Over time, bronze flagpoles start to lose their bright color and develop a green coating called patina. As
soon as you notice this condition arising, you can stop it in its tracks with one of the following polishes:

  • 2 tablespoons baking soda mixed with a drizzle of lemon juice
  • Equal parts salt and flour, with a few drops of white vinegar
  • A commercial product, such as a combination of toluene, acetone, and butyl acetate

Apply one of these solutions in circular motions with a polishing cloth. Let it sit for about 20 minutes
before rinsing and drying.

If desired, you can refinish bright areas with an oxidizing agent like liquid sulfur or aluminum chloride.

Refinishing and Repainting

No matter the type of metal, your flagpole may begin to rust or show other signs of wear. You can remove
rust and old paint by scraping the flagpole gently with a wire brush.

To protect the flagpole, apply two coats of rust-inhibitor primer. After it dries, apply new enamel paint.

Removing Water Stains

Unfortunately, rain and moisture don’t always clean off your flagpole. Moisture can leave streaks and
stains in its wake. To remove these stains:

  1. Wash the stain with a hose. Rub the area using a soft cloth.
  2. Try a mild soap. Make sure your chosen soap does not damage the flagpole’s finish.
  3. If the soap does not remove the stain, try a household cleaner such as Lysol or 4098. You could also use
    a hand cleaner made of pumice, lemon oil and pumic hand cleaner. For aluminum flag poles, you can use an
    aluminum stain remover.
  4. Apply the solution and scrub it with a soft cloth.

To avoid damaging the surface, make sure you scrub the solution in a circular motion, following the
direction of the sanding marks.

Removing Scratches

Scratch marks don’t need to be permanent. Removing them is easier than you might think.

Simply pull an aluminum oxide sanding belt back and forth over the scratched area. Make sure to sand in
the same direction as the existing sanding marks. However, keep in mind that this method only works for
flagpoles that already have directionally sanded surfaces.


These tips can help your flagpole look clean and bright. But if you need to order a new flagpole, count on Mills Fence.