Yes, You Need to Clean the Artificial Christmas Tree

What artificial Christmas trees lack a fresh, evergreen scent, they make up for in ease of maintenance. Unlike live versions, artificial spruces don’t shed and don’t need to be watered and then disposed of at the end of the holiday season. But this does not mean that they are completely maintenance-free.

Considering that artificial Christmas trees live with us in our house for several weeks, and hide in storage for the rest of the year, they do accumulate dirt and dust, and they will benefit from an annual cleaning. Here’s what to do.

How to clean an artificial Christmas tree

To prolong the life of your artificial Christmas tree, experts recommend cleaning it before putting it away, and then again when it comes out of storage at the start of the holiday season before decorating it.

Even if you don’t care about the tree itself, these prickly artificial branches attract dust, so if anyone in your family is allergic to dust mites, it’s a good idea to clean the tree at least before putting it up.

We’ll look at a few different cleaning methods here, and you’ll be able to choose the one that works best for you, depending on whether your tree has been prelit or not, and how dirty it is.

Basic dry cleaning

Pre-lit artificial Christmas trees are fragile and won’t get wet, so this is really the only safe way to clean them. It’s also the least involved, so if your tree hasn’t been pre-lit and isn’t that messy – or you don’t have the time to invest in a more thorough cleaning – this is the way to go.

Ideally, you should do this outdoors , in a garage or basement to keep the dust and dirt from the wood from spreading throughout the house. If that’s not possible, lay down an old sheet or tarp to help contain the mess a little. If your tree is pre-lit, make sure it is unplugged. Wear a mask to keep out the dust, and goggles will help too.

Then, starting at the top of the tree , use a soft-bristled brush or dry microfiber cloth to brush dirt and dust off each branch, working from the inside of the tree outward. You can also use a handheld or brushed vacuum cleaner – be careful if your tree is pre-lit.

Salt and shake

Artificial Christmas trees, which are not pre-lit and can be broken into smaller pieces, can be refreshed with a little salt . Again, this is best done outside, or at least on a sheet or tarp.

Place the separated pieces in a large, sturdy trash bag with two cups of kosher salt, tie the bag shut, and then shake it well for a few minutes. When you shake it, the salt will act as a mild abrasive cleaner, ridding the branches of a fair amount of dust and other dirt.

Then remove one section of wood at a time and shake it out, ideally outside (or at least on a sheet or tarp). Once all cuts have been made, assemble the tree, then vacuum it using the method above.

Spray and wipe

Again, this is only an option for trees that haven’t been pre-lit, but if your tree is still a little dirty – or you have someone in your house with allergies – this is the next step.

First, mix a solution of warm water and a few drops of liquid dish soap in a clean, empty spray bottle. Then, working from top to bottom and from inside to outside, lightly spray each branch with the solution and wipe with a clean, dry microfiber cloth.

give him a shower

Start by breaking your fake Christmas tree apart. Take each section, spray it with the soap and water mixture above, then using warm water, gently shower it from top to bottom (handheld showerheads are best).

If the tree doesn’t fall apart, you can take it outside and use a garden hose instead. Either way, let the wood dry in the shower, bath, or outside. Let it air dry completely before decorating it, especially if you turn on the lights.


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