How to Clean an Artificial Christmas Tree

Yes, you need to clean your artificial Christmas tree before putting it away and after taking it out to decorate. Here is your complete guide on how to clean an artificial Christmas tree.

artificial christmas tree on floor

If you own an artificial Christmas tree, getting it out, keeping it clean, and properly putting it away is an important part of your Christmas storage each year. Since artificial Christmas trees typically cost quite a bit more than natural trees in the same size ranges do, you’ll naturally want it to last and look good for years to come. Nobody wants to be surprised by a musty old artificial tree the next time Christmas comes around. Likewise, no one wants their tree to look shabby or pose a health hazard.

Why Is It Important to Clean the Tree?

Artificial Christmas trees have their benefits, but while in storage, they collect dust and dirt. These can affect the look of your tree, but there can also be a health risk. For example, the prickly branches are exceptionally good at attracting dust, and anyone in the house with dust mite allergies or other respiratory conditions could be more at risk of symptoms and illnesses.

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What Do You Need to Clean an Artificial Christmas Tree?

How you clean an artificial Christmas tree depends on the type of Christmas tree. Fortunately, you probably have most of what you need to clean your Christmas tree at home already. Following are items you’ll need depending on the method you’re using to clean the tree:

Note: When possible, it’s best to clean your artificial Christmas tree outside, in a garage, or in a basement. This helps prevent dust and dirt from getting onto people, floors, and furniture.

How to Clean an Artificial Christmas Tree With Lights

Because pre-lit trees are delicate and can’t get wet for safety and performance reasons, your options for cleaning them are limited. You have only one option: a basic DIY dry-cleaning approach. You can also use this method on an artificial tree that doesn’t have lights.

Here are the steps for how to clean an artificial Christmas tree with lights:

  1. Spread out a tarp or old sheet. This will help contain any mess.
  2. Make sure the tree isn’t plugged in.
  3. Wear a face mask and goggles to protect yourself from inhaling dust particles or getting them in your eyes.
  4. From the top of the tree, brush or wipe off dirt and dust from each branch. Use a soft-bristled brush, Swiffer duster, or a microfiber cloth, and work from the inside out. As an alternative, you can use a vacuum with a brush attachment. Just be gentle so you don’t damage the lights or branches.
  5. Carefully move the tree to its desired location in the house or into a storage bag or bin.
cleaning an artificial christmas tree with a duster

How to Clean an Artificial Christmas Tree That Doesn’t Have Lights

You can use the method above to clean an artificial tree that isn’t pre-lit. However, since you don’t have to worry about damaging the lights, you have other options. They also have the benefit of being more thorough in cleaning the tree.

The Salt and Shake Method

If the tree breaks down and isn’t pre-lit, this is an easy and effective method. Again, it’s best done outside or over a tarp or old sheet. That helps you contain the mess and makes cleanup quick and easy.

  1. Place the pieces into a large, heavy-duty trash bag.
  2. Add two cups of salt. Larger salt crystals are more abrasive and do a better job of cleaning.
  3. Tie the bag and give it a good shake for a few minutes. As you do this, the salt crystals will have an abrasive effect that removes most of the dust, dirt, and grime from the branches.
  4. Remove the pieces one at a time and shake them out over the tarp or your lawn or driveway.
  5. Assemble the tree where you want it inside.
  6. Gently go over the tree with a vacuum as described above.

Remember, this is not for cleaning pre-lit trees. The shaking will almost certainly damage the branches and lights.

The Spray and Wipe Method

This is also not for pre-lit trees ever. The liquid can damage the lighting and cause it to malfunction. There’s also the risk of electrocution if you plug it in while it’s still wet.

The spray and wipe method is good if the salt and shake method leaves some grime behind, and it also works well on its own.

  1. Get a clean spray bottle and add warm water to it.
  2. Add a few drops of liquid dish soap and mix it all up.
  3. Assemble the tree and, from the top down and inside out, lightly spray each branch. Then use a clean, dry microfiber cloth to wipe off each branch.

Give the Tree a Shower

Again, this is not for pre-lit trees since water can damage the lighting and create an electrocution risk.

  1. Break the tree down into its individual parts.
  2. Make a soap and water mixture like the one described above and lightly spray each of the branches.
  3. Using your shower, gently rinse off the branches with warm water. Handheld shower heads work best for this, but traditional fixed shower heads still work fine.
  4. If your tree doesn’t come apart, you can do this outside with a garden hose.
  5. Allow everything to drip-dry in the shower or tub or on a tarp.
  6. Once the tree is completely dry, you can assemble it and decorate it. Never install any lighting if the tree is still wet at all.
Cleaning a christmas tree in the shower

Can you steam clean an artificial Christmas tree? Actually, you can, and you get the added bonus of sanitizing it.

How to Clean a White Artificial Christmas Tree

White and frosted artificial Christmas trees provide a beautiful touch that evokes an image of frost and newly fallen snow. Because of their coloring, they’re particularly susceptible to dirt and dust impacting their appearance, so it’s important to clean and store them properly.

  1. Use either the dry cleaning or the salt and shake method. Water and other cleaning agents may alter the tree’s coloring, and using them can also invalidate the tree’s warranty.
  2. If persistent stains exist, use multicolored lights and ornaments to mask those spots. You can also contact the manufacturer for any suggested restoration methods or products.
A white Christmas tree

What if you find that your white or frosted tree has turned yellow?

  1. Lay the parts out in the sun for a few hours; this will sometimes restore the original color (this works best during spring and summer). 
  2. If that doesn’t work, mix three parts of white vinegar with one part of water in a spray bottle, spritz the affected parts, and leave them in direct sun for at least 12 hours (so late spring through early fall are best for this). The vinegar will react with the sun to create a bleaching effect. For the same reasons, you shouldn’t use other cleaning agents; don’t use bleach.
  3. Contact the manufacturer if these steps don’t work.

How Often Should You Clean an Artificial Christmas Tree?

It’s recommended to clean an artificial tree at least twice during the year. The first time is when you unpack it before setting it up. As you might be guessing, the second time is when it’s time to take it down, pack it up, and put it away.  Check out the best Christmas tree bags here.

Remember to clean the branch tips at least once a week, and when you put the tree away, store it properly in a cool, dry location that isn’t in direct sunlight.

That is it!

After you’ve cleaned and set up your Christmas tree, you’ll still need to do some easy basic maintenance. At least once a week, lightly dust the tips with a dense fiber duster or a clean, dry cloth. Take care as you work around the lights.

Following these tips, you should be able to enjoy your beautiful artificial Christmas tree for years!

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Anika Gandhi

Anika Gandhi is on a mission to declutter and organize all the things around her and is here to inspire and encourage you to do the same!

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