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How To Clean And Care For Your Artificial Christmas Tree.

How To Clean And Care For Your Artificial Christmas Tree.

Artificial Christmas trees can be extremely convenient to use and if they are looked after well they really can last a lifetime, so here is your expert guide on how to clean and care for your artificial Christmas tree.

Artificial Christmas trees are becoming increasingly popular as families take advantage of their convenience and cost. Unfortunately, like everything, artificial trees will still accumulate dust and dirt from being on display or being in storage in the attic. The good news is that they are incredibly easy to look after, and a little bit of time spent when you get it out of storage and again when you take it down after Christmas will ensure they will last many, many years, if not a lifetime. 

The environmental factor.

One of the biggest criticisms of artificial trees is that the materials they are made of and the manufacturing process used to make them mean that they aren’t very good for the environment, but this isn’t exactly true.

Most people who buy artificial trees do so with the intention of keeping them for many years. According to both the American Christmas Tree Association and The British Christmas Tree Growers Association people would have to keep an artificial Christmas tree for several years, at least eight or nine according to some sources, to negate any harmful impact of the manufacturing process. 

This is why it is really important to look after your artificial tree well, not just to make sure that it lasts you an extremely long time, but to make sure you do your bit for the environment too. With the average lifespan of an artificial Christmas tree being at least ten years, that means that if it is well cared for and maintained, good quality trees can potentially last a lifetime and negate any negative environmental effects.

Storing your artificial tree.

Most Christmas trees are stored in attics or basements, not exactly places that are renowned for being clean and dust free! That means that unless they are stored properly, they can accumulate dust. Not to worry though, apart from cleaning them before and after use there are a few steps you can take to store them properly to minimise any problems. 

Make sure it is stored in the correct environment. 

Wherever possible try to make sure that where you store your bag is dry, free from moisture and damp, and just as importantly not too near a warm surface such as near heating pipes or in an airing cupboard next to a boiler as this can warp the plastic.

Using an attic or basement to store your tree in shouldn’t be a problem at all, it is after all where most people store their trees, it is just about inspecting your space regularly and ensuring there are no problems (which should be a normal thing to do anyway) and making sure the trees are adequately protected. It really is that simple.

Use a bin bag.

If - like most people - you want to store your tree in the original box it came in there is absolutely nothing wrong with this at all, but as an extra layer of added protection you can put that box inside a large bin bag or two and tape it down.

Get a storage bag.

A storage bag is a decent upgrade from the original box and will solve any problems caused by damp or moisture which can break down the cardboard and damage the tree. Most commercial bags are made from strong woven polyethylene and can be bought in a range of sizes to fit your particular tree, which also means you don’t have to squash the branches back down so much to fit it back in. 

Get a storage box.

If a bag is a simple upgrade from the box the tree came in, a sealed plastic box is the absolute Rolls Royce of storage options. Most artificial trees break down into manageable chunks, so it isn’t too difficult to find a large box, or perhaps two if you have a significantly large tree, that can fit it all in. This will protect your tree from dust, damp, moisture, heat and anything else that might be a problem for a lifetime of Christmas celebrations!

Cleaning your Christmas tree after storage.

Once you have taken your tree down from the attic and pulled it out of its box, it is time to get it set up and fluffed out. If you are allergic or sensitive in any way to dust it might be a good idea to just wrap up warm and open a window or two just for this initial part.

The first step is to put a sheet on the floor to catch any dust or falling debris as you clean the tree. This isn’t wholly necessary of course but will make the final clear up a little easier later. Then take the lowest part of the tree out and start to assemble it. Spread the branches out carefully, you don’t need to fully fluff the tree out at this point, just enough so that you can easily reach each piece. 

Once that is done, get your vacuum cleaner. Yes, you can hoover or vacuum your artificial Christmas tree as long as you take a little bit of care. Just attach an upholstery bristle brush attachment to the tube and test a small area right at the bottom of the tree where no one will see, it should be able to move along the branches without pulling or distorting any of the plastic needles. 

If you have a pre lit LED or fibre optic tree, be extra careful around the lights. 

Work from top to bottom and just lightly brush the branches and the trunk with the bristles of the attachment. There is no need to press the attachment right up to the branches or suck any of the needles or bristles up into it. If this starts to happen, then stop.

If you have a small hand held vacuum this may work better as they generally have less powerful suction.

The next step is to use a bucket of warm water and a tiny amount of washing up liquid. That’s it. Nothing too fancy at all. You don’t need any specialist cleaning fluid or powerful chemicals as these may harm the tree. Just use a soft rag (not a sponge or a cleaning rag that will potentially leave bits of microfibre all over the tree, an old tea towel should be fine), and move top to bottom. Make sure that you ring the rag out well after dipping it in the bucket, you don’t want to leave the tree too wet, rinse the rag regularly and replace the water when it gets dirty.

Repeat this process for every section of the tree and put it together as you go, until you reach the final piece. Now your tree should be fully clean, put together and most of the way to being completely fluffed out and ready to decorate.

Make sure you leave the tree for a good few hours and make sure that it is completely and one hundred percent dry before adding lights or plugging it in if it is a pre lit tree.

Now you can clean up the dust sheet and vacuum around the area to finish the job. Once that is done and the tree is dry, you can get to the fun part of plugging in the lights and adding all the decorations!

Cleaning your artificial tree after Christmas.

Remembering to clean the tree after Christmas makes the cleaning job easier for next year and really does prolong its life, and the good news is that it really isn’t that big of a job either. The whole cleaning process, minus removing the lights and decorations of course should take you no more than five or ten minutes and can be done as you take the tree apart.

Once all of the lights, tinsel, baubles and other decorations are used simply repeat the cleaning process you used when putting it up but go in reverse. Give every branch a light vacuum, then use warm water to give each branch a quick clean. 

Again, make sure you leave each section to dry thoroughly before you start packing it away. You don’t want damp to start causing problems from inside the box!

How to clean a white artificial Christmas tree.

White Christmas trees are much harder to keep clean than the average green tree simply because white shows up every bit of dirt and stain, but with the general cleaning tips above these problems should be manageable for many years. As with any tree, avoid using any chemical cleaning products.

Cleaning your artificial Christmas tree FAQs.

When is the best time to clean my tree?

You should clean your tree both before putting the decorations on and after taking them off, but the most important time is after taking it out of storage as that is when it is most likely to have accumulated dust and any other debris. 

Will cleaning my Christmas tree damage it?

No, not if it is done gently and carefully. Of course if you aren’t careful and are heavy handed you may cause damage which will reduce the lifespan of your tree, but this can be avoided easily.

Can I put my tree under the shower to wash it?

No! Although the water will indeed get it clean, the battering of water may cause more damage to your tree than is needed. Just get a soft cloth and some warm water and wipe it very gently.

Will washing a pre lit tree damage the lights?

If the lights get too wet then yes, this is a possibility, but not if you wring out a cloth rag and simply wipe them over gently and allow them to dry fully before using them.

How do I clean coloured trees that have gone brown or discoloured?

If you have a coloured tree, usually white, red or another basic colour, there is a small risk that they will become discoloured over time. You can remove all lights and ornaments that aren’t part of the tree and try to use warm soap and water, but if this doesn’t work and the discoloration is noticeable (usually on old trees over several years old) it may be time to buy a new one. 

Can I stop the needles from falling off my tree? 

Yes, to an extent. It is normal for the occasional needle to fall off from time to time. Cleaning your tree should be done as gently as possible so as not to cause extra damage.

Can I vacuum an artificial Christmas tree?

Yes you absolutely can, just use a brush extension and as gentle a vacuum as possible, then lightly brush the leaves instead of pressing into them.

Can I vacuum a pre lit artificial Christmas tree?

Yes, just like with an unlit tree be very gentle around the LEDs or fibre optics and avoid actually vacuuming them up. If necessary hold the lights down with your hand and vacuum between small gaps in your fingers.

Cleaning your artificial tree is not a huge or complex job, and it really doesn’t need to be complicated at all. All you need to do is gently take care of it every time you take it out from storage and before you put it away again, and your artificial tree will last a very long time indeed.