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How to Clean an Artificial Christmas Tree

A Christmas tree lit at home

Whether you haven’t put up your tree yet or are already thinking about taking it down after Christmas, your artificial tree should be cleaned at least once each year. This will help remove dust buildup and keep it in good condition to last you many more holiday seasons. We spoke to industry experts about the best methods for cleaning your tree and keeping it in good shape for next year.

Benefits of an Artificial Christmas Tree

A family decorates a Christmas tree

If you haven’t purchased a tree yet, you may still be wondering if you should stick to a real tree or go for an artificial one. While we respect the Christmas tree purists out there, many homes will find that an artificial tree is better for their space and needs.

Premium Spruce Artificial Holiday Christmas Tree

A great tree that looks just like the real thing.

If you like to keep your home clean, an artificial tree is objectively better from that end. Real trees shed needles throughout the season, John DeCosmo, president of Ulta-Lit Tree Company, pointed out, and create a need for frequent cleanings under and around the tree.

Artificial trees are also a better long-term investment, he said. Instead of purchasing a new tree every year, you can use the same one for years and years to come. Some trees even come pre-lit, which means you don’t have to buy tree lights either.

Pre-lit Spruce Artificial Hinged Christmas Tree

Save money on lights by purchasing this pre-lit tree.

According to DeCosmo, one downside of artificial trees is the lack of that nostalgic tree scent. However, this can easily be remedied by purchasing scented products that can be kept in or near your tree to fill your home with all the smells of Christmas. One great option is ScenTree, a product that uses a proprietary blend of aromatic oils that combines the scent of a Christmas tree with the festive and nostalgic scents of cooking, cocktails, and more.

How to Clean a Pre-Lit Artificial Christmas Tree

Lights on a Christmas tree
Chantal de Bruijne/Shutterstock.com

Pre-lit artificial Christmas trees offer many benefits, but they can be tricky to clean. Kathy Cohoon from Two Maids & a Mop recommends using a soft cleaning brush or paintbrush to gently dust each branch and light. Start from the top of the tree and work your way down before vacuuming up the debris. For even easier cleanup, DeCosmo suggests cleaning your tree outside.

Brush Soft Utility Scrub Green

A great cleaning brush for trees, cars, and more.

It is important to be extra careful when cleaning a pre-lit tree to avoid damaging the lights. If you do not feel comfortable cleaning the tree yourself, consider taking it to a professional for help.

Tip: Having issues with your lights? Try to repair them before throwing them out. The LightKeeper Pro and LED Keeper repair broken incandescent and LED light sets to make the holidays easier on your wallet and the environment.

How to Clean an Unlit Artificial Christmas Tree

Branches of artificial Christmas trees
Evgrafova Svetlana/Shutterstock.com

If your artificial tree isn’t pre-lit, the cleaning process is a little easier. Cohoon recommends using a microfiber cloth or cleaning glove to wipe down each branch. Make sure to swap out microfiber cloths that accumulate a lot of dust to avoid spreading it around.

Amazon Basics Microfiber Cleaning Cloths

Use these for all of your cleaning needs.

Larger trees can even be cleaned with a vacuum attachment by slowly working your way down each branch. DeCosmo also suggests going over each branch with a damp cloth after dusting.

Vacuum Attachments

These attachments will help you complete all your cleaning tasks.

“Whichever method you choose, make sure to work from the top to the bottom and clean up the surrounding area afterward to keep your tree from becoming a dust magnet,” Cohoon said.

How to Dust an Artificial Christmas Tree

A woman dusts Christmas ornaments
Andrew Angelov/Shutterstock.com

To get the most out of your tree, you’ll want to dust it a few times while it’s up and decorated. This will make it easier to put everything away at the end of the season without having to conduct another intensive deep-cleaning.

Once a week, use a microfiber cloth to clean the ends of the branches to avoid dust buildup. You can also use a long duster to gently get between the branches without disturbing your ornaments. If you notice dust building up on ornaments, take them off and gently dust them before putting them back on the tree.

OXO Good Grips Microfiber Hand Duster

Dust your tree from top to bottom.

How to Keep an Artificial Christmas Tree Clean

A woman vacuums under a Christmas tree
Andriy Blokhin/Shutterstock.com

This is the age-old question, isn’t it? Although dust and dirt are going to accumulate no matter what you do, there are a few ways you can keep your artificial tree in good condition.

According to Cohoon, start with where you set up your tree during the holiday season. Make sure to conduct a deep cleaning of the area where the tree is going to be placed before setting it up. Making sure this area is as clean and dust-free as possible with make sure dust doesn’t make its way onto the branches during the holidays. Sweep or vacuum this area as needed and try to keep it as clean as possible throughout the season.

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Effectively remove dirt and debris with this powerful tool.

“Clean ornaments can help keep dust off your tree, so make sure to give ornaments a quick dusting either when storing them for the season or before placing them on your tree,” Cohoon said.

DeCosmo also believes that a clean house is the best way to maintain a clean tree. He also notes that proper storage is critical for the lifespan of your tree. If you’re able, store your tree in a designated box or bag that is designed to keep moisture and debris out. Excess moisture can cause mold, mildew, and fading.

Zober Large Christmas Tree Storage Bag

Store your tree in this bag in the off-season.

It’s best to clean your tree at the beginning and end of the holiday season. If you’ve already set up your tree, make sure you give everything a good clean before you put it away in a few weeks…or months.

There are many benefits to having an artificial Christmas tree, but unlike a real tree, this option does need to be cleaned. Here’s what experts recommend when it comes to cleaning, dusting, and caring for your artificial tree.

Anne Taylor Anne Taylor
Anne Taylor is a writer with a BA in Journalism and a passion for storytelling. Her work has been published on a variety of websites including Mental Floss and Well + Good, and she recently published her first novel, What it Takes to Lose. When she's not writing, Anne loves to travel (19 countries and counting), spend time outside, and play with her dog, Pepper. Read Full Bio »
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