Cleaning Your Tree

Last week I pulled my Christmas tree out of my in-laws’ attic. It was more magnificent than I remembered, standing seven feet tall with life-like branches and pre-strung lights. My mother-in-law is the queen of decorating, especially during Christmas season. She is so over the top, the family has nicknamed her “Ms. Christmas Ball”. Last year she brilliantly stored my tree next to hers standing upright with the top portion screwed into its own stand to keep it looking lively! This was so much better than having my tree be crushed by a box like most artificial trees are when stored away after the holidays. We got the tree into my living room and it lit up beautifully. There was just one problem: it smelled! Being allergic to dust, I am highly sensitive to the musty smell that was seizing the air of my little condo. The air was so suffocating that I could not even sit next to it, let alone decorate. So I did what anyone else in the cleaning industry would do. I Googled it!

The top hit was a WikiHow article with directions on how to clean your artificial tree. So I thought I would test it out.

First and very importantly, unplug your tree (just in case).


Then change/empty your vacuum bag to prevent any old dust left in the bag being kicked up around your house.

Change/ Empty Vacuum Bag

I used my hose attachment on my vacuum switched onto setting one, the least powerful, since the article warns about damage or the risk of bristles getting sucked down the tube.

Vacuum Settings

I also used the brush attachment for the nozzle to keep the branches more protected.

Brush Vacuum Attachment

Working my way around the tree I vacuumed each branch loosely, and knocked them around a bit to loosen up any settled dust. I’m glad I did, because a stinkbug dropped out of the tree! (I vacuumed it up too quickly and forgot to take a photo, but if you suck one up in the future, make sure you use the hose and empty the bag right after! They can cause your whole vacuum to stink!)

Stink Bug

After I finished vacuuming each branch. I dissolved a very small amount of Dawn dish soap (I use clear but any kind will work)  into a bucket of warm water. When you wet the dishcloth, be sure to wring it out enough so it is not sopping wet. The goal is to just have it damp enough to wipe any dust off the tree without getting it wet. You definitely don’t want to get the lights too wet, and make sure your tree is dry before plugging it back in.

Soapy Water

I didn’t wipe every single bristle, but I tried to get as many of them as I could. The original article suggests to work from the top to bottom, but I worked by side of the tree, since it is so large I have to stand on a step stool to reach the top. It’s also important to wipe the pipe that runs in the middle of the tree, and the stand.

Wiping Tree

After an hour of letting the tree dry, it smelled much better. The next day, after going in and out of the house a bit so the air circulated, I could hardly smell the dust anymore. My mother-in-law suggested rubbing some pine scented oil in the middle of the tree to make it smell more realistic. I did not because of my family’s sensitivity to fragrances, but it would be a nice touch!

Overall, I was very satisfied with the ultimate result. Thanks to the stinkbug, I have learned that this will be an annual tradition before I decorate my tree in the future!

 Finished Product

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