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How To Clean Your Artificial Christmas Tree

November 16, 2022

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I'm a waste not, want not kind of girl.

I think it was my upbringing.

My parents were depression era babies and my sweet mother definitely taught us all the value of a dollar.

Living Room Christmas Cottage Decor at night

So I've always been a bargain shopper and a frugal decorator.

I love shopping at thrift stores, yard sales and in clearance aisles, turning trash into holiday home decor treasure.

I also hold onto things forever.

Winter Christmas Tree in the living room

Sometimes it's for sentimental reasons, but more often it's simply because I can't find anything I like as much as what I already have.

Like my kitchen chandelier.

Or my family room sofa.

And my living room Christmas tree.

When my husband and I got married we lived in a small basement apartment my mom had carved out of the house.

There was lovely brick fireplace in the room and a tight corner for a narrow tree.

My husband and I wanted a real one.

Growing up, ours were artificial and now that I was an married lady, I wanted a storybook Christmas, complete with chopping down a live fir from a field.

But my mom was nervous.

She didn't like the idea of all those dry branches so close to the open flames.

I totally understood, so we went out looking for a fake evergreen that would fit in that tiny spot.

And one that wouldn't break the bank.

Because I was convinced that we wouldn't be keeping it very long. The plan was to buy our own home by the following Christmas.

An enormous house. With a huge living room. Large enough for a really big real tree.

Christmas In A Tiny Cottage

Well. We did buy a house by the next Christmas, but as you might've guessed, it was small. A 1920's, two bedroom cottage near the beach.

Location, location, location won out over a large floor plan, but that tree fit perfectly in a second tight corner.

For seven years more years. 

When it was time to move again to gain more square footage for our growing family.

However, this time charm won out and we literally moved across the street, to a slightly more spacious vintage cottage.

With a third tight corner.

Rustic Cottage Christmas Living Room

Of course, by that time, our narrow tree had become a sentimental treasure. Plus, every time I looked at new trees they weren't nearly as pretty.

Or well made.

And they were all ridiculously expensive.

So, as Christmas approaches, we find ourselves getting ready to set up that temporary tree once again, the one bought at my mother's request.

Twenty seven years ago.

It's honestly still one of the best artificial trees I've ever seen. It's an old fashioned number with full, dark green branches that slide into a wooden trunk one at a time. 

It didn't come with lights either, so we can add our own...white or colored, depending on the year and our mood.

Good as new. Except.

Last year, I told my husband I thought it needed a good cleaning.

We do store it in a tightly sealed rubber bucket, since you can't stack zippered tree bags, but over the past two decades it's been exposed to curious climbing cats, numerous renovations and dust. 

Christmas Tree Bucket Storage

While it didn't look dirty and there wasn't anything visible on the branches or needles, my allergies sensed it.

We looked into different ways to tackle the job, but none of them seemed great. There were lots of articles that said to wipe it off with a microfiber cloth.

Wipe what? The needles?

No. That didn't make sense.

Some recommended steam cleaning, but a damp tree just seemed like an invitation for mold.

The other common suggestion was to vacuum it with an upholstery brush. I guess that would work?

But we decided against it, thinking that it was only going to stir the majority of the dust up and very little would be captured by the vacuum.

I wanted less dust in my house before the holidays, not more.

Air Compressor For Christmas Tree Dusting

Then my husband has a brainstorm. 

Let me take the tree outside and use my air compressor to blow the dust and dander off of it...and let it all float away. 

Sounded good to me, so that's what he did.

Outside. On our old patio.

Cleaning An Artificial Tree with an air compressor

I can't say I noticed a visual difference, but I was definitely less sniffly around it during the next month.

It also shed didn't shed nearly as many needles on the living room floor.

That alone was worth it.

Oh..and in case you're wondering, yes, I did get that real tree. Just one though. 

I guess I was just destined to be a faux tree kind of girl.

But at least it's clean.


How do you clean your tree?


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  1. WOW I can not believe you've had your tree so long
    1 I must be a tree snob because we have gotten a new one every few years. My old one usually ends up on the porch in a crate. Very clever cleaning !

    1. Trust me, if the tree looked bad it would've been on the porch in a hot minute! I guess we just got a good one way back when. We've purchased others, no I have several around the house, but honestly, none of them are as lovely as the original.

  2. Good solution Kim. I can't believe you have had that tree for that many years. Our tree stay clean in zippered bags. I hate that the pre-lit trees don't last. We have to add more lights. Sometimes the tree branches also break and you have to prop them up.

    1. It was a well spent $100, that’s for sure! I’m not super fond of the tubs, I wish we had room for different storage, I love those zippered bags. I’ve seen people shrink wrap their trees, standing up, ornaments and all, although I like to decorate them a little differently each year. I hope you have a great week!

  3. I still have my first artificial tree also, from 1992! I don't put it up every year, and I have since purchased several new trees, but it still has a special place in my Christmas.

    1. I'm so glad to hear that I'm not alone! I think they just made trees {and everything else} better back then...made to last. I too have other trees, but frankly, none of them are as real looking. Or, as you said, special! Thanks for sharing with me!!

  4. Wow how clever to think of using an air compressor to clean off the artificial tree. Wow that you have had your tree the long. I have had a few through the years. I think our first artificial tree when we first got married 41 years ago was the kind where each branch was separate and you had to fit it in the hole. That too forever. Then we have had a few where they come apart in a few sections and the branches fold up. I think my original one that you had to painstaking put each branch in then right hole look the best. They just do not make them as nice anymore. The pic with yours in the corner is very pretty. Happy Wednesday. xoxo Kris

    1. He's a super smarty, Kris. I always tell him that he should've been an engineer. He did a great job and all the dust stayed outside! What you describe is exactly what we have...a pole with holes and branches that go in one at a time. The basement tree kind of pops up, but I still think that older tree looks better. And 41 years? That's wonderful! xxoo

  5. Wow Kim, your husbands idea to clean the tree is just genius. I am glad you found a solution. We had our tree for a long time and it was always a hassle to put together. We finally bought a new tree two years ago and we love it. I really never thought about cleaning the tree but thanks for this idea.

    1. It really was a great solution for me, Julie. I didn't want that tree shaken up in the house. Every now and then I browse at the new trees, but so far, nothing that fits in that corner has caught my eye. Maybe someday!

  6. I like that idea. I will have to share this with my sister. She has had her artificial tree for many years too.
    Lego's are another real hassle to clean. The boys created a few Lego gifts for me. It is always tricky to dust them. And I don't dare have them come apart, they are treasures to me.
    I am getting excited to start decorating. I am ready for the twinkle of Christmas. xx oo Carla

    1. Oh, Lego cleaning...that's an interesting one. I wonder if you used the cans of air, the ones for keyboard cleaning, if that would do the trick? I understand how important they are though, a little dust is way better than a broken treasure!

  7. David and I purchased an artificial Christmas tree for my apartment when we were engaged. (We married a month after Christmas on January 25.) That was for Christmas 1996. We are still using the same tree. It's solid and made like yours with the individual branches that go in the slots. I've looked at other trees and have never found anything I like better. Trees are also so incredibly expensive now! I think we paid $135 for it which was a lot of money at the time. It's paid for itself so many times over!

    1. Sallie, I believe we paid the same price for our tree at the about the same time. Solid is a great word, that's exactly how I'd describe it...and you're right, they really are so expensive now and most have the prelit branches. I don't like that at all. Once they go out you need to put others over them and then you just have a giant tangle of wires. Thanks for sharing your tree tale. Seems like there are more of those old trees out there than I thought!

    2. It's possible to remove the pre-wired lights. Might take 2 hours, but, "frugal" and visual as I am, it was better than buying a new tree or dealing with all those extra strings.

    3. I agree, very worth it! I've done it, too. As a matter of fact I did it the other night. It was a tiny tree, but I didn't like looking at all those old wires. You're right, they're not pretty!! Great tip, thanks for sharing!

  8. What a great idea Kim. We store ours in bags and boxes, so I am assuming there is dust on it, and I am like you, allergies are my nemesis. We still have our first tree too, a hand me down from ladies I worked with. I am thinking it is looking worse for the wear now and has to be put together one branch at a time. Back in the early days of our marriage, we figured out where each branch went, and I pulled out my various colors of fingernail polish and away we went coloring coding the branches. I laugh now thinking back to that thought, thank you for the trip down memory lane. Your tree looks beautiful!

    1. So funny!! Our tree came with the painted tips, but I remember my mom's tree, growing up, did not. So we did the same thing. That old nail polish trick works!! I love that so many of us still have those first trees!

  9. I am with you. I have had my tree for years but I think it is on its last legs. Some of the branches have to be wired together to hold them in place. I think I will look for a new one after Christmas when the big sales are on.
    I love your precious tree and that was smart to blow the dust away. I have always loved your home and what you have done with it over the years. It has always felt "happy" to me.
    Enjoy your weekend with your family. I will be dragging my tree up soon from the basement...maybe Thanksgiving Eve if I am not wiped out. lol. xo Diana

    1. Diana, your kind comments always make me smile, thank you so much! ♥️ I love hearing about everyone's tree tales. I can't believe how many of us have very old ones. We bought one for the basement family room when the girls were small and it wasn't cheap, but it's flimsy and sparse. They just don't make things the way they used to...and now, saying that, means I'm old!! xo

  10. Over the years we've had a few artificial trees, but always green.

    Christmas is getting close now, it's a wonderful time of year.

    All the best Jan

    1. I remember a house in our neighborhood that always had a white tree in their window, not flocked, just pure white branches. It was very pretty, but it just didn't feel like Christmas. And I agree, Jan, it's a wonderful time of the year!

  11. Oops had trouble with that comment, hope it came through ok!

    All the best Jan

  12. As I don't celebrate Christmas, I had no idea that Christmas trees needed to be cleaned! But, it seems like a great solution that your hubby came up with!

    1. They can get pretty dusty after a while, Amy. Although, I think most people toss their trees long before that.