How to clean an artificial Christmas tree

Woman hoovering under an artificial christmas tree.
(Image credit: Getty)

Artificial Christmas trees are designed to last for many years. No need to repurchase or take too much time picking the perfect one. Buy once and pack it away for next Christmas. But the key to how long your tree lasts is how well you care for it. Yes, your artificial Christmas may not need watering or pruning, but it benefits from a good clean. 

Tools & Requirements

- Step ladder

- Duster

- Vacuum cleaner

- Dust sheet / newspaper

- White (or light-colored) microfiber cloth

- Warm water

- Dish soap

- Spray bottle

There are branches, a trunk, and a base to think about, and if your tree is pre-lit, well, that’s another task. Cleaning a tree can be time-consuming, but it is relatively simple. To help get the job done efficiently, we spoke to a Christmas tree expert and environment activist at Hassle Free Christmas Tree, Christina Hill.

We know that some artificial Christmas trees are more delicate than others, so we've included guides for dry cleaning and wet cleaning - depending on how strong your tree is. For the more sensitive trees, dry cleaning will be enough, but be sure to go all the way with a cleaning solution if your tree is stronger and can handle it.

Before you know it, you’ll have your artificial Christmas tree fresh for all the festive periods year after year. And if you're a real-tree household instead, you'll want to read our advice on how to keep a Christmas tree alive for longer so you can make the most out of this season's sparkling centerpiece. 

Artificial Christmas tree

(Image credit: Alamy)

How to clean an artificial Christmas tree: Quick steps

  1. Find a cleaning zone
  2. Remove dust with a vacuum cleaner and duster
  3. Mix a cleaning solution & test your tree
  4. Clean from top to bottom

How to dry clean an artificial Christmas tree

1. Find a cleaning zone

(Image: © Alamy)

Start by deciding where you’re going to clean your artificial tree. You’ll need enough space that is well-lit to see what you’re doing. We’d also suggest protecting the floor with a dust sheet or even newspaper. 

Then, gather your step ladder, duster, and vacuum cleaner. This step ladder from Amazon is a compact and affordable option.

2. Remove dust with a vacuum and duster

(Image: © Alamy)

Giving your Christmas tree a good shake will help get that initial layer of dust off. Then, use a vacuum to speed up the dusting process - a handheld vac works best, like the Black + Decker Dustbuster at Amazon. Hold the vac a few inches away from the tree to avoid sucking up the needles or any lights, then give the tree a light vacuum all over.

A duster (like this microfiber duster at Amazon) will help to clean any of the remaining dusty areas. Christina advises “against using a feather duster as feathers are prone to falling out or leaving particles as you clean.” 

Make sure you check each branch for any dust build-up and use your step ladder to reach the higher branches. It's best to work your way down so that you catch any fallen dust on the lower branches.

How to wet clean an artificial Christmas tree

1. Mix a cleaning solution & test your tree

(Image: © Alamy)

After dry cleaning your tree, now it's time to test whether you can clean it more thoroughly using a cleaning solution. 

Create your solution using two cups of warm water and one teaspoon of dish soap. As Christina explains, “there’s no need for any harsh cleaning products.”

Then, spray onto a hidden part of your tree, let it sit for around 30 seconds, and wipe it clean with a cloth. If the color has been damaged, your tree should only be dry cleaned - so don't use any more cleaning solutions.

2. Clean from top to bottom

(Image: © Alamy)

Now to get cleaning. Christina’s top tip here is “to use either a white or light-colored cloth to avoid any potential dye bleeding onto the branches, especially if you have a white tree.” This set at Amazon should do the trick.

Start from top to bottom. Stand on your step ladder and spray your cleaning solution onto the branches. Then, reach for the inside of each branch, gently pulling your cloth towards the outer tips. When you reach the bottom, give the tree stand a good wipe, too.

“If you’re cleaning at the end of the season, this method will also help you slim down the branches to easily pack them away back in the box” adds Christina. 

How to clean an artificial Christmas tree: FAQs

How often should you clean an artificial Christmas tree?

Keeping a tree in a box for a long period of time can expose it to heat, moisture, and even pests. So it’s important to clean your tree at least twice. We’d recommend cleaning it first when you take it out of storage and again before you pack it away. There’s also no harm in giving it an additional cleaning before you layer on the trimmings, too. 

How do you restore an artificial Christmas tree?

Branches and needles become flattened after sitting in a box for most of the year, so spending a bit of time fluffing them up will make a huge difference. 

Artificial Christmas trees often have thinner branches, so they can benefit from a few more ornaments to really make your tree stand out. Besides, who needs an excuse for more decorations?

Can artificial Christmas trees be washed?

Surprisingly, yes. You can take your tree into the bathtub and wash it down with the showerhead and soap, but this is a time consuming and messy endeavor - not to mention that many trees might be damaged in the process.

The tips we've suggested above should be more than enough to keep your tree at its best.

Dan Fauzi
Features Editor

Dan Fauzi is the Features Editor of Top Ten Reviews, with experience in digital product writing across all sorts - including tech, outdoor living, sports, and homes & gardens. Outside of work you'll find them at gigs, exploring creative spaces, or cooking up something good in the kitchen. 

With contributions from