Home Care

How to Clean Your Artificial Christmas Tree Before Putting It Up

It takes more than just dusting!

Photography: Shutterstock

It's finally time to bring your artificial Christmas tree out of storage—but don't set it up just yet! Dust, mites, and molds are just a few of the possible things that have accumulated on those faux pine branches, and now more than ever, it's important to make sure that everything in your home is spic and span. That means, you'll need to do a full-on tree-cleaning session.

It's honestly not that complicated. Here's a quick guide.

Note: These tips are only for artificial trees that do not have any internal electronic connections or built-in lighting. Please double check your tree prior to following this guide to avoid accidents. 

Tips in Cleaning Your Christmas Tree

1. Air it out

If your tree smells musty after opening the box, then there may have been mold or mildew growth during the time it's been kept. Allow it to air out first before starting the process. This step ensures that any unpleasant odors dissipate and that the tree is safe to use inside your home.

Airing out your artificial Christmas tree not only helps eliminate musty odors but also ensures that any accumulated moisture from storage evaporates. Moisture can lead to mold and mildew growth, so this step is crucial for maintaining a clean and mold-free tree.

Place the tree in a well-ventilated area, preferably outdoors, and allow it to air out for a few hours or even an entire day. Ensure that the spot where you’ll put the tree is completely dry. Depending on the materials used to create the tree, you may even place it in an area with an abundance of sunlight.

2. Take out clumps of dust

Either shake each branch out, or use a feather duster or a brush to get rid of any dust bunnies or cobwebs that may have attached to your "leaves". A small hand-held vacuum cleaner can also work, provided that the setting is low enough to keep plastic greenery from getting sucked in.


Removing dust and cobwebs not only improves the appearance of your tree but also contributes to a healthier indoor environment during the holiday season. Dust can contain allergens that may affect those with respiratory sensitivities, so thorough cleaning is beneficial for everyone in your household.

3. Soak each branch in warm, soapy water. 

Pick a gentle laundry soap for this (no bleach, please). Allow each branch to soak for 30 minutes, or until the water becomes murky. Depending on how dirty your tree is, you might want to do this step several times.

Soaking the branches in warm, soapy water is an effective way to dissolve and remove dirt, dust, and other contaminants that may have accumulated over time. It's like giving your tree a rejuvenating bath. This way, you can ensure it looks fresh and vibrant as soon as you set it up.

RL Tip: Do this outdoors just in case your artificial tree's tint bleeds out to avoid "mantsa" on your floors.

watch now

4. Rinse

You can shake each branch in clean water, or use a garden hose with a fine spray jet nozzle to make sure that you've gotten all the soap out.

Proper rinsing is critical to ensure no soapy residue remains on the branches. Residue can attract more dust and make your tree appear dull. A thorough rinse with clean water restores the tree's natural shine and ensures it's safe to handle.

5. Dry

Use a rag or an old towel to pat your tree dry, then hang them out under the sun. Don't forget to take them down once the water has evaporated to keep the pieces from getting brittle and cracking up!

Drying your tree under sunlight not only speeds up the process but also helps sterilize and refresh the plastic branches. Sunlight is a natural disinfectant and can inhibit mold and mildew growth. Ensure the branches are completely dry to prevent brittleness and cracking, which can affect the tree's longevity.


RL Tip: Keep your tree smelling nice by spritzing it with the pine fragrance.

6. Keep your tree smelling nice

As a finishing touch, you can spritz your freshly cleaned artificial tree with a pine fragrance. This step adds a pleasant scent to your tree and helps recreate that authentic holiday atmosphere. Ensure that the fragrance spray is specifically designed for artificial Christmas trees and follow the product's instructions for safe use.

Using a pine-scented spray enhances the festive ambiance in your home. The scent of pine is often associated with the holiday season and can evoke warm memories. Additionally, it masks any residual odors from storage, ensuring your tree smells as good as it looks.If you’re not a fan of pine scent or someone may be allergic to it, you don’t have to worry as this tip is only optional. Alternatively, you may also use other scents that the entire household is fond of so you can level up your tree game. Other good alternatives are peppermint and cinnamon.


Frequently Asked Questions for Cleaning Artificial Christmas Trees

How often is ideal when cleaning my artificial Christmas tree?

It's a good practice to clean your artificial Christmas tree at the beginning of each holiday season before setting it up. Additionally, if you notice any musty odors, dust, or visible debris when taking it out of storage, cleaning may be necessary to ensure a fresh and festive appearance. Don’t forget to clean up the tree as well before you store it for the next season.

Can I use any soap for soaking the branches, or is a specific type recommended?

Yes, you need to use a gentle laundry soap without bleach for soaking the branches if you want to go for a deep clean. Bleach can potentially damage the color and material of your artificial tree, so stay away from this as much as possible. Instead, opt for a mild, non-abrasive detergent to maintain the tree's appearance.


How do I prevent mold and mildew from forming on my artificial tree during storage?

To prevent mold and mildew growth, ensure your tree is completely dry before storing it. Store it in a cool, dry place with good ventilation. If possible, place moisture-absorbing packets or cedar blocks near the tree to discourage moisture buildup.

Can I speed up the drying process without sunlight?

While direct sunlight is an effective way to expedite the drying process, you can also use fans or heaters (on a low setting) in a well-ventilated area to help speed up drying if sunlight is not available. Just be cautious not to use high heat, as it may damage the plastic branches.

Is it safe to use a vacuum cleaner on an artificial tree?

Using a small hand-held vacuum cleaner with a low suction setting can be safe and effective for removing dust and debris from your artificial tree. Just ensure that the suction is gentle to avoid damaging the plastic foliage.


Can I use air fresheners or scented oils on my artificial tree to keep it smelling nice?

It's not recommended to use air fresheners or scented oils directly on your artificial tree, as they can leave residue or stains. Instead, consider using a pine-scented spray specifically designed for artificial Christmas trees. Follow the product's instructions for safe and effective use.

What should I do if I discover mold on my artificial tree during cleaning?

If you find mold on your artificial tree, it's best to clean it thoroughly as described in the guide. Ensure that the affected areas are properly soaked, rinsed, and dried. If the mold persists, consider consulting a professional cleaning service or replacing the affected branches to maintain a safe and clean holiday decoration.

This article is from a previous issue of Real Living magazine. With reports from Nica Jose.

H/T: All Things Christmas, The Spruce


More on Realliving.com.ph


Read more stories about

Latest Stories

Exploring Baby Bean's Enchanting Farm: A Celestial Retreat

Baby Bean's farm has a lot of potential.

Yeng Constantino's Dream Beach House in Zambales

Their vision is coming to life.

What Do Ascott and St. Luke's Have in Common? A Bedsheet Supplier

You can get the same hotel-quality sheets from Filipino brand Doyle & Furnham.

Which Type of Wood is Best for the Home?

Tanguile, Narra, or Mahogany? Each type of wood has its pros and cons.

Christmas Gifts for Every Budget

Some suggestions for that holiday cheer.

Here's Everything You Need to Know About Anne Curtis' Trending Camaleonda Sofa

Plus, where to buy similar sofas that can elevate any space.

This Resort in Quezon Gives A Modern Filipino Take on 30sqm Prefab Homes

Planning your next family or barkada staycation? This resort in Quezon lets you unwind in comfort.

How to Display Indoor Plants in Both Small Spaces and Spacious Homes

Discover creative ways to display indoor plants and elevate your home decor. From wall-mounted shelves to unique plant stands, find inspiration for showcasing your greens.

10 Low-Maintenance Outdoor Plants That are Good for Beginners

These potted wonders flourish with minimum care

3 Bedroom Makeovers to Inspire You: K-Drama, Natural Mid-Century, and Scandi-Style

Thinking of giving your bedroom a bit of an upgrade? These beautifully renovated spaces will give you an idea of where to start.
Load More Stories