How to clean an artificial Christmas tree — according to experts

All the expert-approved hacks you need for cleaning your artificial Christmas tree

A Christmas tree in a small apartment
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Even though you stored it correctly, you may be wondering how to clean an artificial Christmas tree if it's looking a little worse for wear. The good news is that while the concept of cleaning a Christmas tree might seem complex, it doesn’t have to be. For properly cleaning an artificial tree without damage, there are several simple steps that cleaning experts always recommend taking. 

Admittedly, if you’ve spent a lot of money on the best artificial Christmas tree that you could find, then you would expect it to last for years and years. Unfortunately, you’ve noticed that your tree is looking a little dusty and smells stale. The good news is that cleaning an artificial Christmas tree is far simpler than you would think and, with the right approach, it won’t take too long to do either. 

To make the process easier we spoke to a panel of experts, including a professional cleaning expert, about the best approach to cleaning an artificial Christmas tree, as well as the best Christmas decorating ideas to give your home that super festive feel. This is what they told us.  

How to clean an artificial Christmas tree 

Of course, there are plenty of hacks to make your artificial Christmas tree look fuller and more realistic, but what about keeping your faux Christmas tree clean and dust-free? What steps can you take to clean a Christmas tree, regardless of whether it's a mini Christmas tree or a full-sized one, without causing damage? This is what the experts have to say. 

1. Remove dust with a vacuum cleaner

A christmas tree in a wicker pot

(Image credit: Canva)

No matter how your Christmas decorations are stored, the chances are that your Christmas tree is going to collect dust while it's packed away, so it's essential to take the time to thoroughly dust your tree before putting your Christmas decorations up

Sabrina Tretyakova, ISSA-certified cleaning expert says: “Remove the dust settled on the leaves using a handheld vacuum cleaner (like this Black and Decker mini vacuum cleaner from Amazon that has over 19,000 five-star reviews from shoppers). You can also use a canister vacuum (like this Miele vacuum from Amazon that features variable suction strengths) with a hose attachment because it allows you to maneuver the vacuum easily. 

“Please note to keep the nozzle a few inches away from the branches and leaves as the force could suck them in. Alternatively, you can cover the nozzle with a wire mesh and capture the dust and debris.”

While vacuuming your tree, make sure to opt to use light suction to avoid damaging the pine needles or any lights that the tree features. 

Sabrina Tretyakova
Sabrina Tretyakova

Sabrina Tretyakova is an ISSA-certified cleaning technician boasting 3 years of dedicated service to over 1,200 clients, including private homeowners and large corporate offices. 

2. Dust your tree from top to bottom

For any areas of stubborn dust, dusting by hand tends to work well. 

Tretyakova says: “Use a duster to remove stubborn dust that your vacuum cleaner could not remove. A soft-bristled brush or a feather duster is ideal. You can also use a microfiber cloth to wipe the dust. I advise you to start from the top and wipe each tree branch. Finally, you can dust down the base stand.” 

To remove dust easily, a microfiber cloth (like this bumper pack of microfiber cloths from Amazon) or a dusting wand (like this telescopic microfiber duster from Amazon) should work well. For best results, start at the top of the tree and wipe the dust downwards, wiping each brand as you go, followed by wiping the base stand. 

If your tree features built-in Christmas lights, make sure to dust gently to avoid causing any damage to the lights. 

3. Give your tree a good shake

A white home with a pink-hued Christmas tree

(Image credit: Canva)

An easy way to disperse loose dust and dirt, without vacuuming or using a duster, is to give your tree a shake. 

Tratyakova says: “You can disassemble the tree and remove each section outside the house for a gentle shake to loosen the dust. I advise you to try this procedure only if you know how to reassemble the parts correctly. Work slowly and be careful about the lights. Otherwise, you might damage them.” 

For an easier cleanup, take your Christmas tree outside before shaking it. That way, any dust and other debris that come off of the tree won't end up coating your entire home. 

4. Wipe your Christmas tree down

To remove any tougher dirt, you will need to wipe your Christmas tree down using water. 

Tratyakova says: “Wipe the branches and trunk with water. Fill a bucket with warm water and mild dish soap (this Dawn dish soap from Amazon should work well). Use a soft dish or dust rag (like this dust cloth from Amazon) to clean the tree. It ensures that the cloth does not get tangled in the branches.

A handy hack for easier cleaning is to add the water and dish soap solution to a spray bottle (like these refillable spray bottles from Amazon) and use the bottle to spritz the tree. 

5. Stick your tree in the shower

A large sized Christmas tree

(Image credit: Canva)

A super quick and easy way to wash your Christmas tree is to stick it in the shower and shower it down. Just ensure that before you start, you cover the drain so that any loose needles can be caught and won’t end up clogging your drain

It’s also important to make sure that the water temperature isn’t set too high. Instead, set the water to lukewarm and opt for a gentle shower stream. Avoid using a more powerful shower stream as this could damage the tree. 

For larger trees, it’s a good idea to disassemble them and place each section of the tree in the shower, before showering it down. For smaller trees, you can place them in the shower as they are and shower them down without disassembling them. 

Once washed, shake each tree section to remove any excess water, before laying out on a clean towel to air dry. For a faster drying process, you could opt to use a hairdryer on a cool, gentle setting to dry the tree more quickly. 

6. Use a hose to clean your tree

Alternatively, if you have an outdoor hose (like this hose from Amazon), you can opt to clean your Christmas tree outside using your hose and spray head (like this multi-setting, easy-to-install hose head from Amazon) on a low setting. 

All you need to do is stand your tree outside and use the hose to carefully clean each area of the tree, working your way from top to bottom.

7. Leave the tree to dry and then reassemble it

A Christmas tree in a living room

(Image credit: Canva)

Tratyakova says: “Allow the tree to dry thoroughly before reassembling it. Please ensure that the leaves are dry before plugging the lights back.”

Before you attempt to reassemble your Christmas tree or decorate it, make sure to leave it to dry for a long enough period. Ideally, you want to allow your tree to air dry but, if you need it dried quickly, you could opt to speed the process up using a hairdryer on a low, cool setting. 


How can I clean a flocked Christmas tree?

It is possible to clean a flocked Christmas tree, but you will need to be extremely careful. You will also want to avoid using water or cleaning solutions on your tree, instead opting to remove dust and dirt with a duster or a vacuum cleaner set to an ultra-low suction setting. 

For easier cleaning, a micro-fiber dusting wand (this set of microfiber dusters from Amazon should work well) is a great tool to use. 

How often should you clean an artificial Christmas tree?

As a rule of thumb, it's a good idea to clean an artificial Christmas tree when you remove it from storage ahead of putting up your Christmas decorations, as well as after using it, before you place it back into storage. 

How can I clean a white artificial Christmas tree that has turned yellow?

An easy way to clean a Christmas tree that’s turned yellow is to mix a solution of three parts white vinegar (we always like to recommend this Heinz distilled white vinegar from Amazon) and one part water in a spray bottle. 

Lightly spray each area of the tree, ensuring that it’s completely coated in the solution, before leaving it outside in direct sunlight for a couple of hours. Once the sunlight has done its job and removed the yellow hue from the tree, you can then use a hose pipe to carefully remove the vinegar and water solution from the tree, before allowing it to air dry. 

Knowing how to clean an artificial Christmas tree can be a task that’s a little trickier than you might think, especially if your faux tree has certain features, such as being a flutter Christmas tree or a tree with built-in lighting. It can be hard to know how to tackle the task without causing damage to your tree. 

A good starting point is to decide if you’re going to wet or dry clean your Christmas tree. For traditional artificial Christmas trees, wet cleaning can work wonders, but for trees that have custom features that are delicate and can be easily damaged, dry cleaning is often the best option. Once you’ve decided on your cleaning method, you can then begin the cleaning process, making sure to clean the tree from top to bottom. 

And, once you’ve given your tree a good old clean, you might want to think about doing a few pre-Christmas cleaning tasks, to ensure that your home is ready to be decorated and to welcome guests. 

Beth Mahoney
Freelance journalist

Hi! I’m Beth Mahoney and I’m a former staff writer at Real Homes. I’ve been a journalist for the national press for the past six years, specializing in commerce and trends-related lifestyle articles, from product reviews and listicles to guides and features. With an eye for pretty things (think: quirky wall prints, scalloped edge furniture, and decadent-looking tableware) but a limited budget, I love nothing more than a bargain buy.