Home & Garden

The secret to taking your Christmas tree down—without a mess

More Christmas memories, less pine needles

Pine needles, twigs, and red ornaments in a sweeping dustpan next to a handheld broom Credit: Getty Images / RamilF

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We get to exude Christmas spirit just once a year. Getting dressed up in matching pajamas, bingeing all the best Christmas movies, and decorating the tree with ornaments are a few of my favorite festive activities.

When it comes to picking out the perfect Christmas tree, you may prefer the ease of an artificial tree or the wafting scent of fresh pine that comes with a live Christmas tree.

But, regardless of the type of tree, it’s all magical until it comes time to take the Christmas tree down.

The inevitable post-Christmas cleanup doesn’t have to be a disaster zone strewn with rogue clumps of pine needles. In fact, the picking up and packing up can be relatively easy and efficient if you have the right techniques and tools.

Just for you, we figured out how to take the Christmas tree down, minus a major mess.

First, remove your string lights and ornaments

Begin by stripping the tree of any string lights, ornaments, and other trinkets you may have used to dress your Christmas tree. Unless they’re perishable (dried oranges, cranberry chains), pack them away safely for next year. Also, remove the tree skirt if it has one.

Carefully place your ornaments in an ornament storage box for safe-keeping. Wrap your string lights around a storage wheel to prevent any tangles or damaging folds on the wires.

Your future self will thank you.

Bag up your tree

Bag
Credit: Zober Store

You can use a Christmas tree bag for more than just the tree—feel free to store artificial wreaths and branches in with your tree.

Next, you’ll want to completely cover your month-old, drying out Christmas tree. Doing so will make moving it easier.

If you have an artificial tree, we recommend using a Christmas tree bag to properly and safely store it for the next year. You may feel tempted to plop your faux fir back in the box it came in, but this can result in bending, nicking, or damaging its fragile limbs.

If you’ve got a real Christmas tree, you will still need a bag for cleanup. Pull a plastic Christmas tree bag down from top to bottom; this will contain all the dry needles when it comes time to jostle and move the tree.

Alternatively, you can use a drop cloth or any large sheet to completely cover the tree before transporting it and then just shake the loose needles outside.

Remove the tree from its stand

It’s time to get your Christmas tree up and out.

Take it out of the tree stand, and, if you’re dealing with a real tree, be prepared for some water spillage. Lay out a few towels around the stand to prevent water and tree sap from staining your floor.

Carefully take the covered or bagged tree to your curb or designated spot.

Dump out the standing water in your tree stand and clean it thoroughly with soap and water to remove any sticky sap before storing it away.

Recycle your real Christmas tree

Recycle
Credit: Getty Images / Baloncici

Did you know that recycled Christmas trees can be used to restore wildlife habitats like sand dunes, ponds, and lakes? This is why recycling is a key part of the clean-up process.

Rather than leaving the carcass of your real tree out next to your trash, make a plan to properly recycle it.

Check your community’s guidelines for proper tree recycling. Many counties offer curbside pick-up or drop-off options. Additionally, major home improvement stores like The Home Depot partner with recycling services to chip the trees into new mulch.

Clean up the leftover wreckage

No matter how careful you are, you’ll likely have leftover pine needles or sappy water on the floor.

Use a mop—we prefer the Swiffer WetJet—to completely clear the ground of any sticky, watery residue. From here, let the floor dry before tackling the dry pin needles.

If you’re wondering if you can enlist your robot vacuum cleaner for tree clean-up, you can and should! We put our best robot vacuum, the iRobot Roomba i7+, to the test—and the small but mighty vacuum cleaned up pretty well on carpet and concrete.

A traditional upright vacuum—like the Hoover UH73200PC that we also tested—does the best job in collecting stray pine needles from your floor.

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