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Here’s how to store your artificial Christmas tree—according to the pros

For those who don’t want the Charlie Brown look

Three small green artificial Christmas trees on wooden floor inside of clear boxes. Credit: Reviewed / Tara Jacoby

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Although an artificial Christmas tree may cost a bit more than a real tree off the bat, it boasts a lifespan of around 10 years (a bit less if it’s fully lighted). So, consumers can consider it an investment.

According to an annual survey conducted by the American Christmas Tree Association, artificial Christmas trees are also quite the crowd pleasers when it comes to the ongoing real-vs-fake tree battle. Of the nearly 96 million U.S. households displaying a Christmas tree in 2019, 81% of those were artificial.

Not to mention that with the cost of real trees rising, thanks to extreme weather in the Pacific Northwest and Midwest, supply chain congestion, and shipping container shortages, this number is poised to rise in 2021.

So, once you’ve committed to a 10-year financial investment and found the artificial Christmas tree of your dreams, you’ll want to keep this hero of holiday décor in top form for the duration of its lifespan.

When it comes time to take it down and store it until next season, make the wrong move and your investment can get bent, shed plastic needles, or even turn a different color. Things like pests and mold are also potential gifts that keep on giving—not in a good way.

Proper storage can keep your faux tree looking good for the next year. So, we asked a few experts for their tips on how to store an artificial Christmas tree during its seasonal hibernation.

Clean your artificial Christmas tree before storing it

Person holding bucket handle with cleaning supplies inside in living room.
Credit: Getty Images / PeopleImages

While cleaning isn't expected to be apart of the storage process, this task preserves the shelf life of your tree.

How you prep your tree for its long aprés-winter nap is just as important as how you store it, according to Lewis Puleo of Puleo International, America’s oldest family-owned artificial Christmas tree company.

“To ensure your tree will be ready for many seasons ahead, it is best to clean your tree at the end of each holiday season after it is taken down and all decorations are removed,” he suggests.

To do so, mix warm water and a little bit of dishwashing soap in a spray bottle to treat stained areas of the tree and wipe down with a soft cloth.

Puleo says, “Allow the tree to dry thoroughly before storing. Even though the tree is artificial, any moisture accumulated during storage can cause some damage.”

Use a durable storage bag, not a cardboard box

Christmas tree storage bag on living room floor in front of fireplace, next to Christmas tree
Credit: Handy Laundry

This reusable storage bag is sure to cut down on unnecessary waste over the years.

Although your artificial tree came in a cardboard box, it wasn’t meant to stay in one for long-term storage. From moisture to mice, cardboard is asking for trouble as your vulnerable (and pricy) seasonal showstopper awaits 10 months until its next appearance.

White artificial trees are particularly vulnerable, and they will quickly turn yellow or brown if not properly stored. Green trees can also change color if not protected from the elements. Not to mention mold and dust can accumulate.

Brian Chee of online artificial Christmas tree retailer Treetopia says, “Some of the key things to think about when storing an artificial Christmas tree include the storage vessel you use. We recommend a storage bag made from high-quality and long-wearing materials that offer extra security.”

Puleo agrees. “Use a high quality storage bag with thick material like a durable polyester, to protect from any damage and that can be easily wiped clean.”

If your tree doesn’t come with its own storage bag, be sure that you have enough bags to accommodate the pieces of your tree once you break them down.

Balsam Hill’s CEO Mac Harman says, “You don’t want to store too much tree in each bag, as you can risk mis-shaping the tree, breaking branches or lights.”

In addition to several traditional faux trees, Balsam Hill sells a “Flip” tree that’s stored in a bag until you “flip” the tree upright.

Lastly, consider where you’re storing your tree when choosing a sturdy bag.

“Roller bags are best for storage on the same floor or in a garage,” says Harman. “The duffel style is easier if you will be carrying your tree to an attic [or basement] for storage.”

Social distance your artificial tree while storing it

On left, black storage option with storage containers on top. On right, hanging storage option in garage with silver car.
Credit: FLEXIMOUNTS

Protect your artificial Christmas tree from the elements with an ideal storage spot that is also easily accessible when needed.

Chee emphasizes that “the location where you store your tree is also very important. Ensure the tree is placed in a location where other boxes or items will not fall on top of or put pressure up against the tree bag. [This] is critical to having it maintain both its color and shape all year long.”

“The temperature of the storage location is also an essential consideration, and we suggest storing in an area that is climate controlled,” continues Chee. “Areas like the attic, which can get extremely hot in the summer, are not an ideal place to store a tree as the heat can damage the branches and discolor the tree over time.”

Steer clear of areas next to sunlight, moisture, and/or drafts. Consider storing your tree horizontally in mounted ceiling shelves, so that unwanted critters don’t make homes in or snacks of your prized pine.

Harman says, “Storage bags are great for keeping your tree from getting dusty during the off season, but make sure that you don’t stack other items on top of it.”

Keep the tree in an area that is naturally not humid, says Puleo, because “musty is not on the holiday scent list we look forward to.”

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