10 Tips & Tricks for Easy Christmas Tree Cleanup

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In early December, the work involved with putting up a Christmas tree doesn't seem so bad. It can be downright festive with a Christmas movie on TV or holiday music playing. The process is always worse in reverse when the holiday season is over, the weather is crummy and the living room is a mess. From dealing with pine needles everywhere to packing up and storing your Christmas decorations, taking down the Christmas tree is no one's favorite task. This year, make taking down your tree as painless as possible with these easy Christmas tree cleanup hacks and start your new year with a clean space.

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1. Lay Down Something First

Taking down a Christmas tree is always messy, especially when it's a real tree. Water, needles and sap from a natural tree end up on the floor and get tracked through the house as you take the tree out. Make cleanup easy by arranging a tarp or old sheet around the base of the tree before taking down any ornaments. The tarp will collect anything that falls as you undecorate the tree. If you didn't buy a plastic tree bag for disposal, you can bundle the whole tree in the tarp to carry it out to the curb. Do you have an artificial tree? Tinsel, glitter, fake needles and bits of flocking might fall during cleanup, so lay down a tarp even if you're not worried about sap or water.

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2. Start With the Most Important Ornaments

Accidents happen. Accidents with precious, breakable Christmas ornaments are generally most likely to happen while the tree is being jostled, like during the decoration and cleanup processes. So, the first thing that should come off the tree and be packed away are the breakable or fragile ornaments that you would be most upset to lose.

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3. Remove Tree Water With a Baster

Assuming you've been diligent about keeping your real Christmas tree watered, there will probably be water in the tree stand when you're ready to take down the tree. A stand full of water might be bumped or even overturned when you're trying to maneuver the trunk out, sending dirty water all over your floor. Try using a turkey baster to pull water out of the stand before removing the tree.

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4. Utilize Your Vacuum's Hose Attachment

Your vacuum cleaner's hose attachment serves multiple purposes for Christmas tree cleanup. Not only can it be useful for sucking up errant needles, but you can also use it to quickly pull tinsel off the tree. That's important if you want your tree to be accepted for recycling, since your local waste management curbside pickup may not collect curbside trees that are covered with artificial material, like tinsel. After having removed the ornaments and lights, hold the hose and move it all around the tree, keeping it a few inches away from the branches. The suction should be strong enough to pull in all those individual strands of tinsel.

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5. Replace Burned Bulbs As You Go

Save some future hassle by dealing with burned bulbs on your Christmas lights before you put them away for the year. Simply keep the lights plugged in while you unwind them from the tree so you can quickly find and replace any dead bulbs. When you pull them out and plug them in next year, they should be good to go.

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6. Use Tape for Needle and Tinsel Pickup

Even with a solid plan for Christmas tree cleanup in place, you might still find bits of glitter, fallen tinsel or stray pine needles on the floor over the coming days. They're tough to sweep up. Duct tape or mailing tape makes a perfect picker-upper for those stubborn little bits. Wrap a large piece of tape around your hand sticky side out and press it into anything that needs to be picked up.

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7. Wrap Lights Around Cardboard

Finding an easy, tangle-free way to store your lights might be the most aggravating part of Christmas tree cleanup. Rolling them in a ball and throwing them in a box will come back to haunt you next year. Pieces of thick cardboard make perfect DIY light organizers. Simply cut a rectangle out of a cardboard box and cut a notch near one corner. Tuck one end of a strand of lights into the notch and then wind the lights around the cardboard. Cut a second notch to secure the other end of the light strand.

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8. Make Your Own Christmas Ornament Organizer

Tucking every ornament back into its own individual box drags out Christmas tree cleanup. It's much faster to store breakable ornaments in one large storage container. You could buy one, but it's super simple to make your own ornament organizer. Start with a cardboard or plastic storage box. Cut strips of cardboard to divide the box into several rows and crumple pieces of tissue paper to make cushioning for delicate ornaments. When each row is filled with ornaments, use small squares of cardboard as dividers to keep them from bumping into each other.

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9. Store Artificial Christmas Trees in Bags

Your artificial Christmas tree probably came in a box, and you might still store it there, or maybe you toss the parts in a disposal bag or simply stand up the tree in a basement or storage area between Christmases. This year, invest in a Christmas tree bag. It will keep moisture, light and insects from damaging your tree and makes putting the tree away as easy as zipping up a plastic bag. Then, place the bagged artificial tree in a dark closet or other storage space where it won't be exposed to sunlight or too much humidity. These steps extend the life of your artificial Christmas tree.

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10. Remove Sap From Skin With Oil

After carrying a live Christmas tree out to the curb for tree disposal, sticky sap may cling to your hands. Soap and water alone won't budge it but oil should. Rub a little cooking oil into any sap that gets on your skin. Oil-based soap is also effective for cleaning any sap from hardwood flooring. You may need to let the oil-based soap sit and soak into sap for several minutes before using a sponge to clean the sap from the floor.

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