While we may not all agree on whether an artificial tree is more sustainable than chopping down a real evergreen tree this Christmas, what we can agree upon is that if you already have an artificial Christmas tree, you shouldn’t let it go to waste. Greenpeace says an artificial Christmas tree should be used for eight years to make its environmental footprint less than that of a real tree (though artificial tree owners should strive for 20+ years), but you may have to put in some extra work to keep it looking fresh year after year.
Here are some tips for maintaining your artificial Christmas tree so that it can spread holiday cheer for the seasons to come.
While pre-lit trees may seem like a convenient avenue to avoid the hassle of untangling Christmas lights to string around the tree, they are actually one of the most common issues that pop up with artificial trees. Instead of sending the tree off to a donation center (or worse, condemning it to a landfill), take the time to repair the broken lights.
If you discover that a big middle section isn’t lighting up, it may mean that the fuse for one strand of lights is out. Scrutinize the tree’s fuse box (usually located near the central structural support pole or by the primary power plug at the base of the tree), and switch out the old fuse with an extra that is supplied with the tree. Or, if the extra fuse is amiss, look online or visit your local home improvement store for a replacement.
If the problem is from a broken bulb or damaged strands of lights, then replace the broken bulbs as soon as possible, or try to find a replacement for an entire strand of lights. You can speak with your local waste management company about the safest way to dispose of the faulty strand of lights.
Filling in gaps between branches
Due to the fact that Christmas trees spend most of their time (around 10 to 11 months per year) stored away in a cramped space, the branches will have the tendency to compress, which results in large gaps in the tree.
To fill in these gaps, first, try to fluff the branches. Start from the innermost part of the tree at the bottom, and gently tug the branches outward to spread them. Many hands make light work so ask friends and family to help you out with this time-consuming task.
If the branches have been fluffed but your tree is still looking sparse, then consider investing in a lush evergreen garland (real or artificial) to match the tree and make it appear fuller.
Other ways to disguise the gaps in your tree are to focus on the decorations. Decorate the tree with wide ribbons and use large ornaments to detract from the spaces.
Cleaning artificial Christmas trees
Before displaying your tree, you should carve out some time to clean the tree of dust and debris that are tucked into the branches after a long time in storage. First, remove lights and other electrical elements from the branches then use a vacuum or microfiber cloth to dust them. For a tree that needs extra TLC, mix a couple of tablespoons of dish soap into warm water, and dip a microfiber cloth into the solution before wiping down the branches. Set sections of the tree on towels to dry before assembling.
Storing Christmas trees
One of the most important factors in maintaining your artificial tree is proper tree storage. The first step is to invest in a storage bag that is long and wide enough for your tree. You can even find storage bags that stand upright or are equipped with wheels for easier mobility.
The next step is to select a spot for your tree to inhabit for the next year. While many people opt for the attic or garage, it’s crucial that you keep in mind how extreme changes in temperature or humidity may lead to mold, mildew, or fading.
Once you’re ready to put the tree in storage, make sure to remove any decorative items like ornaments, garlands, and light strands. Keep these items organized and labeled to prevent damage and to make unpacking them easier next year. Then, make sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for disassembling and folding the tree.