Many families choose an artificial tree for the focus of their holiday décor. It makes sense financially, and it's better for the environment. However, after 11 months of sitting in storage, the tree may have accumulated an unappealing amount of dust, dirt and debris. To avoid introducing unhealthy allergens into your home, kick off the holiday festivities with a new tradition---the annual cleaning of the tree.
Before you begin cleaning, put the tree up and fluff the branches. Then, wrap an old bed sheet around the bottom of the tree to contain any dirt and debris that may come loose as a result of the cleaning process. Once you've put the sheet in place and you're sure the tree is secure, place a stepladder near the base. Change the nozzle on your vacuum cleaner, replacing the standard attachment with the upholstery brush. Holding the brush approximately 1 or 2 inches away from the tree's needles, vacuum the tree. Begin at the top, working your way around the uppermost section and then move down to next set of branches. If your vacuum cleaner is a smaller model, you may be able to gently brush the branches without damaging the tree. When you have vacuumed the branches, turn your attention to the trunk and base. Once you have cleaned the trunk, turn off the vacuum and carefully remove the sheet from beneath the tree. Take the sheet outside and shake it vigorously to remove any clinging debris and then launder as usual.
Soap and Water
If you're not comfortable with the idea of vacuuming your tree, give it a bath instead. Before you begin, check to make sure the tree is unplugged. Then place 1 tbsp. of shampoo in the bottom of a 5 gallon bucket and fill it with warm water. Moisten a lint-free cloth, such as a baby diaper or an old T-shirt and wring out any excess liquid. Apply the damp cloth to the tree branches, gently washing away any dirt or dust. Start at the top of the tree and work in a circular fashion, moving progressively lower until you have reached the bottom branches.
If your tree is old, fragile, or flocked, cleaning it will require a delicate touch. You could try the vacuum method using a small hand-held vacuum. Or, blow the dust off the tree branches with a hair dryer or canned air they sell in the electronics department. However, because there is no bag to catch the dust, it could get rather messy. Alternatively, lightly brush the branches with a feather duster or wipe them with a dust rag or damp cloth, taking care to avoid any areas of permanent decoration.