Now that Christmas is over and 2023 is nearly here, many people are taking their holiday decorations down, and putting them away for the year. But for those who opted to bring a live Christmas tree into their home, it’s not only a matter of removing it and figuring out how to repurpose, recycle, or dispose of it: They also have to deal with the mess it leaves behind.
Typically, the two biggest and most annoying parts of Christmas tree clean-up are the sap and the needles (assuming there are no bugs involved). Here are the easiest ways to handle those post-holiday messes.
How to remove Christmas tree sap from various surfaces
The sticky sap that oozes out of evergreens can be tough to get out of carpet and upholstery, and off hardwood and other types of flooring. This is one of those tasks you should tackle right away—or better yet, as soon as you notice sap anywhere other than directly on the tree—because the longer it sits, the harder it’ll be to remove. Here’s what to do:
Use a clean sponge or cloth to apply non-diluted oil soap (like Murphys) directly to the sap stain. Let it sit for about 15 minutes, then use a soft-bristled brush to scrub it off. Finally, rinse the area with clean water. If you don’t have oil-based soap, you can try a bit of vegetable shortening instead.
Carpet and upholstery
For larger sap stains, it may help to use an ice cube to freeze the area first, then use a plastic knife to gently remove as much of the sap as possible before attempting to clean it.
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Otherwise, dab, then softly rub some rubbing alcohol or hand sanitizer on sap stuck on carpet or upholstery using a clean cloth or sponge. If that didn’t get it all off, apply some mild liquid dish soap to the stain, then use a clean cloth or sponge dampened with warm water to dab and rinse it.
How to clean up Christmas tree needles
When you’re ready to say goodbye to your Christmas tree, start by putting some type of floor covering—like a tarp, old bedsheets, or multiple garbage bags—not just around the base of the tree, but also in a path to the doorway that leads outside. Do this before you begin removing ornaments or lights to help contain some of the needles that fall off in this process.
Even if you do this, there will still be needles that end up on the ground. Here’s how to get rid of those:
Start by sprinkling some baking soda on the needles, and letting it sit for 10-15 minutes. This will help absorb the sticky sap, and make it easier to clean up.
Broom and dustpan
Grabbing your vacuum may seem easier (we’ll get to that in a minute), but simply sweeping the baking-soda-covered needles up with a broom and dustpan gets the job done efficiently. If your floors are carpeted, you’ll need a broom with rubber bristles.
Even covered in baking soda, pine needles can do some serious damage to vacuum cleaners, especially when they get stuck in the roller brushes, or jammed in other parts of the machine. That’s why, in this case, using a broom may actually be easier than vacuuming.
But if you really want to use a vacuum, start by emptying the container (the needles take up a lot of space). Don’t use the sweeper or upholstery attachment (i.e. the ones with brushes): Opt for the hose or crevice attachment instead.