How To Clean Artificial Garlands And Wreaths

Christmas wreath on dark vintage background
Christmas composition on dark vintage background

One of the pros to owning artificial wreaths and garlands is that they will last for many years.  One of the cons that goes hand in hand is that you will likely need to clean them at some point. The good news is if you keep your pieces well maintained, cleaning won’t be an every year occurrence.  

Here are the easiest methods for cleaning your artificial garlands and wreaths sorted by type. Happy cleaning!


Identify a location where you can lay the garland or wreath out flat. Pro-tip lay out a large sheet of plastic or plan to vacuum or mop the location after cleaning is finished.   

Make sure you have removed any decorations, ornaments etc. 

Grab your vacuum with a bristle brush attachment or a handheld model. Gently vacuum the branches. Keep the vacuum close enough to pick up the dirt, but not so close that you are losing lots of needles. Losing some needles during cleaning is normal and nothing to worry about. 

If there is still some dust or grime remaining consider the following options.  

Damp Cloth Method

  • Get a bowl or bucket of water and add 1-2 teaspoons of mild dish soap.
  • Dip a microfiber cloth or soft dishtowel in the water.  Ring the cloth out very well.
  • Gently and carefully wipe any areas that need attention. Again work from the inside out to the tips of the branches. 
  • Be careful not to get any outlets, plugs or wires wet.  The goal is to have a small amount of wetness only where needed and not to get the entire piece sopping wet.  If your cloth or branches are dripping you need to ring your cloth out again.  
  • Allow the wreath or garland to dry out overnight.  Rotate the sections as needed.  Be sure the piece is completely dry before plugging it in. 

Dry Salt Method

  • Place the wreath or garland into a trash bag or paper bag (consider lawn bags if you have some in the garage). 
  • Add two cups of salt for garland and ¼ cup for one wreath.  
  • Close and seal the bag completely.
  • Lay a second trash bag out flat on the floor. 
  • Shake the bag containing the garland or wreath vigorously. The salt will act as an abrasive to remove dust or stuck on dirt.  
  • Gently remove the wreath or garland from the bag and shake out over the second trash bag spread out on the floor. 

Dryer Sheet Method

  • This method is great because the dyer sheets act like a magnet trapping dirt and dust to prevent it from falling onto your floor or lower branches!  Bonus-it smells great! 
  • Grab a box of dryer sheets.
  • Begin wiping in small sections and fluff as you go-to save time later. 


Unlit wreaths and garlands are the easiest to clean. 

Shower Method

  • This is just like it sounds. You will be putting your garland or wreath in the shower.   
  • Make sure all lights, ornaments and decorations have been removed.  
  • Place the entire wreath or garland in the shower stall or tub.
  • Turn the water on a gentle setting or use a shower wand attachment on low.  The goal is the remove dirt and dust, not wash off all of the needles.  Make sure to rinse the water over the tree or pieces from the top down.  
  • If you notice stuck on stains or dust try gently wiping with a soft dishtowel. You can add a small amount of mild dish soap if needed as well.  
  • Let the pieces dry out on towels or leave them to dry in the stall or tub.
  • Make sure the pieces are completely dry before moving to your final decoration location and before adding any lights or electrical elements. 

Outdoor Hose Method

  • This is basically the same as the shower method, but outdoors. If the weather in your area permits, this is a great option. 
  • Take all of the pieces outdoors.  
  • Use your hose on a low setting to gently rinse the pieces, from top to bottom.  
  • If you notice stuck on stains or dust try gently wiping with a soft dishtowel. You can add a small amount of mild dish soap if needed as well.  
  • Allow the tree to completely dry.  Outdoors or in a covered area such as a garage are good options.  
  • Make sure the pieces are completely dry before moving to your final decoration location and before adding any lights or electrical elements. 

Spray Bottle Method

This method is best for wreaths or garlands that are only dusty and do not have stuck on stains or odors. 

Fill a spray bottle with warm tap water and give the branches a light spritz.  This can be done indoors in the shower or outdoors.  

Keep the tree assembled or spritz each section separately.   


Dust Wipe Method

  • Use a dust wipe that will trap and hold dust or dirt.  Dust wipes are made by several brands. They are dry wipes that are made to grab dust. Do not use any type of wet cloth on flocked pieces. 
  • Gently wipe the tree branches only where needed.  Slow and steady wins this race. 
  • Do not wet the wipe as that can damage the flocking or cause it to come off completely.  
  • Do not use any cleaners on flocked wreaths or garlands.  Certain ingredients can discolor the flocking or cause it to detach from the branches. 
  • When in doubt see your manufacturer’s instructions.  


Artificial garlands and wreaths used as part of an outdoor holiday display will likely need a bit more cleaning than their indoor counterparts. They will likely need to be cleaned more frequently as well.  However, the techniques are the same.  

  • See the above options and always review the manufacturer’s instructions.  Remember, if you don’t have those you can visit the manufacturer’s website for more information.  
  • Pro-tip clean your outdoor pieces in an outdoor space or covered outdoor area if possible.  You never know what you may find residing in the artificial branches.  I would much rather clean bird poop or bugs off outside before they have a chance to come inside. 
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