How to Remove Residual Pine Needles and Sap Left from Holiday Decor
Some of our favorite decorations for the holidays leave behind a big, sticky mess of sap and pine needles. Here’s how to clean it up.
Evergreen wreaths, garlands, and of course trees, are a traditional part of the holiday season. While we all love seeing it every Christmas, live greenery can make a huge mess, including sticky sap and shedding needles.
The good news? These messes can easily be cleaned up by employing several different methods. Just be aware of a few common difficulties to stay away from and some seemingly strange tricks that can help ease the frustration that goes along with this seasonal chore. Here are some tips that make cleaning needles and sap a breeze:
How to Clean Sap
🔹 From skin and hair: While there are numerous ways to get sap off of just about anything, the key things you want to think about is what the safest method would be for the item in question. For instance, it’s true that mineral spirits and paint thinner remove sap, but if the sap is on your skin then you may want to opt for something a bit gentler.
Edible oils and oily foods also remove sap. Olive oil, coconut oil, canola, and nut butters all do the job. In addition, personal care products that are oil-based will also handle sap (think makeup remover or hand cream). Heading back into the kitchen, salt is another thing that can be used to rub sap away. Simply pour the salt into the palms of your hands and rub them together with vigor. The sap will come right off.
Other things that work on sap? Alcohol-based products like rubbing alcohol, nail polish remover or hand sanitizer. The latter in particular is especially handy because it can be found just about everywhere.
🔹 From leather: While it’s true that alcohol and products that are alcohol-based will work, WD-40 is probably the best option for leather. Once the sticky sap is gone, simply wipe off any leftover WD-40 with a pre-moistened wipe or a damp, soapy rag.
🔹 From carpet, upholstery, and floor mats: When hauling Christmas trees, lengths of garland, and seasonal wreaths for setup, sap can be left on car surfaces like fabric car seats and floor mats, and even on upholstered furniture in your home. Again, rubbing alcohol or highly concentrated alcohol-based products like hand sanitizer will safely take the sticky sap from fabrics.
How to Clean Pine Needles
🔹 Vacuum (the right way!): Although this may seem counterintuitive, it’s important to empty the vacuum bag or canister before using a vacuum to suck up pine needles. Starting with an empty bag or chamber will help the vacuum do its job better when picking up bulky pine needles.
Sticky pine needles can potentially mess up your vacuum, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you shouldn’t use it to clean up holiday messes. You just need to adjust the way you use your vacuum. When picking up pine needles, use the hose attachment. This lets the needles go directly into the vacuum bag or canister without any obstacles. Do not use the basic brush attachment as that will end up with needles stuck to the bristles.
You might want to avoid using your vacuum to pick up pine needles if you have a high-end model that was a significant investment. The risk of messing it up might be too great. Also, avoid using a robot vacuum for cleaning up Christmas tree needles.
🔹 Use the right broom: For those choosing not to use their vacuum, a rubber broom is the next best thing. Do not use the more traditional rush-style brooms, as sap-covered needles will get stuck in the rushes. Sticky needles are easily swept up with a rubber-bristled broom. Plus, these brooms can be used on carpet, in addition to solid flooring and outdoor surfaces.
🔹 Sticky roller: The sticky rollers made to remove lint, hair and fur from clothing also are effective at pulling tree needles from fabrics and upholstered furniture. Just be sure to find an oversized lint roller or one outfitted with an extra-long handle when dealing with large surfaces, as using a standard sticky roller on an expansive area would prove quite tedious.