What goes up must come down. That includes Christmas decorations.
You'll thank yourself next year if you take a little extra time to clean and organize your baubles and lights before you pack them away. Here are some tips:
• Dust ornaments lightly with a feather duster or soft brush, such as a makeup brush.
• Avoid water, which can damage many decorations, particularly those with paint, glitter, silvering or other adornment on the outside. At most, use a slightly damp cloth on stubborn dirt, but use caution.
• Use a soft toothbrush to loosen old tree flocking material.
• Take artificial wreaths, roping and other greenery outside and blow off the dust with a hair dryer set on a low temperature and speed. Or cover your hand with a disposable dust mitt or an old sock and just slide the greenery through your hand.
• Some greenery can be cleaned by tumbling it in a clothes dryer on an air-dry cycle. Add a towel to help it tumble properly.
• For greenery that's really dirty, lay it in a bathtub, spray it with window cleaner or an all-purpose cleaner, rinse it with the spray from the shower and then hang it to dry. If the greenery contains wire or other metal, use a fan to speed the drying so the metal doesn't rust.
• Clean artificial plants and flowers using a cleaning spray sold by craft stores, or swish them through water with a little dishwashing liquid in it. Test the latter method on a single flower first to make sure it doesn't remove the color.
• Or put the flowers in a paper grocery bag with one-third cup salt and shake them for a minute or two.
• Remove wax from candle holders by freezing them until the wax hardens and then chipping the wax out
• To clean Christmas lights, unplug them and then wipe with a dusting mitt, an old sock, a dry wipe or cloth with a static charge. Don't use a wet wipe or any type of water.
• Keep light strings untangled in storage by wrapping them around a piece of sturdy cardboard, the cardboard core from a roll of paper towels or just a section of newspaper rolled and taped.