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How To Clean Up Pine Needles Without Losing Your Mind

Photo: Jean Lakosnyk (Unsplash)
5 Neat Things5 Neat ThingsJolie Kerr is a cleaning expert, advice columnist and the host of the podcast “Ask a Clean Person.” Each week, she’ll round up five essential cleaning products, tools and organizational systems to help you live your tidiest lives.

One of the biggest barriers to having a fresh Christmas tree or wreath is the blasted pine needles that get everywhere. The thing is: Not only are pine needles a mess, they also pose some very specific problems vis-a-vis vacuums and brooms when it comes to cleaning them up. Here are the best ways to go about pine needle clean-up, with a few notes on why they’re so tricky.

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A Rubber Broom, $26
Photo: Amazon

Pine needles are, as we’ve established, problematic in many ways. One of them problems with them is that they’re sticky (sap, you see) and that stickiness means that tweaks need to be made to the regular ways we would clean messes up off of floors (brooms, vacuums). When it comes to pine needle clean up, rubber brooms are a much, much better choice than traditional rush-style brooms because sticky pine needles won’t, well, stick to them.

A Big Sticky Roller, $22
Graphic: Ana Luisa Suarez

Using a sticky roller to pick up sticky pine needles is sort of like fighting fire with fire, right? But really, a long-handled lint roller is a great way to quickly pick up pine needles up off of the floor around the tree — including the tree skirt, if you use one! — and from furniture. They’re also handy for quickly ridding a stoop of pine needles from a wreath since, unlike (most) vacuums, they don’t need to be plugged in.

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Shop Vac, $38
Photo: Amazon
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A Shop Vac is the ideal machine for vacuuming up pine needles. Now, you don’t need to run out and buy one just for the job — there are other options, and of course I’m here telling you about them — but if you have one, or if you’ve been hankering for one, pine needle clean up needs sure will offer you a great excuse to splurge on one of these guys!

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A Standard Vacuum, $150
Photo: Amazon

You don’t need a specialty vacuum for cleaning up pine needles, but if you’re going to use a regular vacuum for the job, there are steps that are important to take to protect the machine and maximize efficiency. First, empty the bag or canister before vacuuming pine needles (they’re bulky, so an empty vacuum will perform the job better). Then, after vacuuming, empty the bag or canister immediately to prevent the sticky needles from, well, sticking to the interior of the vacuum, where there will take up a lot of space and also leave behind a distinct Christmas-y smell. Also! Please switch to the hose attachment — using a brush attachment will only result in needles getting stuck in the bristles.

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Sidebar: Do not use a robot vac for pine needle cleanup!

A Watering Can, $11
Photo: Amazon
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This won’t entirely solve the problem of pine tree shedding, of course, but it’s worth reminding you that a well-watered tree will shed much less than a dry one. Also! A well-watered tree is a much safer tree — dry trees are far more likely to catch on fire, which we don’t want to have happen! So: Aim to water your Christmas tree every day. (Yes. Sorry! I want you to liiiiive.)


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About the author

Jolie Kerr

Jolie Kerr is a cleaning expert, advice columnist and the host of the podcast Ask a Clean Person