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Ok, so you picked out a tree. If you’re me, you agonized over which one (“Am I a stumpy tree? A pear shaped tree? A prickly tree?”) and made the tree salesman swear to all that’s holy it wouldn’t start dropping needles on your living room floor until December 30 (he did) and then realized he was a total liar (on December 7).
So, now what?
You can definitely just haul it out to the curb and be done. You can also take it to the city dump to be composted (in some cities, please check in your area). And if you regularly follow Salvage & Stitch, as I do and you should, you can be endlessly inspired and lose your mind and decide to upcycle a Christmas tree.
When Elana first posted about this concept on Salvage & Stitch last year, it completely blew my mind. Upcycling a Christmas tree had never remotely occurred to me (Is that a West Coast thing? Is she just a zero waste wizard?), and yet here was this DIY guru making it happen. More on that later. So while I won’t be upcycling an entire Christmas tree for you this year, here’s the takeaway:
All our arguments about which is more eco-friendly, an artificial or natural Christmas tree, are predicated on the idea that your Christmas tree is a single use, disposable item.
Spoiler alert: that Christmas tree ain’t nothing but basic materials waiting for a Joan Rivers, y’all. (May she and her Botox rest in peace.)
Let’s get down to it. Today on the blog, we’re upcycling your Christmas tree into a practical and useful DIY: vinegar cleaning solution. But won’t this be sticky? Nope, not in the slightest. I’ve made multiple batches at this point and the vinegar cuts right through.
Scroll on down for the down and dirty DIY on how to upcycle your Christmas tree into DIY Natural Vinegar Cleaner.
DIY Natural Christmas Tree Vinegar Cleaner
What You Will Need
Several small branches from your Christmas tree or (recommended) several cups of needles (these will be much easier to remove from an older tree than when you first bring it home, trust me)
Soap (preferably Castile soap)
Kitchen sieve or fine colander
Large glass jars with lids
White distilled vinegar
Dried orange slices from garland (optional and if available)
How to Make DIY Natural Christmas Tree Vinegar Cleaner
Place your needles or branches in your large bowl and drizzle with soap. Fill bowl with warm water, swish your needles or branches around and then let soak. Reese’s notes: Your Christmas tree is, in fact, a small tree that’s been moved into your home. This is not a bunch of kale, this is a tree that’s been living out in the dirt and dust and bird poop, it needs a cleaning before you can or should use it. Additionally, while organic trees are becoming more available, you should assume that your tree is NOT organic unless explicitly stated and that it has been sprayed with pesticides. FOR THIS REASON you will NOT see me upcycling a Christmas tree into any sort of beauty or edible product, though organic trees CAN be used for both.
Rinse your needles or branches thorough in cool water, shake off excess water, and cut down to smaller pieces, if needed.
Layer your needles and/or branches into your glass jars and top with a handfull of dried orange slices, if you’re upcycling a DIY dried orange garland, until approximately 2/3 to 3/4 the way full. Though not necessary, the orange slices add a beautiful hit of citrus and added “fresh” feeling to your vinegar cleaner. Looking for other ways to upcycle your DIY dried orange garland? Click here.
Top with distilled vinegar, shake vigorously, and let infuse in a cool, dark place until your vinegar cleaner reaches the desired scent (I left mine for a week).
Strain out your botanical materials by pouring your infused vinegar mixture and botanicals through your kitchen sieve and funnel into another glass jar.
Get ready for spring cleaning! You’ve now upcycled part of your Christmas tree into a beautiful all natural, non-toxic cleaning solution. Wondering how to use it on the various surfaces in your home? This post has you covered.
And why vinegar cleaner, you may ask. How does that play into eco-friendly living?
Here’s what you may not have known about your traditional chemical-laden cleaning solutions. They’ve been linked to:
Airway irritation (including asthma)
Phthalates (endocrine disruptors)
Already dragged your tree to the curb but love the idea of banishing toxic chemicals from your daily routine? Here are 4 other awesome scented vinegar recipes to try.