Real or artificial? There is so much confusing information out there about which is better for your health and the environment. Real trees can harbor mold, dust, and pollen, and some people are allergic to tree sap.
However, the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) cautions that artificial trees can be an allergy trigger, since they can also harbor dust and mold. Fake trees are made of PVC, which emits toxins into your indoor air and can irritate your lungs.
Whichever alternative you choose, here are some tips for reducing indoor allergens and having an allergy-friendly Christmas.
Tips for Real Christmas Trees
Choose an allergy-friendly tree: Pine pollen is a major allergy trigger for some people. Fir, spruce, or cypress may be a better bet. The Leyland Cypress is a sterile hybrid tree, which means it does not produce any pollen.
Shake it up: If you buy your tree at a farm or lot, they may have a mechanical tree-shaker that will remove dead needles as well as some of the dust and mold.
Wash your tree: spray off your tree with water and allow to dry overnight in the garage before putting it up. This will remove some of the loose mold and pollen that is on the tree. Allow it to dry thoroughly before bringing indoors. Using a veggie wash (compare prices) may help to remove more mold and pollen than spraying water alone, and will also help to remove the residue of any pesticides that have been sprayed on the tree.
Set your tree up outside: If you love the look of a Christmas tree, but your allergies are getting in the way of enjoying your holiday, try setting the tree up on your porch or in front of a large window. You can enjoy the tree while sitting indoors, away from the pollen and dust.
Tips for Artificial Trees
Wipe it down: Artificial trees may also harbor dust and mold, since they spend a lot of time sitting around in boxes. Wipe them down with a dust cloth, or take them outside and hose them off if they are not pre-lit.
Choose a tree with less off-gassing: Some new artificial trees are made of molded polyethylene (PE) instead of PVC, which may have lower levels of out-gassing. These trees are very realistic, and tend to be more expensive than PVC trees. (compare prices)
Try an eco-friendly alternative tree: Some of the creative alternative trees have a modernist design sensibility, others are more basic. All are a fun solution to the Christmas tree dilemma.
- PossibiliTree – American-made modernist wooden trees.
- Lovi – Birch plywood Christmas tree made in Finland.
- Totem Christmas Tree – Made of recycled cardboard and flat packed for shipping.
- Africa Tree – Made from laser-cut steel.
- The Cardboard Christmas Tree – Made from recycled cardboard, can be decorated with paint, crayons, or markers.
Tips for Christmas Decorations
Dust your ornaments: Christmas ornaments have been sitting in a box all year, and may also be coated in dust or mold. If possible, unwrap them outside to avoid spreading dust inside your home. Wipe them off with a soft cloth before hanging. At the end of the season, wrap your ornaments in new paper, rather than re-using old, dusty paper.
Clean your wreaths: Artificial wreaths can be vacuumed or dusted with a soft cloth.
Avoid scented candles: Scented candles can cause stuffy noses and irritated lungs. If you crave a little atmosphere with your holiday meals, try unscented beeswax candles.
Use allergy-friendly candy: If you decorate your tree with candy canes or other candies, be sure to use allergy friendly candies.