Keep your holiday decorations free from pests

Like most children, I can recall being very excited for the holiday season every year in my own childhood. The family gatherings, sweet treats and gifts provided all the excitement I could handle for a month. The holiday anticipation was ignited by one moment; when my parents emerged from the basement with boxes filled with festive decorations.

Holiday decorating was always a family affair at home for us. My brothers and I would quickly make a mess of what mom had packed away the year before – digging through boxes for our favorite decorations (especially the homemade ones we had crafted) and putting them proudly on display. With a collection of decorations that carried high sentimental value, they were rarely replaced. Add to that a storage system that consisted of old cardboard boxes and we had created a perfect setting for pests to take up residence among our holiday decorations.

If your family is like mine, you probably don’t buy all new holiday decorations every year either.  Instead, many of the same decorations come out of the same old cardboard box from the same dark closet that they have each holiday season. While it is pretty common for holiday decorations to be used for years or even decades, not caring for or storing them properly can create a holiday pest problem in your home that can destroy your precious decorations and memories.

Pests such as spiders, cockroaches, ants and other insects flock to heat sources, such as your home, when winter nears. If those pests get in, they are likely to reside in dark places in your home such as the basement and closets – exactly where holiday decorations are often stored. When you retrieve your holiday decorations from their storage places, you could also be bringing along pests.

To prevent unwanted creatures from stirring in your house this holiday season, consider these tips:

  • Look for signs of pests (spider webs, droppings, dead roaches) where your decorations are stored
  • Wash fabric decorations like stockings before using to prevent live pests from spreading
  • Clean plastic, metal and other hard decorations using alcohol wipes or soap and water

When the holidays are over and it’s time for decorations to go back into storage, following these guidelines will help stop future pest problems:

  • Dispose of natural trees at a landfill or recycling facility
  • Use a vacuum to clean artificial trees and store in a Christmas tree bag or plastic bin
  • Give fabric decorations a cycle through the washer and dryer
  • Inspect lights for spider webs and frayed wires.
  • If you don’t already, store decorations in tight-sealing plastic bins or containers.

Following these simple cleaning and storage tips can help preserve your family holiday traditions and memories for many years to come.

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