How to Store Christmas Lights

Tricks for storing your lights safely and efficiently

Published: 2022-11-22 19:18:35

If you're like most, you probably have a pile of tangled, sticky, non-working Christmas lights hidden in the back of your closet. So, this year, before we shove them in a dusty box and forget about them until next December, try one of these methods for storing your lights safely and efficiently. With a little bit of preparation, your Christmas decorations can last for seasons to come. These are some of the best ways to store Christmas lights but do keep in mind that not all lighting can be stored the same way. 

Safety Tips for Storing Christmas Lights 

Proper storage begins with proper preparation. Before putting away your lights, we recommend you take some time to inspect your lights and label them for easy set-up next year. Storing Christmas lights seems easy enough, but if you don't do it carefully, you could end up with a tangled mess or, worse, damaged lights. Here are some tips to help you store your Christmas lights, so they'll be ready to use next holiday season: 

  •     First, make sure your lights are clean and free of any debris. A quick wipe-down with a damp cloth should do the trick. 
  •     Once they're clean, it's time to start untangling them. This can be a tedious process, but it's worth it to avoid a big mess later on. 
  •     Once they're untangled, you can start preparing them for storage by labeling them and wrapping them around a piece of cardboard or something similar. This will help keep them from getting tangled up again. We recommend labeling the lights with the year they were purchased, and the color of the lights.  
  •     Once they're all wrapped up, you can store them in a box, but don't forget to label the box as well so you know what's inside. 
  •     Finally, when you're ready to use them again, take your time untangle the lights, and check for damage and debris before arranging them. 

Box Storage

Storing Christmas lights in a cardboard box is one of the easiest ways of keeping them away until next year. However, just shoving them in a box usually results in a tangled mess. Boxes are best for storing Christmas lanterns, blow-up lights, and other bulky lighting that's unlikely to tangle. If something is prone to breaking, it's best to roll it in some bubble wrap or paper before placing it in a box. Once you pack everything, it's a good idea to label the box so that you know what's inside without having to open it. Make sure the label is visible even if you place the container on a high shelf. Also, don't forget to close the box so no dust can get to your lights. 

Clothing Hangers

String lights are messy to store away because they usually come out tangled. However, this is easy to prevent by using clothes hangers. Begin by securing the end of the string to the hook with some tape or an elastic band, then wrap the cords around the hanger tightly enough to be secure, but not so tight that it strains the cords. You can either use one hanger for each string of lights or put multiple sets on one hanger, depending on how many lights and hangers you have. All string lights can be stored this way, but ensure you have enough room to store the hangers.  

You can place the hangers in your closet if you have enough room. If not, hang them somewhere in the basement or garage so that they're out of the way until next Christmas. You should also ensure no dust can get to the lights, so it may be a good idea to wrap the hanger in some plastic unless you keep it in a closet. 

Cable Ties

Wrapping Christmas lights before storing them away in a drawer or a box is a good idea. However, the lights will likely unwrap unless you secure them with a cable tie. Cable ties are available at most hardware stores but be sure to get the right size for your lights. This is a good way to secure string and icicle lights before placing them in a box. One thing to keep in mind is that you won't be able to reuse cable ties. Once you need the lights, you'll have to cut the tie and throw it away, which may not be the most cost-effective, or eco-friendly solution. 

Plastic Sheets

If you want to keep your Christmas lights in good condition, it's important to store them properly. One way to do this is to use plastic sheets. Plastic sheets can help protect your lights from dust, moisture, and other damage. They also make it easy to keep your lights organized. 

To use plastic sheets for storage, you'll need to purchase some clear plastic sheeting, which you can find at most hardware stores. Once you have the sheeting, cut it into large pieces to wrap around your light strands. Cut several pieces so that you have plenty of coverage. To wrap your lights, start by placing a strand in the center of a piece of plastic. Then, bring the edges of the plastic up and over the light, so it's completely covered. Once your lights are wrapped, store them in a dry, cool place. 

When you're ready to use your lights again, unwrap them, and they'll be good as new. Plus, you can reuse the sheets multiple times. 

Cord Reel

Using a cord reel is an efficient way of storing away your Christmas lights. This is especially useful if you have a lot of lights to store. First, wrap the lights around the reel by starting at the end of the string of lights and wrapping it around the outer edge of the reel. Then continue wrapping the string of lights around the reel, making sure to keep it tight. Once you have wrapped the entire string of lights around the reel, you can use the cord to secure the lights. You can also use zip ties or another type of fastener to keep the lights securely in place. Then, when you are ready to use the lights again, simply unwrap them from the reel, and they will be ready to go. 

Original Packaging

If you keep the original box the lights came in, it shouldn’t be difficult to wrap up the lights again and secure them in the box. However, if you find yourself struggling to fit them in the box, don’t try to force it. Breaking lights can result in tiny shards of glass and electrical hazards if you don’t notice damage. You could also store the lights safely in a Ziploc bag.  

If the original packaging is missing, any cardboard or plastic box will do for storage, just be sure to keep it in a cool, dry place and put something soft, like tissue paper or bubble wrap in the bottom so the lights won’t be scratched. Another option is to wind the lights around a piece of cardboard before storage, this will help keep them from getting tangled, and you can store the cardboard in the original box or another container.

Where to Store Christmas Lights

Once your lights are safely wrapped up, there are several options for safe storage until next year. As long as the area is dry and safe from the elements, your lights should be fine. However, to get the most life out of your lights, it’s best to store them at a moderate temperature.  

In the attic

An attic is a great option if you have the space. Just make sure the box is labeled and easy to find so that you don't have to search for it next year. You should also ensure no moisture could damage the lights. If your attic is a bit damp, make sure to secure the lights properly by wrapping them in plastic bags and bubble wrap to keep the moisture away. If your attic is not temperature controlled, your lights may not last as long as you’d like, as elevated temperatures have the potential to damage the adhesive and plastic used to create most common string lights.  

In the basement

Climate-controlled basements are a great choice for storage unless your basement is damp or prone to flooding. Moisture can damage the electric parts, so you may find your lights not working next Christmas. To avoid these issues, you can use a dehumidifier near your lights or keep them sealed in plastic bags until you’re ready to use them again.  

Under the bed

Under the bed storage is a fine choice so long as the lights are kept in a dust cover and your pets don’t sleep under your bed. This is a great spot to store your lights if you're short on space.  

In a closet

Closet storage is a great option if you store your lights on a clothing hanger. Be sure to hang them in the back of a closet where they’re unlikely to be disturbed. Or in a box off the ground to avoid damage.  

Unpacking the Christmas Lights after Storage

Decorating for Christmas is among the most exciting things, but there are a few things you should know before putting the lights up. When you retrieve the lights from storage, it's best to take a few minutes to clean and inspect them before putting them up. 

Check the box or package that you used for storage. If it's wet, it's best to throw away the lights because they're likely wet as well. Plugging them in is risky as you could get electrocuted. 

If everything is dry, you can start by untangling any knots in the string of lights, although you're unlikely to have these if you stored the lights properly. You can use a small hook or a pair of needle-nose pliers to help with this. Once the lights are untangled, test them to make sure they're working. If any of the bulbs are burned out, now is the time to replace them. Any loose cable or light bulb is a fire hazard, and you also run the risk of experiencing an electric shock by plugging them in.