Skip to Content

How to Store Christmas Lights

How to Store Christmas Lights

With Christmas out of the way, it is finally time to take those decorations out of the walls and start preparing for the new year. While some are destined for the garbage bin, a couple, like the lights, are reusable.

If you take down and store your Christmas lights properly, you can keep reusing them for decades. This will save you a cool buck while keeping the environment free of the trash. It is the perfect art of reuse/recycling.

First Things First – Unhanging the Lights

Unhanging Christmas lights should be easy – especially if you are the one who hangs them. All you have to do is work backward from your last handing step to the very first.

Here is a look at what the general steps would be.

  • Please turn off the power supply to the lights and unplug them from the wall
  • Wait for them to cool down. This is very important, especially if they are incandescent or even LED. Give them around 30 minutes to cool down.
  • While waiting, get a sturdy and secure hanger and set up a body harness to hold you to the roof or wall if you are dealing with high roofs.

ProTip: If you live in a house with very high roofs and this is your first time going up the roof, I would strongly advise you to get a professional or handyman with some experience. Falling from a high roof can be fatal.

Removing the lights from the wall varies depending on the fasteners securing them to the wall. If you used simple hook fasteners, all you have to do is unhook the lights leaving the fasteners in place for the next festive season.

If you use staples, wires, or nails, you will need a wire cutter or nail remover to free the lights.

ProTip: Go for reusable hooks next time you set up Christmas lights. They will make unhanging the lights simple and hanging them next time even simpler.

  1. Walk up the ladder to a level where you can safely reach the furthest side of the first string of lights.
  2. Free the lights from the hooks or fasteners and let them fall to the ground below in a neat line
  3. Stop as soon as you have around three feet of the same string lying on the ground in a tangled mess
  4. Be careful not to overreach from the ladder creating an imbalance that could make you topple. Stop frequently to move the ladder closer to the next hook
  5. During these ladder shifts, stretch out the three-foot mess you made in step 3 above. You can either stretch it into a straight line over the lawn and wait to coil it once done or coil it up in a storage spool if you have one
  6. If your lights don’t come with a storage spool, leave them in a straight line. We will give you tricks on how to store the lights without tangling next
  7. Keep moving the ladder and unhooking the lights until you are done with all strings and have them down in straight untangled messes
  8. You could skip the straight line and go straight to coiling them in a neat store tool, but first check out the options below for that

Warning: If your Christmas lights are wet when you unhook them, lay them straight on the ground for an hour or two so that they can dry out. Storing them damp will ruin them or encourage mold and mildew.

 How to Coil and Store Christmas Lights Without Tangling them

Incorrectly stored lights make them difficult to detangle, which often than not prompts you to buy new ones instead of fiddling with the ones you already have. Here are some simple tricks to help save you money next Christmas by keeping your lights tangle-free.

Cardboard cutout

Cut out a piece of cardboard in a rectangular shape and create a slit on one end. Then proceed to wind the lights around the cardboard piece starting with the slit end to hold the Christmas light end in place. Wrap the lights around the cardboard until all of it is wrapped, then string the other end of the light around the wound lights to hold it in place.

Wrap them around a box tube or a straight stick

Wrap the lights around the box tube they came in and tape the end to prevent the lights from unraveling. You can also use a piece of wood to skewer through the box and wrap the lights above it to prevent the lights from slipping off the box.

A piece of 2×2 timber would also do the trick. All you need is something round-ish and firm to wrap the lights around.

Use a clothes hanger.

Start by running one of the lights’ ends through a strap holder, then wrap the rest around the hanger vertically, keeping it somewhat taut so it stays neat and does not tangle when you unravel it come Christmas. Then hook the other end on the other strap holder and hang the light in your storage closet.

Band them together

Wind the lights around your arm as if you were prepping yarn for knitting and tie them together with a rubber band or zip ties to help keep them bunched together. You can also use cable ties or hair bands to hold them together. 

You can also fold them like you would a rope that you intend to store and wrap the loose end of the lights around the middle to hold them together as you would with a piece of rope.

Invest in a cord reel

A cord roller or reel is a professional way to store any long string of anything. Some lights come with it. You can still purchase a set for those that don’t.

Spin your lights around the cord roller and wind them until they are wound to the end. You can string it on end through a rolled light to keep the light from unraveling.

Use plastic sheets

Buy a long plastic sheet and cut it into a large piece to cover the lights. Then proceed to roll the lights in the pieces of plastic sheets until all the lights are rolled in plastic sheets. This will keep them from tangling. 

Once they are sheathed in the plastic sheet, you can coil them up as you please without the risk of tangling. Make sure you secure the ends or insert them in another piece of plastic and store them.

Christmas Lights With Big Bulbs are Harder to Store

Storing small fairy lights, LED lights, and incandescent lights with small bulbs is simple. All the above ideas should work with these.

However, things will be slightly tougher if you have one of those big bulb lights people hang on fences and around gazebos. Coiling those up neatly is almost impossible since the big bulbs always get in the way.

The best way to avoid tangles with these is by leaving them as straight as possible. This shouldn’t be a problem since they aren’t necessarily Christmas-only lights, and they provide good light that you could use on any night.

  • Leave them hanging around the house and turn them at night to give your house a quirky security light system.
  • Transfer them to the Gazebo, deck, or patio and leave them hanging. They look pretty during the day when off – and prettier at night when you turn them off.
  • Hang them in the garage or attic to supplement whatever light you already have there

Where Should I Store My Christmas Lights?

Before storing the lights, please give them a second lookover to ensure they are bone dry. You don’t want to put them away while still damp. This will not only ruin the lights but also bring mold and an annoying damp smell into the room you keep them.

With the Christmas lights coiled up neatly in bundles that won’t tangle, it is time to find them a home out of sight for the rest of the year.

Some of the handy places that you could store your lights include:

Put them in Cardboard Boxes.

The simplest way to put away your bundled lights is in cardboard boxes. You can close the box and tape it up to keep out the dust.

The boxes can then go into a neat stack in your garage or the attic – as long as the rooms stay cool and dry.

Hang them on the Wall or in a Closet

If you have a working shed, an unused basement, or a garage, you could make pegs or nails on the walls and hang the lights there.

Even though they will gather some dust, hanging them allows you to store them in the open air, reducing the risk of dampness or mold damage.

Moreover, if you are hanging them, you don’t have to worry about tangle mitigation since you can hang them straight just as you would out in the open.

Use Plastic or Wood Tubs

This is a permanent and perhaps more presentable alternative to using boxes. Plastic tubs with sealable lids will give you studier storage that comes in handy if you don’t have much space.

You can stack plastic or wood tubs higher without crashing their contents compared to cardboard boxes.

Buy Easy Bagged Storage Pouches

If you have few lights or a small house where neat storage is mandatory, purchasing storage pouches or lights with custom storage pouches is the best way out. Here are some interesting and beautiful Christmas lights storage bags to try out.

In this scenario, you will have a small and compact pouch that squishes the light into a neat and small bundle that you can chunk into a storage drawer or place in a closet without getting a bulky and unsightly mess.