How to Untangle Christmas Lights

A man setting up a ladder with a bundle of Christmas lights hanging next to him.

Putting up Christmas lights is a time-honored tradition for many families. But getting them organized and sorted beforehand can be a major pain, especially if they are stored in a jumbled mess. If you dread hanging Christmas lights every year, here's a quick and painless guide on how to untangle these holiday decorations with ease.

Step 1: Plan Ahead

Untangling Christmas lights will take some time, so preparing yourself for the task at hand is important. A great way to get in the mood is to put on some holiday music or play your favorite Christmas movie in the background. With the mood set, retrieve the lights from storage and lay them out in a large space. Make sure you have plenty of room to spread out. You will need extra space when you start untangling the lights. You should also remove your shoes to help avoid accidentally breaking bulbs if you step on them.

Step 2: Start Untangling

Tangled cords of Christmas lights.

Begin by accessing how many lights you have and how many you plan on using. There is no point in untangling ones you do not plan on using this year. The best way to untangle lights is to start with the plug. Once you locate the plug, fish it through the tangles as gently as possible. Pulling too hard on the lights can result in loss. Keep working your way through the string until all of the knots are out.

Step 3: Keep Untangling

As you untangle each string of lights, it's important to keep them organized. If you do not, you run the risk of getting them tangled a second time. You can organize the lights by laying them out in straight lines or by wrapping them up with your arms, just like you would a garden hose. Whatever method you use, just remember to keep the untangled lights away from ones that are still knotted up. Work your way slowly through the tangles. If you come across any hard knots, try working from the other side.

Step 4: Light Check

A row of red, blue, and green Christmas lights.

Once all of the lights have been untangled, you need to check the bulbs to see if they still work. You can usually find replacement bulbs at your local hardware store. When checking the bulbs, make sure you keep the lights in a straight line to avoid them getting tangled up once again. After the lights are fully checked, you can start hanging them on the tree or outside of the home.

Storage Options


You can neatly store Christmas lights with some scrap cardboard. All you need is a rectangular piece of cardboard that is big enough to string one length of lights. Cut the piece so that it resembles an anvil. This will prevent the lights from sliding off the ends of the piece. Then simply wrap the lights around the middle of the cardboard in a neat line. Tuck the plug under the final string or use a twist tie to keep in place.

Figure Eight

Another way to store Christmas lights is by wrapping them up in a figure eight. Begin by turning over a dining room chair, exposing the legs. Then carefully string the lights in a figure eight between two of the legs. Keep wrapping until you only have a foot of string remaining. Use the extra length to wrap up the middle section, then tuck the plug under to prevent the bundle from coming loose.


A clothes hanger is a great way to keep Christmas lights nice and tidy until next year. Start by stringing the lights around one end of the hanger. Keep wrapping the lights around until they cover the entire length of the hanger. You can let the plug hang from the hanger's hook or secure it in place with a twist tie. Repeat the process with a new hanger for each string of lights.