How to Clean a Living Room: An Expert Guide

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Establishing how to clean a living room in the fastest and most efficient way will free up more time to enjoy.

A beautifully clean living room will also take the stress out of impromptu entertaining and make cozy nights on the couch with the family that much more relaxing.

We’ve rounded up the cleaning tips needed to get the job done effectively, along with the steps to follow, along with expert advice.

How to clean a living room

“Cleaning your home not only leaves you with a pleasant and orderly environment, but it also gives you a sense of purpose and accomplishment,” says psychologist Emma Kenny. “Cleansing is a type of informal mindful practice that has the power to create a mental state of flow that is excellent for well-being,”

A pristine environment will also let living room ideas shine and here’s how to clean a living room like a pro in seven easy steps.

1. Gather supplies

Gathering everything you need before you start not only saves time, it also helps you get your head in the game for a serious cleaning session. The main items required to ask how to clean a living room are:

  • Two or three clean microfiber cloths
  • Polish or wax furniture
  • Glass cleaner or vinegar/water solution and newspaper
  • A feather duster and radiator cloth, if available
  • Vacuum cleaner plus padding and nozzle accessories
  • Upholstery stain remover and carpet shampoo, if available
  • Mop and bucket for hard floors, if needed

A small stepladder or a sturdy chair can also be useful to reach the top of bookcases, moldings and picture rails. “Once you’re ready to get to work, open the windows to cool the room and reduce the dusty air while you clean,” advises Sarah Dempsey, cleaning expert at MyJobQuote. (opens in a new tab).

2. Tidy up before cleaning a living room

It may seem obvious, but your living room will be much easier to clean once couches and surfaces have been decluttered. Return any stray items that shouldn’t be there to their rightful place, and tidy shelves and coffee tables.

Gather the throws together and fold them neatly or put them in the laundry room to wash them later. It is possible to wash wool blankets and throws in the machine, but check the care label first. Inspect cushion covers to see if they can also be machine washed.

3. Dust off

Dry dusting with a soft cloth or feather duster is perfect for hard-to-reach places like eaves, picture rails, curtain rods and high shelves when cleaning a living room. You can also buy special dusters for getting behind and around radiators – we like the Konex dryer vent and fridge coil brush (opens in a new tab)sold on Amazon, which also works on heaters.

Always dust your living room from top to bottom to avoid dirtying surfaces you have already done. Then switch to a damp microfiber cloth, which will pick up more dust and is best for hard surfaces like baseboards, picture frames, door frames and coffee tables.

Be especially careful when cleaning a TV screen. Use a fresh microfiber cloth and gently wipe the screen in an up and down, not a circular motion. If there are stubborn marks, dampen the cloth very lightly and start over. Never spray water or cleaning products directly on the screen.

Some wooden furniture, especially antique furniture, will benefit from a furniture polish or wax, which is designed to nourish the wood and protect it from moisture. Read the instructions on the can carefully and seek advice from a furniture maker or restorer if you are unsure. Always do a spot test in an inconspicuous place if you are using a new product for the first time.

sofas in a living room with a view of the garden

(Image credit: Nicky Dobree Interiors)

4. Clean windows and mirrors

Polishing your windows and mirrors to shine is an important part of cleaning a living room. You can use a general window cleaner spray, but we prefer cleaning with vinegar as it is both natural and inexpensive.

To clean streak-free glass or to clean a mirror, simply mix equal parts white vinegar and warm water and add a splash of liquid soap to help remove streaks. Put your mixture into an empty spray bottle with a fine sprayer and lightly mist the glass all over, taking care not to overdo it. Next, take a sheet or two of old newspaper, crumple it up, and rub the glass in circular motions until it’s clean and streak-free.

Don’t forget to include your wood-burning stove glass, if applicable (the no-rinse oven cleaner foam is particularly effective at removing burnt-on dirt), as well as glass picture frames, glass shades and any glass vase or coaster.

5. Tackle window treatments

“You open and close your curtains and blinds every day, so you might be surprised at how much dust has accumulated.” Handheld vacuums are a great way to clean curtains, rods and valances without having to take them apart,” says window maintenance expert Rachel Fernie of Hillarys. (opens in a new tab). Any major stains or marks may require a trip to the dry cleaner.

Clean blinds according to type. A vacuum cleaner can be used on some first, then use a microfiber cloth. If they are shutters or horizontal blinds, close them in one direction first and clean from left to right; then twist or pull the cord to close them in the opposite direction and repeat. You may need to wash the cloth several times as you go.

6. Vacuum sofas, armchairs and other seats

Next, clean the sofas and chairs by removing all seat cushions and removing any large objects, such as pencils and spare change. Attach the nozzle to your vacuum and get straight into corners and crevices before moving on to the upholstery attachment to do the main seat area, back and arms of your sofa.

If the covers are removable and seem dirty, it may be time to clean them; follow the laundry symbols on the label inside. Put the seat cushions back on the sofa and vacuum them as well. Light marks and dirt can often be wiped off with a damp cloth, but be careful not to scrub too hard, especially if your upholstery is linen or velor, which can mark if rubbed too hard in one spot. Also clean a leather sofa with care.

Upholstered ottomans, where the fabric is very stretchy, can often be cleaned with a carpet shampoo type vacuum cleaner on low heat. You can also get compact portable versions for padding, which are also great for tackling carpets.

7. Clean floors

You are almost on the straight line. The floor should always be the last chore on your list, especially if you plan on shampooing rugs and/or carpets. “If you have a plush rug, keep it in specific lines, like you’re mowing the lawn, which will help reduce unsightly streaks in the pile,” says Kate Henderson, duty manager at the Daffodil Hotel. (opens in a new tab). Move all the furniture you can or use the props to reach as far below and behind as possible. If you have cats or dogs and your existing vacuum isn’t up to snuff, it’s worth upgrading to one of the best pet hair vacuums.

Clean the rugs by taking them outside, if manageable, and beating the dust, then clean the floor well underneath while the rugs are out of the room. If the carpet needs cleaning, put your carpet shampoo into action. You can also rent them from local hardware stores or hire a specialist.

Clean hardwood floors, or those made of stone or laminate, by vacuuming them before wiping them with a well-wrung mop. Always let your living room floor dry completely before replacing rugs or letting children and pets into the room.

country style living room with wood burning stove

(Image credit: Marion Lichtig)

Why is it important to clean your living room?

Three-quarters (76%) of respondents said a clean home was important for their mental health and well-being and that not having a clean and tidy home creates feelings of stress and unhappiness, a an impact on relationships with family and partners and affects productivity at work, according to a recent survey by home goods brand Brabantia (opens in a new tab).

A clean living room can also have beneficial effects on physical health. “Keeping your living room clean not only makes it a more pleasant space to spend time in, it will also help eliminate dust and pollen, which can cause allergies, and minimize other pests such as clothes moths and carpet beetles,” says Sarah Dempsey, cleaning expert at MyJobQuote.

How can I keep my living room neat and clean?

The key to keeping any room in your home neat and clean is to take a “little and often” approach, and the living room is no exception. Try teaching everyone in your household to look behind them when they leave the room and check for plates, cups, shoes, or books they could take with them.

Wiping up any spills as soon as they happen will help tremendously, especially when it comes to removing coffee stains and red wine stains. Soaking as much as possible with a dishcloth or similar before applying the stain remover, then a final wash with a damp cloth is your best chance of completely removing the stains.

You should aim to give your living room a decent cleaning – dust and vacuum – at least once a week, and a more thorough cleaning, as described in our steps above, perhaps every six to eight weeks, depending on use.

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