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Spring Cleaning Day 16: Declutter and Dust the Living Room

A sunny living room with stylish modern furniture and two dogs sleeping in the sunshine.
Followtheflow/Shutterstock

We’ve done a whole lot of living in our living rooms this past year, which makes them a prime target for some deep cleaning this spring. Let’s start off the week by getting the junk and dust out.

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A Note on Living Rooms

What we call different spaces in our homes (and how we use those spaces) vary from family to family. For some folks, the living room is the most active room of the home—the place where the TV is, the kids play, and the adults hang out after work. Maybe in your house the living room is a more formal room that hardly gets used, and all the action is in the den or the basement rec room.

Throughout this week, we’ll be referring to the space we’re deep cleaning as the living room, but we’d encourage you to swap out the living room for whatever the highest traffic living space is in your home to really get the most value out of this deep cleaning routine. If the real “living” room of your home is the den, focus on that room instead.

How to Declutter Your Living Room

The way we use our living spaces and what we store in them is incredibly personal, so when it comes to decluttering one of the most used spaces in your home it’s important to take stock of what you do in that space.

Maybe your living room is first and foremost a home movie theater where you watch movies and play video games. Maybe you’re huge into house plants and it looks less like theater and more like an English conservatory with copious plant stands. Whatever it is you do in the space, that should guide your decluttering and organization efforts.

Rehome All the Misplaced Items

Living rooms, especially living rooms that are part of an open-concept plan that include an adjacent dining room table—which is an oh-so-tempting place to dump things—can be real clutter magnets. Even more so if you have children, who are masters of the drop-and-forget method of cluttering up every space they come in contact with.

Right out of the gate, sweep through your living room with a laundry basket or cardboard box and gather up all the things that are in the living room but should not be.

In addition to grabbing items that don’t belong in the living room at all, grab items that do belong but have wandered away from their designated places: Put TV remotes and other odds and ends that have moved about back where they belong.

Purge the Junk

There are two kinds of junk when it comes to decluttering: literal junk (like a broken toy or cracked decoration you haven’t discarded yet), and stuff that is junk in the sense that is doesn’t contribute anything to the functionality or purpose of the space.

To that end, take everything out of the living room that isn’t part of the function of the living room as you use it. From the boxes you stacked up there while cleaning another room weeks ago to that exercise machine you bought but don’t use (and put off to the side in the living room to get it out of the way), give everything a long hard look and either discard it or find an appropriate home for it.

How to Dust Your Living Room

Living rooms tend to get pretty dusty because they’re high-traffic areas where people spend a lot of time. Although it’s a myth that dust is mostly human skin (so no, the room you spend the most time in isn’t going to be blanketed in tiny dry skin flakes), we do indirectly contribute to the buildup of dust. Household dust is mostly tiny dirt and pollen particulates we bring in from the outside; tiny fibers from our clothing, carpets, and furniture; as well as bits of pet hair and dander.

Using the living room constantly for relaxing, watching TV, playing with our kids, and so on, contributes to the dust buildup because we’re in there tracking in bits of dirt, disturbing the carpet and releasing fibers, and, of course, our pets help, too. We don’t know about you, but the second we sit down on the couch that’s a signal to our dog and cats that it’s time to settle in and get spoiled with pets and snuggles. All that, well, living in the living room contributes to the dust buildup.

What You Need

Like when we dusted the bedroom, we’re skipping fancy dusting sprays. We’re not fans of them and in our experience, they don’t offer any amazing dusting benefits (but they do lead to buildup on surfaces over time).

OXO Microfiber Hand Duster

The million and one little microfiber fingers are fantastic at grabbing dust off varied surfaces.

Instead, we’ll stick with the classic dusting tools:

While optional, busting out the vacuum for dusting (especially for tall furniture pieces and the tops of door and window frames) is a great way to reduce how much dust floats down into the room while you’re cleaning.

Dyson Ball Multi-Floor 2

An excellent all-around vacuum that has a handy hose perfect for snagging cobwebs and vacuuming door and window frames.

And, especially if you’re dusting everything by hand, a step stool is great to have around. Sure you can stand on the arm of your couch to dust your living room ceiling fan, but starting off the summer in a cast sounds like a terrible way to enjoy the nice weather.

How (and What) to Dust in Your Living Room

Like every other room you work in, the dusting routine should start high and end low.

  1. Start dusting at the highest point in the room, clearing out any cobwebs in the corners, and dust off the top of the door and window frames.
  2. Ceiling fans, if present, are almost always caked in dust. Vacuum thoroughly or use a damp microfiber cloth to wipe the blades.
  3. If your living space has electronics in it like a television, HDMI receiver, game console, and so on, pay special attention to them as the electrostatic charge on the devices attracts a lot of dust.
  4. Use your microfiber duster to dust bookshelves, side tables, and all the items on them—now is a great time to ask yourself “Do I love this thing enough to dust it every week?” as you handle each item.
  5. Do a quick final pass over horizontal surfaces with a damp microfiber cloth at the end, this will help you grab any of the little bits of dust your disturbed earlier (but didn’t capture with your cleaning tool).

Just like in the other weeks in our Spring Cleaning Challenge, starting the week with some decluttering and dusting makes the rest of the work easier. No sense cleaning and working around stuff that doesn’t even belong in the room, after all!

As always, you can follow along on our Spring Clean Challenge landing page or get the lessons, along with all our other great content, delivered right to your inbox!

Jason Fitzpatrick Jason Fitzpatrick
Jason Fitzpatrick is the Editor in Chief of LifeSavvy. He has over a decade of experience in publishing and has authored thousands of articles at LifeSavvy, Review Geek, How-To Geek, and Lifehacker. Read Full Bio »

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