Once you've fluffed the pillows and folded the throws, you're halfway home.
Brown couch in living room
Credit: Mikkel Vang

Start with the sofa ― as long as it's in disarray, your living room will never look tidy. Once you've fluffed the pillows and folded the throws, you're halfway home. If you pop in a CD while you dust, you should be able cover the whole room by the end of the third track.

Supplies to Keep in the Living Room

  • Pledge mitts or Swiffer cloths: for dusting tabletops, chair and table legs, bookshelves, and knickknacks.
  • Unger Total Reach Duster: for cobwebs and for tops of furniture and other hard-to-reach corners.
  • Microfiber cloths: the no-chemical alternative for dusting.
  • Handheld vacuum: for cleaning crumbs and lint under cushions and on the floor.
  • Clorox ReadyMop: for cleaning floors.
  • Clorox Disinfecting Wipes: for spot-cleaning switch plates, phones, and doorjambs.
  • Windex Glass and Surface Wipes: for windows.

Timesaving Tips and Techniques

Make Dirt Unwelcome

  • Take off your shoes every time you enter the house. "Eighty percent of dirt in the home comes from people's and pets' feet," says cleaning expert Don Aslett. Encourage your family and guests to remove their shoes by keeping an assortment of house slippers by the main entry.
  • Make Sure You Have the Right Doormat. The Clean Machine Original mat (shown above, about $10, astroturfmats.com for store locations), made of Astro Turf, traps dirt more effectively than other matting materials and can cut cleaning time in half, Aslett says.

    Go with the Flow
    Let gravity work for you. Dust from top to bottom, and save the vacuuming for last.

    Clear Results
    Clean one window at a time (preferably during commercial breaks). Remember: You don't have to do the whole room in one shot.

    Over Easy
    Flip cushions only when company comes over. That way you'll always have a spotless sofa for guests to sit on.

Living Area To-Do List

Every Day

  • Pick up crumbs and dust bunnies with a handheld vacuum (one minute)
  • Fluff the cushions and fold throws after use (two minutes)
  • Wipe tabletops and spot-clean cabinets when you see fingerprints (one minute)
  • Straighten coffee-table books and magazines. Throw out newspapers. Put away CDs and videos. (Two minutes)

    Every Week
  • Dust all surfaces ― including electronics, books, blinds, picture frames, windowsills and ledges, and tops of door frames ― and remove all cobwebs (15 minutes)
  • Dust-mop the floors with a microfiber cloth or a Swiffer, or vacuum the rugs and carpeting (five minutes)
  • Vacuum the upholstery (five minutes)
  • Throw out old magazines (one minute)
  • Wipe the switch plates, doorknobs, and doorjambs (one minute)
  • Wipe and disinfect the telephone (30 seconds)
  • Shake out or vacuum the doormat (one minute)
  • Vacuum the heating and air-conditioning vents (one minute)

    Every Season
  • Wash the insides of the windows (15 minutes)
  • Lift big pieces of furniture and vacuum or mop underneath (10 minutes)