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Spring Cleaning 360°: The Living Room

Whether it’s the family room, the TV room, or a more formal spot, it needs a proper cleaning to be cozy and comfortable.

Photography by: Annie Schlechter
Bond lamp, in Opal, $299, Everyday pillow, 20" by 20", in Light Grey, $245; and Blue Stroke pillow, 24" by 24", in White, by Ana Deman, $195, Pimlico bedroom chair, in Soft Pink, $1,800,

Clean 101

Upholstered Furniture

For tight-upholstered pieces -- meaning you can’t remove the cover -- try these steps:

  • Reach down into tight spots (like the back corners of a seat) with a vacuum’s crevice tool.
  • Vacuum with the upholstery brush on the fabric surface. If you’re cleaning a delicate fabric, such as linen or chenille, reduce the suction.
  • Use the vacuum’s dust brush tool to clean leather furniture.


Twice a year, remove slipcovers and have them dry-cleaned. If they’re machine washable, pretreat stains while they’re still on the furniture (so you can see trouble spots better). Then remove them and wash in cold water on the gentle or permanent-press cycle, and opt for the “extra rinse” setting. (Do not overload the machine; wash multiple loads as needed.) Promptly transfer to the dryer, again choosing the gentle or permanent-press setting. When damp-dry, remove and replace on the chair or sofa; let dry overnight. For loose cushions, put the covers back on and dry on a drying rack or leaning against a wall.


  • Hire a chimney sweep once a year to clean the chimney and remove creosote. 
  • Sweep completely cooled ashes with a hearth brush into a dustpan, put them in an ashcan, and take them outside for disposal. 
  • Wipe the surrounding area with a cloth dampened in a mixture of all-purpose cleaner and warm water. 

Floor Coverings

Always vacuum last, so you can get all the dust that’s settled. The best technique is to work in long, slow, overlapping strokes. Start inside the room and back your way out toward the door. 

Photography by: Bryan Gardner

TIP: Add an extra bumper to protect walls and furniture legs: Stick weather stripping around the vacuum’s floor attachment.

Photography by: Bryan Gardner

Don’t forget the...


Dusting lightbulbs can make rooms much brighter. Gently wipe away dust with an inexpensive paintbrush.


Once a year, remove all your books from the shelves. Dust the ones you want to keep along the spines and tops, and flip through them to inhibit paper deterioration. Thoroughly dust each shelf before putting the books back.

Photography by: Annie Schlechter

Ceiling Fan

Dust ceiling-fan blades with an old pillowcase to contain particles and grimy buildup. Stand on a step stool and drape the case over a blade. Pressing both hands against it, slowly slide the case off. Repeat for each blade, then launder the case.

TV Screen

Special kits for flat screens (containing a spray and a soft wipe) are sold at electronics stores; do not use anything else. Spritz the screen when it is cool (heat can cause permanent streaks), then very gently wipe away the liquid.

The Speedy Three

When you’re in a rush, try these steps:

1. Neaten all surfaces: Put away remotes and random items, and stack and straighten coffee-table books and magazines. 

2. Dust end tables, coffee tables, the mantel, and windowsills with an electrostatic duster, such as a Swiffer. 


TIP: Go around the upper perimeter of the room with an electrostatic duster on an extendable handle.

3. Plump up any sofa and chair cushions, drape or fold blankets, and arrange throw pillows.

Photography by: Bryan Gardner
Extendable-handle duster, by Swiffer, 36", $9,

I love my...

Swiffer Duster

“When I don’t have to drag out the step stool, my dusting doesn’t feel like such a chore. This fuzzy bit of microfiber reaches up high, thanks to its telescopic handle, then stores away with my smaller cleaning supplies.” –– Jenn McManus, deputy design director


Created by Rory Evans, Jenn McManus, and Ayesha Patel