So far you've tackled those high spaces (your lighting, fans, windows, & blinds), deep cleaned the kitchen, and have your dining room looking flawless. Now it's time to dig into your living room and family room spaces. You spend a lot of time here. It's where you entertain guests. It's where you read to your children. It's where you watch TV with your spouse. It's where you relax. But it's hard to relax when your space if full of clutter. So let's get it under control!
As always, the first step is to declutter. Grab a laundry basket (maybe the same baskets you used for the dining room decluttering) and pick up everything that does not belong in your living room or family room. Find a home for each item. Toss any old papers, magazines, mail, broken toys, or anything else that cannot (or should not) be saved. Add items that you no longer need, but are still in good condition to a donate box.
Grab your dusting mitt or a feather duster and dust your walls. Start from the top and work your way down. If you find any cobwebs, grab the hose attachment of your vacuum to remove the webs. Use a damp sponge to scrub dirt or scuff marks off the wall.
If you have photos or paintings on the wall, make sure you dust those as well. Use glass cleaner to wipe away any fingerprints or smears on the frames. To avoid damaging your photos, don't spray directly on to your frames. Spray on a clean cloth and use the cloth to wipe down the glass and frames.
Don't forget your light switches and outlets. Again, don't spray directly onto your switches and outlets, but do spray onto a clean cloth and disinfect to eliminated dust, dirt and germs.
Start by wiping down the moulding around your door and the door frame. Sweep or use the hose attachment of your vacuum to remove debris in the door frame or under the door. Scrub the base of the door with soapy water to remove dirt and grime.
Be mindful of the type of material your door is made from before you wipe down the door. For most doors, you can use a slightly damp cloth to remove dust, dirt, and debris. You may have to use an all-purpose cleaner or scrub pad for some of the tougher stains. Don't forget to clean both sides of the door.
If you have a storm door or screen door, use your hose to clean the screen. Then spray on your favorite streak-free glass cleaner and wipe the glass in even up and down streaks with a dry microfiber cloth.
Disinfect your doorknobs and locks on both the inside and outside of the door.
If your doormats are fabric, throw them (both inside and outside doormats) into the washing machine to clean. If they are rubber or another material that doesn't jive well with your washing machine, use your outside hose to rinse them off. Use a scrub pad to get tough spots clean.
Start from the top. Vacuum the top of each bookshelf. Then dust down the front and sides of each bookshelf.
Then, dust each shelf and all the books, knickknacks, art, and other items you have on your shelves. Again, starting from the top, go shelf by shelf, removing everything from the shelf to reach each corner of the shelf. Using your dusting mitt, wipe the top, sides, and bottom of each shelf.
As you replace each item on the shelf, determine whether or not that is an item you still want to keep or if it's time to let it go.
Add some decorative baskets to hide items you want to store, but that may not be attractive enough to display on their own. Combine like items into each basket and include a nice label on the front of the basket so you know exactly what you have and where it's stored.
Seating: If you have pets, first remove any pet hair from your couches and chairs. To remove hair from upholstery or fabric, put on dampened rubber gloves and run your hand over the surface to attract hair. When covered, rinse off the gloves in the sink and repeat. Make sure you have a drain trap in the sink so you can gather the rinsed off hair and throw it in the garbage instead of down your drain. If you don't have rubber gloves, you can use a wet sponge or thick tape instead. Or lightly spray a mix of water and fabric softener onto your furniture and wipe off. For vinyl or leather furniture, wipe down with a damp cloth to remove hair.
Next, remove cushions from your couches and chairs. Pick up the big items (small toys, coins, the missing remote) and put them in their spots or throw them away. Use the hose attachment on your vacuum to vacuum every inch of your furniture. Then vacuum your cushions before replacing them. Use the upholstery attachment on a rug shampoo machine to clean soiled couches and chair surfaces. Throw slipcovers, accent pillows, blankets, etc. into the washing machine (or hand wash delicate items) to get them clean.
Tables: Dust coffee and end tables. Don't forget the legs and sides of the tables. If you have drawers, pull everything out to determine what needs to stay and what needs to go. Wipe down each drawer or shelf before replacing items.
Have water stains? One of our favorite tips for removing water stains from wood is...toothpaste. Gently rub some non-gel toothpaste on the wood with a soft cloth. Then wipe it off with a damp cloth and let it dry before applying furniture polish. For even stronger cleaning power, mix equal parts white toothpaste and baking soda. Rub the paste parallel to the wood grain, wipe it off, and then polish with lemon oil.
Lamps: Use a vacuum attachment or or your dusting mitt to clean the lampshades, lamps, and any extra decorative items. With a damp cloth, wipe down the stand and base of each lamp. Replace any bulbs that have burned out.
Electronics: Unplug and use your dusting mitt to dust all the electronics. Never spray directly onto your electronics. If you need to use a cleaner, spray directly onto your microfiber cloth and then use your cloth to wipe down your electronic. Check cords for fraying and wear.
Get toys under control. First decide if you really need to keep toys in your living room or family room. Maybe it would be better to store toys in the kids' rooms and they can bring out one or two toys at a time to play with. If you do want to keep toys in the living room or the family room, find a place to organize them. Save the dinosaur-shaped toy boxes or Mickey Mouse shelves for the kids' rooms. For the family spaces, find a coffee table with storage options, a large chest that matches your decor and can be used for additional seating, decorative baskets you can display on your shelves, or hide toys [organized] behind cabinet doors.
As you're putting toys away, check each toy to make sure the toy isn't broken or missing pieces. If it is, add it to your trash bag. If your child has outgrown the toy, add it to your donate box.
For rooms with carpet, rent a cleaning machine or have your carpets professionally cleaned. This is the best way to remove all of that deep down dirt and debris that your vacuum just can't reach. Then stick to a regular vacuuming routine.
For rooms with hardwood or tile, start by sweeping the floor. To mop, use the most appropriate mop and cleaning spray for your surface. For most floors, you can use a damp mop with a mixture of dishwashing soap and water. Buff your floors dry with a soft, clean cloth.
Take your rugs outside to shake them out. Depending on your rug, you may also be able to vacuum the rug. Or take it out to have it professionally cleaned.
Don't let your mail take over your coffee table or kitchen counters. Sort it daily. Keep a recycling bin near your desk or close to the door. Keep the most urgent documents in a designated inbox or folder. Pay as many bills as possible using automatic payments to keep down paper clutter. Ask your accountant how long you need to keep bank statements and other financial papers. Scan and discard what you can.
Designate one junk drawer in every room. If you don’t know where an item should go, put it in that drawer. Once the drawer is full, sort through it. Use what you can and discard the rest. Then start anew.
If unread magazines tend to pile up, put them in a small decorative basket. Read what you can, and discard or recycle the rest. Hospital, doctor’s office, or women’s shelter will often take magazines. Scan articles if you want to keep them and then discard the magazine. If you are habitually unable to keep up with the issues of a particular magazine, cancel the subscription or read it online.
Daily: Sort through your mail. Have your child help you pick up toys every night before bed.
Weekly: Vacuum or sweep your floor. Dust.
Monthly: Vacuum your furniture. Scan magazine articles you want to keep and then toss out old magazines. Dust your bookshelves.
Quarterly: Pull out your books and knickknacks to dust underneath and around them.
Annually: If you have a fireplace, inspect and clean it once a year. Either hire a professional or clean the fireplace yourself. Deep clean your carpet by renting a machine or hiring a professional.
Check back here next week and we'll tackle the bathrooms. Read the entire Deep Cleaning Guide here.
Storage & organization can be tricky but it doesn't have to be with Storage Theory!
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