Of course, they are also “downtime” sanctuaries, where you can retreat alone to read a book or just stare out the window and revel in a half hour all to yourself.

Regardless of what you do there, though, the activity is going to be a lot less pleasant if the room is dirty or cluttered.

These rooms tend to be some of the largest in the house, with a whole lot of nooks and crannies where dirt can hide.

They also experience a great deal of everyday wear and tear because they can be busy areas.

It’s not just the daily use by family members; special events, like a cocktail party in a formal living room or a footy match get-together in a family room, can take a big toll.

You’ll inevitably deal with a few stains on the furniture or sofa.

The Common Area Action Plan Step 1. Fight the dust battle

The Common Area Action Plan Step 1. Fight the dust battle

Ever notice how many sur­faces there are in your living room?

Each and every one is a potential dust collector.

Start your common-area cleaning by whipping out your lamb’s­ wool pad or soft lint-free cloth and dust­ing from the ceiling down.

Don’t forget the lighting fixtures and the hidden areas, such as the top of door moldings.

A thorough dusting is sometimes all that is neces­sary to perk up a living room or family room.

Common areas also often contain special features that call for regular cleaning.

A formal living room may have a bow win­dow with multiple panes of glass that need to sparkle to really show that architectural feature at its best.

Family rooms often host an inviting fireplace that will be less inviting if the glass screen has become clouded with soot (a quick secret: Mix some ashes with a little water and rub the mixture onto the glass with a paper towel-the caked-on soot will come right off!).

Even the now-common all-in-one entertainment center and home theater presents a host of challenges, from keeping cable clutter out of sight to making sure various media such as CDs, DVDs, and remotes are kept in order.

A simple, regular cleaning routine is all you need to ensure that you will always have a comfortable and inviting room.

Step 2. Keep your art and photos looking sharp

Step 2. Keep your art and photos looking sharp

Much of a living room’s personal­ity comes from the art and photos you display. Picture frames and glass don’t usually get filthy dirty, but they do collect dust, residue from heat sources, and finger­prints.

Regular dusting and an occasional cleaning will keep them in good shape. To wash framed glass, dampen a cloth in mild vinegar-and-water solution, wring it almost dry, and wipe.

Don’t spray liq­uid directly on the glass; it can easily seep under the frame and damage the mat or, worse, the artwork or photo.

Polish framed glass with a clean paper coffee filter or used dryer sheet; they’re lint-free, and the dryer sheet will naturally repel dust.

Step 3. Finesse the furniture and the floor

Step 3. Finesse the furniture and the floor

Dust the furniture moving around the room from left to right.

Wipe down vinyl or leather furnishings, and polish any wood as necessary.

When you’re done dusting, move all light furniture to the center of the room and vacuum the uphol­stery, carpet, or dust-mop wood floors.

Then move the furniture back to its original position.

Be sure to vacuum or sweep under larger pieces using the vacuum’s hose extensions or dust­mop as necessary.

Step 4. Spiff up your electronics

Step 4. Spiff up your electronics
Max Pixel

Never spray cleaner directly onto your TV screen, and never use an alcohol-based cleaner on the case or screen of any of your electron­ics.

Instead, spray eyeglass lens cleaner directly onto a clean lint­free cloth and wipe down the TV and other electronics.

Regularly dust TV and computer monitors with fabric softener sheets from your laundry.

The sheets will not only remove the dust, they are designed to reduce static cling, so they will keep dust from resettling for several days or longer.

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