6 dirty, hidden areas of the living room we forget to clean, according to experts

Wondering why yours never feels fresh? These hidden dirt spots are being missed again, and again

Three living rooms with hidden hard to clean areas, such as lighting, tv centers and couches
(Image credit: Gross & Daley / Alice Lane Interior Design, photography by Nicole Geralut / Future)

Are there areas of your living room you simply never clean? 

Cleaning a living room is a task most of us tackle weekly, and if you spent all of last month ticking off tasks on your spring cleaning checklist, you might be wondering how to keep this just-scrubbed feeling all year long. The key, say cleaning experts, is to clean areas of our living rooms that don’t normally see a dust rag. 

As it turns out, there are plenty of spots we miss. With the help of two of our favorite cleaning experts, we’ve rounded up these hidden areas of the living room we’re all likely to forget to clean.

1. Entertainment centers

Neutral living room with tall decorated shelves, large black TV, cream sofa, artwork on walls, ottoman, leather lounge chair

(Image credit: Alice Lane Interior Design, photography by Nicole Geralut)

We all love to gather around that family room TV, but if your TV is set inside an entertainment center, Jill Koch of Jill Comes Clean suggests giving the whole piece more than just a passing wipe of your rag. It’s a place that can get dusty in hard-to-see places.

'It's very easy to overlook under entertainment centers. This area is often neglected because it's hard to get to and not an easy piece to move like a couch or chair might be,' says Koch. 

Even if your TV isn’t on or inside a larger piece of furniture, Koch still considers it a common problem zone. 'I would say behind the TV, in general, is often missed,' she tells us. 'Dust accumulates behind there and on wires so it's good to run a skinny duster or vacuum attachment behind there every now and then.'

It makes sense to clean your TV screen at the same time, though do ensure you follow the right cleaning processes to ensure you don't damage it. Mr Siga's microfiber cloths sold on Amazon is our recommended buy – it won't scratch the screen and can be used to remove dust and marks without chemicals.

Jill Koch
Jill Weaver Koch

Jill Koch is an expert in all things organizing and cleaning. She’s a mom, wife, nurse, and former news reporter who never lost the sharing side of reporting, and thus her blog, Jill Comes Clean, was born.

2. Every single remote

When was the last time you cleaned the remotes for your TV and any additional devices? According to Kathy Cohoon of Two Maids & a Mop, it wasn’t recently enough. And if you think of how often we use our remotes – and how many hands touch them – it's a fair point. In fact, the remote features on our list of the dirtiest places in your home.

'The TV and device remotes are at the top of the list when it comes to items people forget to clean,' she says. 'Be sure to clean your remote at least once a week. To do so, first, remove the batteries from the remote. Then, use an anti-bacterial wipe or a cloth sprayed with disinfectant and wipe the entire surface of the remote. If there is grime inside the buttons use a cotton swab soaked in rubbing alcohol to carefully clean each button. Replace the batteries and you are good to go.'

XHL Oumin's pre-moistened wipes sold on Amazon can be used to clean remotes and other electronics. 

Kathy Cohoon headshot
Kathy Cohoon

Kathy Cohoon works as a representative and cleaning expert for Two Maids & A Mop, a Tallahassee, Florida-based company that provides residential house cleaning services. 

3. Underneath your sofa cushions, pillows, and throw blankets

living room with orange velvet sofa, glass coffee table and fireplace

(Image credit: Future)

Even if you vacuum your sofa and plump your couch pillows more than most, it’s likely you’re still not cleaning your couch enough, says Koch. 

'We likely use the couch the most out of any area in the living room,' Koch explains. 'Given how much life it sees on a day-to-day basis, we should definitely be cleaning under the cushions – and the items on it – more than we probably do.'

So how often is enough? 'I try to vacuum under the cushions weekly if I have time or every other week,' says Koch. 'And throw pillow covers, try washing biweekly or monthly at the least. If the pillows don't have covers it's understandable to not clean them as often as it might be more of a process. At the very least, vacuum them when you clean the room. Blankets, toss in with the wash once a week or biweekly.'

We have dedicated guides on steam cleaning a couch, on cleaning a velvet couch and cleaning a leather couch. We also have information on washing microfiber couch covers and washing couch cushion covers, plus cleaning methods you should never use on a fabric couch.

4. Ceiling fans and light fixtures

small living room with sectional and console table behind, large retro pendant, artwork, table lamps, round ottoman

(Image credit: Albion Nord)

In terms of hidden areas in your living room, this next one makes a lot of sense –Cohoon says most people forget to look up at their living room lighting

'Many people forget to clean ceiling fans or dust any light fixtures,' she says. 'It’s hard to see the dust when these are in use but can make an otherwise clean room look grungy if not taken care of. Make sure to start your cleaning routine with a wipe-down of any ceiling light fixtures or fans.'

We have a great ceiling fan cleaning tip (involving pillowcases).

5. Hard-to-solve messes, mistakes, and accidents

Small dark brown living room with gallery wall

(Image credit: Gross & Daley)

We’ve all been there – a picture-hanging project didn’t go to plan and left an unsightly hole, or a piece of furniture created an impossible smudge on the wall. But according to Cohoon, these things only add to the overall messy vibe of a room when left unresolved. 

Luckily, an immediate fix doesn't have to involve plaster, paint, or even any tools at all.

'The oldest trick in the book is to cover up any lingering messes with something else,' she says. 'Kids took a crayon to the wall? Cover it with a decorative sign. Stain on the counter? Cover it with a coaster. There are endless ways to cover a mess just long enough to make your guests think your home is clean!'

Or, you could try to fix it. We have found that there are many things you can clean with a Magic Eraser that might otherwise seem permanent. Mr Clean Erase and Renew Magic Eraser, Original, at Amazon is our favorite buy.

6. Curtains and carpets

living room with sofa, coffee table and curtains

(Image credit: Future PLC)

If your room smells bad, the most likely culprits are the textiles, so be sure to clean curtains, deep clean your carpet and clean area rugs, too.

Even if you’ve done a full deep clean, the scent of your living room is one overlooked area that Cohoon says is easy to change and can have a major impact.

'Focus on a fresh smell. A pleasant aroma in the home can definitely create the effect of a clean space, and you can attain this by lighting a candle, using a scent spray, or putting a simmer pot on to create a fresh smell,' she suggests. 'If the weather allows, open up windows and turn on fans to circulate the air, too.'

Making your whole home smell nice is easily done: you can use some of the best home fragrances, best candles and best reed diffusers


How long does it take to deep clean a living room?

It’s easy to tell yourself you can’t clean up because you don’t have enough time, but cleaning expert Jill Koch says that even if you don’t get to the hard-to-reach spots every single time, it’s still worth giving your living room a quick, regular pass. 

'If I only have 30 minutes to clean the living room, I focus on dusting surfaces you can easily see – like the top of the table, but I might skip the legs or underneath if short on time,' she says. '[I also tackle] any obvious dusty areas including the TV screen and make sure to get lamps too. If you don't have time to dust any decor that's okay, but try to get the lamps because it's more obvious when they are dusty. I would also vacuum the room and use an attachment to get under furniture.'

How can I clean a living room fast?

If you only have time to fake clean a living room, cleaning expert Jill Koch says we should never underestimate the power of a thorough tidy. 

'I'd focus on picking up and tidying the space because, even if you clean it from top to bottom, if it's messy it will still not look clean,' she says. 'Conversely, if you only have five minutes to clean a room, focus on just picking up and straightening items and that will make it feel clean until you can do more.'

Before we sign off, we have to mention baseboards. These are easily scuffed and dust can gather on them, too, so always vacuum and wipe them when you can. And lightbulbs – we covered lighting above, but never underestimate how dust can gather on bulbs. And when they're switched on they heat the dust, which, believe it or not, releases odors. So, remember them, too.

Ashley Chalmers
Contributing Editor

Ashley Chalmers is a freelance writer for Homes & Gardens with over 10 years' experience as a digital writer and content creator. Ashley started her career in entertainment and fashion PR in New York, before moving to the French countryside and taking up travel blogging. Now, Ashley lives in London. Her passion for travelling is only matched by her love of making her house feel like a home, and she loves to include her finds from around the world in her decor.