Cleaning professionals say this is the first thing you should clean in the living room

Before you do anything else, make sure this dust surprising hotspot is sparkling clean

large pink living room with fireplace, rug and artwork
(Image credit: Future PLC / Brent Darby)

We spend a huge amount of time in our living rooms (around four and a half hours a day, on average). So whether we're hosting guests or enjoying some time to ourselves, our living spaces quickly attract all kinds of dust, dirt and debris.

Knowing how to clean a living room efficiently makes the whole thing so much quicker and easier, but it's not always easy to know where to start in a space with so many different materials. What do experts recommend? Starting with your ceiling fan or lighting before working your way down from top to bottom.

This simple rule of thumb will be helpful when you're doing a weekly clean or if you just want to quickly spruce up your space before friends come over.

living room with fireplace, mirror and statement light

(Image credit: Future PLC)

The first thing to clean in the living room

'When cleaning your living room, you should always start with the highest areas first,' says Justin from house cleaning and maid service Modern Maids. 'This is because when dust falls down you do not want to re-clean areas. 

'So, typically the first area we recommend cleaning is the ceiling fan. From there you work your way down and clean the lights, then windows, picture frames, tables and lastly your floors,' explains Justin. 'The top to bottom approach is necessary for saving time.'

Usually, we want to get the job done as quickly as possible, so it's tempting to clear the floor area first before getting to work with your vacuum cleaner. However, tackling the more fiddly, high-up areas first will mean you don't end up dusting things you've already dusted.

living room with fireplace, mirror and statement light

(Image credit: Future PLC)

'When I'm cleaning my living room, I usually start with the ceiling light,' says Jennifer Ebert, Deputy Editor (Digital) at Homes & Gardens. 'I give the light fitting a good dust and then do the tops of picture frames and mirrors. I do this with my handheld vacuum, the follow up with a damp cloth. That way, I capture as much debris as possible without it falling on to furniture below, but any that does will be vacuumed or wiped up as I move downwards.

'Cleaning from top to bottom is a simple trick that gets you in a headspace to do the job more methodically. Once I've gone from top to bottom I usually work around the room clockwise,' says Jen. 'That way, nothing gets missed and it gets done that bit quicker.'

Living room lighting, especially ceiling lights, are something we often turn a blind eye to once we've got them installed. Focusing on the more intricate details, like ceiling fans, chandeliers and light fixtures as the first step should mean that when you finally get your vacuum cleaner out, every last bit of dust and dirt is removed.

living room with fireplace, mirror and statement light

(Image credit: Future PLC / James Merrell)

Giving bookshelves, floor lamps and side tables a thorough dusting after cleaning the floors will stop things from feeling squeaky clean. It also compromises the air quality by releasing dust back into the air, which you definitely don't want if you suffer from allergies.

Next time you're doing a big clean, look up and see if there's dust or any cobwebs lurking up high. Glass and metal light fixtures can be real dust magnets, and as well as not being visible, a layer of dust will also be dimming the light coming from the bulbs. 

It's sometimes recommended that you start by decluttering the living room before cleaning, but we'd argue that clearing out your living room is a task for a whole other day. 

Just remember to go from top to bottom.

Millie Hurst
Section Editor

Millie Hurst is a freelance lifestyle writer with over six years of experience in digital journalism. Having previously worked as Solved Section Editor at Homes & Gardens and Senior SEO Editor at News UK in London and New York, Millie has written for an array of homes brands including Livingetc and Real Homes and was formerly Senior Content Editor at Ideal Home. She has written and edited countless features on home organization, decluttering and interior design and always hopes to inspire readers with new ways to enjoy their homes. She lives in Sheffield, South Yorkshire, and loves to weave nature-inspired decor and nods to time spent in Italy into her own home.