How to Clean a Room

Woman with cleaning supplies
Take cleaning one step at a time.

While every room in the house needs a slightly different cleaning focus, there are several basic principles to remember when cleaning a room. Not only is it important to get everything out of the room that doesn't belong there first, but it's also best to clear all surfaces before beginning the job. Developing a system for accomplishing these tasks will have you in and out with your vaccuum and rags in about a half hour for a basic clean, or an hour or two for a spring-cleaning sweep.

Gather Your Tools

Get everything together before you start cleaning:

  • Feather dusters (optional)
  • Laundry baskets, trash bags, and empty boxes
  • Window cleaner of your choice and newspapers
  • Furniture polish
  • Clean rags
  • Vacuum cleaner
  • Broom (optional)
  • Mop, bucket, and floor cleaner (unnecessary if the room is carpeted)

Eliminating Clutter

The first step to cleaning any room is to get rid of the clutter so that you can actually reach the surfaces that need to be cleaned. There are two types of clutter, and both need to be removed: items that belong somewhere else, and items that belong where they are. The first type of items needs to be removed from the area permanently, while the second type simply needs to be placed somewhere else for a short time while you do your cleaning.

  1. Bring two laundry baskets or two trashbags into the room you want to clean
  2. Take everything that belongs in another room of the house and put it in one basket or bag
  3. Take everything that is not put away, but is in the correct room, and put it in the other basket or bag
  4. Remove these baskets or bags from the room for the time being
  5. Take all of the items sitting on cleaning surfaces and gather them into a box (or several different boxes, one for each surface: floor, desk, shelves, windowsills). This can include anything from shoes lined up under the bed to picture frames on shelves.
  6. Remove these boxes into the hallway or another room.

Vaccuuming and Dusting

Now that all of the clutter is out of the way, cleaning is quick and easy. Before scrubbing any surfaces, you'll want to get as much dirt and dust out of the room as possible. While some cleaners like to use dust rags or feather dusters, a vaccuum with a dusting brush can serve all of your needs. For a quick clean, skip step number one.

  1. Examine the ceiling. If there are any spider webs, tie a rag onto a broom and brush them down.
  2. Dust off all surfaces, starting with the highest ones and working your way towards the floor. A vaccuum dust brush is easy and quick.
  3. Vaccuum the floor thoroughly, including under the bed and under any tables or desks.


In a quick clean, you probably will skip the windows. For a deep clean, get a bottle of Windex or make your own homemade window cleaner, a clean rag, and some newspapers, or, alternatively, window-washing wipes. If you use wipes, simply wipe down the windows with them; for glass cleaner, follow these steps:

  1. Spray the window from the top to the bottom
  2. Use the clean rag to wipe the window clean
  3. Use newspapers to dry the window by swiping them in clean strokes, top to bottom. This step eliminates streaking.
  4. Remember that for true window cleaning, you have to also go outside to do the other side of the windows.

Cleaning Surfaces

Some of the surfaces in your room will require more cleaning than a quick dusting or vaccuuming. Use wood cleaner for wooden shelves and furnisher, or all-purpose cleaner for synthetic surfaces. Simply wet your cloth and run it over the surface, scrubbing in areas where there are spots. This action will get any dirt or dust that the dusting and vaccuuming phase left behind. For a deep clean, polishing the wooden surfaces can be done after cleaning them.

Cleaning Floors

You already vaccuumed in the dust and dirt section, but floors that are not carpeted should also be cleaned. For wooden floors, use a wooden floor cleaner; for tiles and linoleum, use an all-purpose floor cleaner.

  1. Read the instructions on the bottle for mixing; use the correct ratio of cleaner to water.
  2. Wet the mop, ring it out, and clean the floor using a figure-eight pattern. Make sure your mop is wet at all times.
  3. For dried-on spots, wet the area and let the cleaning solution sit for ten minutes before trying to mop the mess away. A quicker solution is to scrub it.

For carpeted floors, the key to keeping the floor looking nice is to get out any spills immediately, before they become stains. Use a high-power carpet cleaner to clean up spills when they occur. Once or twice a year, rent a carpet cleaner to maintain all the carpets in the house. For additional carpet advice, follow these carpet cleaning instructions.

Cleaning Items and Reorganizing

While the floor is drying, take the time to clean all of the items you originally took out of the room. In the hallway or another room, use the vacuum dust brush or a wet rag to clean figurines and photo frames, etc. that belong in the room you just finished. You can also put away, in their respective rooms, all of the items you removed at the beginning because they belong elsewhere. When the floor is dry, bring the cleaned items back into the room and arrange them on the shelves and other surfaces where they belong.

Finishing Touches

Many homeowners like to finish up with a spritz of air freshener, such as Febreze or a homemade version. Whether you did a full clean or a basic one, the room will be much more inviting now that it's tidy and dust free. Ensure regular cleaning sessions in order to get your house organized and keep it a pleasant environment for all inhabitants.

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How to Clean a Room