10 Tips for Cleaning with Chronic Pain

Conquer your domain!

Keeping your home shiny clean is a challenge for people with chronic illnesses. Each day we have different levels of ability, so a regular cleaning schedule as some people do is just not for us. I do some chores on certain days, just because that is the way it is easiest for me, but overall, I just do things whenever I am able. Whether it is putting your toothpaste back in the drawer when you are finished, or rinsing and putting your coffee mug in the dishwasher, taking care of these everyday little things will help keep clutter at bay.


cleaning sink


Use energy wisely.

Do your harder chores at times when you have more energy. For example, dishes are one of my most energy draining chores. I don’t do my dishes after supper (even though I have a dishwasher) because by then I am low on energy. I do rinse and put dishes in the dishwasher as I go for the most part, but I generally do most of them after my first cup of coffee in the morning after my meds and caffeine have kicked in. Also, vacuuming is something I usually do mid-afternoon after my nap.


Rest more often.

Instead of cleaning or working around the house and taking periodic “rest” breaks, instead, watch TV or read a book and take periodic “work” breaks. Use a timer to begin, until it is a habit. Do your sedentary activities for 15 or 20 minutes, then get up and work on an active task for 5- 10 minutes. This works great if you DVR your favorite television shows. Watch the show until the commercial, hit “pause”, do a task for 5 minutes, and repeat!


Find your “Gotta Clean It.”

Which room makes you crazy when it isn’t clean? My “Number One Gotta Clean It” spot is the kitchen. This is why I always do it in the morning. It is the room that gets the most use, clutter and dirt in my home. When the kids come home, it is where we congregate. After doing the dishes, during my first “break”, I wipe the counters clean, and use baking soda to polish up the sink. I always feel best when my kitchen is clean.


You don’t have a Home Management binder?

Make one. This will help you stay organized and know what needs to be done and when. Many websites can show you how to create one for yourself. Most also have free printable pages already set up for use. Mine has sections for Budget, Rental Information, Auto Maintenance, Contact information for family members, utility companies (with account numbers and login information for each), and Insurance and Medical information.


home Management Binder        medical information


Take Ten.

Take 10 minutes each week to clean out a drawer or shelf that needs straightening. I have a rule: If I do not love it, or have not used it in a year, it goes away.“ Simplifying your surroundings can make a big difference in your mental health. The less you have to work around, dust or pick up, the more restful you will be.



Skip the chores that are most energy sucking. My husband is in charge of the big stuff like carrying the laundry up and down stairs (I fold and put away) and mowing the yard. When my kids were home, they rotated who had dishes each night. Every kid had one chore every day. Even little children can empty bathroom waste cans, put silverware away, put their folded clothes in drawers and put their clothes in a hamper. It is good for them to learn these responsibilities also.


Keep Supplies Handy.

bucket of cleaning supplies-md


Use a bucket to keep cleaning supplies in. I keep a scrubby sponge, magic eraser, Swiffer duster, an all-purpose spray cleaner and a roll of paper towels. I keep one in the upstairs bathroom and one in the downstairs bathroom. These are the main tools- you may need different cleaners as well, but having these all handy and ready to go will save time searching and preparing to clean.



Use Multipurpose Tools.

Make use of a quick mop like the Swiffer Sweeper. They are lightweight for daily use. I use mine for many tasks other than quickly mopping up spills. I put old socks on for easily dusting ledges or grabbing cobwebs, use low dust linen-type towels sprayed with window cleaner to clean higher windows. I have crocheted reusable pads for dusting hard floors and light cleaning. I even use them to clean the shower walls!


Use your dishwasher!

Did you know you could wash many things other than dishes in your dishwasher? Here are some examples: wash children’s toys on the top rack- put smaller items in mesh laundry bags (bonus tip: plug the hole in bathtub toys with a drop of glue from a glue gun to prevent that nasty mold from forming inside!), dog toys, range grills and refrigerator shelves, dust pans and baseball caps. I have heard you can also cook salmon in it, but I have not been tempted to try!



Find a lightweight vacuum.

Vacuuming is another task that can use a lot of energy, and may leave you with back and arm pain. It is important to find cleaning tools that are lightweight and easy to maneuver, and this is especially true for you vacuum. For me, finding the right one is as important as finding the right mattress! I use the Hoover Air™ Steerable Bagless Upright. It is under 14 pounds, you can wash the filter, and I have put the canister in the dishwasher a couple times to fight allergens also. It cleans carpeting and hard floors, and is also very easy to steer.


I hope you have found these suggestions helpful, and that you have the very best day you possibly can.

2 Replies to “10 Tips for Cleaning with Chronic Pain”

  1. Thank you for this. I find it hard to pace myself and keep a clean flat as i live on my own. Getting my counter top dishwasher was the best thing i did 2 years ago. I brought it 2nd hand with birthday money. I didnt get on with my gtech power sweeper so just brought a new light weight hoover and its brilliant.
    I will use your tips for delegating tasks that need doing.

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