10 Tips That Can Help Make Cleaning Easier for Those With Chronic Pain


Having fibromyalgia can make cleaning difficult. For those of us with chronic pain, cleaning can be challenging, but it doesn’t have to be our biggest challenge.

Here are ten tips you might find make cleaning easier:

1. Know What Your Biggest Challenges Are

Some chores are easy for me (cleaning door knobs), while others are challenging (cleaning the stove). By knowing what my challenges are, I can organize my schedule to spend more time accomplishing my more challenging tasks.

2. List Chores By Priority

There are different chores that need to be done daily, while others can be done weekly, monthly or as needed.  To help focus my energy, I rank chores by priority.

My list might look something like this:

  1. Wash the dishes
  2. Make the bed
  3. Put receipts away
  4. Sew buttons on my jacket
  5. Clean my computer
  6. Clean the bathroom floor

3. Find Cleaning Products That Make Cleaning Easier

I used to use a standard mop and broom, but it made me sore. I searched the internet looking for cleaning products recommended by others with chronic pain, and settled on a vacuum made for hard floors and a Swiffer WetJet. Now, not only does it take less time to clean, it also puts less strain on my back. I only use a traditional broom if the trash is too big for the vacuum or if I’m cleaning up broken glass.

4. Make Accommodations Based on Comfort

One of my biggest cleaning challenges is cleaning the shower and tub. When I have to clean the tub, I use a cleaner that breaks down grime as it sits, so I don’t have to scrub as hard. Then, when it’s time to scrub the tub, I use a padded mat that makes it easier on my knees. For other chores – like folding towels, cleaning the kitchen table and scrubbing burnt food on a pan – I sit down.

5. Clean in Sections

If I have to clean the tub and shower, I will mentally divide the tub into sections – knobs and shower head, outer tub, inner tub, each individual shower wall and the shower curtain. Then, I start by cleaning the smallest section and move my way up from the bottom. By concentration on one part at a time, I can better keep track of what I’ve cleaned and where I left off if I need a break.

6. Listen to Music That Keeps You Motivated

Everyone has music that makes them want to get up and dance. I listen to mine when I’m cleaning. It helps to keep me motivated and helps reduce my stress. Listening to something funny, like your favorite stand up, can also help.

7. Take Breaks

If your pain increases, take a break. Some chores, like cleaning the litter box, should be done all at once. But other chores, like sweeping and mopping, can have breaks. When my back pain increases, I throw away what I’ve swept up so far, and depending on the pain, I’ll sit or lay down. If the pain goes down, I’ll finish cleaning.

8. Have a Plan

Trying to clean your whole home in a day can be both overwhelming and painful. Try to create a schedule where some days, or part of your day, are focused on cleaning. For me, after I have breakfast and shower, I’ll spend one day focused on laundry and another devoted to cleaning my room. It feels more manageable to clean a little at a time.

9. Leave Things for Tomorrow

If you feel like you have reached your limit, don’t push yourself. Don’t feel bad if you were only able to clean half of the bathroom, it will still be there in the morning. Nothing is more important than keeping your pain at a manageable level.

10. Think of Cleaning as Something Positive

When I started taking on more cleaning responsibilities, I despised it.
It felt like it took forever to get anything done. Then, I started to look at the benefits of cleaning. By keeping things clean, it’s easier for me to stay organized, which makes it easier for me to access what I need, when I need it.

Thinkstock image via Scar1984. 


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