Spring Cleaning with Arthritis – by Ashley Boynes-Shuck

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Spring cleaning can be a huge undertaking for most of us, but can especially be a challenge when you’re living with arthritis or chronic pain.

A stiff or painful neck, back, shoulder, wrists, knees, or hands can make even the simplest daily activities difficult for people with various forms of arthritis. It may be a challenge to dust, sweep, or mop, and may make tasks like putting away dishes or folding laundry seem to be nearly impossible.

Luckily, there are ways to help make keeping a clean home easier. Check out the tips below, and let us know your own tricks in the comments section!

  • Use ergonomic and/or arthritis-friendly cleaning tools. The Arthritis Foundation’s Ease of Use site offers many options, as do many other websites. Or, you can always ask your doctor for recommendations on adaptable tools or cleaning items that may help make your life a bit easier and less painful.
  • Listen to your body and do things in moderation. If you are having a particularly painful day, give yourself a break from the daunting task of cleaning, or even from your regular everyday household  chores. If you are expecting company or planning a party, it may be a good idea to do little tasks here and there leading up to the visit, rather than waiting until the last minute and having to do it all at once, which can be difficult — and the stress of which may trigger a flare.
  • Consider hiring a maid, housekeeper, or cleaning service, whether it is one-time, or on a monthly, weekly, or bi-weekly basis. Many of these individuals and/or companies offer different plans and pricing tiers, so you may be able to get assistance from a maid service without breaking the bank. If you opt for them to just do certain rooms instead of the entire house, or ask them only to do whichever jobs you physically cannot, and save the rest to do on your own, you may also save some money. You could also hire a local teenager or college student in your neighborhood to help you, paying them may be more affordable than a housekeeper, especially with a one-time spring clean.
  • Consider using cleaning tools such as dusters with extendable or adjustable handles, items with soft rubber or silicone grips, or self-propelled vacuum cleaners. Anything that has adaptations from the norm could be useful for you.
  • Many items for cleaning or cooking are automatic, electronic, or battery-operated so that you won’t have to fidget with inserting a plug or worry about tripping over cords. Try to use these kinds of items when it is possible.
  • Ask for help. A spouse, a friend, a neighbor, a child, or grandchild may be more willing to help with daily chores than you think.
  • The bathroom can be especially difficult to keep clean. If your hands bother you, look for cleaning products with one-touch, continuous spray instead of those that require you to press a trigger multiple times.
  • For the kitchen, a dishwasher is a great investment, as it requires less hands-on work. Additionally, electronic kitchen gadgets that work automatically with the touch of a button can be a smart choice for people with arthritis.
  • Use a step-stool when trying to clean hard-to-reach areas.
  • Have a spring cleaning party for your family — everyone can chip in, and then you can go out for ice cream or order in pizza as a reward at the end of the day.
  • Be patient with yourself and your body – breaking things up into smaller tasks will make it a whole lot easier.

What other ideas can you think of to make spring cleaning an easier task — arthritis or not?

We’d love to hear your ideas.

Be Well,

Ashley Boynes-Shuck

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