I love being in a clean, uncluttered environment. In fact, it is detrimental for my anxiety and depression when I am surrounded by mess and clutter. So, as you can imagine, cleaning has always been a pretty high priority for me and my house is generally pretty orderly.
I’ve done hair for 20 years and standing for 10+ hours a day has started taking it’s toll. I’ve always been able to power through the sprains, strains and even breaks throughout the years, but when I had a major back injury almost a year ago I was taken out of commission quickly. I spent weeks on the couch, barely able to walk or stand. Over time I have seen some improvement and am not back to work part time, but I am almost constantly in pain and can only walk or stand for limited amounts of time. As you can imagine, this has drastically affected my ability to clean and do things around the house, too.
After a few weeks on the couch my house was starting to look like a disaster. I was depressed from being in constant pain, from having to re-evaluate my career and be dependent on others, and looking around at my messy house was the final nail in the coffin.
Months later my house is clean again. While I don’t pretend to compare my situation to some people I know who deal with chronic illness and pain, I have learned a LOT about how to keep up with my house even when my body isn’t cooperating. Sometimes you just have to power through the pain, but by making a few modifications my cleaning routine has gone from overwhelming to manageable.
Here are my cleaning tips for those with chronic pain.
Use The Right Tools
Having to install railings to get up stairs, or use a cane when the pain is exceptionally bad felt like admitting defeat. But I quickly learned that they were just tools that helped keep me mobile and productive. In the same vein, I realized I needed different tools to clean my house that would accommodate my mobility issues.
I have a Dyson Animal vacuum, which I like, but since I hurt my back carrying it up and down the stairs between our two floors was out of the question. Not to mention pushing it around wasn’t great on my back, either. I couldn’t justify the $600 price tag for a Dyson stick vacuum since this was a second vacuum, but I like the concept of a lighter model. After TONS of research I ended up with a Shark DuoClean Rocket Corded Ultralight Upright Vacuum (say that 10 times fast). It got amazing reviews, and was half the price of the Dyson. Cons: It is top heavy. When I first started using it, it still strained my back because all the weight is in your hand. Once I got used to it, this doesn’t bother me as much. One sort of con is that the vacuum head isn’t very wide. This makes it amazing for getting in small spaces, but also means more strokes to get the whole floor clean.
The pros are that it is easy to store, has tons of great attachments – like the one to get under appliances! It has AMAZING suction. Like, better than my Dyson suction all from this little hand vac. I didn’t realize there was a high and low at first and accidentally sucked a chunk out of my rug, the suction is so intense! This vacuum not only cleans my carpets, it has literally replaced sweeping on my wood and linoleum. I am amazed at how well it gets into corners and how thoroughly it picks up even the smallest dirt. This could easily be my only vacuum if my Dyson bites the dust.
I used to get down on my hands and knees to scrub my floors, but that would be impossible now. Well, I might get down, but I would never get back up! I’ve tried a few different mops, but I wasn’t impressed with how well they cleaned and some really hurt my back. This Rubbermaid Reveal Spray mop seems similar to others I have tried, so I was skeptical when I bought it, but I am so glad I did! I add vinegar and water to the reservoir and this does and AMAZING job at cleaning my floors! The hight and handle of the mop is ergonomic for me, and I am able to mop pain-free. The washable pads do a great job at actually cleaning. Once in a while I have to have my husband get in the corners, but other than that I feel this mop gets the floors just as clean as I did on my hands and knees.
The absolute hardest cleaning task for me post-injury is cleaning my tub and shower. Bending down and over = extreme pain and serious regret the next day. My husband has been a huge help with this task, but he doesn’t always have the time. I picked up a Hurricane Spin Scrubber on a whim, and I am really impressed! This has pretty good torque and lots of different brush heads to get into the nooks and crannies. Now, this isn’t going to blast super thick soap scum, but it is perfect for upkeep and regular cleaning. You can even use this to clean out your oven!
Its much easier to maintain a tidy house than to play catch up once its dirty. I have talked before about how maintaining routines are vital to me staying on top of housework. I still maintain that this is the number one secret to my cleaning success! Every morning I at least wipe down the mirror and sink in the bathroom. It’s a small task that only takes a few minutes, but it makes the entire bathroom look so much cleaner. Every night I make sure all the dishes are in the dishwasher, my countertops are cleaned and wiped, and that my kitchen floor is clean. These are the two most-used rooms in the house, so by maintaining a daily standard of clean, I am drastically reducing the amount of other housework I have to do.
Whatever a routine looks like to you, do it and stick to it no matter how you feel! There are many nights I do a little bit and then have to sit down. But I get back up and keep doing a little bit until it is done. Obviously you have to give yourself some grace, but it’s really important to be disciplined.
This is a great big topic with tons of variables, so even if your situation looks a little bit different than mine I hope you were able to glean some tips you can put into practice. Do you I’ve with chronic pain or illness? What tools or tips make it easier for you to keep up with your house? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.