If you suffer with arthritis, you’ll know just how painfully difficult the simplest of household tasks can be. Bending, reaching, twisting, turning and performing relatively simple cleaning jobs can take a heavy toll on arthritic joints. Thankfully, there are a few ways you can relieve the pressure on your wrists, elbows, knees, shoulders and ankles — and they all involve reasonably simple changes to your routines.
Use the right equipment
Even squeezing the trigger of a spray gun can cause excruciating pain in the wrists and hands. Choose the equipment and cleaning agents that work best for you. For example, cream cleaners applied with microfibre cloths might be better than sprays. Create small cleaning cleaning stations that include everything you need to clean — so you don’t need to collect cleaning products from cupboards every time you need them.
It’s also important to ensure you have the best tools for the job. Steam mops, for instance, allow you to clean floors without bending or getting onto your knees. And a lightweight, versatile and ergonomically designed vacuum cleaner will minimize the strain on your joints. Search the Internet for reviews using the search term: ‘best vacuum for arthritis sufferers’.
Vacuuming is often the most challenging cleaning task for arthritis sufferers. Make sure you’re using all of your long attachments to minimize bending and stretching. Also, you might find that a cleaner with a motorised brushroll is easier to push and pull over a thick carpet.
Prioritise high-traffic areas
If you struggle to clean for extended periods, prioritise the high traffic areas of your home. Particularly if you’re vacuuming, cleaning for long periods can take its toll very quickly. Make sure you get the high-traffic areas out of the way first, as well as rooms where you accept visitors. Ask for help from family and friends with other areas, or clean them less frequently.
Clean little and often
It’s usually best to avoid “cleaning days” and spring cleans when you’re living with arthritis. A much more sensible approach involves cleaning little and often. Clean up messes as soon as they’re made, and always have a duster at hand to dust surfaces as you’re passing. If you’re taking a bath or shower, clean the surfaces immediately afterwards — it’s often easier when they’re still warm and wet.
Make use of contact time
When you’re cleaning surfaces such as kitchen worktops and baths, give your cleaning agents time to cut through dirt, grease and grime — rather than spending time with a scrubbing brush in your hand. It’s amazing what cleaners can do all on their own.
Tip: A combination of baking soda and white vinegar is great at cleaning kitchen and bathroom surfaces with the minimum of effort.
Use dusting mitts
If you find holding cloth painful, use dusting mitts for everyday dusting and wiping down surfaces. Choose mitts that are held in place with an elastic cuff to ensure they’re not falling off every few seconds.
Store cleaning supplies strategically
Ideally, you should have a storage area in every room for cleaning products. This will save you a lot of trips, bending down and climbing stairs. Use a lightweight plastic caddy for sprays, creams, cloths and brushes, and keep it somewhere at waist-height if possible. It may also be worth investing in a second vacuum cleaner if your home has two floors.
Cleaning with arthritis can be very painful, and potentially dangerous at times. But if you have the right products, a sensible schedule and help when you need it, keeping your home clean should will become a little easier.