5 House Cleaning Tips for Life with Rheumatoid Arthritis

Last updated: January 2023

In a perfect world, I’d be able to afford to have someone come in and clean my house for me. But as we are all painfully aware, we do not live in a perfect world.

House cleaning tips

So with that in mind, I’ve had to find different ways to balance my need for a clean home with the reality of life with rheumatoid disease.

1. Use long poles to limit reaching and bending

For example, I often struggle with pain in my lower back, and I would DREAD cleaning our showers and tub. Getting on my knees and reaching and scrubbing was the stuff of nightmares for me. Even breaking it up into smaller tasks didn’t work. I’d clean the shower and end up out of commission with back pain for a week because of all the reaching and bending.

That is, until I discovered a little trick. Your mop can be used on more things than your floor. In fact, I have 2 different mops, one for floors and one for showers and tubs. Now, I can clean the shower in under 10 minutes without breaking my back. Any Kind of mop will work, from a Dollar Store mop to a pricier O’Cedar, just choose one that will work best for you.

2. Create a cleaning caddy (or 2)

I put all of my cleaning supplies together in one caddy. You might think this isn’t a big deal, but I found myself going back and forth from room to room because one type of cleaner was under the kitchen sink and another one in the closet, and yet another under the bathroom sink. Rubber gloves were in one place and rags in another.

Just save yourself the hassle and put everything into one cleaning caddy that goes with you wherever you are cleaning at that time. Because I get aggravated going up and down our stairs, I actually have one upstairs and one downstairs.

3. Work in small sections

One of my absolute favorite tips is to change your mindset to allow for small tasks. Instead of thinking, I need to clean the bathroom, which can be very overwhelming, I tell myself, I need to wipe down the counter. So instead of getting overwhelmed with the energy it takes to clean the whole bathroom, I do small tasks with plenty of rest between them. It may take longer to ultimately have a “clean” bathroom, but it is much more manageable and, therefore, more likely to get completed.

4. Use steam to limit painful scrubbing

My fingers and hands literally cannot handle anything that requires a lot of scrubbing or scouring. Using steam not only helps to eliminate painful scrubbing but also keeps you from having to use cleaning products that often contain harmful chemicals. Just make sure that if you invest in something like a steam mop, it is safe to use on your floors. I really like more of a handheld Bissel steamer that cleans the really stuck-on goo that kids tend to leave behind.

5. Invest in quality and easy dust and dirt eliminators

There are quite a few quality options you can invest in to help cut back on the dust and dirt in your home with very little effort on your part. Depending on your budget, this can include anything like a robovac, air purifier, or just HVAC register filters. All of these can work on their own with very little effort and energy on your part. Set that little robovac up to do the hard work while you rest your painful piggies.

Bonus tip: Lightweight and multipurpose are key

The varying weights of different vacuums never even occurred to me before life with RD. Now, if I’m in the market for a new sweeper, weight is my absolute first consideration. Followed very quickly by how many functions it has. Can it pull apart to be handheld to clean fans, counter messes, or steps? Does it include any spot-cleaning options or work with both hardwood and carpet?

I learned the hard and painful way that it is worth the extra cost to have a vacuum on each floor when I fell down the steps while trying to carry (even the lightweight) vacuum upstairs. I know we don’t always have the extra money to spend on things like that, but I have to say that at least it is cheaper than a visit to the emergency room. So if you need to justify the expense, there you go.

Don’t compare your clean home with someone who doesn’t have RA

Again, in a perfect world, we would all be content with the level of “clean” that we are able to keep up with in our own homes, and we wouldn’t care what Karen down the street says she does to keep up with her house. The reality is that comparing your house with Karen’s house is like comparing apples to oranges. This is why I believe that it really needs to be mentioned that you can’t compare how you clean your home with how anyone else cleans their home.

I used to do this all the time and end up feeling bad about myself because no matter what I did, I was never able to “keep up” with any other person who doesn’t have a chronic illness.

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