Cleaning With Chronic Illness

Cleaning With Chronic Illness

If you live with a chronic illness, managing daily tasks can feel like navigating a minefield. Cleaning, with its physical demands and energy requirements, often tops the list of challenging chores. But maintaining a clean living space is not just about tidiness—it can significantly impact your mental and physical health. It’s absolutely crucial to find a routine for cleaning with chronic illness that respects your bodies’ limits and makes room for the unexpected turns of spoonie life.

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The information in this blog post is provided for educational and informational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking it because of something you have read online. The author of this post is not a licensed medical professional and does not assume any liability for any actions taken based on the information contained in this post.

What is a spoonie, anyway?

Understanding Your Energy Levels

One of the first steps to a sustainable cleaning routine is acknowledging and mapping out your energy levels throughout the day or week. Since fatigue can often strike unpredictably, it’s crucial to understand your body’s signals. Start by identifying times when you generally have more energy and consider scheduling your cleaning tasks during these windows. Remember, energy is a currency—spend it wisely and listen to your body to avoid overexertion.

At the same time, be ready to adjust as needed. For instance, you might normally try to wash dishes immediately after a meal. But if eating a big brunch leaves you feeling sleepy (hello, gluten intolerance!), it’s worth it to rest now and clean up later. If you’re worried about forgetting, try setting a reminder or leaving a physical note out before getting back into bed!

Breaking Tasks Into Manageable Steps

Looking at a messy home can be overwhelming, making it tough to know where to start. This is especially true for those of us who are also neurodivergent! Try to break down cleaning tasks into small, manageable steps. Instead of setting a goal to clean the entire bathroom, you might start with just the sink or replacing towels. This method for cleaning with chronic illness can prevent exhaustion and gives a sense of accomplishment with each small task completed.

I love Magic ToDo by Goblin Tools for this! By entering a task like “clean the bathroom,” you can automatically generate a breakdown of sub-tasks at your chosen level, whether you need things as minute as possible or just a simple list of overarching tasks.

Tools and Gadgets to Ease the Process

The right tools for cleaning with chronic illness can be gamechanging. For instance, someone who struggles with their arms and hands might invest in tools that reduce strain. For example, a lightweight vacuum cleaner or a mop with a wringing mechanism can minimize the need for bending and heavy lifting. In addition to ergonomic cleaning tools, consider tools like robotic vacuums or extendable dusters that can make the work less physically demanding. These investments are not just tools; they are supports for your health!

I’m particularly loving our robot vacuum lately! “Jacques” is ready to clean the floors with just the press of a button—and a quick glance to make sure there’s nothing he can suck up or get stuck on. Conventional vacuuming is one of the most difficult cleaning tasks with my fibromyalgia and hypermobility, so this is absolutely crucial!

Creating a Flexible Cleaning Schedule

Flexibility is key when your health is unpredictable. Create a cleaning schedule that allows for variability, such as having a list of “high priority” and “low priority” tasks. On good days, tackle a high-priority task; on lower-energy days, consider a less demanding task or allow yourself to rest. This approach ensures you maintain progress without pushing your limits.

This is where the Sweepy app comes into play in my own cleaning with chronic illness routine. The free plan will help you keep track of when you last accomplished certain cleaning and home management tasks, as well as which ones are most urgent. The premium version takes things a step further by automatically generating a list of tasks for you each day!

Products for Cleaning With Chronic Illness

Many of us with chronic illnesses find that common cleaning chemicals can trigger flare-ups or allergic reactions. With this in mind, look into hypoallergenic or eco-friendly cleaning products that are less likely to cause irritation. As a bonus, you can help the earth with sustainable options!

You can also make your own cleaning solutions with everyday ingredients like vinegar, baking soda, and essential oils, which can be even gentler—just be sure to do your research to choose a mixture that is both safe and effective! For instance, someone who is immunocompromised might prefer a stronger cleaner than a DIY can provide, while someone with severe sensitivities to certain chemicals would rather a less intensive clean without the triggers.

Incorporating Rest and Recovery

Make sure to incorporate breaks and recovery periods into your cleaning routine. To make this simple, try setting a timer to remind yourself to take short, regular breaks to rest and hydrate. I keep my Time Timer at the ready to create Pomodoro-style cleaning sessions, working for blocks of 5, 10, or 15 minutes (unless I’m feeling up to longer periods!) before making sure to take a break.

At the same time, it’s important to remember that you can always take a day off from your normal routine. If cleaning with chronic illness is going to force you into a full-fledged flare on a bad day, it’s okay to downsize your tasks or skip them entirely and rest instead. Your health should come first—the dishes and laundry will be waiting tomorrow!

Seeking Help and Delegating

There’s no shame in asking for help—whether it’s from family, friends, or a professional service. If your budget allows for it, hiring help for more intensive tasks can be a worthwhile investment in your health. Or, you might have loved ones who are willing and able to lend a hand. While it’s not an option for everyone, delegation in some form will make a significant difference in cleaning with chronic illness.

Living with a chronic illness means adapting every aspect of your life to fit your health needs, and cleaning is no exception. By understanding your energy limits, using the right tools, and allowing flexibility in your routine, you can maintain your space without sacrificing your well-being.

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