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Hop to it: A Spring Cleaning Cheat Sheet for arthritis

By Charlotte Ryder-Burbidge, Arthritis Patient Advisory Board member

Spring cleaning offers a yearly opportunity to refresh our homes and spirits after a cold, Canadian winter. For people with arthritis, physically demanding household chores, while necessary, can come with pain and fatigue. We’ve compiled a Spring Cleaning Cheat Sheet to help you freshen up your home while minimizing pain and saving energy for life’s more enjoyable activities.

Right Strategy

Spending a little time thinking about the best way to tackle your list of chores will ultimately save you time, energy, and pain. List-making can be a helpful tool to brainstorm what needs to be cleaned and can be used as a reference throughout the cleaning process. Think about what tasks are least important (and can possibly be removed from the list entirely), and whether there are items on your list that can be delegated to someone else.

For the remaining tasks, consider the level of physicality required and plan your cleaning schedule accordingly. Save more physical tasks for the times of day when your body feels the best. Break big tasks into smaller, more manageable chunks, and don’t forget to take lots of breaks. Alternating standing and sitting tasks can also provide an opportunity to rest without slowing you down.

Right Tools

Lightweight tools that are easy to grip are ideal for people with arthritis. If you’re finding that the handles of your existing tools are difficult to hold, consider creating a bigger grip using a cloth and some tape. Cleaning tools with long handles can also help prevent uncomfortable reaching and bending. Oftentimes, you can purchase tools with extendable handles so that they are effective in many different situations.

Everybody, but especially people with arthritis, can benefit from wearing a pair of rubber gloves while cleaning. Rubber gloves help to keep the joints in your hands warm, grip objects more easily, and protect sensitive skin from irritants often found in cleaning products.

Right Products

If possible, choose products that are designed to reduce the scrubbing necessary to get things clean. In general, allowing products to sit on surfaces for a few minutes can help break up dirt and grime, making it easier to wipe away later.

Many people buy cleaning products in bulk to save money, but value-sized containers are heavy to move and carry. Transferring cleaning products into smaller, more portable containers will make the products you need easier to move around the house.

Right Mindset

While the main goals of spring cleaning may be a healthy and safe home, added benefits include stress relief and a little physical activity, too. Mentally reframing activities like decluttering and disinfecting from something that we need to do to something that we want to do can make these chores less tedious, and the cleaning process feel less overwhelming.

If a thorough purge of closets and cabinets is on your list this year, don’t hesitate to get rid of items that no longer offer happiness or use. As a rule of thumb, if it hasn’t been used in a year, it’s probably time to throw it away, give it away or sell it.

Bonus tips

• If you have the means, consider hiring a professional cleaning service as a gift to yourself. Let the service tackle those bigger jobs that you know are too much.
• Is your email inbox cluttered, too? Taking the time to delete old messages and unsubscribe from promotional email lists is a low-energy activity that will save you time (and potentially unnecessary purchases) in the future.
• Clean as you go and stay on top of fresh messes to make spring cleaning more manageable next year!
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