Top 15 Pain Reducing Cleaning Tips For People With Arthritis

Certified Senior Advisor (CSA)®
Assistive Technology Professional

No matter your age, if you suffer from arthritis, you are fully aware that your activities can be limited at times. This is true for many tasks around the house, such as cleaning. Fortunately, it is possible to minimize joint pain while cleaning up around your home.

woman with arthritis pain from cleaning her house
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These 15 tips will make your cleaning task much easier with less arthritic pain.

1. Don’t Pull or Push, Walk Instead

Allow physics to work in your favor. Use your body for momentum when dusting, mopping, or vacuuming rather than relying too much on your arms, hands, or shoulders. It is actually more efficient to use your body weight to move the broom or mop.

2. Keep Plenty of Cleaning Supplies on Hand

If you live in a multi-storied house, keep a stash of cleaning supplies on each floor so that you never have to worry about carrying a bulky and heavy load up or down the stairs. Keep a vacuum on each floor of your home to avoid hauling it around.

3. Wear Gloves and Long-Sleeved Clothes

If you have a major cleaning job ahead of you, it can be a good idea to protect yourself. Popular cleaning products contain harsh chemicals, and if you suffer from psoriatic arthritis, you probably have sensitive skin. Talk to your doctor to identify products that might be gentler for your skin compared to others.

Compression gloves might be a good idea too especially if you suffer from hand pain or swelling while cleaning. I have a separate guide on compression gloves if you want to look at that one also.

4. Use the Proper (Ergonomic) Cleaning Tools

Using the proper arthritis-friendly cleaning tools can make your cleaning much easier to manage. Fortunately, there are numerous ergonomic options currently available. Using spray bottles, for instance, can be tough on your arthritic hands.

Similarly, large heavy detergent containers may be challenging to lift and carry. Scrubbing brushes may require more endurance and muscle than you may have. So, look for cleaning products in smaller, lighter containers that are easy to handle and use.

There are even some great options when considering cleaning appliances like vacuum cleaners for seniors with arthritis. There are several lightweight and ergonomic models to choose from.

elderly woman using a lightweight vacuum cleaner
Vacuuming can quickly trigger arthritic joint pain – use lighter-weight ergonomic options instead.

5. Invest in the Right Cleaning Supplies

It is perfectly fine to be choosy when it comes to cleaning supplies. Invest in cleaning supplies that cut back on the work. Cleaning supplies such as gloves, microfiber cloths, and easy to squeeze spray bottles and sponges allow you to tackle dirt without too much heavy scrubbing. So, invest in long-handled brooms with an attached dust pan so that you can clean floors without the need to bend over. Invest in a lightweight vacuum cleaner that does the work for you.

RELATED: Tips for Easier Floor Cleaning

6. Have Realistic Expectations

Cleaning doesn’t really have to be done all at once. Note down a list of the tasks you plan to do within a given week and spread them out over 7 days. If you pace your activities and you will get more done and feel better actually doing it in the long run.

7. Clean Messes When They Are Fresh

Waiting until clutter builds up or stains set eventually results in more work. It is much easier to rinse the sink immediately after brushing your teeth rather than allowing the toothpaste to dry only to have to scrub it off later. For quick cleanups, you should keep a canister of cleaning wipes close to the sink.

8. Take Breaks Frequently

Cleaning can be particularly challenging, especially if you have arthritis, but you should always keep in mind that it isn’t a race. So, take frequent breaks while you are completing your cleaning tasks. For instance, if you are mowing the lawn, you can take breaks every 10 minutes since the heavy vibration can affect your joints.

senior woman taking a break while cleaning the house
It’s ok to stop and take a break from time to time! You’ve earned it, right?

9. Alternate Tasks

To ensure that you don’t overwork a certain part of the body while cleaning, switch your tasks around. For instance, if you are vacuuming today, which can be stressful on the wrists and back, you can try organizing the closets or dusting the next day to give the body a break.

10. Motivate Yourself

Cleaning is not the most enjoyable activity, even for those that don’t have arthritis. If you do suffer from arthritis, cleaning is not only unenjoyable but also painful. So, you need to motivate yourself. Open the windows, light some scented candles, and blast your favorite music. You should then take a glass of wine, a sweet treat, or reward yourself with a spa day without going overboard.

11. Hire Someone

Hiring a cleaning professional is not always a possibility for everyone, but if you are able to, research quality local cleaning services that deliver quality services. If you cannot afford a full deep clean, look into a basic maintenance option so that you can focus on the deep tasks. Alternatively, find a company that’s capable of tackling the major cleaning tasks such as steam cleaning or power washing the outside.

12. Ask for Help

If you have arthritis, you might as if you are giving in to the condition by asking for help. However, all you are doing is acknowledging the fact that you can’t do it all by yourself. There’s nothing wrong with needing help. Ask your spouse to share in more of the cleaning chores. Teach the children to clean up after themselves, and so on.

13. Time It Right

If you know that you cannot handle any cleaning in the mornings since you are in too much pain, perhaps you should ensure that you never schedule any cleaning for then since it will probably be harder than usual. So, try figuring out when you are at your most pain-free and schedule your cleaning tasks during that time.

14. Protect the Joints

Depending on the joints that are most affected by a particular cleaning task, aids such as custom orthotics or a splint can protect vulnerable joints by limiting motion or providing sufficient support. Compression gloves and wrist supports from companies like Copper Compression can help you manage joint pain while cleaning up. If you think that you are a good candidate, you should consider talking to your occupational therapist or doctor.

15. Warm Up

It is good advice for all: before you engage in any kind of physical activity such as cleaning, first take time to warm up the muscles and joints. To properly warm-up, you can try walking on the spot for several minutes or do some light stretches.

Cleaning doesn’t have to be a pain when living with arthritis. Still, it can be difficult to accept the limitations that come with arthritis. If you suffer from arthritis and want to have a much easier time cleaning, consider following the 15 tips discussed here.

Have some tips of your own you’d like to share? Please do in the comments below.

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Scott Grant, CSA®, ATP

Scott Grant has spent more than 20 years serving seniors and the elderly in the home medical equipment industry. He has worked as a manufacturer's rep for the top medical equipment companies and a custom wheelchair specialist at a durable medical equipment (DME) provider in WV. He is father to 4 beautiful daughters and has three terrific grandkids. When not promoting better living for older adults, he enjoys outdoor activities including hiking and kayaking and early morning runs.

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