10 Simple But Effective House Cleaning Tips For Seniors

By: Scott Grant, ATP, CRTS®

Not many people get excited about cleaning the house. Sometimes, older people downright dread it! In this guide, you’ll learn some methods and tips for making house cleaning less of a chore plus ways to reduce the amount of cleaning you need to do in the first place!

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As we age, it gets more difficult to accomplish even the most basic tasks. Among these, cleaning your house can become an insurmountable chore. However, keeping your home clean and hygienic is critical to your overall health and well being.

So, here are 10 house cleaning tips for seniors to ensure good hygiene and to make those dreaded tasks a little easier to accomplish:

1. De-clutter, De-clutter, De-clutter

Seniors have lived long lives and have often accumulated many treasures that may hard for them to give up. The more items you have in your home, the more you have to clean and the more difficult it is to clean. Get rid of items that are never used and put items that have sentimental value but no actual use in storage.

You can also choose to pass sentimental items on to loved ones. Other items can be given to charity or sold if they have financial value. Once you have de-cluttered, organization is key. Pack away as many items away in closets, cupboards, drawers or use other organizing solutions. If you are struggling to de-clutter and organize, hire a professional organizer or ask your home care assistant for help.

2. Make A Cleaning Schedule

Aging doesn’t just make it physically more difficult to clean but it can also mean you simply forget to take care of some cleaning tasks. Making a schedule and sticking to it will ensure that every area of the house is cleaned regularly and that you haven’t forgotten anything.

Prioritize rooms that are used the most like the bathroom and the kitchen that need regular cleaning. Break-up the tasks as much as possible according to the day of the week and time of day. For example, washing dishes or loading the dishwasher can be done every night before bed while vacuuming can be scheduled weekly. Instead of having just one cleaning day, clean everyday and achieve one task at a time.

senior woman using vacuum cleaner on a rug
When using equipment to clean the house, choose carefully. For example, use lightweight vacuum cleaners instead of heavier models.

3. Vacuum Instead Of Sweeping

Vacuuming has many benefits over sweeping. It’s faster plus it sucks up the dust, dirt and debris far more effectively than sweeping. It also prevents dust from being swirled around into the air which happens when you sweep. This dust lands back on the floor and on other surfaces which means that more cleaning will be needed. A lightweight, upright vacuum is ideal for seniors.

4. Food Storage

Being organized in the way that you store food is extremely important. Perishables in the refrigerator can become a health hazard when they pass their expiration date and should be thrown out as soon as possible.

But, non-perishable items like dry and canned foods also expire. These should also not be consumed after their expiry date and should preferably be disposed of. Check your refrigerator at least twice a week for expired foods and dispose of them. Check the pantry or food cupboard once a month and throw out expired food.

5. Label and Clean Out Leftovers

Another negative aspect of aging is reduced appetite. This means lots of leftovers. You don’t have to waste these leftovers and can store them in the refrigerator to be eaten at a later date. It is best to consume cooked food items that have been refrigerated within a day or two.

However, it is important not to forget that you have leftovers in the refrigerator. Labeling the containers as to the contents and the date that they were refrigerated can help you avoid eating leftovers that may have gone bad. You should also dispose of leftovers in containers that are more than two days old during your bi-weekly refrigerator expired food check.

man helping his senior father do the dishes
Family over for dinner? Don’t be afraid to ask for help cleaning up – including the dishes!

6. Don’t Put Off the Dishes

Washing dishes is one of those daily tasks that can quickly become overwhelming. Leaving dishes to be washed later can lead to a mountain of dirty dishes and a chore that is overwhelming. For seniors, washing dishes after every meal or even daily is not always possible.

The solution is however simple – invest in a dishwasher. It is far easier to rinse and stack dishes in a dishwasher after every meal than it is to wash them by hand. You only need to run the washer once it is full. Don’t have cabinet space? There are portable dishwashers that hook up to the kitchen sink without needing to be installed!

7. Keep Toilets Clean From the Inside

Toilets are germ-factories and need to be cleaned regularly. Placing a chlorine toilet block in the tank can minimize how often your need to clean the bowl. Alternatively, you can place a bottle of vinegar with small holes poked in it in the tank too. Vinegar is an effective cleaner and will keep the toilet clean for weeks. Remember that this solution only cleans the bowl of the toilet and you are still going to need to wipe down the seat and lid or other areas that the water doesn’t reach – preferably with bleach.

8. No Bending While Cleaning the Bathtub Or Shower

These are two of the most difficult house cleaning chores for seniors to accomplish – especially if you have mobility issues or suffer with pain. Dilute dish washing liquid or vinegar with water and place in a spray bottle. Spray the bathtub or shower liberally and leave to work for 10 to 15 minutes. Use a sponge on an extendable handle to wipe the shower or tub and then rinse with a handheld shower head. This shouldn’t require any bending or stretching to get the job done quickly and effectively.

senior woman cleaning her glass shower door
Use the right tools when cleaning wet surface like showers to reduce the chance of a fall. Sometimes, it’s easier just to clean the shower while showering for less mess!

9. Use the Right Tools for Cleaning Floors

Sweeping and mopping floors is another regular cleaning task that is difficult for seniors. Remember that you can vacuum hardwood floors simply by changing the setting on your lightweight vacuum. Use a spray bottle with diluted detergent instead of a heavy bucket of water and a microfiber mop to take the hard work out of washing floors. Rinse your mop and use a spray bottle with clean water to rinse floors. Always clean up spills as soon as possible.

10. Ask For Help

It is important to realize when there are certain cleaning chores that you cannot do on your own anymore. Don’t be afraid to ask your friends and family for help. Alternatively, you can hire a home care assistant to help you with your household chores as well as to provide you with assistance with other tasks that you be may finding more difficult to accomplish.

Do you have other tips to make cleaning easier on seniors and the elderly? Please share in the comments below!

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