Household chores with arthritis: Tips for making cleaning easier

05 June 2024
Woman cleaning home

For some people living with arthritis, the simplest daily tasks can sometimes be the hardest.

Take your household chores. Between dusting hard-to-reach spots, carrying heavy laundry, or bending over to scrub your shower, cleaning can be tough if you have sore or achy joints.

So, to give you a helping hand, we asked people living with arthritis how they make housework more manageable for them.

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Pace yourself

Ian hoovering homePacing yourself is a great way to make sure you don’t use all your energy up in one go.

It simply means breaking an activity up into small, manageable chunks and planning breaks in between.

Let’s say you want to do some household chores.

Instead of doing all your cleaning in one go and then feeling wiped out later that day and the next day, could you spread it out over a week or a fortnight, and do it room by room? This might make it more manageable and less overwhelming.

Tracey, 58, lives with osteoarthritis, and says to remember “1% is better than 0%.”

“Don't keep going and going,” she adds. “That’s when you run into problems and overexert yourself. Depending on how you feel that day, adapt how much or how little you do, and plan in breaks.”

Learn more about managing fatigue

Ask for help

Arthritis can bring its own unique set of challenges. But remember you don’t have to face them alone.

Maybe a friend, partner or family member could help you tackle the more tiring chores around the house? Or if your budget allows it, maybe you could hire a cleaner for an hour or two?

By asking for help, it might allow you to save your energy so you can focus on doing the activities you enjoy, whether that’s your hobby or simply spending quality time with your loved ones.

Protect your joints

Joint protection, sometimes called ‘joint care’ is simply about making small changes to the way you do things so that you reduce the pain and strain on your joints.

This might include:

  • noticing any pain you feel and using it as a warning sign that you need to rest or pace yourself.
  • spreading the weight over several joints when carrying things.
  • reducing the effort you put into daily tasks (aids and adaptations can be a huge help).
  • avoiding gripping objects too tightly.
  • avoiding using your joints in awkward positions.
  • using your joints in stable positions.
  • changing how you do a task if it hurts you.

For instance, when you’re cleaning, you could:

  • Carry smaller loads of laundry to and from the washing machine.
  • Choose cleaning products that have easy-to-use packaging.
  • Make sure you’re not pushing your joints too far. If an area you want to clean is out of reach, for example, then you should get up and move closer to it, rather than stretching into an awkward position.

Distract yourself

If you’re dealing with sore joints, some people find it helpful to shift their attention so that pain isn’t the only thing on their mind.

Maybe you could listen to your favorite music while you mop? Or chat to a friend on the phone while you fold your laundry? Experiment and see what works for you.

Gadgets and aids

Woman cleaning windows using extendable dusterSome people living with arthritis tell us that using gadgets and equipment helps them feel safer, less fatigued and more independent.

So, it might be worth seeing if there’s anything that might help you tackle your household chores.

For instance, you could try:

  • An extendable duster to clean those hard-to-reach places.
  • Microfibre cloths and gloves that can be worn instead of gripped.
  • Long-handed dustpans and brooms, so you can sweep without having to bend over.
  • A mop bucket or laundry basket that has wheels.
Learn more about aids and adaptations

Be kind to yourself

Living with pain and fatigue can be tough. So, if you can’t maintain your home quite as neatly as before your diagnosis, remind yourself that’s okay.

It can be tempting to feel guilty. But instead, try to show yourself some compassion and be kind to yourself.

Prioritise what matters to you and, as much as you can, let the rest go.

We’re here for you

It can be frustrating when arthritis gets in the way of day-to-day life. But remember you’re not alone.

If you need more advice or support, remember you can: