Spring is Here & So is Spring Cleaning
Tips for Living with Fibromyalgia

Is Housework Overwhelming? Break it Down

by Barbara L. Kornblau, JD, OTR, FAOTA, DASPE, CCM, CPE
Florida A & M Department of Occupational Therapy

When you think about cleaning your house, do you feel overwhelmed? Cleaning your house or apartment can be an overwhelming task if you have fibromyalgia. I know because I also live with fibromyalgia. Sometimes the mere thought of cleaning the house makes me tired and sore. 

While it was good for your mother to clean the whole house in one day, it simply doesn’t work if you have fibro. One way to approach this task is to break it down. The goal is to conserve your energy and prevent more pain. Here are some tips to clean your home, while conserving energy and preventing pain:

    • Clean one room at a time.
    • An alternative to cleaning one room at a time is to do one task per day. Plan your schedule for the week and divide the household chores    by day. One chore per day.

For example, change all of the bed linens on one day and vacuum all of the rooms on another day.

    • Clean at the time of day when you have the most energy and plan a break afterwards.
    • Store your cleaning supplies where you will use them so you can cut down on unnecessary steps. For example, you may want to purchase duplicate sets of cleaning supplies to keep in each bathroom to save on steps, carrying, and time.
    • Eliminate clutter so you have less to clean or dust.
    • Invest in a good vacuum cleaner that helps move itself or the vacuum cleaners that run on their own so you can expend less energy.
    • Use long handled dusters so you don’t have to bend, reach, or climb on a step stool.
    • Break up laundry tasks. Do one load per day.
    • Folding laundry is a good opportunity to do some stretching. This can be your exercise opportunity.
    • Share the load. My children started to do their own laundry when they hit 12.
    • Instead of mopping the kitchen floor, try one of the new floor steamers that clean your floor and take less physical effort.
    • Sit while you work when you can. For example, why bend when you clean the bathtub, when you can sit on the side of the tub and use a long handled scrubber to clean the tub? Plus, if you get a handheld shower hose and you hose the tub down after each time you take a bath or shower, it will make cleaning it easier later. You can also clean your bathroom floor while sitting on the closed toilet.
    • Put it on wheels. Get a basket on wheels for transporting your laundry so you can save energy. Putting some of your furniture on wheels also makes it easier to move your furniture, if you want to clean under tables for example.
    • Throw it out. Things like catalogs and magazines tend to accumulate. Try not to touch items more than once. Read it or throw it out. Stop subscriptions for magazines you don’t read.
    • Take out the garbage whenever you leave your home. This way you will have smaller loads to carry.