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9 Cleaning Tips for High Pain Days

Living Well

December 20, 2023

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Photography by Freemixer/Getty Images

Photography by Freemixer/Getty Images

by Alexis Rochester


Medically Reviewed by:

Debra Sullivan, Ph.D., MSN, R.N., CNE, COI


by Alexis Rochester


Medically Reviewed by:

Debra Sullivan, Ph.D., MSN, R.N., CNE, COI


Swollen and painful joints from arthritis can make cleaning more difficult. Alexis Rochester shares her tried and tested tips from 10+ years of experience.

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For anyone living with inflammatory types of arthritis, like rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and psoriatic arthritis (PsA), everyday tasks can become challenging, especially during a flare. High pain days make cleaning and keeping house tough.

Over the last 10 years, I have been testing and trying different cleaning methods that help me when my joints are swollen, and I can’t bend down, nor do I have the needed grip strength.

As an investigative chemist, I develop a lot of my own cleaning solutions and methods. So, I’ve had even more of a chance to find the best cleaning tips that are worth your time.

Tip 1: Use an electric scrub brush with a long handle

I bought this electric scrub brush with a long handle, and it’s been really helpful on days when my knee is hurting and keeping me from bending down.

I use the long handle attachment to clean my shower and bathtub. I remove the extendable handle to do the bathroom sinks and counters. It works for just about everything making cleaning much easier as I don’t need to move my body in ways that might cause pain.

If you have difficulty gripping things due to painful or swollen fingers, this is also very helpful. The brush is powerful and doesn’t require much grip strength or extra effort for it to scrub and clean very well.

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Tip 2: Extendable duster with handle

Another very handy tool I purchased is this extendable duster with a handle.

If you have something that needs cleaning up high, this duster allows you to reach it without needing to set up and use a ladder or step stool. Dusting areas like the floor are easier with this tool as well since you don’t have to bend down.

I use this on my ceiling fan, air conditioner vents in the ceiling, baseboards, and the fireplace mantel. Even on high pain days or during flares, I can always use this tool to dust the home.

Tip 3: Get a cordless vacuum with a handheld wand

A few years ago, I bought this cordless vacuum with a handheld removable wand. I tested out several types of vacuums to find one that was lightweight but still had good sucking power for my carpets.

This one is lightweight, and the handled wand can be removed easily and used for quick cleanups.

When I have pain in my fingers and elbow, using my larger, heavier vacuum is difficult. This lightweight option makes vacuuming much easier. It works so well that I rarely get out my larger vacuum, even when I’m feeling good.

It’s been one of my favorite purchases for the home for this reason.

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Tip 4: Use a lightweight mop with a reusable microfiber attachment

When you have a high pain day, getting out a mop bucket and heavy mop is the last thing you want to do. This lightweight Swiffer mop is a perfect alternative.

I also use these reusable microfiber attachments. They clean better due to the microfiber material, and they are so easy to put on the head of the mop with a simple velcro attachment. On high pain days when I might have little dexterity in my hands, these velcro attachments are easier than the traditional Swiffer cleaners that stick inside the holes of the mop.

Anything lightweight like this makes cleaning easier with arthritis, but it also makes it easier when you don’t have to press hard to clean the floor. The microfiber attachments make this possible.

Quick and easy floor cleaning with minimal effort is needed for high pain days.

Tip 5: Keep a mirror cleaning tool on hand

Reaching to clean a mirror is difficult for me when I have a flare in my elbows, knees, or fingers.

I purchased this cleaning tool and was surprised by how much it helped. Although it’s advertised for the windshield of a vehicle, I also use it inside my house on any mirrors and glass, and it works great. I don’t need to reach over or put pressure on any of my joints to use it.

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Tip 6: Clean the bathroom mirror after showering

Speaking of mirrors, cleaning them directly after a shower is really effective.

You can clean them with the tool mentioned in tip 5, which comes with a microfiber cloth. When your mirror is hot and covered in steam, this will remove even stuck-on grime like soap scum and toothpaste without requiring you to scrub hard. This is much kinder on your joints.

Tip 7: Make a DIY all-purpose cleaner that works for all surfaces

I’d recommend making a homemade cleaning solution that works on every surface and removes stuck-on dirt and grime without needing to scrub.

The best DIY all-purpose cleaning solution I suggest will contain a ratio of:

  • 1 tbsp of concentrated dish soap
  • 1 tbsp of rubbing alcohol
  • 1 cup of water

Keep this in a spray bottle and use it for counters, sinks, baseboards, and anything else you need to clean. On high pain days, the last thing you want is many different cleaning products to look through, many of which might require you to scrub hard for an effective clean.

You want to quickly spray and wipe anything that needs cleaning. This cleaning solution is perfect for that.

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Tip 8: Soak hard water stains in vinegar for a no-scrub method

There are some stains that will always require some elbow grease to clean. Hard water stains are one of them.

If you use pure 5% distilled white vinegar to soak hard water stains it will melt off the hard water without any scrubbing needed. White vinegar is a combination of water and acetic acid, which has the ability to break down minerals that cause hard water.

You can use it for faucets, faucet heads, sinks, and even dishes. This tip is handy for high pain days or even when you feel good because it works so well.

Tip 9: Use this DIY disinfectant for all surfaces without scrubbing

If you want an affordable and easy-to-use disinfectant that is safe for every surface, you can use lemon-infused rubbing alcohol.

Most people don’t realize that cleaning and disinfecting are different steps.

When I struggle with arthritic pain, I want my house cleaning to be very quick. After I wipe off counters and other surfaces with the homemade cleaner mentioned in tip 7, I will follow up with this disinfectant to spray highly touched surfaces like faucets, door knobs, toilets, and anything else people have touched.

This is especially important if someone in your house has been sick and if you’re immunocompromised.

To make this lemon-infused rubbing alcohol:

  1. Fill a jar with lemon peels, then top with 70% rubbing alcohol
  2. Infuse for 2 weeks
  3. Then strain the rubbing alcohol from the peels
  4. Add it to a spray bottle, and now you have an easy disinfectant

You can find more directions on using this disinfectant here.

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Make cleaning easy during high pain days

It’s OK if you don’t have the energy or strength to clean during flares and high pain days. Make sure you take care of yourself first.

From my own experience, I know that staying organized and keeping the house clean creates an environment that makes me feel better mentally and emotionally, not to mention protecting my physical health from any germs and hazards.

These tips will help you when cleaning during high pain days. The methods are effective and easy, making your housekeeping go quicker without having to work as hard.

Medically reviewed on December 20, 2023

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About the author

Alexis Rochester

Alexis Rochester is an investigative chemist, blogger, and founder of Chemistry Cachet. She shares science-based skin care, cleaning, gardening, and health tips. She was diagnosed with RA at age 10, so she has a passion for pain management tips and research, along with sharing her journey through this disease. She lives in Texas with her daughter, husband, and bulldog. You can find her posting pictures and fun stories daily on Instagram. Also look for Chemistry Cachet on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

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