5 Cleaning Strategies That Keep My Home From Getting Filthy
Last updated: September 2023
My cleaning tips help me keep my home cleaner, but not sparkling clean. In my opinion, it’s not realistic to have a clean home when you have a chronic illness – especially if that home has kids in it. I also know it’s not realistic for many people with lupus to hire cleaners regularly. I’ve had my home cleaned professionally maybe 6 times in the 5 and a half years I’ve lived here.
And honestly, prepping for that help was so much work that I'm not sure I would have kept it up even if I could afford it. I mean, what’s the point in hiring someone to vacuum when you can’t pick everything up off the floor? I like things clean but I don’t mind if they get a little messy.
So, here's my tips for how to keep a modicum of cleanliness in your home without expending too much energy on cleaning.
Cleaning with lupus
Preventing messes involves 2 ideas that can be really effective when trying to keep your home clean: thinking out of the box and making things as simple as possible.
Preventing a mess sometimes looks like putting down a layer of paper towels before I start cooking so I don’t have to clean the counter afterward. Another example is that I have my kids brush their teeth while they soak in the tub each night – it keeps spit from getting on the counter. I also keep bleach tablets in my toilets so they don’t get as dirty in the bowl (although you should know this will degrade parts of the toilet over time).
Each time you need to clean something try asking yourself, “Is there a way I could have redirected, lessened, or prevented this mess?” You might be surprised how small changes can make cleaning less neccessary or burdensome.
I love every single machine in my house. The dishwasher, the washing machine, but especially my robots. We are fortunate to have a Roomba for upstairs and downstairs as well as a mopping robot. The base models of these machines are not that expensive and are well worth the investment, in my opinion.
Automation can also be part of your cycle of chores. For example, I automatically run a hot cleaning cycle on my washing machine and dishwasher after a set time or number of loads. This kind of goes hand in hand with prevention because doing these cleaning cycles periodically means I can prevent mold or mildew from getting the machines dirty in the first place.
I learned last year that you can buy stainless steel wipes and it was a game changer for keeping my fridge surface clean. I love that I don’t have to gather products and cleaning supplies - I only have to grab the wipes and the trash bin and go to town.
I also buy Windex wipes and Clorox wipes. It is more expensive, but these wipes mean that if I have 2 minutes to clean a filthy window then I can actually get it done. I keep all my prepackaged wipes in Ziploc bags underneath the sink so they’re easy to grab.
This idea can extend beyond wipes. When you're selecting cleaning products, chose the ones that will do the most work for you - like the foaming bubbles for bath tubs.
This is my most widely used and most helpful cleaning method. I soak just about everything. I soak my boys’ clothes overnight in a large bucket with a teaspoon of laundry detergent; this keeps me from painstakingly searching for stains, which used to take forever and exhaust me.
I pour a little water on mud or food stains on the floor and let it sit before I wipe them up or run the mopping robot (this may not work well for all floor times). I found this helps the most in situations where I’d need to scrub stains. Scrubbing flares up my chronic pain pretty bad so I try to avoid it at all costs.
I like to soak paper towels or cloths (I have simple cloth diapers from when my kids were babies that work great because they’re so absorbent) with water, vinegar, or sometimes diluted bleach. Then I’ll place them on a surface, such as a refrigerator shelf, kitchen counter, or even a very dirty area like behind the toilet. After 5-20 minutes, depending on how dirty it is, I remove the wet cloth and follow with 1-2 dry wipes. It’s amazing how much dirt and grime come off with very little effort.
Frequent small tasks
I never recommend overdoing it but I often try to do just one more thing than I set out to do. So, if I was planning on doing the dishes, I'll do them plus clean one shelf in the refrigerator. This works well if it’s something I set up before the chore, like a soaking paper towel in the fridge, that needs to sit while I do the other chore anyway.
Another way I do this is by trying to start a load of laundry first thing in the morning every day. I get tired as the day goes on and I’m less likely to start laundry later in the day, but I can move it over to the dryer. I often try to load it up the night before so I can just add detergent and hit start in the morning. It makes a big difference in how much laundry I get done.
Keeping things sanitary
I hope these tips can help you keep your home a little cleaner. I encourage you to have your family join you on little cleaning adventures. I have no pretty lists full of designated cleaning days, I’m just a chronically ill mom trying to spot clean well enough to keep a messy house sanitary. Please share any cleaning tips you have!
Have there been things you have learned along your lupus journey that you wish had been explained to you by a healthcare provider earlier?