20 helpful tips for cleaning & organizing when you’re chronically ill

This article on “20 helpful tips for cleaning and organizing when you’re chronically ill” first appeared on Prohealth.com.

Disclaimer: One of the most important things I’ve learned about fibromyalgia and ME/CFS is there is a wide spectrum of disability among our patient groups. Some of us lead pretty normal lives in spite of the pain, fatigue and other symptoms, and some of us have symptoms so severe that we can’t get out of the bed, much less clean a toilet. Given that spectrum, it’s impossible to come up with tips that apply to everyone. So, in reading these, I ask that you apply the tips you can use based on your abilities and ignore the rest.

This post contains affiliate links. 

I really believe my obsession with having a clean house is one of the reasons I developed fibromyalgia. You see, like so many of you, I had a self-diagnosed case of perfectionism long before I developed fibromyalgia.

I love a clean house. I love it almost as much as I love cats and the ocean shore. A clean house makes me feel more focused, more accomplished. (Yep, I know that makes me sound like a total control freak, and my hubby would agree!)

I’ve struggled with how to maintain a home that I can be proud of while having fibromyalgia. It’s taken me a while to figure out a cleaning routine that works for me, and even then, there are days when I can’t follow it due to symptoms.

During those times, I do what I can do, and I leave the rest for another day. I’m learning to be ok with that. It’s probably one of the hardest lessons fibro is teaching me.

So, let’s get started with the tips…

Cutting the clutter

  • Get rid of stuff – When you have fewer things, there are fewer things to care for and clean. Look around your home. Do you need all of those knickknacks on your side tables collecting dust? Do you need the fancy dishes that you no longer use for entertaining? So many times we become prisoners of our stuff. Yes, stuff is nice. Yes, we paid good money for it. But stuff also needs care, and that takes time and effort that those of us who are chronically ill might not have. Try to keep tabletops, cabinets, drawers and closets as bare as possible. Less stuff equals less to clean and maintain. I used a wall pocket to file away assorted paperwork that was cluttering my dining room table. Now everything has a home!
  • Assign everything a home – When items have a designated area, you’re more inclined to put them away. For years, I battled a stack of papers that would collect on my dining table. I finally realized everything in the pile pretty much fell into the same categories. I made folders for each category, and filed them away in a file-folder holder mounted on a kitchen wall. Poof! No more stack of random papers because now they have a home. Look at the areas of your home where clutter tends of collect, and if there are items that don’t have a home, find one or create one.
  • Sort mail immediately – When I get the mail from our mailbox, I go through it right away. I toss all junk mail into the recycling bin. I put my bills in my bill folder. I put magazines on my coffee table. (More on that later.) I put my husband’s mail in a special folder designated for him. Anything else that requires action is put into my “to do” pile on my desk in my home office. Mail is insidious. It never stops, so it is best to slay the beast right away instead of letting it breed.
  • Reduce/cancel subscriptions – Magazines are full of daydreams – places we want to visit, food we want to eat, things we want to buy – but the reality is they are dead trees cluttering up our homes. The same can be said for catalogs and newspapers. Do you really read all of the periodicals that creep into your home every month? Probably not. I hardly ever pick up a magazine or catalog anymore. Why do I need to? I’ve got the Internet! Everything that I could ever possibly want to know is online. If I want to look at pretty pictures and dream, there’s always Pinterest. I’ve reduced my subscriptions to my two favorites – Country Living and Southern Living – and my coffee table is much neater because of it.
  • Implement a no-shoes rule – Having everyone take their shoes off upon entering your home drastically cuts down on the amount of debris that dirties your floors. I’ve struggled to get my hubby to follow this rule, but when everyone in the household does it, it’s great for extending the cleanliness of your floors.
  • Baskets are your friend – I have a basket in my living room for my throw blankets. I have baskets on each set of stairs to toss in things that need to go to a different floor. I have a basket on my coffee table for my TV remotes. Baskets (and other organizers) are great because they corral clutter and give it a home. And while cleaning, you can just pick up the basket, wipe under it, put it back into place and you’re done.
  • Make your home as user-friendly as possible – If you’re planning future home purchases, look for products that require less cleaning, maintenance and effort. Hardwood floors are easier to clean than carpeting. Shades are easier to maintain than cloth window-coverings. Rolling laundry carts are easier to manage than stationary ones. A lighter vacuum is easier to navigate than a heavy one. You get the idea.
  • Do a little every day – I have a bad habit of trying to clean my entire house every Sunday. I did this for years when I was healthy, but I can’t do it anymore. Over the past year, I’ve started dividing my cleaning tasks up by day. I rotate from room-to-room, so that my house generally stays fairly clean.
  • Do some things every day – A few years ago, I committed to doing certain things every single day if at all possible: I empty/load the dishwasher, wipe down the master bathroom sink/counters, do a quick pick-up throughout the first floor and do one load of laundry (if there’s one to do). I admit these don’t always get done, but I try my best to do them even if I’m having a bad day symptom-wise. (Sometimes my hubby helps.) Forcing myself to do the dishes and laundry prevents them from piling up. Doing a quick pick-up every day keeps the first floor relatively tidy. Wiping down the bathroom sink/counters reduces the frequency of having to clean the bathroom. Doing all four of these tasks generally takes me around 20-30 minutes each day.
  • Find your best time – I tend to have more energy in the morning and early afternoon, so that’s the best time for me to clean. Figure out your most functional time, and schedule cleaning for then.
  • Prioritize – When you’re chronically ill, you usually have a limited amount of energy/effort before you’re spent and done for the day. Before you start cleaning, make a list, prioritize the most important things that have to get done and then do those first. Chances are, you won’t finish your to-do list, but hopefully you’ll at least get the most pressing tasks done.
  • Sit down – Do as many things as you can sitting down to conserve energy. Sit down to fold laundry. Sit down to peel potatoes. Sit down to clean off your desk. If you can do something in a sitting position, do it because it saves energy for other activities.
  • Pace yourself – I know it’s tempting to keep cleaning if you’re having a good day, but force yourself to take regular breaks or you will pay for it later. Use a timer if you need a reminder. It’s important to find the balance of activity and rest that works for you. Also, look at the big picture. If you’re going to clean in the morning, then keep your afternoon free so you can rest and recover. Avoid overscheduling yourself.My cleaning caddy has all of the supplies I need to clean our second floor. It saves me time and energy because I don't have to lug supplies up and down the stairs.
  • Keep supplies where you need them – A few months ago, I got tired of lugging cleaning supplies up and down my stairs, so I put together a caddy with cleaners, microfiber cloths, dusters, etc. that I keep on my second floor. I also tucked a few essential cleaning supplies under the sinks in my kitchen and other bathrooms. Now I have everything I need where I need it. It saves me extra steps and the effort of lugging supplies from room-to-room and floor-to-floor.
  • Cleaning the shower – For me, cleaning the shower is one of my most dreaded tasks. It takes a lot of energy, and it’s yucky and wet. Thanks to a tip that I found on Pinterest, I now keep a refillable dish scrubber containing dish soap and white vinegar in my shower caddy. Every couple of weeks, I use it to scrub down my tub and shower while I’m taking a shower. When I get dirty and sweaty, I’m already in the shower, so I can clean up immediately!


  • Draft your kids (and other household members) – If you have kids, then assigning them chores is a great way to teach them responsibility and skills they’ll use later in life. I grew up with a mom who had fibromyalgia. I swear she didn’t clean a bathroom after I turned 10 years old. You know why? Because I was cleaning it! I also did my own laundry, packed my lunches, vacuumed, dusted and cut the grass. Doing chores as a kid prepared me for taking care of my own house later in life. Even little kids can do their part by putting their toys away. Your kids won’t appreciate doing housework now, but they’ll see the value of it when they are older, and you’ll appreciate having less to do around the house. (If you have a significant other or other household members, they should do their part around the house as well.)
  • Hire help – I know this isn’t possible for everyone due to financial constraints, but if you have disposable income, consider hiring a cleaning service to come in once or twice a month to do the heavy cleaning, like bathrooms and floors. It may not be as expensive as you think. My Roomba is one of my favorite possessions! If my Roomba dies tomorrow, I will have another one ordered and on the way to my home by the end of the day! I couldn't be without it. (Well, I could...but I don't want to be!)
  • Consider getting a robot vacuum – Our home has dark hardwood floors, which show every speck of dirt and pet hair. Shortly after moving into our home, I gave up the one-woman battle of trying to keep the floors clean and invested in a Roomba. Yes, they’re pricey, but that little robot is worth every single penny that I paid for him. If he died tomorrow, I would have his replacement ordered by the end of the day. Seriously. I run my Roomba probably 2-3 times per week. I only have to pull out my regular vacuum cleaner about every six weeks to vacuum behind the dog’s crate and under the sofa cushions. Vacuuming is one of the most strenuous household chores for me, so I’m happy to delegate it to Mr. Roomba.

Remove the mental clutter

    • Lower your expectations – If you’re a perfectionist like me, then your husband probably isn’t going to load the dishwasher the way you would. Your kid’s definition of clean is going to be different than yours. Even if you’re still able to clean, you’re probably not going to be able to do as thorough of a job as you did before you became sick. You’re going to need to set new expectations for what’s acceptable, or you will drive yourself crazy with unrealistic expectations.
    •  Don’t be hard on yourself – You’ll never get it all done. Even when you were healthy, you still didn’t get it all done. I know I’ve already said this once, but it’s probably the most important takeaway: Just do what you can, and leave the rest for another day. Trust me, Martha Stewart isn’t going to knock on your door and ask to inspect.

Do you have a favorite cleaning or organizing tip? I’d love to hear it! Share in the comments below.

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  1. Cindy Grossman says

    Julie, STOP ironing !
    Get rid of your clothes that need it and get used to wearing the rest a bit wrinkled.
    That’s the first chore I got rid of.

  2. Donna, I too have Fibro along with PSA and a couple other things. I quite accidentally found Norwex because the smell of cleaning products was making me sicker! Now I am obsessed!! That cleaning caddy you have pictured can be reduced down to a few things!! Basically our magical cloths!! Full disclosure, once I ordered from a Facebook party I attended, I wanted everything! So I signed up to become a consultant. My cleaning time has been cut by at least HALF, I am saving a ton of money AND helping to save the environment too! You and I sound so much alike, I also would try to get everything done on a good day, then I would be down for literally days!! My biggest pet peeve is clutter! I have been on a mission to get rid of “stuff.” My daughter and my 2 1/2 yr old granddaughter live with me, so there seems to always be a mess, and messes cause me anxiety. I have learned to let that go a lot, only because of my granddaughter. I believe she is going to be a little mini me, because she also doesn’t like “big messes!” LOL Seriously though, if you haven’t already, and you want to learn more about Norwex, shoot me an email!! 🙂

    • How do you get over the guilt of having a messy house. I have fibromyalgia..I have a bad back due to a crushed vertebra followed by a major back surgery to fix my vertebra.

  3. I personally like the Automatic Shower Cleaner, and I can’t remember who produces it right now. Maybe Scrubbing Bubbles? Anyway, cleaning the shower is hard for me since I can only manage the bending, stretching and standing for about three minutes…if it’s a good day! 🙂 So…I just put my battery-powered unit over the shower head, stick a bottle of the cleaning solution in, and then…after I get out of the shower each day, I just press the button, close the shower curtain and walk (or roll) away. PS: the cleaning solution is safe for all your shower stuff–loofas, shampoo, shower gels, etc.

  4. Hi! I wonder who takes the time to sit down and read all of these? I read a few, but now I”m not getting anything done here and sitting is making me stiff! so just like housework, I will come back and read a few every day. Thank you so much for this newsletter! I have fibro and have been on disability for 4 years. My husband is a life saver. He does the vacuuming for me. He is 67 and still in great shape. A tip I have is to watch what you eat. Don’t give up and eat too much fat and sugar, it will affect how you feel. Try to eat organic or at least wash them off, fruits and veggies fresh. Eat Greek Yogurt which gives you protein for your muscles. Stretching every morning gets you ready for the day, and don’t forget to pray and ask for help.

  5. Meg Clare says

    These are all good tips, I marked off what I have tried in the past and it comes out nearly all of them over the years. After being diagnosed with PTSD about 20 years ago and then another doc said it was probly CFS and PTSD, which comes from long term not paying attention to the symptoms and things just getting worse. Anyhoo, long story short I now have C-PTSD and am going to have to find a way to take care of my house, had to take early retirement, was hoping for a recovery time and then back at it, guess that’s not to be, sigh. I have no dishwasher and sometimes standing at the sink for 15 min after all the prep is done is not possible. Have been thinking about a counter-top style, wish I didn’t lose counter space on account of it. One thing I do on my daily lists, that I have finally decided are a good idea is to have the 6 daily things that have to be done at minimum include 2 leisure activities so I don’t just work and waste the rest of the time. I have lists in levels of energy ability, no energy, low energy, good energy and play time, to mix and match for the day. Now that I’ve moved out of the river of denial and living in the real world of my condition it’s like I’m starting all over again.
    I have already signed up for the newsletters.

  6. Paulette McCoy says

    My routine, usually consists notes. I write them, then promptly forget them. LOL They end up in pile on my kitchen table along with everything else. I don’t put things up, because I think, if I leave something out, I will remember to do it. But all I get done is to sit and stare at it. Then yes, I have a designated place for stuff. When it starts running over, like the table, I get a box and put it all in a box and stick the box in another room. LOL Then I start over and repeat the process. I have lots of boxes of stuff. I’m sorry, while I may be short on tips, I’m not short on humor. While short on tips, I am also short, period, at about 4′ 10″. I have found, humor to be my one saving grace. They say laughter I the best medicine. While this condition isn’t a laughing matter, it keeps me sane. As a disabled veteran, I was finally approved for some help with my house. However, that was last Oct. 2016, after some surgery, and as of yet, May 2107, I have not seen anyone show up. Me and my granddaughter, who lives in S.C. ( I’m in VA. ) have a running joke, I tell her I’m waiting on a maid and they didn’t show up, so they’re fired. LOL I do think that stress makes the problem worse for us. Such as my husbands diagnosis of cancer in 2011. He was in stage 4 when we found out. After chemo, he was in remission for about 14 months and then was diagnosed with two more kinds of cancer. After 2 more rounds of chemo, he is currently in remission again. I think it was about that time that I gave up trying to keep a clean house. Some days when I sit and look at my house, I feel like just renting a dump truck and pulling it up to the back door and just start filling it up. I said, I feel like it. But I’m not going to do that. While this tip doesn’t have to do with cleaning. I think that Chiropractors can be a big help. If your insurance covers it or you can afford it. I am currently going to one, and have noticed that I have regained some of my range of motion back. I was having a big decrease in my range of motion. I do like Donna’s tip about getting rid of the clutter. It is easier to clean with less stuff sitting around. I hope to be well enough this summer to start going thru the house and bag stuff up and load it in my trunk, so that when I go to town I can drop them off at my local charity place. I only hope that once I fill the trunk up, I just don’t forget to drop the stuff off before I go to the grocery store and come out, to find I forgot and then have no room for the groceries. LOL I know it is hard, but, chin up fellow, Fed Up’s. One day at a time.

    • Donna Gregory/FedUpwithFatigue.com says

      I enjoyed reading your comment. Made me laugh. That’s a good thing!!!

  7. I set a timer. 20 minutes of cleaning or projects and then 20 minutes of resting. This helps on many days but is not so good on really bad days. On the bad days, of which I have had many lately, I just say, tomorrow is another day.

  8. For me, household chores are my biggest nemesis. I am fortunate in the fact that I am still able to work and I genuinely love my job. However, it does tend to use up pretty much all my spoons. I am usually able to sit down at the computer or craft desk to create something but manual housework is just too much. It is a vicious circle though because I totally get where you are coming from, everything in life feels better when you are clean, tidy and organised. My addiction to Alejandra and Clean my Space is testament to that, if only I could have the energy to put all the theory into practice…

  9. Leslie says

    I’ve had S.E.I.D. for nearly 7 years. I find that cleaning up my cleaners is imperative! I no longer use commercial cleaners for the house. I only use white vinegar (which scientifically speaking, kills 99% of bacteria and germs as well as does not create killer bugs through the use of antibacterials) and baking soda. I use one commercial product for my laundry which is free of chemicals and dyes. I use 100% natural, organic, scent and dye free soap and shampoo. The result is, my house is clean without harmful chemicals, and my body/mind gets a break from chemical stresses. Oh, and my finances get a break because white vinegar and baking soda are cheap. One more great benefit is that I rest knowing I don’t support companies which pollute the environment – WIN WIN 🙂

  10. Boomer56 says

    Use “grabbers” not only while cleaning, but every day to pick up dropped items from the floor, grab food cans and containers from high kitchen or pantry shelves, and pull clothes out of the far reaches of the clothes dryer.

  11. With regard to cleaning the shower…I do the same thing with my dog. I get in the shower, sit on shower chair and bath the dog and then the shower. Easier.

  12. cheryl zink says

    I can’t tell you what a good feeling it was to read these tips written by somebody who truly understands! Now I must start to put this in action. Thank you so much!

  13. thank you so much. It is amazing how much I can forget that I know I need to do! …I came across your post and somehow I did not feel so alone… julie

  14. I have an aunt who had a TMI an she did many of the same things, but she also used a dust collection system to decrease the amount of labor (dusting) around the home. I am glad to hear that she was just doing what is best for her health, because I wondered if the expenses were the real trouble in her stress. Thank you for sharing helpful ways to keep the home tidy under a difficult diagnosis. It softened me, yay!

  15. Thank you for the great tips, what really hit home was a reminder to change my expectations. I fractured my neck and had to relinquish all tasks to my husband and kids. Even though tasks are not completed “my way” I have learned to be truly greatful for their help. 7 months into recovery with PT and OT 3 times a week I am starting to complete little tasks on my own. My favorite cleaning supply is the magic eraser. I have little strength in my hands and they do all the work without scrubbing. Big shower sponge is easy to grip and erases soap scum and little rust stains.

    • Donna Gregory/FedUpwithFatigue.com says

      I like the Magic Erasers too! They are great for wall scuffs and all sorts of things.

  16. Debbie says

    Thank you for the tips😊 I had to laugh when reading some of the replies about watching or listening to YouTube, TedTalks, or podcasts! I do the same thing! Hahaa! My thing on YouTube is real crime shows like Dateline or 48 Hours. I know! Kind of creepy! But since I can remember I’ve loved mysteries! (Nancy Drew!) If it gets to be too eewww! I switch to something more positive, hence, TedTalks! Lol! Either way, having something on helps me to keep going. I have a dog & 2 cats and hardwood floors..you’re visualizing the little tumble weeds of fur right now aren’t you! I’ve found that having a relaxed routine really makes a difference for me. Such as while waiting for my tea kettle, I’ll sweep the floors. Make sure everyone has food & fresh water in their bowls, etc.. It doesn’t sound like much, but those little steps saves a bigger cleanup later in the day. I’d like to add one more thing. Reading your article & replies, I’ve noticed that quite a few people have said that prior to their illness they were OCD, perfectionists, etc., so it’s been that much harder learning to deal with the restraints of FM. Now, maybe, I too, had a touch of OCD before all this…I don’t remember really. I’m a mother of 3 and was quite busy. I struggled with keeping a clean house as my now, ex-husband, wasn’t helpful. Here’s the thing: NOW, since I’ve been sick, I absolutely cannot deal with a dirty house. I live with my daughter & her fiance, and she (now 24) can attest to the fact that I’ve never had such a NEED to have things SO clean! Two areas in particular are the kitchen & bathroom. Of course, they s/b clean, but I’ve become so squeamish about things its like I don’t know myself anymore! (I mentioned I raised THREE kids right?)
    Thank you again for sharing! Keep up the amazing work!

    • Donna Gregory/FedUpwithFatigue.com says

      Thanks, Debbie! Yes, I know all about those fuzzy tumbleweeds! My Roomba is sucking up some right as I type this!

    • I have had some sort of pain most my life. In 2006 I was diagnosed with FM. I have good times and the bad where I stay in bed. I don’t remember being OCD before my diagnosis, but I certainly am now. My husband is a great help to me. I am very thankful for his help. Still working on not pushing the limits of enough is enough, just rest. Getting exercise helps, but don’t over do it. Also though I am not totally gluten-free, I eat as little carbs as I can. Changing my food has made a difference and because of that I have stopped gaining weight and can maintain it better. Loosing is the hard part. I too have 3 critters, all cats. It is hard to keep up, but finally, adequate a schedule I can keep up with. Same with laundry and cleaning. My main issue is ironing, so learning to what is needed first and then allowing myself to only a certain number at a time–10 seems to work. Thank you for sharing. New to this site, but love it so far.

      • I agree with everything in your post, except I would advise people to forget ironing. If it’s wrinkled, toss it back into the dryer with a wet rag etc.then run dryer to De-wrinkle it on its own. Or better Still, use a few squirts of wrinkle releaser. I gave up ironing in the 80’s, everything now is perm press or dry clean only. Ironing requires standing and using your arms and back… Hell’s NO

        • Donna Gregory/FedUpwithFatigue.com says

          We own an iron but it hasn’t been used in years. I agree w/ you … the dryer is my iron. And if that doesn’t work, then someone else will iron it when I donate it to the Goodwill. 🙂

      • I know this is an older post and it’s common it is for people to say, “Oh I’m so OCD about” X or Y, and that you probably don’t mean any harm when you say it, but this being a site for people with chronic illnesses, I feel like we should be extra-aware of how we talk about the illnesses other people face. Saying “I used to be OCD about…” Or “I was so OCD before…” is something that makes me cringe on a regular basis, and not just because of the grammatical problems it creates. I don’t want to be hypersensitive about it, but on the other hand it trivializes something that is anything but trivial for the people who live with it. So please, unless you honestly mean that your brain torments you with fears that prey on everything you care about most, and that X or Y are legitimate clinical tics that compel you to publically repeat often-humiliating behaviors that you wish you could stop doing like you wish you could keep breathing, please don’t say you’re “OCD” about it, and don’t be silent when you hear your friends say it. #OCDIsNotAnAdjective

  17. I love the shower tip. I celebrate the moments when I don’t have to sit just to finish my shower, on those days having an easy way to clean the shower is great. I try to do something every day too but sometimes I just say forget it. lol Thanks for sharing, I posted these in my online support group.

    • Donna Gregory/FedUpwithFatigue.com says

      Glad you found the tips helpful. Thank you for sharing them w/ your support group.

  18. Susan Acevedo says

    I’m OCD so I’m learning to not be such a clean freak. I started Spring cleaning early this year but it wasn’t actually cleaning. It was reorganizing everything to make it easier on myself. I got rid of a lot of stuff I don’t use. I now use my calendar to make a day for each room to get extra clean. That way I don’t try to do it all in one day. I try to limit it to one hour of work then rest with a book. I have almost every small appliance you can think of so I try to use them when I can. My favorite is still the slow cooker. When cleaning mirrors I tend to do of them in the house at one time. I load up the dishwasher only once a day since there is only two of us there’s not many dishes to do. I like to have a place for everything. Dusting is my least favorite chore so sometimes I forget it until you’re able to write it in! I feel more comfortable with a system and I don’t stress as much as I used to.
    My motto now
    If you want to see a clean house, make an appointment. If you want to see me come anytime but expect a less than perfect house.

    • Donna Gregory/FedUpwithFatigue.com says

      Hi Susan, I’m working through all of my closets, drawers and cabinets and cleaning them out too. I’ve set a date to have a yard sale in a few weeks, so I have a deadline to meet. Otherwise it’ll take me forever to get through everything. It sounds like we share a lot of the same processes for cleaning and organizing.

    • My husband works 60+ hours-7 day weeks – swing shift. Yet he vacuums, sweeps & mops, uses the carpet cleaner, cleans the shower & microwave ( we double teamed the fridge!) & he does dog grooming on 2 Corgis & 2 large rescues. He does all the yardwork. I used to cook more than I do now, the dishwasher is mine (OCD), I pay the bills & balance the bank statement. I wash laundry & hang clothes to dry–he puts white clothes in the dryer, I fold. We change beds & I get stuck folding sheets. I say folding…..the fitted one only witches can fold. We grocery shop, he brings it in, I put up cold stuff & eventually the rest. He takes out trash. He is my angel. He leaves for work & I am awake but in bed & he comes home 12.5 hours later & I probably am in bed. Freezing, didn’t sleep well & he is not ready to trade me in. Teamwork.

  19. Leslie says

    This is great! I’m 29 yrs old and struggling with several severe diseases including fibro. It got to the point I couldn’t work or keep my own apartment clean anymore and had to move home where I have help. My mom doesn’t really get it even though she’s been told time and again and she see’s how weak I am (she’s always been healthy). I miss being able to keep my space clean, that sense of pride. Even thinking about cleaning makes me feel worse. Hoping some of your suggestions can help. I really want to be able to have that pride in myself back and I’d love to get my Mom off my back lol. Thinking I’ll ask for a Roomba for bday/Christmas. My service dog is quite the shedder and the daily vacuum is tough!

    • Donna Gregory/FedUpwithFatigue.com says

      Hi Leslie, yes, you’ll love the Roomba. The 770 model that I have is designed for pet hair, and it’s fantastic. I couldn’t be without it!!!! Just a tip: I saved $100 on mine by using a 20% off coupon from Bed Bath and Beyond. If you sign up for their mailing list on their website, they regularly send out those 20% off coupons. It’s a nice discount!

      I’ll be doing a kitchen version on this post soon.

      • Jill Roberts says

        Hi Donna:

        Loved your article. Have been thinking about getting a robot cleaner. My only concern is my place is very congested, so I am wondering if the Roomba would have to be repositioned all the time if it runs into some obstruction. How about bumping into furniture? It seems to me the Roomba works best when a room is large with space to navigate.

        • Donna Gregory/FedUpwithFatigue.com says

          When it bumps into something, it turns itself around and goes in another direction. The only issue I’ve had is sometimes it gets stuck under the lip of my sofa. When that happens, it beeps to let me know and if I don’t come move it w/in a certain amount of time, it will shut itself off until I pull it out and turn it back on. I love my Roomba. I wouldn’t be able to keep my floors clean w/o it.

          • Cindy G says

            Vacuuming has always been my least favorite thing to do, and takes too much effort even with an Oreck. Got rid of carpets for hardwood floors.

            Don’t feel that I need a Roomba because with a microfiber mop, it’s nothing to go over the floors. A few seconds. Then instead of shaking it and making a mess and getting dust on me, I vacuum it with my Dustbuster.

            My only remaining problem is that I have a few small area rugs which never get vacuumed. Some day….

            I looked a bunch of microfiber mops before picking the one I got, and I love it.It’s a Lipman and the microfiber part is 2-sided and they sell refills, but since I “dustbust” it and dont’ wash it I dont’ think I’ll need one.
            My first one was awful — the end was screwed on and wouldn’t stay screwed on and fell apart every time I used it. At least Home Depot gave me a full refund.

  20. Ann Chatterton says

    Both my husband and I are retired. We hate doing dishes and do so resentfully!! We have a new dish washer but bending hurts my back. After supper we used to watch the news together, the dishes became a source of tension , who would do them and when. Now, I enjoy the dishes! I skip the news which is very stressful, not good for my fibro
    Body and mind. I have subscribed to audible.com and find that I can enjoy a leisurely hour in the dish pan, while listening to new books. I wipe counters, as I dry and put dishes away. A big change of attitude and thinking outside the box has brought me peace and pride to the cleanup time. Seems little but has big rewards for both of us.

    • Donna Gregory/FedUpwithFatigue.com says

      I do the same thing, Ann. I usually rotate between YouTube, my favorite podcasts and Audible. It makes chores go more quickly.

      • Oh my goodness! This is exactly how I get myself to do chores and enjoy the process immensely! Along with audible and Ted talks on you tube as well as other informational things, I can also listen to the Bible and Bible based articles that encourage and help me on jw.org and it is all free. It is great to know others who have pain and fatigue have also discovered, as I did, how to get things done joyfully and effectively getting our minds off negative thought pertaining to how we feel.

  21. Sirena says

    I’m glad I found your site. I have OCD, Fibro and RA that is not responding to treatment so far. Children are grown and gone (husband left too when I got sick) and I am unable to do basic chores, let alone keep house by myself. But I do some of the things mentioned in your article and by the readers, such as never going up or down the stairs empty handed, staging things at the top and bottom of stairs, keeping cleaning supplies in kitchen and baths, etc. I am thinking about investing in a Roomba to pick my Persians’ hair.

    • Donna Gregory/FedUpwithFatigue.com says

      If you get a Roomba, you will love it! I was just telling my hubby this morning that it’s one of the best things I’ve ever spent money on. And it’s great for pet hair!

  22. Carrie Strapp says

    I do get my boys involved they have been helping for about 10 yrs they are 14 and 16…they are a huge help and I have also taught them to cook since they were little. ..they can now also help with meals (pretty fancy ones sometimes )…this frees up a ton of energy because I don’t have to plan the meal or prepare I also don’t have to do dishes they usually take turns ( no dishwasher since I got sick 🙁 ) …needless to say it’s a good thing for them and yes they may not always want to do their chores but they understand fibro and cfs and when I have a bad day they know and volunteer right away…thanks for these tips I find I do a lot of them especially getting rid of things we have a small house with no storage space 🙁

    • Donna Gregory/FedUpwithFatigue.com says

      Your kids sound great! So happy you have help at home – that must be a great blessing for you! Hope you have a restful New Year’s!

    • I want you to know how blessed you are to have such good sons. I taught my two to cook and clean but I wasn’t this way then.
      I hear some of you say how your husband left when you got sick. After 25 years of marriage my husband found someone a year after my heart attack. I’ve had five now in ten years and now have a husband that’s disabled as I am and we work together on our cleaning.
      Within our first year of marriage I had a brain tumor removed that caused weight gain and I’ve got back issues and diabetes now. Our home isn’t as I’d like but I’ve lost almost of my weight I gained and it’s helped me get around easier.
      I’ve enjoyed hearing all the tips and how I’m not alone.

  23. Cathy B. says

    I came across FlyLady.net several years ago. Her housekeeping system is amazing. Even I can do it most of the time, but I’ll admit to being an occasional back-slider. I see bits of her system in some of the posts above. It may seem complicated, but it really isn’t. I don’t do anything for more than 15 minutes at a time. I use a timer so I don’t overdo. And I take 10 to 15 minute breaks in between. It’s amazing how much i can accomplish on a good day. Kinda like eating an elephant – one bite at a time!

    • Donna Gregory/FedUpwithFatigue.com says

      I’ve had several people recommend FlyLady.net. Her program must be really good! I’ll have to check it out! I think doing little chunks alternating w/ rest is the best way for us.

  24. The one thing that helps me the most is to write down everything I need to do ! I get more done when I have a list to follow

    • Donna Gregory/FedUpwithFatigue.com says

      I’m definitely a list person too! If I don’t have it on a list, then it doesn’t get done.

  25. Sue Wiendels says

    I too am like you in that I love a clean home! Your tips are very helpful and I do most of them, my problem is pacing myself! I push myself and of course I suffer for it! I have tried so many different types of cleaning products for cleaning my tub and shower, one that requires the least amount of hard scrubbing! I love scrubbing bubbles I just spray leave it for a few minutes then wipe away all that soapy grime! Gosh I sound like a commercial! There maybe other products that have the same result but this one really works for me! Just one more, buy a steam mop, no scrubbing the steam loosens all the dirt and it sanitize your floors too! Especially since I have a grandson crawling this a must! Bonus is they dry in seconds! Hope these are helpful!

    • I have a steam mop in storage, but I’ve never used it! I’ve had multiple people suggest using one since posting this. Maybe that’s sign I should pull mine out of the box and use it, huh? I may have to check out Scrubbing Bubbles too. I typically avoid a lot of store bought cleaners, but it sounds like SB makes cleaning the tub/shower much easier, so maybe that’s a good trade off. Even though I use my dish scrubber, there are still times when I have to deep clean the tub/shower, and I’m doing it the old school way w/ Comet and a sponge. No fun!!!!

      • Martha says

        I discovered the easiest tub and shower cleaning routine ever. Mix equal parts Dawn dish detergent and white vinegar in a spray bottle. Gently shake. Spray all over shower walls. Walk away for 30+ minutes. Come back, wipe down and rinse. Grime wipes away without scrubbing.

        • Donna Gregory/FedUpwithFatigue.com says

          I fill the dish scrubber that I keep in my shower w/ the same mixture. It works great for cleaning the shower! People often buy all these expensive, special cleaners when the simple things work just as well.

      • For my walk-in shower, I use a squeegee on a really long handle after every shower.

        Once in a great while, I spray bleach all over, and just let it sit. After several hours, the shower is clean with zero work.

        I did this when I had a tub shower too.

        It’s a miracle b/c there is zero work involved.

        Except for this, I only use vinegar, hydrogen peroxide and baking soda to clean.

        One thing, if you keep bleach in a spray bottle, it will destroy the spray mechanism. I’ve destroyed so many of different brands that it’s no fluke. So now I only put the spray thingie in the bottle when I need to use it. Otherwise I just use a regular cap.

  26. Victoria says

    For the longest time I was struggling to do it myself, but eventually I found a local teenager who wanted to earn some pocket money. Now I just pay her $20 to come and give my house a good scrub every two weeks, and then just do small touch-up cleans in between. SO WORTH IT.

    • You betcha that is worth it! Wow, I wish I could find a teenager to do that for me!!!! Great advice! I might try to do that instead of paying a cleaning company!

      • Victoria says

        I found her just by posting in our local buy & sell Facebook group. There are always low-income kids in desperate need of some extra income, and this one actually works HARDER than any cleaning company I’ve ever hired because she appreciates the money more.

        • I will have to look into that. Hadn’t thought to check the facebook groups or the high schoool/church boards.

      • Laurie says

        Many high schools have a job bulletin board as do youth groups at local church’s

    • I am very blessed too have and ad have had different young teens from our church who clean as a ministry to us. The first ne w had we had for 8 years now she is married and a child on the way. Since then we have had 2 other girls and we now have another sweet girl that just graduated hg school! I to was a perfectionist until I got fibro10 years ago!! I am encouraged by all your ideas.

  27. thank you for these tips every thing u have said is me to a t feel so embaresed I have stopped inviting people in because of the mess I just want to sleep sleep and more sleep people don’t understand me I am olso getting more out spoken and I don’t like it this is not the person I used to be

    • Be gentle with yourself. I know it’s hard, but we have to set and accept new standards for certain things, like cleaning, b/c of the limits of our bodies now. It’s a new normal. I wouldn’t get too upset about being outspoken. I think that’s a good thing!!! It will come in handy when you need to advocate and speak up for yourself.

    • Sirena says

      Those of us with ‘invisible’ diseases sadly need to be outspoken, as others don’t believe there’s anything wrong with us because we look normal and it doesn’t show. We need to educate others so they understand why we cancel something in the last minute or cannot do something else. We’ll lose friends and/or spouses due to our diseases, but those that remain will be the ones that truly care, after all. Love yourself and good luck.

      • Donna Gregory/FedUpwithFatigue.com says

        Thank you for your wise words! You are exactly right! We definitely need to be outspoken b/c that’s the only way that we will eventually get understanding. The fibro community has come so far, but we still have so far to go.

  28. Josette Kirby says

    Thank you so much for these tips. I am a perfectionist and OCD person so when i start i finish even if i want to die. Still waiting on a fibro diagnosis but have ruled out everything else. Pretty sure i fit into it too much. My worst is breathing – it hurts every second i breathe and am so exhausted every minute – never a break for the last year. As for my cleaning, i do it in one day little by little – we live in a 5th wheel – then do nothing the next day. My husband and I both have chronic pain so we switch days for cooking and vacuuming too. It just takes a lot to do the simple things.

    • If I get on a cleaning kick and try to pull an all-dayer, then like you, I end up on the couch the next day. Not good. I’m lucky that I have a hubby who isn’t afraid to put dishes in the dishwasher or make the bed. Glad you have someone to help you, too!

  29. Lisa Tracy says

    love your tips! I have a roomba, but I need to clean it and charge it. I find it’s most helpful in my bedroom, since it’s difficult to take a vacuum up stairs. I also have started using more Norwex cloths so I don’t have to have so many bottles to contend with and cloths can go from room to room and surface to surface (mostly). -I don’t sell it- My “big” cleaning day is Thursday evening and I do as much as I can from 4pm till bed time w/ the kids helping…many hands make light work…and we work together to get animal cages clean, trash gathered and put out, fridge cleaned, sheets changed…etc. I also use the flylady.net for weekly room tasks so I’m not overwhelmed trying to clean it all at once. So often I suffer from my CHAOS (Can’t have anyone over syndrome) :p

    • I’ve never heard of Norwex cloths, but I will check them out tonight when I’m surfing online! I love my Roomba!!!! Couldn’t live without it! You should definitely pull yours out and get it going again. Glad to hear you’ve involved your kids in cleaning. That has to be a big help!

  30. I gave each task a day. For example: vacuuming is done on Monday and Friday. I mop if needed on Mondays aw well, Friday is more to just pick up the dog hair from the week. On Tuesday I dust. Wednesday is bathroom day, some weeks it’s a wipe down others I scrub just depends. Thursday is my day off, lol. Every day dishes are done and I try to do laundry daily. If it was a bad week the. We do it on the weekend as a family. My husband and last son at home help out and do whatever is needed. They also have their own rooms to clean. My son takes care of his room and bathroom. My husband takes care of his office and everything above eye level for me.

    • Our routines sound very, very similar. I try to do bathrooms one day, the master bedroom one day, the dusting one day, etc. And like you, I also do dishes and laundry every day. It’s good that your husband and son pitch in. That has to be a big help!

  31. Lisa M says

    I got a battery powered scrub brush to clean the grout in my shower instead of doing it by hand with a toothbrush. The head is about the size of a quarter and it rotates so all I have to do is run it along the grout instead of scrubbing back and forth. The grout doesn’t specifically need cleaning every time I clean the shower (luckily).

    Also, when its time to get the shower done I do one wall a week instead of pushing myself to do the whole thing at one time. My tub is separate from the shower so I only clean it when I plan on using it or there’s a ton of cat hair in it – one of my girls loves to play in an empty tub lol

    • That’s a great idea for using the powered brush! I wouldn’t have thought of that! You might have just helped me take my shower cleaning to a whole new level. Thank you!

      • Laurie says

        There is a long handled telescoping brush like with a blue scrubbie triangle pad that can be replaced as needed. I use it for the shower as I sit on the side or when I am in the shower.

  32. Bonnie Covington says

    Looking forward to the newsletter.
    Thank You!

    • Hi Bonnie, happy to hear from you! I just sent out this week’s news post. Hope you find it useful!

  33. Patricia says

    Thank you. I am learning all kinds of helpful things from your newsletters. So glad I signed up.

  34. I have a rule; I never go from floor to floor empty handed. Going down the basement to put in laundry? There’s usually SOMETHING that needs to be placed down there! Coming back up? How’s the supply of paper goods upstairs? Are you running out of tissues in the bathroom? Hit the BJ’s collection in your basement before you come up! This technique saves me trips on the stairs, and stairs are my nemesis.

    • That’s a great rule! I’m going to have to remember to do that. Anything to save steps!

    • Terrasola says

      Me, too. I have a “launching pad” at the top and bottom of the stairs (similar to a launching pad at the front door) to help corral things that have to go from one floor to another so I don’t have to remember what needs to go where — because I can’t remember anything. I just put the things that need to go up or down at the launching pad.
      I also have “inside shoes” because I need to wear hard soles at all times. There are no outside shoes in the house AND it protects my feet from pain.

      • I have similar systems set up. I have my baskets on the stairs to keep stuff that needs to up and down the different floors. I also have a bin in a hall closet where I put anything that has to go out of the house, like store returns, coupons that need to be used, reusable bags for the grocery store, etc. It’s really nice to have it in one place, so I can just grab and go instead of hunting for stuff all over the house.


  1. […] Columnist Carrie Anton shares tips on how she manages housework with chronic illness. If you enjoy her article, you might also like my post on “20 helpful tips for cleaning and organizing when you’re chronically ill.” […]

  2. […] 20 helpful tips for cleaning & organizing when you’re chronically ill […]

  3. […] 20 helpful tips for cleaning & organizing when you’re chronically ill […]

  4. […] 20 helpful tips for cleaning & organizing when you’re chronically ill […]

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