From InterAction 92, spring 2016
Housework and spring cleaning can be hard work, so how do you cope when you have M.E.? We asked you to share your tips and ideas and you sent us dozens, so here’s a small selection.
I use a cordless vacuum cleaner which gets the house looking better in half the amount of time and the middle lifts out for the stairs; it’s been a real help. Also bit by bit I am decluttering to make tidying up easier.
I get my daughter to hoover for me. My husband does all the cooking. I have a dishwasher and make as few trips to empty it as possible. The rest of the housework is done intermittently. Don’t know when the oven was last cleaned!
Changing to chemical-free cleaning products, such as diluted vinegar with a drop of essential oil, has made a big difference. Fewer smells and reactions to chemicals make my environment a happier place to be.
I have a wonderful partner who does everything. I help where I can still.
I don’t iron anything. Ever. I don’t change the whole of my bed clothes in one go – I’ll do the pillows and maybe the bottom sheet on one day and then the duvet cover on another day. If and when I do any hovering (which isn’t very often at all as I find this the hardest to do), I’ve learnt that wearing earplugs helps no end, as I can’t cope with the noise of the hoover. I also only do one room, or part of a room, at one time.
The biggest suggestion for this is get a cleaner! A cleaner can do all the heavy work, leaving me free to do dusting and tidying. Even if finances are tight a couple of hours once a month makes a huge difference.
I have a Polti steam cleaner which can be used for a variety of jobs. I am usually too exhausted to use it often, but it cuts through grease and dirt really quickly and effectively without the need for chemicals!
Mary Elizabeth Daniel
I do everything in tiny sections. The key is moderation. Each LITTLE section is a giant accomplishment. If you view it that way, you feel gratified for a job well done. We all know that depression is very real with us, so take it easy.
An electric sweeper is helpful if you find the vacuum cleaner too much: mine is a cordless Gtech and wasn’t expensive. It’s not a substitute for the vacuum, though, unfortunately. On bad days no housework gets done at all.
I think accepting what you can’t manage is hugely important. I dry washing on maidens indoors, as lifting up to a washing line is too tiring. This also means I can fold dry washing when I’m up to it, not when it goes dark/rains.
In terms of tidiness, I am constantly trying to declutter the flat. I am trying to keep items I use most frequently in the most accessible cupboards, and small items are kept in the type of little plastic containers you get your fruit in at the supermarket, on shelves and furniture surfaces.
I use Roomba, my self-starting robot vacuum cleaner. I haven’t done a full iron for years – only stuff that stubbornly refuses to de-crease. The creases fall out of lots of stuff when you put them on.
Lots of people suggest using chemical-free or natural cleaning products. Action for M.E.’s Facebook follower Rachel Mapstone has some great tips for products you can make at home.
1. Vinegar: A wonderful product with almost endless uses. It is a deodorizer and a cleaner. It can remove water stains and kill mould and mildew. To use as a general cleaner, mix one part vinegar with one part water in a spray bottle. All you need is a clean cloth to begin freshening your home. Use this mixture on countertops, bathroom fixtures, and laminate floors. Vinegar and water works especially well on faux wood floors, as it dries quickly (you can watch it evaporate). Plain water or soapy water will leave streaks, smudges, and water spots on floors. But if you mix water and vinegar and use a little elbow grease, your floors will dry instantly and be shiny. Undiluted vinegar removes mould and water marks. Pour full strength vinegar directly on mould or mildew to kill it.
2. Lemon: Those folks at the furniture polish company know what they’re doing when they add lemon scent to their products. Lemon perks up the whole house and makes everyone feel happy. To use lemon without buying commercial products, cut a lemon in half and sprinkle baking soda on it. Use the lemon half to scrub counter tops, dishes, and chrome surfaces. It’ll leave your kitchen shiny and smelling great. For wood furniture or leather, mix two parts olive oil with one part lemon juice. Apply a small amount to a clean rag and rub vigorously to shine and dust.
3. Baking soda: Another completely safe product that can be used a variety of ways. If your sink’s drain is clogged or just dirty and smelly, sprinkle a box of baking soda all over the inside of the sink, and into the drain. Wait a bit to allow the soda to deodorize the area. Then pour undiluted vinegar into the sink and drain and watch the reaction. This is a great project to allow your kids to do. They won’t even know that they’re cleaning house. For stovetops, make a thick paste of baking soda to gently scrub the surface. Pour your baking soda into a bowl and slowly add small amounts of water until all the soda is damp, but hasn’t dissolved. Then use a plastic scrubby to apply to the stovetop. This works great to remove grease and grime without scratching.
4. Toothpaste: It’s a little gritty, and contains cleaning agents, so it can be used to gently remove stains on some household surfaces. Water rings on wooden furniture can be removed or lightened by rubbing toothpaste onto the spot with a clean rag. Residue left from glue, as when you peel off a price tag, for instance, can also be removed with toothpaste. Try toothpaste on a plastic scrubby for cleaning any slightly textured surface.
Ed: We can’t help but notice that nearly all of these suggestions are from women! If any of our male readers have some tips or suggestions, please send them through and we’ll include them in the next issue.