My house was a disaster. I used to clean the entire place every Friday night. With my husband working the graveyard shift, it was the perfect time — until we bought a house over twice the size. One bathroom became three. An unfinished basement became a finished lower level with a bar and family room. I loved the new house — until I had to clean it.
Shortly after we moved in, my fibro went into beast mode. In a three-month period, I was laid off, my mom passed away, and my grieving, alcoholic father needed my help with his finances and to get him off the sauce. Not easy tasks, especially during the flare of a lifetime.
My husband was wonderful. He asked only that I keep up on laundry, dishes, and the cat litter. But I still found even these three simple requests hard to manage. I was embarrassed by how messy and dirty my house had become. If someone stopped by unexpectedly, I couldn’t let them inside!
I needed to make cleaning my house easier. To accomplish that, I had to look at what the biggest issues were that I could change. Since I can’t change fibro, I had to find ways to work with or around my symptoms. Top of the list was the chemical smell of household cleaners. They make me sick. My sensitivity to certain smells had increased over the years. I had to go with natural, more mild-smelling cleaners.
I scoured the internet for ideas and came across Castile soap. This is the best discovery I have made. This stuff is amazing. It is made with natural oils, so it cleans up grease like a pro.
I use it for everything from stove and countertops to showers and floors. You can use it to clean humans, too. I use it as a shower gel and it leaves me feeling squeaky clean. Just remember, it is highly concentrated so you don’t need much. You can find the soap in most co-ops (where you can even refill your bottles repeatedly), or larger retailers.
Vacuuming was the hardest household chore for me. But having three cats calls for frequent vacuuming. Now I try to get it all done in a weekend instead of trying to do it all in one day. If I vacuum the whole house in one day, I risk a flare. If necessary, I ask my husband to carry the vacuum cleaner up or down the stairs.
Another issue was keeping up with clutter. One of the biggest sore spots was the kitchen table. It became the catch-all for everything paper. Mail, forms, pay stubs, receipts … you name it, it’s on my table! If I put it away, I’ll forget about it. If I don’t have time to read it or deal with it at the time, it goes on a pile where I think I will notice it later. I needed to get organized. My husband came up with the idea of using baskets or plastic containers to keep all the odds and ends together. If someone stops by unexpectedly, I can quickly hide them away.
Keeping three bathrooms clean was a major stressor. We don’t need to use all three showers and bathtubs, but we do use all the toilets. I found a solution to help keep them clean: Toilet bombs. Drop one in each of the toilet bowls once a week (or when someone stops over) and when it’s done fizzing, give the bowl a quick brush and flush. They leave toilets smelling and looking clean and fresh. I make my own, but you can buy them online. Once a month, I also give all the toilets a good cleaning with Borax.
Not sweating the small stuff and using these tips help keep me sane. I feel less stressed when people stop over now, but please don’t take that as an open invitation to drop in uninvited. I still appreciate a call or text first. My fibro thanks you for your consideration.
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