Getting the housework done with chronic illness: The kitchen

chronic illness cleaning housework kitchen

I think one of the most debilitating things about chronic illness is the fatigue – especially the kind that hits when the day has been spent doing pretty much nothing. I’m always baffled when I’m tired or in pain from doing literally nothing.

When it comes to having a long day, coming home and having to look at the pile of dishes in the sink, the trash, and messy countertops – it’s safe to say the normality for some would be to shut the door on the mess.

Don’t make it worse

I get it – I do it sometimes, too. But it only makes things worse. The more it’s ignored the messier it gets until eventually, it has to be cleaned, and by that point, the mess that’s accumulated takes ten times longer than it would have taken originally.

To stop this, it’s a good idea to pop a basic tidy on your timetable for each day. For me, this is doing the dishes, cleaning the counter tops, hoovering up, and taking the trash out. If this is done every day, it stops any mess from piling up, and it will save you a lot more tidying later on in the day. (If you have young kids, I totally understand that the basic cleanup will probably last about 5 minutes) So don’t be too hard on yourself. Especially if you’re having a bad day.


#1 – Why do I even have this?

Ever looked at all the items in the kitchen and wondered why on earth there is so much clutter? Or maybe you’re a bit like me –  I open a cupboard to get ONE pan out, and an avalanche of pans, pots, and god knows what else comes crashing out. Which causes a lot cussing.

Solution – Cut the clutter. Sort out any pots and pans and keep only what items are essential. Do the same for all cupboards in your kitchen, including the pantry. If it’s not already organized, you’ll be amazed by a) how much stuff in the pantry is actually out of date, and b) how much space there is. It’s easy to just shove things in cupboards and not think about it, but this is what causes the clutter.

I’d set aside a full day to do this task. (or more) Pop some music, get a roll of bin liners, and do little bits at a time, with breaks in between. It’s quite fun, really, and you’ll get a really nice feeling of satisfaction once it’s all sorted – and it will also make cleaning and looking for items in your cupboards a lot easier, and quicker.

2# – Cut even more clutter.

Most of us have those drawers in our kitchen, the ones that harbor everything from letters to wires and spare change. This is habitual. Coming home, not wanting to throw everything on the kitchen side, so the drawer gets opened and things get chucked in.

This is one of those places that, again, when you sort it out, you’ll be shocked at all the rubbish that is actually in those drawers, and how much space is left to utilize. Make a certain place for everything. For example, have a letter holder to pop all important email in. Invest in some little containers/baskets to pop into drawers and create sections for certain things. Have a purpose for each cupboard. If you don’t, they will all end up cluttered again.

#3 – Keeping on top

I think not keeping on top of things is something most people are guilty of – especially those with chronic illnesses. Sometimes it’s not that we’re choosing not to keep on top of things, it’s that we physically can’t. However, if you want to keep the kitchen counter clear and the sink empty, it’s a good idea, when you’re able, to make sure you wipe the kitchen counters and do the dishes/load the dishwasher, not only each day but each time you use pots.

Ask people who live with you to make an effort to clean each utensil they use, and not leave it in the sink for you to clean. If you can manage to keep on top of wiping the countertop and doing the dishes, any other jobs to do in the day will become easier, and you won’t have huge amounts of dishes to clean.

#4 – Put it away.

The countertops can sometimes be the place to put that thing that you have no idea where to place.  Sometimes it’s food, or shopping, recipients, etc. The advice here is to put things in their right place straight away. Don’t leave the milk and butter out, don’t leave letters out. You get the idea. If items are sorted straight away, there’s no mess accumulating on your countertop.

#5 – Get your gloves on.

If you have any sort of skin condition, then you’ll want to avoid getting any nasty chemicals onto your skin. This will irritate and possibly cause a flare. The same goes with changes in temperature, so wear rubber gloves when doing the dishes, too.

On another note, to avoid chemicals completely, invest in eco cleaning products.

#6 – No more scrubbing.

The oven, the microwave, large pots, and pans – all the things that require a lot of scrubbing to get clean, especially if they’ve been left for a few hours. For people with fibromyalgia, and other chronic conditions that cause pain, just the word scrubbing is enough to say hell no! Why scrub when there’s no need to? Put some preventative measures in place.

  • The microwave:

Pop a cover over your dish. You can buy these, or you can use a microwavable safe lid/plate to cover your dishes. No more splatter!

  • The oven:

Well, you can either pay someone to come out and clean it, or you can use a product like Ovenpride. All you need to do is pop the racks into a bag which is filled with the product, and wipe some over your oven. Leave it overnight and the next morning all you should have to do is wipe the muck away. It’s by far the easiest way I’ve found, so far, to clean my oven. Get here.

Another tip is, once the bottom of your oven is clean, pop an oven liner down. This means any spillage will drip onto the liner, and all you have to do is wipe it off – rather than it all getting stuck to the bottom of the oven. Get here.

  • Large pots and pans:

Always cover your baking trays with aluminum foil. This will ensure your trays and pots have minimal to no mess. No more soaking a pot overnight, and leaving it there for another few nights before deciding to clean it. Also, use baking paper when baking. For slow cookers, you can actually use liners. I know, right? Do your cooking and then all you have to do is bin the bag. How amazing is that! Find them here. 

I hope this has somewhat helped people. Before I finish up, this isn’t something I have personally tried, but I came across it whilst I was doing research. It’s a handheld electric scrubbing brush. Might be useful to some people! See it here.

Want some tips for getting the laundry done? Click here!

How do you make cleaning your kitchen easier? Any more tips for us? Let us know in the comments below.

Sending love and spoons your way.

Stacey x