A pair of salad tongs are sitting on a counter. The claws have two helpful smiley faces on them.

Cleaning Hacks: Thinking Outside the Box

Our son gave us the gift of an automated RoboVac for Christmas. We’ve all seen them advertised on TV or used in popular shorts videos with a cat riding one around the room. When asked if we might want that for a gift, I said I didn’t see the purpose, since a regular vacuum or broom does the same job. However, my son pointed out that the regular vacuum required someone to actually use it, whereas the RoboVac operates itself.

Items that make cleaning easier

Reluctantly we said okay, and we now have developed a fondness for the device that cleans our floors every day on a set schedule. The ease of cleaning our floors now, if you don’t count having to untangle the hair from the roller bars and emptying the dust bin, makes me think about other tools I use regularly that make life easier. But I still pick up my broom and dustpan and do the same thing if there is a mess I need to clean immediately.

Problems bending? Try a grabber reach tool

We have a grabber reacher tool (yes, it is really called that!) on both levels of our house. I am particularly stiff and picking up items that are on the floor, usually because I have dropped them, requires extra reach that I just don’t have. I know online they are sold as tools for the elderly, but I’ve used these long before I reached my advanced years. If you have problems bending like I do, don’t hesitate to get one of these, they can be purchased for around $10.

My life hack

I’ve developed my own hack in the kitchen when my grabber reacher tool isn’t close and I need to pick up something from the floor. My solution? I reach for my kitchen tongs, which gives me enough of an extension to my arm length to reach the floor. The tongs would also be handy to grab items from high shelves, but at my height, that is not a problem. Surprisingly, when I search the big seller online, I find kitchen tongs cost about as much as the grabber reacher tool.

Kitchen tongs and grabber reacher tool

Long-handled items are a big help

If mobility and bending are an issue for you, check out the other long-handled items you can find online. They range from toenail clippers to grass trimmers, long-handled shoe horns to back scratchers or hair combs. Most of these are in the affordable range and could make a big difference for quality of life and independence.

Jars won’t open?

Another favorite tool I use regularly was recommended by Lisa Emrich, a fellow MS and rheumatoid arthritis writer. She made me familiar with the best ever jar opener: a simple-looking device called a JarKey. Much like the old church-key bottle openers, there is a lip to the JarKey that fits just under the rim of a jar and with a simple lift, the seal on the jar is popped, making the lid easy to twist off. If gripping a jar lid and wrestling it off is not high on your exercise list, I highly recommend the JarKey. I don’t have a lower-priced suggestion for this task, because the JarKey is only $10 for two online.

A red JarKey laying on a counter

Scrubbing tubs and baseboards

Neither of these cleaning tasks are high on my list to do because they require reaching low places and challenging my ability to bend and maintain balance. My favorite tool to help with these tasks is the Electric Spin Scrubber (yes, it really is called this!) which is a long-handled, rechargeable tool that comes with a variety of scrubbing heads. I particularly like this to reach the far corners of my shower, and its cost was about $60 online. A less pricey cleaning option I have also used is a spare toilet brush – be sure it is one that hasn’t been used on the porcelain bowl. You can get these at the dollar store or online for under $10. This brush can also be used for hard-to-reach places and makes a great extension of our reach. Unlike the electric model, you have to provide your own muscle to make it work.

Electric Spin Scrubber

Other resources

There are so many hacks and gadgets that improve our lives for the better. A number of them have been covered on MultipleSclerosis.net, including this great article "Gadgets that Make My MS Life Better" by Devin Garlit. If you are struggling with any daily tasks of living, you might also consider asking for a referral to occupational therapy (OT), the often overlooked partner to physical therapy. OT professionals can help to evaluate your physical needs and make recommendations. If you are not familiar with all that OT has to offer, I encourage you to read "Occupational Therapy" for more information.

I know you must have your own hacks on making life easier and safer, and we would love to hear them. Please share your hacks so we all can improve our lives.

Wishing you well,

Laura

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