The right household products can make a big difference for those of us with fibromyalgia (FMS) and chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS). Our symptoms make housework difficult at best, so energy or labor-saving products are a must.
Below are a few of the products I've found that make my life easier and help with my symptoms. They may or may not help you in the same way, depending on what symptoms you have.
Mr. Clean Magic Eraser
They call this thing "magic" for a reason. It's kind of like a sponge, but it's not meant for routine scrubbing jobs. Instead, it's for taking spots and stains out of … well, just about everything. The best part is that it takes very little effort, so it doesn't wear me out to get things clean.
I've used Magic Erasers to remove:
- Sharpie pen from my wooden kitchen table (without damaging the finish)
- Pencil, pen and crayon from the walls
- Hair dye from multiple surfaces in the bathroom
- Tea stains from mugs
- Paint stains out of my utility sink
They also shine my stainless steel sink and my stove top like nothing else I've ever seen.
They do get used up, though, kind of like a pencil eraser. While they may not be the cheapest cleaning tool out there, I think they're worth every penny.
I love these things. I have the Swiffer Sweeper, which I use with both dry and wet Swiffer cloths, and also a couple of Swiffer Dusters.
I have a hard time using a sponge mop. It takes too much pushing, which causes pain in my hands, arms, shoulders and back. Cleaning a floor on hands and knees? Forget it! The last time I tried that, my knees and hips didn't forgive me for days.
For floors, I love the Swiffer Sweeper. It has a cleaning head that pivots around easily. That makes it able to get around things, like the base of a toilet, and into a lot of nooks and crannies. That saves me a lot of bending over, which means I can do a lot more before my back and hips give out.
It's also light weight, which makes it easy to carry all over the house. The dry cloths do a good job of getting dust, loose dirt and animal hair off of my hard floors, and it's also great for knocking down cobwebs. The wet clothes, which go on the same cleaning head, get the tougher stuff.
If you have fragrance sensitivities, you might not like the wet clothes. They're pretty heavily scented. I've used a wet dish rag on the sweeper, and it works fairly well.
For dusting, dry Swiffer cloths work well, but I prefer the Swiffer Dusters. They're basically fluffy bunches of fibers that slide onto a handle. They flatten out completely to go under things like DVD players.
I've got two duster handles – a short one that's really easy to use on things that are between waist and eye level, and a longer, extendable one with an adjustable-angle head that's great for anything that's lower or higher. That saves me a lot of bending and stretching, even as I dust ceiling-fan blades, light fixtures and baseboards.
All of the Swiffer cloths trap dust really well, which means less of it flies around the room to trigger my allergies.
The main drawback of Swiffer products is that they're disposable, which means you're constantly paying for them. Also, part of the reason the Sweeper is so lightweight is because it's made of thin materials that don't stand up to a lot of abuse. I recommend hanging them up so they're not falling over and getting broken.
Sweeper Starter Kit: Compare Prices
Cloths: Compare Prices
Wet: Compare Prices
Extendable Handle Duster: Compare Prices
Dust Cloths: Compare Prices
Shout Color Catchers
For me, FMS symptoms have meant ruining a ridiculous amount of clothing. Two things have happened: because of brain fog, I've forgotten that a new item needed washed on its own; or, out of desperation to get caught up on laundry after a long flare, I've combined things that shouldn't go together. The result is the same – color bleeds all over the load.
Then I discovered Shout Color Catchers. They look like a dryer sheet, but you throw them in the washer and they absorb all of the loose dye in the water. Since I've been using them, I've only had one problem with color-run, and that was a new black sock that sat, wet, against a light-colored shirt for a couple of days. Otherwise, my laundry has looked great even when something has slipped past me. Every time I find a Color Catcher that's blue or black or pink in the bottom of the washer, I know it just saved a few items of clothing.
Grandma's Secret Spot Remover
Like many people with FMS and ME/CFS, I'm clumsy. I don't seem to be able to eat a meal without dribbling something down my shirt. Then, of course, I forget to treat it before it goes into the hamper, so I pull the shirt out of the dryer and curse the little grease spots that, once again, didn't come out.
Then I overheard a couple of women at the fabric store talking about this great little product called Grandma's Secret Spot Remover. One of them said it got the motor oil out of her husband's clothes – even when it had been there through several washings and dryings. I picked it up, and I've been amazed at how it gets rid of the spots.
It's also done wonders for my kids' grass and chocolate stains, and, as I found out after Halloween, it also removes fake blood and zombie makeup.
I use the spot remover all the time, but because it only takes a few drops, a tiny bottle has lasted well over a year.
Downy Wrinkle Releaser
Ironing? Not going to happen. All that standing, gripping and pushing are sure to wipe me out. To deal with wrinkles, I use Downy Wrinkle Releaser.
It's really easy to make your clothes look better with this stuff. I usually hang the clothing on my shower curtain rod, give it a few sprays, and then smooth or gently tug out the wrinkles. It's faster and easier. My clothes may not looked perfectly pressed, but they come out pretty darned well.
Other Household Essentials
A few other things really make a difference to me around the house, but the particular brand doesn't matter. They are:
- Bagless Vacuum: I used to have horrible allergy attacks any time someone vacuumed because of the dust that was spewed into the air through the bag. Now that I have a bagless vacuum, it doesn't bother me anymore.
- Vinegar: I keep it in the laundry room because it deodorizes (which is important when things sit for too long) and it also softens towels really nicely. That's been a big help with my tactile and mechanical allodynia. In a spray bottle, it cleans glass without leaving streaks, so it helps conserve your energy. It's a great option for people with chemical or fragrance sensitivities.
- Color-Safe Bleach: Clumsy hands + chlorine bleach = disaster, so I use a color-safe bleach to keep things white and bright without the risk.