Category Archives: Cleaning

Simple Sweeping Solutions: Part Two

downloadAll adults know that being an adult isn’t anything we had imagined as a kid. Sure, we can stay up all night if we want to, but we never want to; in fact, most of us are looking for reasons to stay up passed 8PM. It is also true that we can have ice cream for all three meals if we want to, but we don’t because we no longer have the metabolism of a child, plus just looking at ice cream makes our clothes a bit tighter. We also don’t have to go to school, but we do have to work, which is decidedly worse than school, even though we get paid to show up. We do have our own money, but it isn’t going to that American Girl doll I wanted so badly back in the day; instead I use it for really exciting stuff like my groceries and electricity. All of these things make being an adult one giant let down, but there is one thing that I absolutely hate, above all else, about being an adult: house cleaning.

Of course, house cleaning was terrible as a kid, but at least my parents sometimes threw me a couple bucks to compensate; now the only reward I get is a clean house and that typically lasts anywhere from 30 seconds to 30 minutes depending on the day. I hate cleaning the house. I mean, I know I technically don’t have to clean it, but the alternative of ending up on an episode of Hoarders does not appeal to me either.

Because I hate cleaning so much, I am always looking for something to make cleaning a little easier. A few years ago, I purchased the Mint, and I love it. However, the Mint does have its flaws. It is not great at corners or along edges, and I have to pick up all the chairs and stuff from the floor before I use it. So I do find myself sweeping every now and then, especially those small messes that don’t require a full floor clean.

I have a light weight broom that I can use, but I was forever struggling with the dustpan. Additionally, all the dog and cat hair was sticking to the bristles of my broom so I constantly had to stop and pull them off. After a few months of looking, I finally found something that works for me. This upright dustpan is very sturdy. I can lean on it without it collapsing on me, but it’s also lightweight, which allows me to move it around the room easily. The best part is that it has these teeth that help remove at the stuff that gets caught in the broom.

I have come to terms with the fact that I will be cleaning for the rest of my life. Although it might never be fun, it is always good when I can find a product that makes cleaning just a little easier. This dustpan will not only help keep my floors clean between using the Mint, it also saves me from wrestling on the floor with my old dustpan.

Got Too Much Stuff? Donate it– UNlimiters Style!

imagesA few weeks ago my husband and I got a new couch. Well, it wasn’t really new, but it was “new to us.” Unlike our many other pieces of “new to us” furniture, this was very gently used. I love it. Of course, since I use the furniture and the walls to get around my house, we had to make sure that everything was positioned just so; but now that everything has been arranged it looks lovely.However, there is one small problem, and by one I mean two, and by small I mean rather large.

See, despite the fact that our trash company had agreed to take the old couches away for $10 a piece, they are still sitting in my basement, along with the two couches we were using before them. That’s right; I now have four used couches in my basement. Why? Well, that’s a logical question, and if I had an answer there would not be four couches in my basement. I cannot move the couches, so my husband has to do it, and he says that he cannot move them because he needs someone to help him. To date, he has not asked anyone and no one has spontaneously volunteered.

This is seriously enough to drive a woman insane. Fortunately, I have found a way in which I can get rid of some of the other stuff that seems to accumulate when you are a home owner, without needing my husband to help. Donate Stuff is an organization that accepts donations of gently used clothing and household items. The best part? They will pick them up for you on a scheduled date and time. The items you donate will go to a local charity and the pick-up is absolutely free. In my area, the items picked up by Donate Stuff goes to my local Purple Heart, a charity that supports military veterans and their families. It is really easy to schedule a pick – up, you just go to www.donatestuff.com and enter your zip code, then follow the instructions. If pickup is not available in your area, Donate Stuff will send you pre-paid UPS bags to mail in your clothing donations, for free.

Unfortunately for me and my couch situation, Donate Stuff does not pick up large items; they only take items that can be moved by a single person. But they will take clothing, small furniture, small appliances and other household items, which make them a great resource when you clean out your closet at the end of the season, buy a new coffee maker or your child suddenly decides that trains are for babies. You can donate these items knowing that they will be going to new families instead of filling up a landfill or your basement.

So when I look at those four couches sitting in my basement, I remember to be grateful that it is only couches, and not the hundreds of other items I have been able to donate to a good cause. I just keep hoping that someday soon a magic fairy, or a very large man, might come and take them a way.

Ironing Will Never be Fun, but it Doesn’t Have to be a Struggle

ironingLike so many other children, I wanted nothing more than to grow up so I could do what I wanted when I wanted. It took about five minutes of living alone to realize that I had been foolish. Being a grown up does mean you can mostly do what you want when you want, but it also means that there is no one else around to do what needs to be done. Household chores become solely your responsibility, and they aren’t any more enjoyable as an adult.

Ironing is one chore that I avoided successfully for 28 years. If something was wrinkled, I wore something else. If I had no other options, I would sometimes throw it in the dryer hoping for the best. But most of the time, I would just put it on anyway and hope that by the time I got to where I was going the wrinkles would fall out on their own.

I was perfectly happy with this arrangement. However, when I started quilting I discovered that ironing, and more specifically pressing, was going to be necessary. My mother gave me an iron and for a while I borrowed an ironing board; but I knew that eventually I would need my own.

I also knew I would have to find something that would fit my needs. I probably had a more few requirements than the average person buying an ironing board. I wanted to be able to use it standing or sitting, I wanted to be able to put it away independently, and I wanted it to be big enough to work with my larger quilts. This over the door ironing board turned out to be just the right fit. When open, it is a good height for sitting or standing, folds up against the wall for easy storage and is 14 inches wide by 42 inches long.

I have been using this board for a few years now and it works well. The ironing board can bare a lot of weight, which is especially good since I tend to lean on things while I work; so for added stability I put a wedge under my door to minimize shifting. I will caution that because this board only attaches to the top of the door it will slide an inch or two if leaned into, This slight shifting has not caused me to fall or loose my balance, and if not an issue at all when I am sitting because I don’t lean into the board.

I still hate ironing and pressing. In fact, it is my least favorite part of quilting. I have by no means gotten any better at ironing my clothing either, but this board makes this dreaded chore a little bit less of a burden.

Having Both an OCD Cleaning Streak and Quadriplegia

You’re either born with the cleaning gene or you’re not. In my case, I definitely was, and I got it from my mother.  There’s no doubt about that out.  My father is definitely not known for his peerless cleaning skills; that so much is sure.

And so as a kid, every weekend I helped my mom clean the house. I began to love the methodical nature of it.  The smells, seeing instant results from your hard work; cleaning became a very satisfying experience in my world.  I absolutely loved it.  My grandparents even used to tease me for my incessant patio sweeping.

So when my spinal cord injury occurred and I went home, it began to dawn on me how much I wouldn’t be able to do anymore, and cleaning was one of those things that seemed impossible to do from a wheelchair.  It made me so sad too. I thought I’d never be able to clean independently anymore.

This is what I thought when I first became disabled.  It came so hard though, just sitting there…looking at messes, and even worse – not being able to do anything about them. I had to do something. I had to figure out a way to still be able to clean a little.  And so after some creative thinking, I found I could still clean. Maybe not like a hired housekeeper anymore, but I did find there were a handful of things I could still do.

One of the first things I discovered I could do was surfaces. Sure, that’s the easy part of cleaning, but when you can only move your biceps and parts of your wrists, just wiping surfaces can be tricky. Try reaching the end of the counter when you’re triceps don’t work. Not easy. But after some trial and error, I discovered that with a sturdy washcloth under my hand and some homemade cleaning spray (a half and half mixture of liquid dish soap and white vinegar; love this cleaner), it was more than possible.

Pulling back on the nozzle to spray cleaner however is not easy to do.  When you don’t have any finger movement you have to get creative.  You can either open the bottle and pour some on the washcloth, or you can do what I do (because you like the “spray” effect) is to hold the cleaner in your mouth and I use your hand/fist to pull it back.  It’s certainly not pretty but it works.  You definitely have to take your ego out of it when cleaning as a quad.

Another cleaning chore I found I could still do was vacuuming. How glamorous heh. But I gotta say – figuring out this one made me giddy.  Since a vacuum was too heavy to use anymore, I bought a Dust Buster and that my friends was the ultimate vacuum-roadblock solution.  Sure, you can’t use a Dust Buster to vacuum your entire place, but being able to vacuum up “something” if I spill anything is awesome.

It can be hard to hold it firmly, but I can use it for a minute or so and get the job done.  It’s always a good idea to get a Dust Buster with a longer handle if you have dexterity problems, if you can find one that is.  I really like anything from Black & Decker.

Dusting is another cleaning activity I’ve figured out how to do. I use Swiffer Sweeper Dusters – that plastic handheld dusting device you insert dusting “cloths” into. The reason I love this little thingamajiger so much is because the handles are easy to hold for people with closed hands like me – skinny and sturdy.  You can just push the handle into your fist and it’ll stay. Every week I go around my condo dusting without any issues thanks to these.

It’s funny. Who would’ve thought cleaning would bring so much joy to quadriplegic?   It’s the little things my friends….the little things. Now, time to get your creative cleaning on.  And remember, think outside the box as much as you can.

What cleaning products and tricks have you found that work good awesomely in spite of limited mobility?

Products Recommended

– Black & Decker Dust Buster

– Swiffer Sweeper Dusters

Photo courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons

At UNlimiters, we’re always looking for products that help us live more independent and easier lives. Have you found a product that has improved your life? Let us know in the Shout section of our store and we’ll try to add it to our selection.

Simple Sweeping Solutions

I have never been a neat freak, and I was never a complete slob, but cleaning has never really been something I spent a lot of time on. Because of my Cerebral Palsy, I was used to letting other people do most of the more complicated chores like vacuuming and sweeping. In college, I was spoiled by a roommate whose cleaning habits bordered on OCD. She practically followed me around with the broom, sweeping the dirt from my wheelchair tires before it even hit the floor.

After graduation, I moved in with my best friend. At first I didn’t notice the mess. Then, one day, I came home and realized our apartment smelled like feet. It was clear that I was going to have to start putting some effort into the housework. Still, I managed to avoid vacuuming and sweeping for several more years.
Then I got my dog, and began to notice the hair on the floor seemed to accumulate at an alarming rate. Of course, my husband didn’t seem to notice the accumulation.

Despite not having a disability, his sweeping and vacuuming skills left a lot to be desired. I tried to help out, but our vacuum was heavy and hard to maneuver, and a broom and dust pan was nearly impossible to coordinate.
After a few embarrassing moments, when my guests ended up doing the chore for me, I decided to look for some alternatives. I went through about five or six different sweepers and mops, and a few hundred bucks before I finally found a solution that worked.

The Shark vacuum is the solution for my carpeted areas. I briefly considered getting a Rumba or other robotic vacuum, but with four cats and a dog I was worried there would be too much hair for the small, battery powered vacuums to handle. Shark vacuums are great for those who can use traditional vacuums. It is so lightweight, easy to turn and maneuver, I can handle it both standing and while using my wheelchair. It picks up a TON of dirt and is super easy to empty out, plus Shark Vacuums are really affordable.

The sweeping and mopping was a bit harder to solve. Unlike vacuuming, my problem wasn’t about the weight of what I was using, but the whole task was difficult for me. I needed something that would just do the sweeping and the mopping for me. The Mint turned out to be that solution. The Mint is an automatic floor cleaner that does both the sweeping and mopping. You simply attach one of the wet or dry cloths and turn it on. The mint will do all the work, steering itself around any objects.

Of course, I still don’t enjoy cleaning. Does anyone? But, the Mint and Shark do make two of my least favorite chores   that much more manageable.

At UNlimiters, we’re always looking for products that help us live more independent and easier lives. Have you found a product that has improved your life? Let us know in the Shout section of our store and we’ll try to add it to our selection.

Adapted Cleaning

Oh how I wish that my disability could translate into an automatic “get out of housework free” pass. Unfortunately that isn’t the reality. (Although a girl can dream, right?) Since becoming an amputee has not excluded me from cleaning, I have had to figure out a way to make the dreaded tasks easy and safe.

I struggled for years before and after my amputation with one task in particular. For me, wrestling with my bulky vacuum was both laborious and frustrating. I often became tangled in the long cords and wrapped around the various hoses and “convenient on board accessories” to the point where I resembled a frustrated mummy!

My stairs were rarely clean, not because I didn’t know that they were dirty but because I didn’t feel steady enough with the unruly hoses to tackle the job. I finally came to the conclusion that I didn’t despise vacuuming. After all, it isn’t terribly difficult to push a machine across the floor.  Rather, I hated MY vacuum because it was not conducive to an individual with an orthopedic impairment.  Realizing that my limb loss was not going to go away, nor was my responsibility to clean the floors, I searched for a better vacuum.

I wanted something that was as lightweight as possible, without compromising cleaning power. Self-propelled was a must have feature because it simplifies the task and reduces my exertion. I also wanted something that was low maintenance and reliable. I think I was pickier when it came to my vacuum than I was when I was car shopping!

After weeks of research and trials at various stores in my area, I finally found the vacuum that works for me. I love my Oreck XL upright vacuum.  It is extremely lightweight, weighing in at only 8 pounds. Because it is so light and compact I can carry it up and down the stairs with one hand, leaving my other hand free to hold onto the handrail.  It is easy to push around obstacles and between floor types. I find the fact that I no longer become entangled by the long hoses and cords a bonus!

I still don’t enjoy cleaning, but I don’t avoid it as much. Finding the correct tools has made a huge difference in my life. After all, adapting is the culmination of a lot of little things.

At UNlimiters, we’re always looking for products that help us live more independent and easier lives. Have you found a product that has improved your life? Let us know in the Shout section of our store and we’ll try to add it to our selection.

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