Cleaning and Organizing a Bathroom for Those with Chronic Pain

spoonie, bathroom, clean, organize, accessibilityIn this post, I’m describing what I’ve done to make my life better and easier when using and cleaning the bathroom in my own home.

My bathroom is quite small, where yours may be larger with better storage to begin with.

So for you, the most important thing is to take a look at your own bathroom space and brainstorm the littlest ways that you can streamline and reduce stress and pain when using the bathroom or cleaning the bathroom.

You also don’t have to have any or all of my diseases and conditions to get something out of this post.

While my particular issues are chronic pain, degenerative spine disease(s), herbs palsy, lipedema, and lymphedema, you may have something else like fibromyalgia, chronic pain from other conditions, limited mobility post-surgery, temporary mobility or pain issues, or are pregnant, among others.

Having said all that, what I’ve done with my bathroom might give you a spark of motivation or an idea towards making your own bathroom more accessible for you. 

My biggest issue is the chronic back pain (read about my particular degenerative spine disease here) and the problems it causes me when I shower, clean, or move about the bathroom.

Here are some assistive devices and/or ideas that I’ve used in the bathroom:

Change Storage Locations

Try to find space to hang a cabinet or shelves in the mid-range of your bathroom walls. More forehead to chest level if possible. Don’t worry too much about the aesthetics of the room as right now you’re in survival mode and need to focus on your abilities and staying mobile.

You can buy new or use second-hand and both can be quite nice looking. My existing cabinets are second-hand purchases, but lately I purchase most everything online, especially Amazon Prime currently because it’s hard to get to the store and they ship fast.

Look at bathroom wall cabinet here and wall shelves for bathrooms here.

If your storage is too high or too low, it may cause you pain or problems reaching. My problem is that I’m tall and bending down causes me several issues with my back, legs, and with reaching for things with just one hand. While reaching too high means I have to pull things off shelves with only one hand.

Scope Out the Throne

When you’re seated on the toilet, look around you. Can you fit a small shelf unit near the toilet to hold toilet paper rolls and antibacterial wipes? That way you’re not having to get into a cabinet or walk anywhere to get another one in a pinch.

What can you clean with wipes while you’re using the toilet? It might sound funny, but you can swipe down part of your vanity, the floor, the wall, etc while seated on the toilet.

Is it easier to flush by reaching behind you instead of standing up and leaning towards the toilet? Then get into the habit.

Tub Ideas

Take a seat on the edge of your tub to see if you’re comfortable and safe there. Depending on the size of your bathroom, your tub may be close enough to your toilet or vanity that you can sit on that to clean the toilet instead of struggling while standing up.

Use that time to clean the floor around you as well.

You can also sit on a shower stool or the edge of the tub and put your legs into the tub so you can lean forward to clean as much as you can reach instead of standing.

Get all of the shampoo bottles and other accessories off the side of the tub and into either a hanging shower caddy or a lightweight caddy nearby. The reason for this is that very quickly they grow a pool of hair, dust, and scum around them that has to be wiped clean by picking up each bottle. This can be stressful, even when in a seated position. It’s so much easier to just keep the tub clear of bottles and be able to make one or two swipes to clean instead.

Get a Stool

You may have the option of using a rolling stool (like I use in the kitchen) to sit on to give yourself a break and/or to roll through the bathroom to clean, brush your teeth, or get ready for the morning or before bed.

My bathroom is so small, I cannot fit my kitchen stool without blocking pretty much everything and causing myself more problems. It’s heavy with a wide girth on the legs. I’m currently in the market for a slim stool of some kind that might fit between the toilet and the shower. I need to measure the space and see if the legs will fit there and in front of the bathroom sink.

Another option is a lightweight shower chair or stool that I can move in and out of the tub. Though it doesn’t roll, it would be easy to move myself around.

Turn Off the Vent

My bathroom’s exhaust fan was ancient and squeaky and a constant clogged mess. But it wasn’t until I gave up on it and started using a dehumidifier that I realized what an impossible mess I was no longer dealing with. I didn’t have to reach up or get a stool and feel like my back was breaking to deal with cleaning the exhaust anymore. This is the exact small dehumidifier I purchased here and it works wonderfully in my bathroom.

Use a Dustbuster

It might be easier to “sweep” the floor by using a handheld, lightweight but powerful hand vacuum than a broom and dustpan.

Likewise, if you can still use a broom, they make stationary vacuums like this one that suck up debris swept towards it instead of having to bend to use a dustpan. Those are a bit more pricey, so you can also find a dustpan with a long handle.

Get Help if You Can

If you can afford cleaning help, just do it. Get someone to come in and spot clean your bathroom so you don’t have to and can focus on other things. Your energy and physical abilities are limited. You unfortunately need to embrace that and then prioritize where you need to spend your energy. For instance, instead of cleaning the bathroom, you could be doing laundry or prepping meals.

Try to find someone in your community to trade chores with. If you’re a great cook, you could sit on your stool in the kitchen and make food for them to take home while they are cleaning for you. Try your church if you go or the Nextdoor app on your phone/computer to find someone.

Do You Have an Idea for Cleaning and Organizing a Bathroom for Those with Chronic Pain?

Please comment with your ideas! I’d love to hear them and use them to help others like us.