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6 Tips for Cleaning Your Home with COPD in Mind

COPD Basics

January 11, 2024

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Photography by Anna Berkut/Stocksy United

Photography by Anna Berkut/Stocksy United

by Phyliss DiLorenzo

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Medically Reviewed by:

Thomas Johnson, PA-C

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•••••

by Phyliss DiLorenzo

•••••

Medically Reviewed by:

Thomas Johnson, PA-C

•••••

•••••

COPD makes cleaning my home challenging but not impossible. Here are practical ways I can still get it done without overexerting myself.

Cleaning my home was never one of my favorite activities, but it had not been physically challenging until my chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) symptoms began getting in the way of simple household tasks.

Vacuuming, cleaning the tub and toilet, changing bed linens, washing, drying, and putting away a load or two of laundry were causing shortness of breath I had never experienced before, as well as pain and exhaustion.

I switched from a heavy, full-sized vacuum cleaner about a decade ago to a lighter stick vacuum. But, I still experienced shortness of breath and exhaustion using it. If I needed to bend to maneuver the vacuum underneath something, I would be gasping for breath and in pain.

I began to realize that I was having difficulty keeping my house clean. This caused me a lot of distress, as I come from a family that prided themselves on keeping a clean and tidy home.

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Tips for cleaning the home with COPD

I share a small one-bedroom condo with three cats and my male partner. My partner has some of his own health challenges, so he’s not able to help as we’d like. He does, however, scoop, empty, and clean the litter boxes, remove the trash and recycling, clean dinner dishes, assist with feeding the cats, and change bed linens.

So, that leaves dusting, vacuuming, mopping, cleaning the bathroom, washing, drying, folding, and putting away laundry.

Try not to fall into the trap of thinking you must finish everything in one day. Don’t blame or shame yourself for not getting it all done.

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1. Stay on top of dusting

Use light, ergonomic cleaning tools

I do my best to keep up with dusting and vacuuming, as three cats and two people in a small condo can kick up a lot of hair, dander, and dust. We have high ceilings, and the tops of kitchen cabinets and the two ceiling fans can be challenging to dust properly.

I found a telescoping dusting tool that extends beyond the needs of my 12-foot ceiling. It has different attachments for fan blades, dusting cabinets, and blinds.

Get rid of clutter

It collects dust and makes cleaning more difficult. If you have a cluttered room, consider wearing a mask to avoid inhaling dust when cleaning.

2. Beware of household cleaning products

I find that household cleaning products often have strong chemical scents and can cause breathing problems, so I prefer to use natural products. Choose fragrance-free, nontoxic cleaning products.

I use slightly damp microfiber cloths to dust all the furniture. If I want a little polish for wood furniture, I mix my own with a little olive oil and lemon juice.

I use a mixture of water, white vinegar, and a little dish liquid to clean counters, sinks, tubs, and tile. I use the telescoping duster handle and attach it to a scrub brush for the tub and tiles in the bathroom.

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3. Consider lightweight mops and robotic vacuums

I finally got a Roomba vacuum, and I love it! The robotic vacuum helps free the floors of dirt, debris, dust, and cat hair. I use the stick vacuum once every week or so.

For mopping, I use a microfiber mop with water, lemon juice, a drop of dish liquid, and a tablespoon of oil for the hardwood floors. For the tile floor in the bathroom, I use a vinegar water and dish liquid solution.

4. Ventilate or use air purifiers while cleaning

Try changing the filters on your heating and air cooling systems to high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters that have at least a minimum efficiency reporting value rating of 10. You can change these every 3 months or more frequently if needed.

While cleaning, ensure proper ventilation by opening windows and doors whenever possible. Use exhaust fans to help remove airborne particles.

Consider getting an air purifier for your bedroom or multiple rooms. Be sure they have a HEPA filter to filter out dust and fine particles.

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5. Monitor humidity levels

I also have become very aware of humidity levels inside my home. I find that I breathe best when the humidity is around 40% or even lower.

While this goes a long way in keeping mold and mildew at bay, it can irritate my sinuses and dry eyes. I use a humidifier in the winter when dry heat adds to the problem. I make certain to use only distilled water and clean the reservoir and filter per the manufacturer’s instructions.

5. Pace yourself

Break down tasks into smaller, more manageable portions. Develop a realistic schedule, spreading tasks out over the week. Take breaks to rest and hydrate.

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6. Hire help if you can

There are times when either my COPD flares or its coexisting conditions cause me to be lax in my housekeeping. This recently occurred when a combination of being away from home, scheduled tasks and commitments, and getting ill prevented me from keeping up with my cleaning schedule.

I finally gave in and hired a cleaning crew to come in and do a deep cleaning. It’s a huge stress reliever for me!

Takeaway

Try not to fall into the trap of thinking you must finish everything in one day. Don’t blame or shame yourself for not getting it all done. Also, try not to put off getting help from family or friends for strenuous tasks.

I hope this has helped you navigate cleaning your house with COPD. It can be challenging, but there are some workarounds.

Medically reviewed on January 11, 2024


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