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6 Tricks for Making Cleaning a Painless Process

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No elbow grease needed.

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Chores like cleaning the bathroom and scrubbing dishes can be tough on anyone’s body—can you even guess how much elbow grease you’ve put into getting, well, all that grease off your stove after cooking over the years? And if you suffer from a condition like osteoarthritis (OA), the pain from tasks like cleaning can make them feel almost unbearable. All that vacuum pushing, constant wiping, and bending over can make your stiff joints hurt even more than usual. The good news: whether you have aching joints or not, you don’t have to suffer to have a spic-and-span house! You just need to get a little smarter about how you clean. Try these six genius tricks to keep you from dreading cleaning day, and if you do have minor pain from OA, try an OTC pain reliever like Advil to help relieve your symptoms.

Steam off microwave grime. The inside of microwaves can get covered in sauce splatters and grease, and it can be difficult to really scrub in all its corners. But don’t just attack it with a sponge—first microwave a bowl full of water for three minutes, then let it sit another five minutes before opening the door. The warm steam will help any mess easily wipe off.

Don’t just rely on elbow grease. Raise your hand if you sometimes avoid making a favorite casserole or sheet-pan recipe because you know you’re going to spend a good part of your evening scrubbing the dish clean, or otherwise soak it for eternity. Another solution: head back to the stove and simmer two tablespoons of baking soda in one to two inches of water for 15 minutes in the dirty pot. The hard-to-clean spots will then rinse right off, or come off easily with a wooden spoon. Your hands and elbows will thank you.

Cover your duvet cover. Even when you know all the hacks, it can still be tricky to get a duvet cover off and back on without turning into a contortionist. Megan Kennedy, 40, from Mt. Vernon, Washington, has an easy way around this. Buy a thin coverlet to go on top of the duvet (or try just the coverlet during warmer months). Then, when her kid spills some juice or her dog sheds on the bed, all she has to do is whisk off the coverlet and wash that.

Don’t be afraid to go high-tech. You know those robot vacuums that move around your house on their own? While they may seem silly looking, they really are ideal for keeping your rugs and floors crumb-free without you having to lift a finger. “It’s so easy and goes everywhere, even under the sofa!” Kennedy says (and think about it…when did you last clean under the sofa?). She turns it on when she leaves the house three or four times a week and never has to worry about how much dog hair is collecting in the corners.

Show your shower some daily love. Why wait until soap scum gets really bad to clean it off? Sarah Salgado, 33, of Chicago, keeps a scrub brush in the shower and works it over her tiles when she’s taking a shower. “When I notice the tile is looking a little nasty, I give the grout a few scrubs,” she says. “I feel like the steam from the shower helps loosen up the dirt.” While you’re at it, use a squeegee on the shower walls after you’re done so the sudsy water doesn’t just sit there.

Spray the whole shower in no time flat. When it does come time to get your shower super clean, it can take forever to spray cleaner over the entire thing. “I would have to squeeze the bottle 100 times,” says Laura Borrego, 40, from Las Vegas. That’s no fun for your finger joints. Instead, do what she does, and pour the cleaner into a mini pressure sprayer, pump it a few times to pressurize it, and quickly spray down all the surfaces in your shower.

Get more great health and wellness stories at MarthaStewart.com/Strive.