The truth is that unless you are one of those fantastically rich cripples I keep reading about in romantic novels, even after you have had your mobility somewhat to severely curtailed through misadventure which may not even have been any fault of yours, it is likely that you will still have to clean your bathroom from time to time. Sorry. I was bummed to discover this, too.
The fact is, cleaning the bathroom is a hateful task for everyone, regardless of disability status. It is because of this that I know my quest for tools to make the process easier will not always be in vain. Perhaps you can help.
Here's what I've tried:
- Scott brand green and yellow scrubby thingies with one sponge side and one rough green side, some hot water, and some Ecover orange cleaner
- Chore Boy blue scrubby thingies with sponge on one side and kind of a metallic plastic mesh sewn over the other, a series of washcloths for mopping up after, and some hot water
- Clorox toilet wands with the soap-loaded disposable heads
- Mr. Clean "MagicReach Easy Top to Bottom Bathroom Cleaning" gadgetry, as seen on TV
- Swiffer wet mops
- My boyfriend with a bucket, a mop, some Scott brand scrubby thingies, a bottle of Ecover orange cleaner, and some Bon Ami cleanser, as he may deem appropriate
As you might surmise, that last option is by far my preferred toolkit for just about any cleaning task involving soap, water, and scrubbing. However, in spite of my potentially melodramatic status as a cancer patient and an amputee, which, I agree, rightfully should translate into a free pass to lounge on the couch eating bonbons 'til the furniture collapses under me, that last option is not always available. So let me tell you about my experiences with all those others.
First, let's talk about smell. Or rather, please allow me to scream about it a little. Are these cleaning product manufacturers homicidal? I found the mere "fragrance" of both the Swiffer brand wet mops and the Mr. Clean "MagicReach" pads undeniably toxic. Opening each package made me dizzy and gave me a headache. If I were the eensiest bit more frail of constitution, I'm quite sure I would have fainted.
Now, despite my adamant, almost militant embrace of strictly natural, biodegradable cleaning products, the reason I indulged in either of these things should be quite obvious. When one weighs slightly more than a sylph, when one is slightly older than young, and one only has one knee left and that knee does not still possess its original complement of cartilege, said knee is not at its happiest supporting one's weight on a hard, linoleum-coated floor while one attempts to scrub. When one only has one leg that will bend and unbend at will, one does not want to be hopping around with a sloppy wet mop making an already slick-ish floor downright soapy, either, not even while wearing a fake second leg. Trust me, involuntarily falling into the splits while wearing a suction socket just doesn't result in anything one wishes to experience.
Accordingly, one tends to get kind of excited when one sees advertised on television products that promise to ease this process, to eliminate the whole part about doing anything balanced on one aging, barely cartilaginous knee, and to provide extended -- and adjustable! -- reach into crevices dim and daunting. So, yes, I'm weak, I'm not willing to risk my life or ruin my remaining knee scrubbing, and I succumbed to advertising in spite of my principles about the environment.
It's not all terrible, though I'd like to see the manufacturers think about the meaning of "disposable" a little more. The Clorox toilet wands are truly a miracle from heaven in terms of their effectiveness at cleaning and sanitizing even the most neglected potty while also minimizing the gag factor. Unfortunately, over and above the landfill potential presented by all those little "disposable" scrubby plastic heads being disposed of and not recycled by the millions each year, they dribble strong blue chemical drool everywhere, so you will have to mop up outer surfaces with a cloth, and since washable, reuseable cloths don't come on a stick, at least not as far as I'm aware, that means more bending over precariously on one leg or crawling around on one knee. Also, I love my Swiffer duster with the adjustable reach even though the fact that the disposable dusting bits do not appear to be biodegradable kind of enrages me. And I adore even more my Swiffer carpet flick, which uses sticky paper which is biodegradable. However, I will never buy a Swiffer wet mop again, even though my boyfriend thinks it's a great product, and I still assert that he thinks this mostly because it was hard to tell that one day he used it whether his asthma attack later on that night had been set off by the mop's presoaked cleaning liquid's fumes or from all the dust and mold he'd kicked into his unmasked breathing passages while cleaning elsewhere earlier in the day. I only know that I cannot take the fumes. For this reason alone, I will not be buying any refills.
I will also not be purchasing any refills for my Mr. Clean "MagicReach" system. People of Swiffer, people of Mr. Clean, hear me: there is a difference between a tiny amount of genuine, natural citrus oil and an oily cloud of artificial fruit smell concocted in a lab in New Jersey. If the product smells so bad without it that you think this makes it smell better, I am terrified of what might be in your product and cannot believe it is healthful or safe. I know that the stench of the product after you have added "fragrance" is neither healthful nor safe for me.
Nevertheless, this evening I had to clean my bathroom, and the Mr. Clean product is what I had on hand, as well as a Chore Boy sponge, some washcloths, a Clorox toilet wand set, and lots of hot water. So once I realized that I was not going to die
today from the Mr. Clean fumes, I decided to see if the product actually worked. All I had to lose was the filth on my bathroom floor and the mildew-and-soap scum nastiness that has accumulated in our shower/bathtub. Oh, and maybe some lung capacity.
The "MagicReach" system itself was unsatisfactory because the cleaning "slippers" simply would not stay on the pad. They would not. The instructions were followed. The product failed to conform to expectations set up by the instructions. This meant the stinky, drippy, and now filth-encrusted cleaning slipper was left behind in some rather unpleasant and awkward places, like behind the toilet. I had better luck sticking the slipper over the point of the boot on my living foot and using that to scrub. If we had a large bathroom, that would have meant that I would have had to either use a wheelchair or only clean the perimeter, because due to physics as yet beyond my control I cannot stand unsupported on my prosthetic leg alone, so I had to brace myself on various parts of the bathroom architecture to get enough of a support base to really scrub. However, in the interest of fairness, it is worth noting that since we have a terribly small bathroom, this worked quite well. The cleaning slippers designed for floors do seem to clean a bathroom floor very effectively, even though they leave behind a residue of chemical stink.
The slippers designed for cleaning tubs and showers were less effective. We do not have tile and porcelain. In this apartment we rent, the top half of a Victorian house, the bathroom walls are painted wood and plaster. The shower/bathtub unit is made of plastic and the joins are not caulked. The floor of the unit, the tub bottom, is pebbled for traction. We get some serious mildew and soap scum buildup. Neither the Mr. Clean "MagicReach" slippers designed specifically for tubs and showers nor the ones designed for floors worked especially well, though the rough ones designed for tubs and showers did better. Scrubbing very very hard and for quite a long time, I was able to remove some stains from the smooth walls of the tub. I was not able to remove all of them, and I was not able to remove any from the pebbled surface on the bottom. Since neither type of slipper would stay on the "MagicReach" pad, I had to get down on my hands and knee, put the slipper over one hand, and scrub that way, which of course is exactly the scenario I had sought to prevent in purchasing the "MagicReach" system. The minimal effect of my hard work using this method took tremendous effort. I achieved roughly the same results using the Chore Boy blue scrubby thingie and hot soapy water. And the Chore Boy, though also not biodegradable, was not soaked in chemicals.
Now, in my happy, happy experiences using my boyfriend to do this kind of job for me, the Ecover orange cleaner (strong enough to clean an oven easily and nontoxically, by the way) gets the floor shiny clean and fresh smelling with a mop. In our previous apartment, the tub was porcelain, and the walls were lined with porcelain tile, so the Ecover worked on that, too, with a sponge or scrubby thingie. This plastic stuff our current tub/shower unit is made of is kind of fragile, easily roughed up. Wherever it scars, things grow, things that are hard to clean away later. But the nasty mildew and soap scum will not come off of every part of it without some abrasion. My boyfriend promises to take another whack at the tub some other day using some other product combination. I will report on his success, if any.
But again, the boyfriend solution is ultimately unsatisfactory because it still means someone with impaired mobility cannot easily clean her own stinky bathroom at her own convenience. After mostly good experiences with Swiffer products and the Clorox toilet wands, I had such high hopes for the Mr. Clean "MagicReach" system. I am truly appalled to report that it failed me in almost every respect. It wasn't magic, and it didn't reach.
I am not without hope for the future, though. Inexpensive, adjustable-length tools with disposable cleaning surfaces that firmly attach are a great idea, and I am thrilled that people are at least thinking about them, and trying to make them. I would like to hear from anyone who knows of something similar, some product or system that has an adjustable reach, but one that really works, one where the cleaning surface really stays on, and one that, unlike a good old-fashioned mop, doesn't require use of a bucket full of dirty water upon which to trip. I would especially like to hear about biodegradable products and products that don't involve horrible chemical smells. (Or horrible natural smells. Honestly, the good clean smell of vegetable-based soap is just fine with me. And vegetable-based cleaners do not have to be wimpy, as Ecover has proven.)
My knee, and my boyfriend, will appreciate your input.