Left hand acting as marker, bottom left. Right hand holding sponge at far end of countertop, right center. .

When You Can’t Believe Your Eyes: Vision Loss and Personal Recovery, a how-to guide for people losing sight and their families is being published in July 2019, including accessible versions. This post is referred to in Chapter 7: A Home That Works for Everyone

It’s good to start with something simple you can get your hands on and your arms around

like a small countertop or kitchen table. Once you get the basic methods you can extend your range. The most important thing is to connect. To feel what’s there! Then you get the satisfaction when it’s clean. Wiping around without much contact is what we all do some of the time, but you are out of touch!

Kitchens and bathrooms are a good place to learn because it’s easy to find out what needs cleaning using your hands and fingers. And apart from the floors most areas are within easy reach.

Start by clearing off the countertop. If you like you can wear thin “disposable” gloves. (No need to dispose of them till they break.) Put both hands flat on the counter or table. Start by checking edges and corners here and there ending in the center. flattening your palms so you get the full picture. If there’s something sticky, spot-clean it with a damp sponge or paper towel. Then tuck a tray under the countertop and sweep any loose bits onto it. A tray or even a large chopping board works much better than your hand as a crumb-catcher. If the surface is big divide it halfway with something solid like a large can or a plant pot.

Now for the smart part! Use a damp soapy sponge or dish rag in your dominant hand with the other hand marking the far end of your area. (Do this even if you can see the end of the table , or the plant pot.) Put both hands at the back of the countertop or table three feet or more apart. Clean along the back edge until your cloth reaches your “marker” hand and then wipe back again along the same path. Now move your marker hand a little towards you, but Overlapping the first stroke and wipe to it and back again. Wipe to and fro until you get to the front edge which you also wipe of course.

This smart technique ensures you won’t miss anything. You will be amazed how fast and thorough it is! If the surface needed a good clean you can repeat this step. Check with a piece of paper towel or a thin square of former T-shirt to finish.

You can transfer this method (but not the gloves or sponge,) to bathroom counters, shower doors and the tub. You don’t need it for the sink and toilet – their shape lets you know where you are. Use a cleaning spray (some people like a cleaning powder) and return it to a definite spot such as next to the sink so you don’t lose it!

You will improve on this and find your own methods. With practice you can clean most areas including mirrors and windows. Stay in touch with your hands checking out the situation before and after so you get that satisfaction!

Cleaning the whole House:

You may not want to take charge of cleaning a large or older home. Decide which areas to prioritize. You may miss dust on ceiling fans and cobwebs on high windows.

Perhaps you would benefit from sighted assistance to get to those hard-to-reach places and let you know if there’s anything else you are missing? Decide what’s right for you but do some of the cleaning yourself, so you stay in touch and in control.

Cleaning by touch: 2. Floors

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