9 tips for making household chores accessible

If you have a disability, cleaning and cooking can be a particular chore. To help you stay living independently and safely at home, we asked award-winning journalist, author and disabled activist Frances Ryan to share some tips – from easy-grip utensils to reorganisation.


Plan and prep

Whether it’s cooking, cleaning or putting up an IKEA flat-pack bookcase, the key is preparation and planning. Try batch cooking freezable food. It will be there to eat on days when you aren’t well enough to cook or your care worker isn’t there. Meal plans are great if you have brain fog or just feel less stressed when you have the week ahead planned (and help you save money by only shopping for what you need).

When it comes to cleaning, try splitting up your home into sections – it’s useful if you’ve got limited energy or have trouble seeing or remembering where you’ve already scrubbed. As one woman with a visual impairment recommended to me: “I have a system so my entire flat is deep cleaned in sections over a four-week period. Each room is designated a weekday, and each week I will do an area in the room.”   


Handy kitchen tools

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Using tools and aids can be a great way to remain independent. So, take advantage of the many tools out there that will make cooking easier. If you’re Deaf, try setting your smartphone to vibrate at the end of cooking time. If you’re visually impaired, talking scales, thermometers or microwaves are ideal, while using coloured chopping boards that contrast with the food’s colour can be safer.

If you have fatigue or pain, look for lightweight utensils such as mini silicone spatulas or tools that help your grip. “I love the ergonomic products from Oxo Goodgrips,” one woman with an energy-limiting condition tells me. “I use super-light stainless steel mixing bowls – sometimes I just mix and eat out of them. I also love using them as a ‘junk bowl’, so when I’m cooking, I have a bowl to the side and anything I’m cutting I keep in the junk bowl. That way, I only have to take stuff to the bin once.”

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There can be snobbery around ready-made food but don’t worry – use whatever you need. If pre-cut frozen vegetables help your arthritis, use them. If instant mash is easy in a depression flare, get it. If pre-cut fruit slices reduce your fatigue, buy them. If in doubt, use whatever helps.



Cleaning tools

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Hoovering can be physically demanding if you have mobility needs, so try a lightweight vacuum – or better yet, a robot hoover that can be programmed to do your bidding.

Power scrubbers are helpful if you don’t have the strength to clean your countertops or shower. If you find it hard to bend down, try a grabber. Use it for anything from tidying bits off the floor to picking up a secret box of chocolate from a high cupboard.


Take a seat (or a break)

If you’re struggling with pain or fatigue, get yourself a perching stool to sit on whilst you do the dishes or chop vegetables. Take frequent breaks as an added way to save spoons.


There is no rule that says you have to chop the Sunday roast veg all at once.


Rearrange and reorganise

Let’s face it: standard kitchens are rarely designed for disabled people. But with a little thought, we can rearrange things to fit our needs.

Try adding bespoke organisation to your kitchen. As one woman, who is neurodivergent, recommended to me: “I put a large-print list on the inside of my pantry and fridge door to tell me what’s inside. I also put best before dates. It makes everything easier to find and organise.”

You can also think about rearranging your appliances. If you’re a wheelchair user, put what you use most frequently – the toaster, microwave, etc – on the lowest counter. If your kitchen is cramped, do the prep in another room.



Rebuild (with help)

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Renovations – such as lowering kitchen counters or cabinets – can be life-changing in enabling some disabled people to cook independently, but they might feel out of reach financially. The good news is that help is available.

If you have an eligible disability and meet other criteria, you could get funding – the Disabled Facilities Grant – from your local council to make accessible changes to your home.

Read our article on home adaptation help to find out more.


Emergency rations

When tough days hit, turn to your own personal emergency eating plan. Keep in stock a supply of food, ideally with long shelf lives and that doesn’t need preparation or cooking. This can include things such as granola bars, fruit or yoghurt.

If fatigue means you’re regularly unable to get up to go to the kitchen, a kettle and/or mini fridge by the bed is a game-changing investment. For nutrients during these times, buy some multivitamins. If you’re worried that difficulty cooking is affecting your nutrition, it’s worth getting an iron and B12 check from your GP.

And remember to keep hydrated!


Shelve the guilt

If health means you’re struggling to keep up with household chores, it’s easy to feel guilty. But resist. No one has ever lain on their deathbed and regretted not spending more time hoovering. Unless it’s with a robot hoover – because those guys are really fun.

About the author
Frances Ryan is an award-winning Guardian columnist whose work has appeared on the front page of the New York Times, on Channel 4 and in British Vogue. She has twice been highly commended at the National Press Awards. She is author of Crippled (2019) and the upcoming Who Wants Normal? (2025).

Further reading

Additional support at home

If you have a disability, signing up to the Priority Services Register (PSR) can help you access the best possible services for your energy needs and to feel safe and independent at home

The Priority Services Register (PSR) is a free service, designed to support those who need a little extra help in the event of interruptions to their gas, water or electricity supply.

If you or someone you know has extra communication, access or safety needs, signing up to the PSR will help you to access the best possible services at all times and to feel safe and independent at home.

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