If you have ADHD or know someone who does, you may understand how difficult it can be to manage and keep up with cleaning and organizing a home. And while it might feel like an isolating and lonely thing to navigate, we asked the BuzzFeed Community to provide their go-to cleaning and organizing hacks if they have ADHD — and more than 100 people chimed in with tips and tricks. Here's what they had to say:
1."I have an 'other room' box that I put in the room I'm cleaning. It's often overwhelming to try and figure out what goes where. While I am cleaning, I just toss things that don't belong in that room in the 'other room' box. When I'm finished cleaning the room, I can move on to another room to clean and keep adding to the box (my box is pretty big) or distribute the items in the box into their appropriate rooms. That way I don't get distracted from the current room I'm working on by walking into another room to put stuff away. And the amount of stuff that needs to be put in another room is consolidated so it does not seem so overwhelming."
2."I take out everything I need to do the cleaning first and put them in a row. Duster, rags, disinfectant, vacuum, and then the mop. Because I can see them, I keep being reminded of what I'm doing and don't lose focus."
—Philip, 31, Denmark
3."I start in the room furthest away from my bedroom and work toward my room. If I start in my room, where I’m most comfortable, I’ll never get anything done. If I work toward my room, by the time I’m there, it’s like a small reward."
—Victoria, 27, South Carolina
4."I use an hourly planner where I literally plan my time into chunks. I have recurring blocks and reminders on my calendar with specific things to focus on. If I don’t get to something, I move it to another day in my week. I challenge myself to stick to the block I set. It helps me from losing track of time and seven hours later, I’m still cleaning."
5."I pretend I'm doing 'side quests' in a game for 'points,' and when I've got enough 'points,' I can get something/do something I want. I'm a bit of a nerd, so this is just something I've always done."
6."It may seem simple, but I keep Clorox wipes in every room for quicker cleanup. I don’t have to go to the kitchen to get them and become distracted. It helps me immediately clean up what needs to be cleaned."
—Jillian, 38, Virginia
7."I have a few tips: 1. Touch it once: pick up the item and don't just set it down to put away later. Put it where it goes now."
8."I like baking something while I clean so I know there’s a set amount of time until it’s done! Bonus points if it’s bread or something that involves adding time for the dough to rise!"
—Anonymous, 29, Massachusetts
9."I remember that half-assing a thing is better than not doing it at all. Giving the sink a quick wipe is better than nothing, even if you don't clean the whole bathroom. Clearing just enough countertop to cook for tonight is better than getting overwhelmed at the thought of doing the whole thing and either ordering in or just not eating."
10."I do things the moment I get home. Do not sit down. If you sit down, you’re trapped. It’s the transitions that are hard for ADHD. Not the task itself, but transitioning yourself into doing the task. So while you’re already standing and moving, continue the movement until everything is done. This is literally the only thing that works for me. Also, keep your shoes on."
11."For a full clean, it helps to use a friend. If I invite someone over at least once a week, I always do a panic clean before they arrive because I hate when people see my messy house.'
—Katie, 26, Texas
12."I host a FaceTime party with someone like my mom, and my fear of judgment kicks in and it all gets cleaned."
13."Do one thing while you're doing another. Just tinkled and you realized the toilet needs brushing? Clean it! Brushing your teeth? Do a quick organizing of your sink stuff. Washing dishes? Straighten your dish towels. Little things that make your brain go 'yesss' are super helpful when we need to do stuff. We can't do ALL THE THINGS but we can do THIS ONE THING and that's super helpful."
14."I pick one room a day and deep clean it. I’ll tend to EVERYTHING in that room. Like if I have plants in that room, I’ll take care of them on top of the regular cleaning. I’ll wash the windows, doors, walls — whatever. That way I’m not seeing a million undone things around the house."
15."Having things in the right places helps. Landfill and recycling bins in every room, cleaning sponge and spray behind the bathroom sink and another one on the kitchen counter (not the cupboard where it stops existing)."
16."I have an autistic friend (I have autism as well as ADHD) who told me about the 'Take 5 method.' With a task, set a timer for five minutes or do five things in the task (whichever is shorter). I’ve only tried this on one task so far, but it made it less overwhelming. I struggle with folding clothes. I get the clothes off the line and in the basket, but put the basket down and forget about them until laundry day the following week. Yesterday, I put the basket in the middle of the dining table (so, in the way, but very visible) and every time I go into the kitchen/dining room, I grab five items to fold (underwear, socks, shirt, etc.).I’m already over halfway through which is amazing for me!"
17."Adding 'some' before an item on my to-do list really helps. When I used to just write 'clean blah blah', I'd feel like I needed to clean whatever in its entirety before I could mark it off (on both the list and in my mind) as completed, and that made me feel I couldn't tackle the task *and* that it was never done. Writing 'clean some dishes' or 'tidy some of your desk', etc, really improved my ability to face a task."
18."Everything has a specified home. I had to get over my false idea that being organized made me stuffy. Nope, it saves my life a lot of stress. The kitchen pantry has deep shelves. I use large plastic boxes to toss things in according to the category so when I need flour, for example, I don't have to pull a bunch of crap out to find what I need and then put it back. I pull out the box and I know that in that box is the flour I need. Pastas in another box. International foods are in another."
19."Laundry baskets in both the bedroom and the bathroom. It’s been so helpful, I used to leave my clothes in the bathroom when I showered or changed after work and they would just pile up. Just put a little basket in every room where you change your clothes."
20."I don't know if this counts as a hack but I just own less stuff. If I don't need it, I don't keep it. I sell a lot of my clothes and belongings on eBay every month and donate the rest. At the moment, I can pack everything I own in about two suitcases (and often do, thanks OCD), and I still feel like I own too much!"
21."Have someone help you. Even if they just do something really small, the presence of someone else really helps me to stop procrastinating and get stuff done. I know it can be hard to find someone willing to come over to clean, but I think you’d be pleasantly surprised at how much people who love you want to help you."
22."I break cleaning down into 20-item increments. I'll count as I go and pick things up and put them where they need to go (garbage, recycling their home, donation, etc.) and when I get to 20 items, I take a break. I'll read a chapter in a book or watch a YouTube video and then I'll get started counting again. Sometimes 20 items take me five minutes and sometimes it takes me 25. But having to count keeps me focused."
—Leigha, 32, Canada
23."1) Don’t put it down, put it away. 2) I’ve been putting one thing away every day that doesn’t belong where it currently is and my apartment looks so much better. This is somewhat different than the first tip because this is for things that you DID put down and never put back, (And I have A LOT of stuff I never put back. You’d be surprised what a difference putting back one item can make.)"
24."It’s not so much cleaning that is a problem but tidying/putting things back so you can clean that trips me up. Watching Clutterbug’s YouTube videos and learning more about my organization style helped me learn that I’m a 'bee' so I need to be able to see where things go (e.g. on open shelving or countertops) and have open containers, or I’ll never put them back. Cas (the lady behind Clutterbug) has ADHD herself, and I found her tips really helpful."
— Bee, 25, United Kingdom
25."1. If you can, invest in the robots that will make your life so much easier. I am lucky to have a litter robot, a Dyson cordless vacuum, and now a Roomba. The combination of these 'assistants' now makes me feel so much less overwhelmed when the house needs sprucing up because it's simply so much easier to proceed with the other little messes that pile up along the way."
26."I have to really, really try not to zone in on one thing. For example, if I’m not careful, the kitchen will still be in a state but the fridge and cupboards will be flawless. I do what needs to be done so it looks alright first, then if I’m still in the mood, I’ll do the more detailed tasks. Sounds mad but my brain works by convincing me I’m going to deep clean every inch of my house and organize every drawer in one day, but that's not going to happen."
27."Clear containers of all sizes keep me from turning into a frazzled maniac. Things don’t have to be tidy in them, you can just throw your chargers in one, makeup in one, receipts in one, and cards in one. You can see where your stuff is and on the outside, it looks neat. Sure, if you open it up it’s a bit cluttered but YOU know where that missing stapler is and that’s all you need. Clear. Containers."
—Nicki, 41, New York
28."CHECKLISTS! I have daily checklists for mornings, after work, bedtime, and weekends for the main things that need to be done every day to be sure it’s getting done. These are basic things like taking meds, brushing teeth, feeding pets, etc. I have longer checklists for cleaning to mark off and be sure I’m not missing anything and the goal is for the list to be complete by end of the week. I generally choose quicker tasks during the week and bigger stuff for weekends."
29."I have ADHD, anxiety, and depression and have a designated day for cleaning each week. My partner (who is neurotypical) and I decide which day of the week together based on if we are having guests or traveling so that we aren’t in a time crunch or super tired while doing it. It’s a helpful cycle that lets us be as messy as we need to be during the week and also stress less about the mess because it won’t last longer than a week before we clean up."
—Anonymous, 29, Seattle
30."If I really need to clean, I call my dad or sister. Something about being on the phone makes me feel the urge to start doing stuff, as opposed to just sitting, and staring into space while talking. I've been told it's called body doubling."
31."I learned this trick on TikTok where I turn on ambiance music for a tavern from like Dungeon and Dragon's campaign, and I clean my house and kitchen like I am the last bar wench closing down the bar."
"Is it dumb? Yes.
Is it effective AF? Very much so."