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How to Have a Clean and Tidy Home When You Have ADHD


Have you ever watched one of those cleaning videos on Instagram or Tiktok and thought the before picture looked way cleaner than your house looks on a normal basis. 😬

I'm guessing that I'm not the only one.

I had a friend that used to tell me all of the time how much she loved cleaning baseboards and it was something she found so relaxing.

I cannot relate to this fascination and it is truly hard for me to wrap my brain around how someone would feel that way. It's like when people say they don't like chocolate.

I just really, really don't get it.

Cleaning has never been my favorite and yet I also really love a clean and tidy home.

My brand of ADHD gets very easily overwhelmed when my home is a mess and clutter really stresses me out.

And yet, I also really don't like to clean and have always found it just painfully boring.

For years, my strategy was to just ignore the dirt and hustle hard with the hopes that one day I'd be able to afford a weekly cleaning lady.

This strategy really, really didn't work and just added to my daily overwhelm and anxiety.

While there is NOTHING wrong with outsourcing and hiring cleaning help if your income allows it, I needed to figure out how to clean my home consistently in a way that I could realistically maintain until I could afford help.

So few people talk about the reality that neurodivergent family life is expensive. And while we struggle with things like cleaning, yard work, pool maintenance and organizing we also have extra needs like therapy and medicine and supplements that can make it hard to outsource the things that we find hard.

I'm guessing that you are shaking your head in agreement because you too aren't able to outsource all of the things though you know that would make your life easier.

So, after trying about every cleaning strategy I could find, here's what actually has worked for my ADHD brain in terms of cleaning my home on a consistent basis.

Define What Clean + Tidy Means

For years I felt like there was this standard of cleanliness that I needed to meet to please people around me. I was afraid that any day someone was going to come in and give me a grade on the amount of dust, dog hair and dishes in the sink. This created an enormous amount of anxiety and this feeling like I could never rest and could never sit down.

Little people are messy and especially if you are home most of the day, it is very hard to keep a perfectly clean home at all times. That's a full time job and not one that I've ever been interested in having.

Instead, I determined what clean and tidy means for me and my family because we are the ones that live here. I stopped trying to live up to the expectations of others and decided what I could live with on an ongoing basis. Just that small shift made it so much easier for me to actually maintain my cleaning schedule.

I've focused on functionality and not perfection which was a really critical mindset shift for me.

Right Sized Tasks

One key requirement for ADHD brains is that we find the "sweet spot". If the task is too big, it will feel daunting and overwhelming and we won't start it. If the task is too small, it will feel boring and too easy and we will likely procrastinate. The tasks need to be big enough that we feel a sense of accomplishment but small enough that we can get started.

For me, the idea of cleaning my entire house in one day has never, ever worked and always felt way too overwhelming. Yes, I love that amazing lysol smell when you walk into a completely clean home but I can't get that without hiring a cleaning lady.

So I stopped trying to make that my goal. Instead, I clean a few areas of my home every day so that it's smaller more manageable tasks. If I skip a day or a week, I don't stress and I just catch back up the following week.

For example, I clean the bathrooms on Tuesdays. Sometimes that means that I take 30 minutes and scrub every tile. Sometimes that means that I take 5 minutes and clean the the counters down and clean the mirrors. Giving myself wiggle room about how that looks has made it easier for me to consistently clean the bathroom. I no longer worry about someone stopping by or the bathroom being totally disgusting. It's not perfectly clean but it's clean enough for me and my family.

My initial goal was really on actually doing the thing (cleaning the bathroom) vs doing the thing perfectly. Over time, I've gotten a lot better at cleaning and allowed myself the time to learn new tricks or shortcuts.

Right Amount of Tasks

I looked at so many cleaning schedules on ETSY that were just way too overwhelming for me. If there are too many things to be done, I won't do any of them and I'll find some other random task to do. Yes, that plan might be thorough and leave your home perfectly clean but only if you actually did it which I knew I wouldn't.

I focused instead on creating a home management system where I could tackle 6-7 tasks a day. I have 3 daily tasks that I tackle every day and then try and do 2 weekly tasks and 1 monthly task a day. The 7th thing is usually a random phone call, an appointment or an event. My basic cleaning tasks needed to fit within this list and be doable on an ongoing basis.

The goal is not to meticulously clean my home. It's to find a realistic routine that I could actually maintain the standards that I've set.

My current weekly jobs list. I frequently makes tweaks to this but the plan remains the same.

Get My Templates Here

For me, I've found that the lower bar means that I'm more likely to do more once I'm in action. I may end up tidying the bedrooms a few other days a week if I have the time and energy. And I now usually run the vacuum several days a week. But having a plan that expects LESS of me makes it easier for me to do more.

Having a clear plan for when I will do things means less anxiety and I now have no shame about resting or doing something fun in the afternoons if I've done my jobs.

This list of ongoing jobs means that I also avoid my home becoming a complete disaster. That becomes really overwhelming for me and so I need for things to feel more manageable. I can skip a day or two or even a week without my home feeling completely a wreck. And if life gets away from me 

Practical + Flexible

As I started to implement this system, I gave myself permission to put the deep cleaning tasks on the back burner. I still struggle with those boring things like cleaning the baseboards and every time I see a "spring cleaning checklist" type Martha Stewart type of thing, it stresses me way out.

Once I got a handle on keeping my home clean on an ongoing basis, I added in deep cleaning as one of my Saturday tasks. I keep it very vague though and just try and deep clean one thing. The smaller that goal, the easier it is for me to take action. I'll never clean the baseboards of my whole house in one day and will always need to break that up.

My goal has never been about having a perfectly clean home to pass the Martha Stewart perfection test. My goal is to be a good steward and to create a peaceful, clean and tidy home for my family to do life.

Keep It Simple

I really try and ignore all of the insta-influencers pushing all of the lastest cleaning gadgets. I've found that in pretty much every area of life that less is more and I don't need more tools or gadgets to worry about. I have very few cleaning products or gadgets and have found that I can usually find a DIY cleaning solution by googling the issue.

My Favorite Cleaning Supplies

Baking Soda 

Distilled White Vinegar


Blue Dawn

Bar Keepers Friend

The Pink Stuff Set

My Favorite Cleaning Gadgets

My Vacuum (Cordless and Lightweight)

Spot Cleaner for Carpet 

Spin Mop (Simple and easy to clean)

Scrub Brush Set

Mindful of Scents

Everyone in our family is neurodivergent and particular about scents and smells. They can be very distracting to all of us. I'm extremely anal about scents which is one of the reasons that I mostly do DIY cleaning products. I have a scent oil that I like that I add to the water before I mop and we have air fresheners throughout the house in the same scent so that it all matches. It's a very subtle scent that is hard to pick up but masks any other weird smells that might be distracting. I also flush the drains and sinks with white distilled vinegar on a regular basis to clear any weird smells. Additionally, I have odor neutralizers in all of the kids rooms. I also try to quickly treat any pet stains on carpets. These are the scent plug ins that I order on a regular basis from Walmart and I get the scent oil in the same scent.

Be Proud of Myself

If you are new around here, you'll find that this is a common theme but it doesn't make it any less necessary.

As someone with ADHD, my brain really hates to do the boring mundane things like cleaning. That's not a reflection of my character or work ethic. It's just how my brain is wired.

But ADHD brains love rewards. So it's important for us to celebrate the small actions that we take in our daily lives because that is what helps us keep doing them. Beating ourselves up or comparing ourselves to others just doesn't help. 

One of the most surprising things that I've found is that when I lowered my standards and found what worked for me, my home became consistently peaceful, calm and tidy. It may not be perfect but it's perfect for us and is taking less of my time and mental energy than every before. 

Finding a rhythm that works for you can take time so give yourself permission to find your right sized tasks.

And if you need help breaking down your mental load to better manage your home and family in light of your ADHD, check out Master the Mundane. 





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