ADHD Cleaning Tips: 10 practical ideas for those who want to give it a try

Julia Ovcharenko, CEO of Numo
May 22, 2024

So you've got ADHD, and your house looks like a tornado just breezed right through it, huh? Yeah, you heard me right. ADHD cleaning is like playing chess with a squirrel. But hey, even squirrels find their acorns, right? Not exactly the most glamorous topic, I know, but hey, we all gotta deal with it. First off, don't beat yourself up about it.

Hold onto your hats, it's time to roll up those sleeves.

[Why is it hard to clean with ADHD brain?] Why is it hard to clean with ADHD brain?

Okay, folks, here's the deal. You know how for most people, cleaning is just one of those pesky chores you've got to do, like undergoing dental surgery or watching a four-hour director's cut? For those of us with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), neurodivergent cleaning is a whole different ball game. We might find cleaning to be a particularly challenging task for a number of reasons.

The first place where problems come from are problems with executive function, aka the mental processes that let us plan, concentrate, remember directions, and juggle numerous tasks [1]. For the lucky ones, it's the tough CEO that keeps everything running smoothly. 

For us ADHD folks, it's more like the intern on their first day, juggling tasks and dropping most of them. Our attention gets pulled in a million directions, making it tough to focus on one thing - like cleaning. 

Yeah, it definitely can make it hard to organize and structure the things you need to do for cleaning. ADHD can also be linked to a need for instant gratification, which cleaning does not always give. [2] And that makes you lose motivation to clean your room with ADHD really quickly. 

Last but not least, we people with ADHD really easily get overwhelmed by big tasks. It can be hard to keep up with all the activities that come up when you clean.

Picture trying to organize a cupboard, but your brain's like a browser with a hundred tabs open, and darn, isn't that a dust bunny in the corner? Before you know it, you're off on a whole other tangent, and that cleaning task? Yeah, it's a distant memory. 

So, next time you see an ADHDer struggling with cleaning, remember - it's not laziness, it's just our brains playing pinball!

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[Top tips on how to keep your room clean with ADHD] Top tips on how to keep your room clean with ADHD

Alright, peeps, here's the scoop on cleaning with ADHD. It's like trying to keep a group of cats from knocking over a house of cards, right? But hey, don't sweat it. We've got some top tips that'll make you feel less like a cat wrangler and more like a cleaning wiz!

Disclaimer: The tips provided in this blog post are suggestions and may not work for everyone. ADHD is a complex condition, and it's important to find strategies that work best for you. If you're struggling with ADHD, consider seeking professional advice and support from a healthcare provider or therapist.

Tip 1: Visualize the end game

Stick a before picture of your space on your fridge. Yup, right next to that questionable take-out menu and your magnet collection. When your motivation is low, having a clear picture of where you can get gives you the push you need to keep going with your ADHD cleaning. 

Tip 2: One space, one goal

Start with the 'One Room, One Goal' policy. Choose one room and stick to it like that gum does to your shoe. 

Are you distracted by that cool Spiderman meme? It's alright; Spidey can wait. Stick to your mission. 

Now break down the task. Instead of 'clean the room', think 'pick up clothes,' 'empty trash,' or 'clean the desk'. Small, manageable tasks, my friend.

Tip 3: Simplify your things

Though it may seem impossible at first, start by clearing out a small area. Begin by assessing one area at a time and ask yourself if each item is necessary or brings you joy. Let go of items that no longer serve a purpose or hold sentimental value. Simplifying your belongings will make it easier to maintain an organized space.

Tip 4: Groove while you clean

Who says you can't have a dance-off with your mop? Crank up some tunes and turn cleaning into an evening of dancing.

Tip 5: Timer trick

Yes, use a timer in your neurodivergent cleaning. Turn on your phone's timer to create a sense of urgency. Like when you're waiting for the pizza guy to show up.

The ticking clock isn't just for bomb squads in action movies, it's your secret weapon. Set it for 15 minutes, and when it rings, take a 5-minute break for a groovy dance-off with your shadow or to check on that meme, whatever floats your boat.

Tip 6: Get rid of clutter

I know that a concert ticket from 2007 has special meaning, but if your place is starting to look like a museum of random stuff, it's time to bid goodbye. Remember, clutter is like that one friend who eats all your fries. It's got to go!

Tip 7: Organize your things

Spend money on storage solutions that make it easy to organize. You could use bins, baskets, and shelves to give different things their own space. Putting everything where it belongs can help clear up the space and make cleaning up a breeze.

Tip 8: Reward, baby

Treat yo' self! Every time you finish a task, do something you enjoy. Maybe it's watching a cat video or munching on some candy - you've earned it! Keep at it, and remember, even Iron Man needed a super-advanced AI to keep his place clean, so you're doing just fine.

Tip 9: Call a helper

Lastly, if cleaning feels like a battle against a hydra, where two tasks pop up for each one you conquer, consider seeking professional help. Not like the 'Men in Black', I mean hiring a professional organizer or cleaner. There's no shame in asking for help.

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Extra Tip 10: Lean on the power of the ADHD community 

Alright, here's a hot tip for my fellow clutter bugs with ADHD. You know how we love to start cleaning, get distracted, and then find ourselves knee-deep in a pile of old concert tickets and half-finished knitting projects? Well, there's a solution, and it's hiding in your smartphone. 

Drumroll, please... It's the Numo app! Yup, that's right. This little gem has an ADHD community just bursting with like-minded people who struggle with ADHD cleaning too. 

So, next time you're stuck in a cleaning rut, pull out your phone, open Numo, and ask for help. Because who better to guide us out of chaos than those who navigate it daily? Just remember, we're all on this messy path together!

[Summary] Summary

Cleaning when you have ADHD can be hard, but you can get through it if you know what to do and how to think about it. Remember to break up big tasks into smaller ones that you can handle, use visuals “before” and “after” for satisfaction, make a cleaning schedule, and ask for help when you need it. 

Keep going, and remember that ADHD room cleaning is not just about having a clean space—it is about making a calm, well-organized space that helps your health as a whole. As a result, these tips will help you enjoy cleaning even though you have ADHD.


1 LD Online. Executive Function Fact Sheet
2 Biol Psychiatry Cogn Neurosci Neuroimaging. Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder and Monetary Delay Discounting: A Meta-Analysis of Case-Control Studies
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