Cleaning with ADHD: Why is it SO Difficult? What Can You Do?

cleaning with ADHD

Did you know that ADHD is not just a disorder for children? There are approximately 9 million adults in the USA alone who have been diagnosed with ADHD. That is a whopping 4.4% of all American adults.

Tired Children ADHD

Adults with ADHD often have problems dealing with day-to-day tasks. They tend to be forgetful, disorganized, and messy. This makes cleaning with ADHD nearly an insurmountable task, especially since cleaning seems like such a chore to neurotypicals themselves. 

If neurotypicals face problems maintaining a cleaning schedule and sticking with it, can you imagine how difficult it can get for someone with ADHD? 

We came across a podcast called Hacking Your ADHD, where William Curb discusses different ways in which he manages his ADHD. There was an entire segment on cleaning with ADHD, and we found that really interesting! 

While we may not be mental health professionals or experts, we do know one thing - we know how to clean. We decided to combine our cleaning expertise with what we gathered from his podcast episodes to provide a comprehensive guide on the different ways adults with ADHD or ADD can keep a healthy and regular cleaning regimen.

Learning How to Clean the House with ADHD

You Don't always have to deep clean

You don’t always have to deep clean your house

This point needs to be emphasized time and time again. You are not cleaning your house in its entirety. You don’t have to scrub every nook and cranny around your house every time you start to clean. Those of you who are cleaning with ADHD tend to get carried away and distracted by auxiliary tasks. 

You need to check yourself periodically so you don’t find yourself scrubbing your bathroom tiles with a toothbrush two hours later when all you had to do was wash your sink.

House photo created by gpointstudio -

 Remember, house cleaning is a process. If you deep clean your house every time you start to clean, it will obviously overwhelm you and you’ll lose focus and give up altogether.

 Stay calm, stay focused, and only clean what you have planned on cleaning. This leads us to our second point.


Create an elaborate cleaning schedule

Create an elaborate cleaning schedule

Those who have ADHD know that if they don’t know what exactly needs to be done and when, then nothing will get done. Since you have reminders for all your regularly scheduled tasks anyway, why not add cleaning to the list?

 We’ve already created a guide on how to build and maintain your house cleaning schedule, so you can go through it before you begin.

 House Cleaning Schedule: The Ultimate Guide

 Now we know that cleaning with ADHD requires more than a simple guide catered towards neurotypicals, but you can use this guide as a reference point and implement it with your ADHD management techniques. This way you can create a personalized cleaning schedule to match your personality and ADHD type.


Allot specific time to each cleaning task

Allot specific time for each cleaning task - the answer lies in the details

Time blindness can make it really difficult to complete tasks in general. If you combine that with the never ending task of cleaning with ADHD - NIGHTMARE. You need to allot specific time for each task, and check and double check if it can be completed within the time you’ve assigned for it. 

 Let’s take a scenario into consideration. 

 You have one task - doing your dishes. You’ve to do it everyday, so it is something that can’t be avoided. You’ve decided to allot 20 minutes of your time to do this task because, in your head thanks to time blindness, it seems manageable. 

 We can guarantee that 20 minutes is not going to be enough to finish cleaning your day’s worth of dishes. 

 Now, you’ve exhausted your twenty minutes and you haven’t even finished scrubbing half your dishes. You’re frustrated that you couldn’t do it on time, and you leave the rest of them aside angrily, and postpone the task.

 Sound familiar? This is the time blindness affecting your judgement. Instead, why don’t you time yourself and see how long it really takes to do your dishes, and allot your time accordingly? Won’t that make your life a lot easier?<a href=''>People photo created by drobotdean -</a>

 If you have ADHD, you’ll know the importance of micromanaging your time so that you can really make the most of your daily routine. While time blindness can cause hindrances (like the one mentioned above), you just need to cut yourself some slack, understand how much time you actually need to clean, and then set that time aside for yourself.


Get container and label maker

Invest in containers and label makers if you haven’t already!

You need to visualize what needs to be done or else you’ll forget it - a tale as old as time, and all it leads to is the mountain of clutter around your house. 

 Scrap it and declutter! 

 Or don’t, if it is stuff you actually need. 

 Besides decluttering your house on a regular basis, you should invest in a handy label maker and a few containers to store all your things. You can see the container or box once it’s labeled, and that way you won’t end up forgetting about your ongoing projects or cluttering your house!


Learn to enjoy process

How to enjoy cleaning with ADHD

This is a tough one. 

 It’s not that those who are diagnosed with ADHD don’t want to clean - they enjoy a clean space as much as the next person, but to get someone with ADHD to complete tasks that bore them is a feat in itself.

 What can you do to solve this problem? 

 The best way to go about it is to take breaks! 

 While it may seem like a counterproductive measure, it will actually make your cleaning process a lot more enjoyable and efficient. One of the issues people with ADHD face is stopping. Once you start, you don’t want to stop. But remember, you need to make these repetitive tasks enjoyable and easy to execute so that you don’t exhaust yourself and quit halfway through. 

 We recommend the 20/10 method of cleaning for those with ADHD to get you to balance out your chores with some downtime. In case you’re wondering what it is and how it can help, you can refer to this blog to find out more.

The 20/10 Method to Transform the Way You Clean


Keep Your End Goal In Mind

Do not forget the end goal

It is tough to motivate yourself to do a task that never seems to end. Cleaning is a big part of your life that you cannot ignore, no matter how much you want to. It can get really demotivating at times because the grime and mess just keep coming back, and the only way to get it done is to motivate yourself enough to do it. 

Cleaning with ADHD involves more than just creating a routine. It is a part of your life that you could constantly struggle with, because it is:

  1. Boring
  2. Repetitive
  3. Constant
  4. Did we mention boring?

 What works best for those who are currently struggling while cleaning with ADHD is a risk and reward system. If you work better with consequences, then create consequences for the times you don’t follow your schedule or cleaning routine. 

 We don’t recommend that though. As the popular phrase goes, you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar (even though vinegar does wonders for cleaning), so we recommend a reward system for yourself after you meet your cleaning goals. Have an episode you’ve been meaning to watch? Keep that as a reward. Also, that guilty pleasure brownie can be a great motivator to finish cleaning your bathroom. 

 A reward system can get pretty tired too, so what you can do is complement your cleaning with a task you enjoy so that you can combine the negative (cleaning) with a positive (fun). Put on your favorite album and listen to it while you mop your floors. Or play your favorite podcast in the background while you tidy up your room. 

 Try to stay away from watching television. It can get too distracting and you’ll lose focus. If you want some other ways you can motivate yourself to clean, you can also check out the blog below.

 Cleaning Motivation: Get to it! Easy Tips and Tricks

 Remember to always keep your goal in mind. Think about the why. Imagine that feeling of accomplishment and the sense of a clean house and remind yourself how good it feels every time you feel like you’re not up to it. 


How to Clean Your House Faster

Clean as fast as possible

The best way to actually clean for people with ADHD is to make it as fast as possible. Once again, cleaning your house does not mean deep cleaning it at all times. You want your home to look presentable and clean enough for any surprise visitors, and that’s all you should focus on.

 Keep twenty minutes aside every morning and every night to do a general tidying up of different rooms around your house (this is separate from the time you’ve allotted for your daily chores such as doing dishes, laundry, etc.). Remember to schedule this time in advance otherwise you’ll never get around to it (ADHD brain does that).

 Cleaning with ADHD is doubly difficult because you have a tendency to forget what you have finished cleaning and what is pending. When you make your cleaning schedule, you don’t want to miss out on any parts of your house that would need cleaning on a regular basis, be it daily, weekly or monthly. 

 Read The Ultimate Clean-a-thon For Your Home to see if you have added everything to your cleaning checklist! 



Another reminder - take it easy. Cleaning with ADHD is a lot harder than it seems, so don’t beat yourself up. It takes time to build and maintain a habit, just remember to do better than you did yesterday.

It’s cliche, we know, but it is important.