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10 Rules ADHDers Live By for a Clean Home | ADHD Home Organisation Hacks

ADHD Home Organisation Hacks - person holding cleaning items

Living with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) can be challenging, and a common struggle amongst the ADHD community is the trouble they face in keeping their homes clean and tidy.

Some ADHDers often struggle to prioritise tasks which can make it challenging to maintain a tidy space.

In this post, we're going to share some of the top tips for keeping your home tidy and organised when you or a loved one has ADHD.

Why Do People with ADHD Have Messy Homes?

ADHD chaos - messy desk area

One of the characteristics of the ADHD brain is that it doesn't produce a sufficient amount of dopamine, a neurotransmitter essential for certain cognitive processes.

A lack of dopamine in the brain can lead to difficulties with executive functioning. As a result of this imbalance, people with ADHD often experience reduced focus, difficulty initiating and finishing tasks, task avoidance, and procrastination.

These cognitive challenges can result in a disorderly and chaotic home. It is not due to a lack of ability or desire to keep their home clean but because chronic executive dysfunction makes everyday household chores a significant challenge.

For neurotypicals (people with typical neurological functioning), the daily upkeep of the home may be second nature, but, for the average ADHDer, an endless list of tasks can feel impossible to complete.

How Do People with ADHD Keep Their House Clean?

how to keep your home tidy with ADHD - tidy shelf

Living in a chaotic environment can cause stress and negatively impact your physical and mental health, possibly leading to worsened ADHD symptoms.

However challenging it may be, keeping your home functional and tidy can be extremely beneficial, helping to improve executive functioning and productivity. Therefore, it's important to identify which tasks you struggle with the most and create structure and routine to help you maintain your home.

So let's dive into these 10 ADHD home organisation hacks and rules for a happy, operational and tidy home:

10 ADHD Home Organisation Hacks and Rules

Rule 1: Bitesize Tasks - 5-Minute Cleaning Challenge

adhd 5-minute cleaning rule - set a timer - alarm clock

ADHDers often suffer from "all or nothing" thinking, which can translate to "my home will never be completely tidy, so there is no point in trying".

This thinking is problematic when it comes to home organisation as small, sustainable efforts are key to preventing chaos.

No one's home is 100% tidy 100% of the time. To maintain that level of upkeep would require round-the-clock cleaning, which isn't realistic, especially for the typical ADHD home.

Instead, break up your chores into smaller, more manageable tasks. We are talking 5 minutes or less, such as:

  • Make your bed as soon as you get up.

  • Put dirty clothes straight in the hamper.

  • Wipe down kitchen surfaces.

  • Put away bathroom products.

  • Load/empty the dishwasher.

  • Create space on your desk by putting all documents into one pile (or even better, a filing tray).

If you're feeling overwhelmed by the mess in your home, these small efforts can make a big difference, and thanks to their quick nature, they're achievable daily.

Alternatively, you can turn this into a challenge and set a 5-minute timer. Before the time is up, see how much cleaning you can do in one room.

Rule 2: Organise the Chaos - Clutter Baskets, Dedicated Workspaces and Accessible Storage

organised chaos - basket full of toys - clutter basket

For individuals with ADHD, one of the main barriers to a clean home is that their space is not optimised to maintain tidiness.

Actually cleaning our homes is just one factor in keeping them orderly. When our homes are set up to allow convenient and autonomous tidying we create less mess in the first place.

By implementing some simple items and rules, you'll quickly find your home feels more effortlessly tidy.

Here are some ideas for organising the chaos:

  • Keep "clutter baskets" in each room: A clutter basket is a dedicated place to contain the random items which accumulate in your home and add to the overall mess. If your coffee table, bedside table or desk usually has a variety of miscellaneous "stuff" sprawled over it, then a clutter basket, placed close by, might be the answer!

  • Delegate areas for specific activities: Dedicate specific stations for work, exercise and hobbies, and keep all the items you need for those activities in that area. This method provides separation in all areas of your home life. You'll find items you need more easily and reduce unnecessary distractions. This is an especially helpful strategy if you work from home.

  • Expose your trash cans: Having a lid on your bins causes an extra step to throwing away garbage. Though it may not be feasible for bins containing food waste, this is a great strategy for wastepaper baskets or bins in other rooms, especially when excess waste tends to build up in those areas.

Rule 3: Create Daily, Weekly and Monthly Chore Routines

daily weekly monthly cleaning routine for ADHD - checkboxes

Another way to streamline organising your home is to build a routine.

Routines can be tricky to stick to at first, especially for ADHDers, but once they are ingrained in your mind, tasks become more autonomous and systematic.

ADHD can cause issues with working memory, therefore, automated reminders on your phone are extremely helpful in keeping you accountable.

To help you create a routine, we have created a Basic, Daily, Weekly and Monthly Cleaning Checklist which provides you with an idea of which tasks should take priority. You can download the FREE PDF and print it out here.

Rule 4: Make Your Fridge ADHD-Friendly

ADHD-friendly fridge tips - inside a fridge

I often hear from fellow ADHDers that they are frustrated with how much of their money gets wasted by forgotten and out-of-date food in the fridge. This happens because they find it easy to forget about items that are not in immediate view. It can also lead to unnecessary trips to the grocery store when they forget they already have the item at home.

Making your fridge ADHD-friendly may require some unconventional methods, but we swear by these tips:

  • Vegetables in the fridge door, non-perishables in the salad drawer: To keep your fridge organised and prevent food waste, store long-lasting items in the salad drawer and perishables in the door. The fridge door contents are in immediate view, meaning they are less likely to be forgotten. Keep the salad drawer for items that won't spoil as quickly, such as condiments.

  • Keep an inventory of everything in your fridge: Try listing the contents of your fridge on a whiteboard or note. Keep this next to or on your fridge to provide an instant way to see what's inside without opening the door. This helps you to plan meals more easily and prevents accidentally buying items you don't need.

  • Use clear Tupperware: Avoid forgetting about leftovers; store them in clear Tupperware containers instead of opaque ones. This way, you can easily see what's inside and be reminded to eat it before it goes bad.

  • Don't overfill: A full fridge makes it more difficult to see what you have and reach what you need. This can lead to leftovers and perishables going to waste.

  • Opt for frozen fruit and veg: Fresh ingredients tend to spoil quickly, so reduce waste by choosing frozen fruit and vegetables where possible. This can also keep your fridge organised by freeing up space.

  • Consider if it needs to be in the fridge at all: Some items are better stored out of the fridge and could be taking up space unnecessarily. Items like potatoes, onions, bananas, coffee and honey are better stored at room temperature.

Rule 5: Enable Easy Cleaning - Remove Barriers to Tidiness

enabling tidying - laundry basket

The best way to make cleaning easier with ADHD is to adapt your space to enable you to tidy. This can be done in a variety of ways, and the goal is to streamline your home in a way that suits your habits and needs.

If you're finding it difficult to throw away everyday trash and have clutter building up in every room, make your life easier by providing convenient means to tidy up:

  • Consider keeping cleaning products specific to the room they are used in so they are always within reach. For example, keep bathroom cleaning products in the bathroom, kitchen cleaning products in the kitchen, and so on.

  • Create a cleaning basket with everything you need in it, such as cleaning rags, cleaning sprays, gloves, sponges, etc. This ensures you have everything you need in one place before you start cleaning.

  • Have multiple laundry hampers (one in each room if it helps!). This is helpful if you find you always have clothes strewn across your home.

  • Keep filing trays on your desk to organise documents. This provides a simple place to put papers and keep them neat.

  • Organise your storage so everyday/most used items are easily accessible at the front.

  • Play upbeat music to keep you motivated and focused during a cleaning session. Research has found that music helps to increase dopamine in the brain, which can help you stay focused and on task.

Rule 6: Organise Your "Landing Zones"

mud room landing zone - tidy entryway

A landing zone is a high-traffic area in your home where everyday items such as keys, shoes and clothes tend to get "dumped".

Start by identifying which landing zones need some extra attention. This might be by your front door, certain sections of the kitchen, upstairs landing, desks, etc.

Then implement some simple storage solutions to contain the mess, such as:

  • A tray for keys in entryways.

  • Shoe racks by the front door.

  • Exposed coat hooks for jackets, bags, etc.

  • Small bin or container for unopened mail.

  • A basket in the bedroom for unsorted clothes.

These should be both visible and accessible, so you can automatically throw items in without much thought.

Rule 7: The Key to a Clutter-Free Home: Assign a Designated Place for Every Item

ADHD cleaning tips - neat and tidy laundry area

To maintain a tidy home, it's crucial to establish specific storage areas for all your possessions. This means your inventory should match your storage space.

By assigning a designated place for each item you own, you can easily find what you need and avoid cluttered spaces.

Having excess clutter creates a frustrating obstacle to keeping your home tidy. Trying to organise jumbled closets full to the brim of objects is enough to make anyone feel a bit overstimulated!

Set some time aside to categorise your storage and make sure everything has a place. It will help you to eliminate the blocks to tidying and keep your home feeling spacious and straightforward.

Complementary rule: If you are unable to find space for something, it might be a good idea to get rid of it.

Rule 8: Use the Right Storage - Visible and Accessible

ADHD - visible and accessible storage - tidy kitchen

A lot of ADHDers hate excessive steps. When it comes to cleaning and tidying, these steps can look like taking a lid off a storage box, needing a step-stool to reach something or even just opening a closet door or a drawer.

By reducing the steps required to put an item away, it's automatically easier to tidy up misplaced items.

Furthermore, ADHDers are prone to "out of sight, out of mind" thought patterns. Uncovered storage, like open shelves, provides a visual reminder to tidy things away and improve accessibility.

Here are some ideas for visible and accessible storage to help you keep clutter to a minimum:

  • Door-mounted racks: These are visible as soon as you open a closet door and are automatically accessible without having to move anything off shelves.

  • Pegboards: Pegboards can work in any room, but they are especially useful in the kitchen or garage where there are likely to be assorted utensils. They offer both accessibility and visibility, making it easier to find items and put them away.

  • Open shelves: Open shelves can be a great option for storage as they provide an out-of-the-way space to keep things and make it easier to access items, especially when you're in a hurry.

  • Label everything: If you are going to use things like storage boxes, it's helpful to put labels on them. This makes it easier to find things and will keep items more categorised.

  • Keep regularly used items in the most accessible places: This can be as simple as keeping your most-used kitchen utensils in a caddy on the counter rather than a drawer, keeping baskets/trays in reachable places for things like charging cables or keys or putting hooks on the backs of doors for coats and jackets instead of using tedious clothes hangers.

Rule 9: Implement Non-Negotiable Habits

developing habits - person doing dishes

Developing and maintaining habits can be a challenge for ADHDers, perhaps due to difficulties sustaining focus and consistency.

But, once established, good habits are incredible tools. This is why implementing realistic and sustainable habits is imperative in the battle against clutter and disorganisation.

Train your mind to approach simple cleaning tasks as effortlessly as brushing your teeth before bedtime. Instead of shaming yourself into action, view forming these habits as a gift to your future self. By making these tasks non-negotiable, you're reducing the cleaning burden for tomorrow or next week. Once the habit develops, it won't feel as challenging.

Below are 3 habits which take no longer than 5-10 minutes, but will make a huge difference!

  • If a task takes less than 5 minutes, do it in the moment: This is a great procrastination-killer when it comes to cleaning. By completing small, doable cleaning tasks the moment they need doing, you will drastically reduce the overall burden.

  • Implement a daily, pre-bedtime pick-up: Each evening spend no more than 10 minutes picking up misplaced items and putting them away. This can be made easier by using something like a laundry basket to ferry things from place to place. Doing this at the end of each day means you'll wake up to a tidier home.

  • Use a timer: ADHDers are easily distracted when doing a task they don't find interesting. If you struggle to stay focused when cleaning, consider setting a timer for 10-15 minutes and see how much you can get done in that time. Do this for just one room, or in each room if you have the time. Don't stress if you can't finish everything; even making some progress contributes to a neater space.

  • Keep consistent, even when overwhelmed: We all know it's a lot harder to keep our space clean and tidy when we feel overwhelmed, stressed or anxious - all symptoms of ADHD burnout. It's easier to neglect household tasks when we feel this way, but it often leads to extra chaos and, therefore, extra stress. To avoid this, each day give yourself a small task to complete such as putting away all of your shoes, cleaning the toilet, washing up a few dishes or writing a reminder on a whiteboard or post-it note for the next day. By maintaining some semblance of consistency, it will be much easier to get back into action when you feel better. Just ensure it's a task that won't take too long or too much energy to avoid further burnout.

Rule 10: Find Cleaning Methods That Work for YOU

someone doing the Marie Kondo clothing folding technique

Some of the tips and tricks above might not work out for you, and that is down to something that's actually quite wonderful: your uniqueness!

We are all different, and trying to follow the methods laid out by others doesn't always suit us. This is why it's good to experiment and assess which methods are sustainable.

For example, I now follow the Marie Kondo folding technique for my clothes. It keeps my dresser drawers organised and saves me time when deciding what to wear as I can see every single item of clothing without rummaging around! This means the extra time I spend folding is worth it for me.

But, the truth is, intricate folding techniques could drive some ADHDers mad! It's about setting up your space to suit your individuality and help you thrive.

Don't adopt strategies to keep your home clean just because people around you do it that way - unless it actually works for you!

Furthermore, consider unconventional ways you could keep your space more organised that suit your lifestyle, e.g. keeping vegetables in your fridge door rather than the salad drawer as we mentioned above.

In conclusion, the best way to keep your home clean with ADHD is to first assess the barriers to cleaning and find ways to remedy them. Be kind to yourself by adjusting your cleaning routine to suit your needs and use the tips and tricks we've talked about if they feel helpful and sustainable. This way, you can reduce stress and overwhelm and enjoy a cleaner, tidier and more organised home.

If you have ADHD and want to share some helpful tips and tricks for a cleaner home, please put them in the comments below so we can all help each other!

Are you interested in how your home decor can increase dopamine? Read our article: 7 Ways to Boost Your Mood with Dopamine Decor - Creating a Happy Home Vibe

Think you might have ADHD? Take Psych Central's quiz to see if you show any signs of the disorder.


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