ADHD Cleaning Checklist for When You’re Overwhelmed

woman with adhd laying on couch overwhelmed

This ADHD house cleaning checklist will help you simplify keeping your home clean. Create a simple cleaning schedule you can stick to without feeling overwhelmed.

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When I talk to moms who are struggling to clean because they have ADHD, a common question is, “Where do I start?”

That’s why I like using this ADHD cleaning checklist because it takes the guesswork out of keeping your home clean.

There’s a daily, weekly, and monthly cleaning schedule along with room-by-room cleaning checklists so you’ll know exactly what to clean in each area of your home.

If you’re struggling to keep your house clean then you’ll love this ADHD cleaning checklist and the simple strategies you’re about to learn.

Let’s talk about why cleaning can feel so hard and how to make it easier.

Do people with ADHD struggle with cleaning?

Cleaning can be a struggle for people with ADHD and people without ADHD. 

It’s a never-ending process that usually only stays clean for a little while and then you have to repeat the process over again.

When you have ADHD this process can take even longer if you tend to wander while you clean. You may find it helpful to use a method called Junebugging.

Always cleaning?

Grab your FREE daily cleaning checklists to save time and energy.

    What is Junebugging?

    Junebugging is a cleaning strategy created by someone on Tumblr based on the way Junebugs fight to get through a window screen.

    They climb all over the window screen, never getting through, but trying different spots over and over anyway. 

    This cleaning technique works the same way.

    How do I use the Junebugging method?

    When you use the Junebugging cleaning method you…

    • Choose a specific location you want to clean. (Instead of “bedroom” try “bedroom nightstand”)
    • Start cleaning and allow yourself to wander.
    • Keep bringing yourself back to that spot no matter where you wander throughout the cleaning process. 

    The key is to allow yourself to wander, but always come back to your main spot!

    If you’re not a wanderer then you may experience another common symptom of ADHD which is hyperfocus.

    What is hyperfocus?

    Some people with ADHD can hyperfocus which helps them complete a task faster.

    Hyperfocus is an intense fixation on an activity for an extended period.

    I tend to hyperfocus which is why the room-by-room cleaning checklists are helpful for me.

    As long as I know what to do I can get it done pretty quickly depending on how often my family interrupts me.

    Another issue you may run into while cleaning is not knowing where to put things because there’s too much clutter.

    Let’s tackle that problem next.

    What is ADHD clutter?

    Since ADHD can cause forgetfulness and a lack of focus, clutter can build up rather quickly.

    ADHD clutter could be the pile of mail on the kitchen table, misplacing your keys, or not being able to find your shoes.

    To deal with ADHD clutter, focus on creating the micro habit of decluttering one small area a few times per week.

    Choose a specific area like under the bathroom sink or the junk drawer and declutter for a few minutes a few times per week.

    Turn on music or listen to a podcast so the task doesn’t feel tedious.

    How do you clean your house with ADHD?

    Since cleaning can feel like an uphill battle I want to share 7 strategies that help me keep my home clean as a busy mom with 2 small children.

    1. Use a checklist 

    People often procrastinate because the task feels hard or overwhelming. There are so many steps that they have no idea where to start.

    A checklist will limit that confusion because you know exactly what to do first, second, third, and so on.

    This ADHD cleaning bundle will help you cruise through cleaning your home because you’ll know exactly what to do and in which order to do it.

    Always cleaning?

    Grab your FREE daily cleaning checklists to save time and energy.

      2. Clean in spurts

      When you give yourself too much time to complete a task you may accomplish less because you have more time to wander around and lose focus.

      Setting a timer can help you be more efficient and effective.

      Time yourself completing a task and then set your timer for a minute or two less than the amount of time it took you to complete that task.

      This will help you tap into your hyperfocus so you can work faster without sacrificing the quality of the result.

      When I clean the kitchen, I set a timer for 30 minutes because I know that if it takes me any longer than that it’s because I’m dancing too much or doing unnecessary tasks like re-organizing the spices for the 5th time this week.

      You’ll have to pay attention to your unique quirks so you can better utilize your time.

      3. Create micro habits

      When I started on the journey of creating a cleaning routine I failed multiple times because the habits I was trying to create felt too hard.

      And when something feels hard it’s hard to stay consistent. Here’s what I did differently that worked.

      Instead of trying to create the habit of cleaning the kitchen each night, I created the micro habit of making sure all of the dishes were in the sink before I went to bed.

      This task felt quick and easy therefore I was able to do it consistently every night.

      Create a micro habit that feels quick and easy and only focus on establishing that one habit before moving on to the next habit.

      4. Do things while you’re already up

      One thing I’ve noticed that has helped increase my productivity is doing things while I’m already up and moving around.

      It’s easier to clean the kitchen while I’m cooking rather than waiting until after I eat and I’m watching tv. Then I have to try to motivate myself to get back up and clean, which isn’t easy to do.

      In the morning I tidy the bathroom while I’m getting ready. I clean the kitchen table while my daughter is doing her homeschool activities. 

      A body in motion stays in motion. Try to complete as many tasks as possible while you’re moving around so that when you sit down to relax you’re not thinking about all of the other things you could be doing.

      5. Use bins

      The faster I can get a task done the easier it is for me to stay consistent.

      I like to use bins so I can quickly throw things in them and the mess is contained.

      I use bins for laundry, in the pantry, for my kids’ toys, and so much more.

      labeled bins in nursery

      Sometimes I label them like these bins I use in my toddler’s room and other times I don’t because we already know which items go in the bin.

      6. Temptation bundling

      When a task feels overwhelming we tend to procrastinate. Temptation bundling will help you procrastinate less and boost your motivation to get started.

      Temptation bundling is when you pair a task you’ve been putting off with a task you’re looking forward to doing.

      A few examples could be…

      • Listening to a podcast while you wash the dishes.
      • Listening to an audiobook while you exercise.
      • Watching Netflix while you put away the laundry.

      Pairing a fun task (listening to a podcast) with a not-so-fun task (washing dishes) can motivate you to get started.

      7. Buy fewer things 

      If you buy fewer things you’ll have less to clean. Simple concept but it may not be simple to execute especially if you struggle with impulsive spending.

      According to Very Well Mind, a few ways to help with impulsive spending is to…

      • Become aware of your spending habits 
      • Stick to your shopping list
      • Use cash

      If you’re overwhelmed with the amount of cleaning you have to do then start getting rid of things and challenge yourself to spend less.

      Always cleaning?

      Grab your FREE daily cleaning checklists to save time and energy.

        How do I set up a cleaning schedule for ADHD?

        I like to use a process called the TRACE Method to create a simple cleaning routine.

        This stands for…

        • Threshold 
        • Routine 
        • Approach
        • Checklist 
        • Evaluate 

        Let’s walk through this simple 5 step process so you can create your cleaning schedule.

        Determine your cleaning threshold 

        What level of cleanliness is acceptable and unacceptable in your home?

        A few things to ask yourself would be…

        • Are you okay with going to bed with dishes in the sink?
        • Do you want to vacuum or dust every day? 
        • Are you only going to focus on cleaning high-traffic areas?

        I have a friend that doesn’t go to bed with dishes in the sink because as a child someone always had to clean the kitchen before bed.

        Even when we would go out and get home at 3am she would put the dishes in the dishwasher before she went to bed.

        Think about which tasks you have to do as part of your cleaning routine for you to feel like your home is clean.

        When do you have time to clean?

        Look at your daily schedule and determine when you have time to clean your home.

        • Do you prefer to do one big cleaning session in the evening?
        • Would you rather clean in quick spurts throughout the day?
        • How much time are you willing to spend cleaning?

        Once you figure out your preferred cleaning routine make time to execute the plan using this daily schedule template.

        Which cleaning approach feels easy?

        There are so many cleaning approaches like the FlyLady Method, the Clean Mama Method, and many more.

        You can choose to follow one of these cleaning schedules, use this bundle of room-by-room cleaning checklists, or come up with your own routine.

        Create your cleaning checklist 

        Once you figure out which approach you want to use I recommend you create a simple checklist.

        Each time you cross something off your checklist you get a jolt of dopamine which is “a chemical released by the brain that makes you feel good” according to Healthdirect

        Start with a simple daily cleaning routine then you can add weekly cleaning tasks and then monthly cleaning tasks.

        Always cleaning?

        Grab your FREE daily cleaning checklists to save time and energy.

          Evaluate what worked and didn’t work 

          After a week of testing out your new cleaning routine, sit down and ask yourself these questions…

          • Did I stick to my cleaning schedule?
          • What felt easy?
          • What felt hard?
          • How can I make the hard tasks feel easier?

          From there tweak your cleaning routine and simplify it if you weren’t consistent.

          Less is more. It’s better to start with a simple cleaning routine you can stick with long term than to have a long list of chores that you struggle to keep up with.

          How do I stick to my cleaning schedule?

          Consistency can be a struggle for people with and without ADHD. It was hard for me to stay consistent with my schedule because…

          • I was so focused on staying consistent that I was trying to force myself to clean even though I was exhausted.
          • If I missed a day I felt like I failed so I completely stopped using the cleaning schedule.
          • When I was cleaning I would constantly get interrupted so I would stop cleaning because it felt pointless.

          That’s why I switched from focusing on “trying to stick to my cleaning schedule” to creating the habit of cleaning. Now I clean almost every day and it feels easy.

          I accomplished this by using the Habit Loop and encouraging my family to work together so we all take care of our home, not just me doing everything.

          The Habit Loop 

          The Habit Loop is a concept by James Clear the author of Atomic Habits.

          This concept focuses on teaching your brain how to respond to a task based on a 4 step process.

          Here’s a breakdown of each phase.

          • The cue is a trigger that tells your brain it’s time to start the behavior. There are 5 common cues that can help you create your cleaning habit.
          • The craving is the motivation or desire to complete the habit. 
          • The response is the act of you performing the habit.
          • The reward is the dopamine rush you get from satisfying your craving.

          This is how the Habit Loop works. 

          Habit Loop example 

          Here’s how I used the Habit Loop to start my cleaning routine and stay consistent.

          The cue

          The cue for me to clean was either…

          • Tripping over a toy and getting frustrated.
          • Feeling anxious because there was too much clutter.
          • Wheel of Fortune was over and it was time to clean before going to bed.

          There are typically 5 types of cues so you can choose which one works best for your situation.

          The craving

          The craving was that I wanted my house to be clean and smell good because it puts me at ease and I’m a happier person.

          But here’s the problem…

          The craving wasn’t enough motivation for me to get up and clean. I needed to satisfy another craving first.

          So I gave myself a boost of dopamine before I started cleaning.

          I would either eat a no-bake chocolate chip energy ball or turn on a podcast episode I’ve been wanting to listen to for 3 days but “I didn’t have time.”

          Giving myself an extra boost of dopamine before cleaning made it feel easier to get started.

          The response 

          My cleaning checklist helped me always know exactly what to clean so I didn’t feel overwhelmed.

          I would play music or a podcast and clean until it was over. Even if my family kept interrupting me I would pick up where I left off.

          The reward 

          When people think of a reward they think of eating a piece of chocolate or buying a pair of shoes.

          Your reward is the internal feeling of satisfaction you get from completing the task.

          My reward was enjoying my nice clean home and smelling the fresh mixture of essential oils I concocted.

          In most cases, an internal reward is more meaningful than an external reward. 

          How to get your family to help with chores 

          My daughter started helping with chores when she was one. I always made sure to make it feel fun and not like a hassle since kids mirror our behavior.

          These 3 strategies were the most effective for getting my family onboard with housework.

          1. Give options 

          After I had my first daughter I struggled with postpartum depression which made it difficult for me to keep up with the housework.

          My husband was busy with his business so he didn’t help with housework which meant the house was a mess.

          One day I told him, “I’m struggling to keep the house clean so I either need more help from you or I’m going to hire a housekeeper.”

          My mental health was the priority and I didn’t need the extra stress of worrying about dishes and laundry when I was barely keeping my head above water.

          He decided to help more so now I’ll ask him “do you want to clean the kitchen or the bathroom?”

          Giving people options makes them feel like they’re in control instead of being told what to do.

          This also works for my 4-year-old daughter. 

          When it’s time to clean I’ll ask her if she wants to pick up her dolls first or clean the toys off the kitchen table.

          Present your family with options and that way they’ll be able to decide for themselves what they want to clean.

          2. Sequence of events 

          When people know what to expect it can reduce their anxiety and for toddlers it can limit tantrums.

          I make sure to keep my toddler in the loop of how the day will progress. She was diagnosed with Autism at 2 years old so I keep my sentences short and to the point so she understands what I’m saying.

          A few examples are…

          • Bathroom then park
          • Clean then trampoline 
          • Bath then book

          She’ll usually repeat what I say and then happily skip along to complete the tasks.

          3. Be direct

          When I was working as a nurse, during a code blue (when someone’s heart stops and we’re doing CPR) it was important to have clear communication so we could save a life.

          There was someone in charge of telling people exactly what to do so there was less confusion.

          As the CEO of your home, you’re the person in charge of telling people what to do.

          This means giving the responsibility of cleaning the kitchen to one person instead of saying “someone clean the kitchen” because it’s likely no one will clean the kitchen because they thought someone else was going to do it.

          Be direct about who is responsible for which task.

          Always cleaning?

          Grab your FREE daily cleaning checklists to save time and energy.

            What is the fastest way to clean with ADHD?

            The fastest and simplest way to clean with ADHD is to use a checklist. You know exactly what to clean and when to clean.

            This checklist includes…

            • Daily cleaning tasks 
            • Weekly cleaning tasks 
            • Monthly cleaning tasks 
            • Room-by-room cleaning checklist 
            • 30-day cleaning challenge 
            • Cleaning habit tracker 

            I love that I can print off the room-by-room cleaning checklists and put them around my house so whenever I go into a room I can quickly clean something.

            How do I stop being so messy with ADHD?

            I know how difficult it can be to want a clean home but it feels like an uphill battle every single day.

            These are the 3 things that have helped me be less messy.

            1. Get plenty of rest 

            No matter how much sleep I got I always woke up feeling tired. And it didn’t matter if I went to sleep earlier because I would wake up around 2am and I wouldn’t fall back asleep until 5am.

            I’ve found that going to sleep around 10 or 11pm is my sweet spot and I’m able to sleep through the night until about 5am.

            Try out a few different bedtimes and see which one helps you wake up with more energy. Also, consider using a white noise machine or a weighted blanket to improve your quality of sleep.

            2. Eat healthier 

            I can tell a huge difference between my energy levels and the food I consume.

            I don’t eat meat anymore because it made me feel weighed down and sluggish. I also limit the amount of dairy, sugar, and caffeine I consume.

            Instead of thinking about what you can’t eat, think about what you can add to your diet.

            Try to add these simple habits into your day…

            • Eat a piece of fruit with your breakfast.
            • Drink a cup of water before you eat a meal or drink coffee.
            • Make your plate 50% vegetables.
            • Eat on smaller plates to control your portion size.

            Adding in healthier habits is easier than trying to restrict yourself from the foods you love.

            3. Limit screen time 

            Social media was created to be addictive. They know which types of posts and videos to show you to keep you intrigued.

            Studies have shown that social media also…

            • Wastes your time
            • Depletes your energy
            • Makes you less focused 
            • Makes you less present
            • Affects your mood

            The Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology says spending less than 30 minutes per day on social media leads to less depression and loneliness. 

            If you want to start limiting your time on social media here’s how to get started.

            Always cleaning?

            Grab your FREE daily cleaning checklists to save time and energy.

              Quick recap…

              Cleaning with ADHD can be difficult, but with a few simple tweaks, you can create a simple cleaning routine you can stick to.

              This bundle of cleaning checklists will take the guesswork out of what to clean in each room of your home.

              The daily, weekly, and monthly checklists will also help you create a simple cleaning routine.

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