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Doing Laundry with ADHD: 5 Important Tricks To Keeping Up

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Doing Laundry with ADHD: 5 Important Tricks To Keeping Up

Let’s talk laundry – a chore that can feel like climbing a mountain, especially when ADHD is in the mix. As a professional organizer with ADHD, I can relate. Doing laundry with ADHD can be challenging, but I’ve got some tried-and-true tips to share that’ll help you keep up without feeling overwhelmed.

1. Doing laundry daily may not work for you. 

Doing laundry daily works for many, and my best friend swears by it, but it does not work for me. I would never remember to move my laundry from the washer to the dryer every day, let alone get it folded and put away. 

My mind is on too many other things during the week so I would likely end up with moldy laundry on my hands. 

Instead, designate one day a week to do laundry. Choose a day you’re at home for at least part of the day. For me – that day is Sunday. 

Declare one day of the week to be your “Laundry Day.

Once you have decided on a day, name it – declare it your laundry day… and take this seriously. Shout it out from a mountaintop, if you need to. This is necessary to train your brain so that you begin to automatically associate this day with doing laundry. 

I am committed to getting my laundry done…or at least almost done on Sundays. If we have a busy day planned, I may do the folding and putting away on Monday. But washing and drying still usually happens on Sunday. Building some flexibility into your routine for schedule conflicts is fine, as long as you can prioritize getting it done the next day.

The beauty of this system is that once you’re done, you won’t have to think about doing laundry for the rest of the week. Once you get in the rhythm of having a designated laundry day, you’ll have created a routine to help you remember to do it.

And routines are a good thing for all of us….especially those of us with ADHD.

A hand holding clothing.

2. Keeping up on laundry with ADHD is easier with a routine

I know that some folks with ADHD struggle more with establishing routines than those with neurotypical brains. But routines still hold the secret key to staying organized.

We actually need routines and helpful habits to help us stay on track more so than others do. Speaking for myself, it is routines that keep me grounded and feeling in control. 

Brandon Slade, founder and CEO of Untapped Learning, and an expert on ADHD learning skills, states that “Creating and following routines helps us improve our time management skills to best use our energy toward the things that matter.” In other words, it’s routines that help us get things done.

While routines may be a bit more challenging for those with ADHD to implement, they are well worth the effort. It takes 21 days to create a routine so stick with it until it becomes a habit and then watch it start to serve you. So set a timer on the morning that you have declared your laundry day to remind you to get started performing this routine. 

 3. A smaller wardrobe means a lot less laundry.

What I have discovered over many years of working with clients, is that those who own an abundance of clothing, also ALWAYS happen to struggle with keeping up with their laundry, ADHD or no ADHD. 

This is not a coincidence. Something happens here on a subconscious level. Basically, if we can afford to put off doing laundry without running out of clothing…then we do. The next thing we know, we’re up to your ears in it.  

And I am sure you know all too well that once you’re behind, it’s that much harder to catch up again. It’s always easier to keep up than it is to catch up. And once you are behind, becoming overwhelmed quickly follows. 

Once you have reached this point the only way of getting caught up is to spend the entire weekend in your laundry room, – an utterly dreadful predicament, right?

It’s really important to keep up so that you never have to catch up.

Take time to declutter your closet and dressers and let go of any excess clothing so that you end up with less clothing to deal with overall. Keeping only what you truly love and actually wear will have the greatest impact on helping you keep up overall. Do this with your family’s clothing too.

I know this process takes time, but you have to trust me, the payoff is worth the effort.  A few hours spent decluttering a few times a year equals a lot less time spent every single week trying to catch up on laundry.

4. Use a timer to remember to keep your laundry moving. 

Let’s talk more about timers. One of the best ways I’ve learned to compensate for my ADHD is this: I stopped trusting my brain to remember to do things. Yep, you could say I let myself off the hook. What I used to do was tell myself not to forget something…and of course, I’d forget anyway. Then I’d beat myself up for not remembering. I would do this repeatedly and it just became a repetitive self-defeating cycle that lead to frustration and self-loathing. 

Once I recognized this about myself, I finally accepted that I just don’t have that kind of brain..one that remembers to do things. Now I don’t even try to remember, I just assume I won’t.

And I am ok with that.

Instead, I set a timer or give myself some sort of visual reminder. Timers, alarms, visual cues, and to-do lists are all tools that allow me to remember to do things.

If you tend to forget to keep your laundering process moving, throughout the day, use a Timer Cube or the alarm on your phone or stovetop timer to help you remember.  

If you have an Alexa device, you can ask her to help you remember as well. Use these tools to help you move laundry from the washer to the dryer or to start folding when it’s time to do so.

You can also create a visual que for yourself when it’s time to fold by placing your basket of clean laundry in a place were you will see it – maybe even trip over it.

5. Be kind to yourself.

Living with ADHD isn’t always easy, and that’s okay. Be gentle with yourself, celebrate your victories (no matter how small), and remember that progress takes time. The more you live and learn about how your ADHD manifests in your brain, the better you will get at finding ways to compensate for it.

Don’t tell yourself that you are only a good person if you can keep up with the laundry. Being good at keeping up with laundry is not a moral obligation or a means for measuring self-worth. Understanding that your brain works differently is the first step to acceptance.

Educate Yourself. – The next step is to learn as much about ADHD as you can. Dr. Russell Barkley is the author of “Taking Charge of Adult ADHD”. This book is an exceptional resource for those wanting to understand, accept, and manage their ADHD better. 

Seek Support -If laundry feels like an uphill battle despite your best efforts, don’t hesitate to reach out for support. Therapists or ADHD coaches can provide personalized strategies to help you tackle chores with confidence. 

If your ADHD is moderate to severe, it might be worth looking into whether or not medication might be helpful. If possible get a friend or family member to act as a body double and an accountability partner to help you get the job done.

Treat yourself – Since task initiation is a challenge for some with ADHD, motivate yourself to get started by rewarding yourself afterward for a job well done. Whether it’s a sweet treat or some quality Netflix time, find an incentive to help you to muster the motivation to get started. Then you can enjoy your treat guilt-free… because you deserve it!

Laundry basket full of laundry.

General shortcuts for doing laundry

(with ADHD or without).

1. Get rid of multi-colored socks.  

Buy only black and white ones. This way you’ll spend less time matching socks. You will also minimize having a bunch of lonely socks missing their partner. Dump the white socks into a small bin inside your dresser drawer and the black socks into a separate bin. No folding needed!

2. Invest in small mesh laundry bags for socks.

Purchase small mesh laundry bags for each family member. Have them toss all of their dirty socks into the bags. Now you can wash and dry them and hand them back without ever having to fold, match, or find lost socks again. This one takes a bit of training on the part of your family, but once implemented, it’s totally worth it! You can attach the mesh bag to each hamper to help others remember to use them.

3. Stop washing towels after every shower. 

Instead, have each family member reuse their towels until the end of the week. Our bodies are clean when we get out of the shower anyway. This saves water, and electricity, not to mention time and energy on your part. Your towels will last longer too. 

4. Invest in several laundry hampers.

Place a laundry hamper in every bedroom or bathroom for each family member to make it super easy for everyone to toss laundry into. They might still not use the hampers perfectly, (I’m gonna point fingers at my husband with this one) but at least you’ll increase the odds that they’ll use them most of the time.

5. Stop folding socks, underwear, PJs, and small-sized clothing. 

There is nothing wrong with making life easier for yourself by eliminating the need to fold things that do not get wrinkled anyway. When it comes to things like socks, underwear, and small-sized clothing for young children, folding is not always necessary. Simply sort it into piles by category; tops, shorts, pants, etc. Then lay the sorted clothing in dresser drawers.

6. Share the responsibility of doing laundry with your family members.

Doing Laundry does not need to be a one-man job and don’t be persuaded by your family into thinking it is! Teach them to sort, fold, and put away their own clothes. Figure out what tasks are age-appropriate and take time to teach your children how to do them. 

This may take little time and patience, but it is well worth the effort. This not only lightens your load but also teaches valuable life skills that transfer over into adulthood, so you can delegate those chores guilt-free!

7. Make folding laundry less painful for yourself.

Do this by talking on the phone or watching television while you’re folding to make the chore less painful.

Conclusion:

Managing laundry with ADHD may have its challenges, especially if you have a large family, but with a little planning, persistence, and routine implementation, it’s totally doable. So take a deep breath, put on your favorite playlist, and show those clothes who’s boss!

 

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Laura Coufal

About Laura

Who I am is a Southern California turned small-town, Midwest Mom. I am wife to Bruce and mom to my three girls. I am also dog mom to Ollie and Gracie, our quirky pups.

With a B.A. degree in Psychology, I have several years experience working with families and seniors. I believe in a holistic view to organizing. Clearing our minds of the clutter and chaos in our lives is just as important as clearing our physical clutter. By taking a holistic approach to organizing, we can make lasting change.

Back when I first started my professional organizing journey in 2013, I had what I thought of as a dirty little secret. I have ADHD and although I am organized, and enjoy the process of sorting, and tidying. I knew that there were many others with ADHD who really struggled with staying organized. I had a case of imposter syndrome and mostly kept the fact that I had ADHD to myself. That is until I learned that there are other successful professional organizers who have also learned to compensate for their ADHD the same way that I have.

I eventually realized that my need for order and simplicity actually stems from having ADHD as a way to compensate for my short attention span. So my gifts and my challenges are all ironically tied together to create who I am,  and I am able to relate to and help others as a result of this coping method that I have developed for myself.

I also help those without ADHD, who struggle with too much clutter.  Because simplicity and less clutter are always at the heart of staying organized, there is much overlap when it comes to finding solutions to clutter and disorganization.

I am dedicated to keeping my life as simple as possible and to helping others do the same by teaching them how to declutter their homes, simplify their lives, and manage their busy families better.

I have been helping others stay organized since 2013.

It is my deepest hope that you will find resources here that will bring you closer to living a simpler, more intentional, and more peaceful life. 

always have

something

beautiful 

in your space…

…but let it be

as simple

as a daisy

in a vase.

 

Feeling Stuck?
Schedule a coaching call, virtual organizing session, or a home assessment with me, and get the support and encouragement you need to move forward.
Girl on chair in front of computer.

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