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15 'Hacks' to Make Cleaning Easier When You're Struggling With Depression


When you live with depression, often everyday tasks like doing laundry or washing dishes can feel at best, difficult, at worst, exhausting. When you’re struggling to get out of bed and fighting the ruminating thoughts characteristic of depression, cleaning may be the last thing on your mind.

If this sounds like you, know you aren’t alone. 

We wanted to know what tips and tricks people with depression use to get their cleaning done, so we asked our mental health community to share some of their “hacks” for making cleaning easier when they are struggling with depression.

Here’s what they had to say:

1.I give myself a number of items to put away each time I get up instead of looking at it all as a whole. ‘Each time I get up, I’ll put away five things.’ It makes cleaning less overwhelming.” — Mandi D.

2. “I watch the morning news or some sort of show I like (Nat Geo Wild, Smithsonian, etc.) and on commercials, I push myself to do as much as I can before the commercials end. I put all my energy in the getting up off the couch part. Once I’m up, it’s easier to get into the beat-the-clock attitude, but it’s still very challenging when not moving at all seems to be the most appealing.” — Danikka S.

3. “Call for backup. Something can look extremely overwhelming if you’re staring at it alone. Call friends or family to come over and help — or just talk and keep you company while you clean. It’s hard to ask, but 100 percent worth it once your place is clean. You will feel like you can breathe again and don’t have another thing hanging over your head, bringing you down.” — Allison L.

4. “I set a timer. The length will depend on my motivation level, so sometimes I start with just five minutes. I work on one task until the timer goes off. If I need a break, I allow myself to take a break. Then [I] pick a different task and set the timer again. I always start small and sometimes it takes a few days to finish a whole task. But if I make myself do at least one thing every day, it helps me push through my negative thinking and gives me energy to move forward.” — Celeste H.

5. “[I] write a to do list with only one or two things on it — I’m really good at writing long to-do lists and then overwhelming myself! Then [I] put some loud funky music on and focus on one room at a time, one section at a time. Doing sections helps me feel better about tackling it rather than getting everything out and then panicking. Definitely makes it easier to accomplish, for me.” — Gayatri K.

6. “I listen to upbeat music and dance away.” — Caroline L.

7. “Don’t make a to-do list, make a list of things you’ve accomplished that day. Blast your favorite music while you clean. I also bought a robotic vacuum (similar to a roomba) and it helps with the work load.” — Jackie H.

8. “I’ve begun to pace myself, even if it takes all day. I’ll work until the pain becomes distracting and break as long as I need to and prioritize what needs to be done now.” — Mikki I.

9. “When I’m finally in a place of mind where I can clean, I listen to audiobooks. I always have to be doing two things at once to keep the negative thoughts away, so listening to audiobooks while cleaning keeps me distracted enough that I can keep cleaning without curling up in despair. If I’m in a really good place, I replace audiobooks with oldies or Christian music… something that puts a bounce in my step.” — Jazmyne F.

10. “I only do one room a day. I have chronic pain issues. It makes me feel really good crossing off items on the list. I might be having a bad day, but accomplishing at least one item on the list makes me feel productive.” — Michele L.

11. “I gave myself permission to hire a cleaner. I felt horrendously guilty about it for ages, but then I decided my mental health was worth the investment.” — Carina R.

12. “Rinse your dishes, wash them later. This way if they pile up, they won’t get gross and have food caked on. I also keep a dish wand that’s 1:1 dish soap and vinegar in the shower. That way I can wipe it down while I’m in there already.” — Kaitlyn R.

13.Bleach wipes — those disposable wet wipes are a godsend. Just give the bathroom a quick swipe, or wherever. This is a great way to clean something quick and easy.” — Amanda E.

14. “I switch to disposable everything that I possibly can. Plastic forks, paper plates, disposable diapers and pads (I use cloth when I’m feeling good).” — Sonja R.

15. “I try to stick to a routine and do a little every day. I’ll break up tasks into smaller parts. When I complete each part of the task, I find a reward such as watching a show on Netflix before I go on to the next part. It takes a while to get everything done, but in the end, I’m not as overwhelmed.” — Rebecca G.

What would you add?

Thinkstock photo via Ciripasca.


15 'Hacks' to Make Cleaning Easier When You're Struggling With Depression