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8 Tips for Getting Your Laundry Done When You're Depressed

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I have recently taken up writing articles on the things depression makes hard for me. In these articles I wrote about how feeding myself adequately can be difficult, and I wrote about trying to keep my kitchen in order in short bursts. While these descriptions required vulnerability, what I’m about to tell you feels much more embarrassing. And yet – I choose to share, as I know I’m not alone, and I need your help!

I struggle to do laundry. I leave it for ridiculously long times. I only do half the job, and still don’t really finish it. Laundry may very well be one of the hardest things I have to do when I’m depressed.

I recently went eight months without washing my bedding. I have a pile of washed but unfolded laundry that has been sitting on a table for close to a year. My laundry basket is currently full of towels, which while folded, have been sitting there for over a month.  I’ve purchased additional underwear, when I’ve run out. I’m not above reusing a towel that I find laying somewhere around on the floor. It isn’t something I typically advertise. I don’t say to my friends, “Hey see this shirt? I haven’t washed it in a month.” It’s not a fun problem to have, and it is a real problem.

Laundry requires many steps, and I believe it is for this reason it can be so difficult. Think about it. The list of things that need doing is pretty long: gather, sort, load, unload, dry or hang, sort, fold, put away – and in a very short time, repeat. Each step is a arduous drag, especially so when deeply mired in depression. I actually count myself as lucky, as I only have my piles to deal with — not a whole family’s.

I have come up with a few tricks to keep my laundry and myself presentable. Here I will share them, and if you have some tips to share, please do, as I sorely need the help! 

1. Doing a small necessity load.

I gather just a few things I really need, which makes the whole process seem much more manageable. A few shirts, pants and all the underwear I can gather. Speaking of…

2. Own a lot of underwear.

You can get away with most things, but underwear is something hard to get by without. This goes for socks too.

3. Change out of your “good clothes” as soon as you get home.

This way you don’t get it dirty doing things in the home. I know when I’m sitting around on my couch is when I’m most likely to spill my snacks, so it’s better I spill on my sweat pants.

4. Find someone to help you.

This past year when I was having a depressive episode, my mom took about 10 loads of laundry home with her, and brought them back clean and folded. It helped me a lot, even if I didn’t like that things had gotten to that point. If you have someone you trust and is kind enough to help you with something like this, the vulnerability might be worth it. 

5. Have backup bedding.

In times where I couldn’t get myself to wash my bedding, I have at least pulled them off and replaced them with new ones. It only helps the problem for so long, but it can be handy when things are tough.

6. Buy clothes that need washing less often.

Jeans can last a pretty long time without needing washing, high quality natural fabrics need less washing, and while I’ve never tried them, there are some fancy camping clothes that are meant to last long. 

7. Go the minimalist route.

This is somewhat wishful thinking, but it does work really well for some people. Only have exactly the clothes you need, and be rid of giant piles of laundry.

8. Donate.

Somewhat tied to the former point, this helps you to have a lot less to deal with. Bonus is it helps others and the environment.

Telling myself to just “get on with it” doesn’t work. Depression makes many common tasks insurmountable, and laundry is part of that list. I’ve come up with a few ways to manage this problem, but as my initial description shows, I still have a long way to go. Yes it’s embarrassing, but I know it’s not my fault. If you worry you are the only person with laundry problems, I’m here to assure you, you are not. If you have any tips for me, please leave them in the comments below. My laundry piles and I will thank you.

Getty Images photo via dstaerk

Originally published: February 28, 2018
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