The ADHD Laundry “Solution”


Ok, I lied. It’s not really a “solution,” per se, more like a last resort situation which I only recommend in the direst of circumstances.

I’ve been blogging lately about my nightmare laundry problem. And those of us who have a lot of laundry have a lot to say on the topic of laundry, particularly when you are trying to avoid laundry.

See, I’m ADHD, haven’t you heard?
One of the biggest ways my ADHD rears it’s ugly nasty head is the laundry. There are so many endless steps, and more often than not, it ends up in a pile on the couch, to be knocked over by the kids (again). 
Thus, I developed a coping mechanism for the frustration that the now-clean must be rewashed–I stopped doing laundry! 

Eventually, the laundry problem must be faced. And when I do, the cycle repeats:
wash, wash, wash
dry, dry, dry,
set laundry on couch (it’s late by now), and promptly forget
refuse to remember the pile.

In my own little blog fantasy land, I like to believe there are people just like me who have this same problem.
{Please don’t spoil this allusion. It’s just not nice.}

So, after the big discussion with my husband,
whom, by the way, flat out refused my brilliant idea of him doing the laundry
(don’t be a hater, he works 70+ hours a week, and comes home to do more projects)
he asked me:
why does the laundry have to be re-washed? It’s clean.
To which I replied:
uh, cuz it’s gross. It’s been on the floor! I can’t tell what’s clean and what’s dirty!

Those of you who are OCD, germ squeamish, or altogether on top of your laundry, might want to click on another post now. Here’s a good post on what it means to be a slacker mom. Hurry, click away!

{Is anyone still with me?}
He said–he said it doesn’t matter. He said pick them up, and if they look clean to me, they’ll look clean to anyone else. Don’t rewash them unless they actually seem like they need to be rewashed. He even went so far to say that the kids’ clothes don’t need to be rewashed after every wear, unless they really do.  Pick them up, look, decide if they can be worn. Regardless of whether you picked them off the floor, regardless if you are positive they were already worn, decide on re-wearability based on how they look.

{Still with me??}
I spent awhile mulling this over. I went from
to realizing just how many of the clothes strewn about my girls’ room haven’t even been worn once, just tossed out of the drawer in an effort to find the right clothes. (If you have girls, you know they only wear clothes for 45 seconds before they decide an outfit change is required, anyway.)

Shh… don’t tell…
but I tried it.
You know what?

I think I cut my laundry to-do list at least in half! I cleaned my room (a disaster), and only had a small pile of laundry at the end. Typically I decide it’s easier to rewash it all than figure out what’s actually clean
because I’m not going to do a smell test–there are limits, people–
but doing that invariably leads to that nasty cycle of laundry on the couch.

If laundry is my #1 worst enemy
I need to do anything I can to make it easier.
Even if it’s kindasorta gross.

Okay, ‘fess up:
nasty, or brilliant?
You be the judge!

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24 Responses to The ADHD Laundry “Solution”

  1. Emily says:

    I have the same problem!!! I finally am to the point where if I wash and dry the clothes, then throw them on the couch, my husband will fold them within a few days :) It’s not perfect, but it’s better than dumping them on the floor like I used to!

    • It’s so nice to hear that I’m not alone in this!! My husband doesn’t have time to fold them (usually)… but he does get crabby at 4 a.m. when he has nothing clean in his drawers before work! I would seriously pay (if I had the money) someone JUST to fold my clothes. Sure I’d take a maid, a cook, or a nanny… but if I had to choose, I’d take someone to fold the stupid laundry. Sheesh!

  2. Amy says:

    I’m with your husband! Don’t rewash it unless it really needs to be rewashed. We all have too much stuff to do during the day. My boys hate clothes and spend most of the day (while we’re at home, of course) in underwear. See? Less laundry!

  3. My 3.5 year old is slooowly outgrowing the “nakey” thing. When potty training she was all about her birthday suit, then she decided underwear was OK. She usually wears a shirt now too. I’m thinking pants are just around the corner!!

    Of course, the fact that dress up is now the best thing ever does not help my situation.

  4. Marlynn says:

    I totally do this too! Probably because I was trained this way. In fact growing up I had “town” clothes and “work” clothes. I grew up on a ranch. You get dirty and tear clothes up way quickly. And get this….I rewore my dirty clothes alot! My dad and husband, and brothers still do this….I guess its gross, but frankly, I don’t need to do that much laundry if they are going to just get it that dirty again the next day!

  5. Hahaha maybe I should have “house” clothes and “errand” clothes for my 3 year old then!! Goodness knows she’s always a mess!!

  6. Wani says:

    We do that! My kids often wear items two (or more) days if they aren’t really dirty. As do my hubby and I. And towels too get used for multiple bath nights before being washed. I will do whatever it takes to keep our laundry to a minimum!

    • It has seriously cut my laundry pile at least in half. *especially* my girls laundry. It takes a bit more work to figure out what’s clean/rewearable versus what needs to be washed but that is SO worth it when it meansd less laundry!!

  7. Crystal & Co says:

    This mommy solution was one of the most clicked submissions last week! You rock.

    I featured you today on my site.

  8. Jennifer says:

    ADD mom here. I don’t have a problem folding the laundry or even putting it away. Don’t be jealous. I DO have problems elsewhere:

    THE WASHER – I add soap, put clothes in, turn it on, and promptly forget about it. For days. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone to the washer to throw a load in and found a foul-smelling heap of wet clothes in there. I’d like to call it a science experiment, seeing how fast wet clothes can mildew, but it really can be frustrating, especially when I rewash that load and come back to realize I forgot about it again…

    THE DRYER – Someone seriously needs to invent a dryer that turns on when you put clothes in and shut the door. I mean really, why else would I put clothes in if I didn’t want them to dry? Why is it necessary for me to press the stupid START button? Yeah, you guessed it. About 8/10 times, I open the dryer door to realize I never turned the dryer on. This is especially awesome when your kids are standing there in their underwear waiting for clean pants to wear to school.

    • Jennifer, your comment made me lol, for real! Why WOULDN’T I want them to dry?? Lol. There should be a “start” button, with an average setting, and an “other” button for those rare days you want to switch things up! I love it. Email Maytag, maybe you’ll get a share of the profit! Or better, a free dryer!! (As of yet, I haven’t forgotten this, but not only is it possible in the near future, but my kids are at the learning-to-wash stage, and they definitely would!)

      And the mildewing clothes… ARRGH THE MILDEWING CLOTHES!! I am, first, totally jealous about your folding clothes triumphs. But I also have the mildewing clothes problem. Mention to Maytag that they need to install an alarm: if it senses clothes are in the washer and haven’t started (been there, done that), it rings an alarm after 5 minutes. If it senses clothes in the washer that are clean but haven’t been switched, it sounds an alarm every 30 minutes. Make it loud and obnoxious.

      I will tell you, and maybe you know this, if you rewash the clothes (still wet), add some vinegar to the wash. I wash with a little more soap and maybe 1/2 a cup of vinegar, and it works like magic on the nasties.

      I feel your pain, Jennifer!!

    • Laura says:

      I just found this site. I was diagnosed with AD/HD last month. I’m SO TOTALLY IDENTIFYING with everything you said except that I don’t get folded clothes put away for sometimes a month. I used to have baskets or piles of folded clothes in my room that served as a sort of “dresser” for the entire family but I forced myself to figure out how to get the laundry under control after 14 years. I still forget to put wet clothes in the dryer and forget to turn the dryer on ALL THE STINKIN’ TIME. But I did figure out how to sort, wash on schedule, dry (when I remember to transfer to and turn on dryer), fold (ok, I delegate this) and put away (also 50% delegated) all the laundry. Sheets don’t get included in this very often. I’m still working on this. I also figured out how to keep the kids from wearing ALL their clothes in one day. Yes, it took 14 years so don’t be jealous. Now I have to figure out how to keep food on the table 3X/day plus one decent snack. The battle rages on.

      • I have found summer vacation to have a MARVELOUS effect on my housework and laundry situation. Instead of overwhelming myself with all the chores to be done and promptly ignore them all and sit down on the computer… I DELEGATE. Okay, I pitch in too, but I’m a little worried about my older kids going back to public school at the end of summer. My house looks the best it’s looked since… last summer. LOL! Question: how DO you get them to stay in the clothes they started in? 3 girls = 1,308,982 clothing changes. A day!

  9. Katrina McNiven says:

    I have 8 children, and I got sick of washing clothes that they took from their clean/put-away pile straight into the dirty clothes hamper – still folded, mind you! So I told them to do the checking – if it looks dirty or smells dirty, I’ll wash it. Otherwise, they get to pay me one penny for every item that I find that is still clean in their hamper. A penny may not seem like a lot, but with my kids, it can add up. And that is where they feel the pinch, when they start losing their hard-earned moolah!
    They have made a washer/dryer combo that will wash your clothes and then dry them in the same machine, but they are too expensive and WAY too small for our family. I’d take a jumbo size one, though. The folding up part, well, they need to work on one that will do that too!

  10. Lindsey says:

    You are so not the only one!! Mine gets pile in my room since our laundry room is upstairs and stays there for days. My daughter knows now to go look in the “clean pile” for clothes instead of her room. I totally agree that there should be a washer/dryer that lets you know if you forgot to turn it on. I do that with everything, laundry, crock pot, toaster etc.

  11. Jen says:

    Hubby washes his own clothes.

    I wash mine, bathroom, and kid and baby’s laundry.

    4 1/2 year old can fold washcloths, pants, shorts, is working on shirts, and can put his paired socks in the sock drawer. Towels too. (This has taken maybe 2 years to master). I throw him something to fold, he folds it, and I throw him something else (kids love to throw and catch things). I tell him, ‘Now put those in the shirt drawer’ and he will.

    We have a laundry table that the baskets of clean clothes set in. The dryer is emptied into a basket, folded at a convenient time (after kids are asleep, during naptime, some time when hubby can help, or when the 4 1/2 year old will help–just let him help when he wants to don’t force him to do more, it can be overwhelming for kids), and eventually put away.

    For my clothes, the key is folding them at least in half as I take them out of the dryer and put them into the basket, then they can sit that way forever and still be wearable because they won’t be all wrinkly from just throwing them into the basket. For the kids clothes and underwear, it really doesn’t matter.

    Tip: only buy white, black, navy, or gray socks. Any other kind will just give you more to sort, so get rid of all the Disney character socks and never buy them again!!!

    Nothing wrong with the kids going to a clean laundry pile instead of their drawers for clothes, the key is that the kid knows ‘All your clean clothes are in the baskets’ or ‘…in your drawers.’ and that hubby knows where the kids’ clean clothes are too.

    Tip: buy more baskets and you will never have to put your clothes away…you can live out of baskets as long as you like!

    Tip: put away the clothes when people are coming over, the rest of the time don’t care about it.

    Tip: if you want to put your laundry away, keep up on it.

  12. […] The ADHD Laundry Solution – as if anything is a true ‘solution’ when you’re ADHD, this practical tip […]

  13. Saddie says:

    Laundry is of the devil! :) Seriously, I’m not entirely sure why my family owns dressers. They most certainly aren’t used for holding clean, folded clothes. They service to take up space and hold on to all the children’s crap that really should by filed in the dumpster. :)

    I was also getting tired of the pile of clean clothes hogging the couch and mixing in with the dirty clothes, but my solution was to put a table in the laundry room. Hypothetically, the clean clothes are put ON the table (baskets of clean clothes can stack as high as the sky!) to be folded – they rarely actually get folded, but at least they stay clean and out of the way – though certainly not wrinkle free, but a quick toss in the dryer with a damp cloth takes care of that. The dirty clothes are gathered up nightly by the six year old and put in the baskets (baskets are beautiful!) on the floor. Supposedly I wash a batch a day, but… heh heh, at least it’s all out of sight and moderately organized. :)

    • This was my mom’s laundry solution growing up! I think it’s BRILLIANT personally, but my hubby about died when I told him about it. (He’s NOT Adhd, can ya tell??) So I”m slowwwly moving that way. So he doesn’t notice.

      Seriously. I’m all for disposable clothes. I’ll be the first in line at that product launch.

  14. Karen says:

    I AM a little bit of an OCD–and I say it’s NOT gross. Good for you–don’t waste the valuable time you have doing things that are not of value. If it’s not broken (dirty) don’t fix (wash) it. Spend less time on laundry and more time with your family.

  15. Kim Smith says:

    Here’s my slacking solution to the laundry nightmare:

    In the laundry room there are 10 baskets: one for each member of my family, plus a communal sock basket (hey…I can’t be perfect in all things) and one for sheets and towels. The baskets are labeled (i used a a Sharpie because I’m tacky like that) with the name of the owner.
    As I take clothes out of the dryer, they go directly into the appropriate basket. I fold them if I get to it ( haha), or people can fold it themselves. But most of the time what ends up happening is people put them away In their drawers without folding them. I turn a blind eye. What’s the difference between being wadded in the basket and wadded in the drawer??? Exactly!!
    The best part about this method is that even the youngest among us can find her own clothes in her own basket.
    And Mom is so pleased with her genius idea.

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