The problem with all multi-step tasks is that you can get distracted at any point. You might put in a load of washing, only to find it 4 days later, still in the machine. It has been washed, but because it dried at the bottom of the washer, it smells musty. Or you might take your clothes out of the dryer and not put them away. Maybe you leave them on your bed. When bedtime comes, you are too tired to put everything away. So you pop the pile of clean clothes on the floor. Over the next few days, if you need to wear an item, you take it off the floor. In the meantime, your dog is thrilled to have a new place to sleep. After a few days, you realize everything needs to be rewashed.
If you don’t have clean clothes, you either have to put clothes on that you really shouldn’t (which may be a bit smelly or stained) or you are dashing around trying to ‘make do’, putting outfits together that don’t really ‘go’ or at the very least, you are wearing odd socks and hoping no one notices.
The trick to doing laundry when you have ADHD, is to do all the steps one after another, so the laundry doesn’t get held up anywhere. Here is a checklist to make it as painless as possible.
1. Have a laundry room or area where you keep everything. The machine, dryer, laundry detergent, stain remover, etc.
2. Have laundry hampers for different colours. One for whites and one for darks and one for gym clothes (for example). Keep the hampers in the room where you get undressed, (bathroom, bedroom), so you don’t have piles of dirty clothes on the floor.
By having separate hampers, you have completely removed the ‘sorting’ part of the laundry process. You are doing it continually every time you get undressed.
3. Pick up one hamper and go to your laundry area. Put a load of laundry in the machine.
4. Set a timer to go off when the laundry load is finished. If you aren’t sure how long yours takes, time it. It will probably be in the range of 20-40 minutes.
5. Carry the timer with you, so you will hear it when it goes off.
6. Now you have X number of minutes to fill. Don’t do an activity you hyperfocus on, as it will be very hard to tear yourself away. Do do something that keeps you on your feet. Maybe food prep, exercise or housework.
7. When the timer goes off, go straight to the washing machine and move everything to the dryer.
8. Set your timer to go off when the tumble dry has finished. Usually it’s between 40 minutes to 1 hour. Time yours, so you know for the future.
9. If you are doing another load of washing, have a second timer to let you know when that is done.
10. When the tumble drier is finished, get your clothes and carry them to your bedroom.
11. Set your timer for 10 minutes. If you move swiftly, you will be able to put away all your laundry by the time the timer rings.
12. Hang the shirts up (as you might not need to iron them if you do this straight away) and put them in your wardrobe.
13. Folder or hang everything else.
14. Match your socks up and put them away.
High Fives!! You have finished!
How often you do a load of laundry depends on how much washing you generate. However, don’t go longer than 7 days,because then it becomes a huge task and it will be easy to procrastinate doing it. Having a particular day that you always do laundry is a great idea. Because then, you know you will always have clean clothes. Some people like to do one load of laundry a few times a week. Other people like to do all the washing on one day. Try both methods and see which is easier for you.