Cleaning an impossible, beyond cluttered home

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    • #81253

      I think I am at the point where I need help. This may be the most overwhelming state “the Mess” has ever been in. I am not sure where to start. I have always been a messy person, a pro at the “pathway creations” in my room during my pre-teen years. But never has it been this bad.

      I have been online reading de-cluttering and organization articles a nice portion of the day. The advice in many has been surprisingly great, but would have been great before I ended up in this point. I feel like my apartment, and myself, are heading towards borderline hoarding. It has been impacting my life in many ways, but now it is emotionally taking a toll. I feel so overwhelmed I have no idea where to start. I feel like I am in this cycle that because I don’t know where to start or get emotional, it only continues to get worse.

      I really need help just getting started cleaning rather than organization help. I really don’t know where to find help, resources, or a true “system” to cleaning that doesn’t require a monthly/yearly subscription (And if a yearly subscription obviously the effectiveness of the system is sorta worth questioning). There are lots of books about this, but which one is about my situation? Many seem to be for “normal” people who may have a larger laundry pile than they would like to have.

      I’m not sure what to do, but my situation is somewhat ruining my life. I want my life back, or at least a home to relax in at the end of the day.

    • #81260

      Hi, Lyxi,

      I’m no expert on this. I am sharing from my own experience. I suggest you start with an area you will find easiest to tackle. You can’t clean if there is a lot of clutter. I de-clutter by sorting things. I sort into categories: keep, maybe (maybe=keep for now), and toss (throw away right then or set aside to donate). I pile all the ‘keep’ things into laundry baskets according to the room where they belong, and I take them there. That de-cluttering lets me clean the first area more easily. I do this same thing room by room. Sounds simple, but it is hard to keep up the enthusiasm and energy. I only do as much as I can stand in each cleaning session.

      I find the room where I’m taking a laundry basket may be very cluttered, and I get overwhelmed if I start cleaning out drawers and cabinets to make room for the things I carried there. I temporarily leave the laundry basket and make space some later time, using the same strategy of sorting things into keep, maybe, and toss.

      If some of your clutter is dirty clothes or dirty dishes, and you are not 100% sure they are dirty, don’t waste time trying to figure it out. Count them as dirty. I have other family members who pile things on the kitchen counters. I get rid of a few things as I can easily, then keep at it little by little. In the refrigerator, I quickly go through and throw away things that are obviously old, same with the pantry. I don’t go crazy looking at every single thing.

      If the mess is really, really bad, it may help to take a quick walk around first with a big trash bag and grab and discard only the ‘toss’ things. The reduction in mess may encourage you to keep going.

      Please share how you make out.

      All the best,

    • #81261

      This works for me. For instance, I would stand at one end of my apartment with my back against the wall, arms stretched out and turned so my palms were flat to the wall.

      “Okay, this wall is the clean line. Everything behind it is clean.” The I would start cleaning off tables, the couch, whatever was closest to the wall, moving things as needed, like a glass left by a chair that belonged in the dishwasher. When I’d cleaned enough space I’d declare a new temporary clean line, get the vacuum, move furniture as required, and vacuum up to the clean line. Then I would declare a new permanent clean line.

      Repeat as many times as necessary, moving the clean line until it reached the far wall of the apartment. It’s called the clean line because it has one purpose: everything behind the line is clean. There is one rule: NOTHING EVER MOVES, EVEN TEMPORARILY, BACK ACROSS THE CLEAN LINE. You can apply this to a small apartment or to a house, one room at the time.

      I found that, for me, bluegrass music and Sousa marches were best at keeping me moving. That, and before I started I would call several friends and invite them over for dinner that evening.

      Good luck.

    • #81267

      Hi Lyxi!!🌷🦋
      I’m new at “all this”, at 56 years old, and the the BEST TIP I’ve learned so far is to completely FORGET the age-old “To Do List”!!! We always put waaaay to much on it and then sleeping is disturbed because…. “AS USUAL….. I DIDN’T DO WHAT I NEEDED TO!!!” 😭😭😭

      Lyxi, dump that (stupid) list and start working off of a “TA-DA LIST” ‼️‼️‼️

      All it is is you writing down all that you DID DO that day! Comes bedtime, you can snuggle with a big smile on your face because “Just LOOK at all I did…. What a busy and satisfying day it has been!!! 👍👍👍👍😁

      I’m telling ya… This one little change has done WONDERS for my mindset and emotions. I’m LIKING being able to say,” YaaaaY, time to write another one down!! ”

      May the good Lord bless you AND your endeavors.

    • #81324
      Penny Williams

      Many adults with ADHD use the FlyLady’s system to help with household tasks and clutter management. I think she has some free resources and email reminders:

      The FlyLady’s Cure for Messy House Syndrome

      ADDitude Community Moderator, Author & Trainer on Parenting ADHD, Mom to teen w/ ADHD, LDs, and autism

      • #87807

        I love love love the TA-DA list idea!!!

    • #81358

      I think it is just going to take a long time. I like the line thing, but it is just so bad I feel that would take a very, very long time. I’ve seen the Fly Lady thing. It would be nice to try that once I have the mess somewhat down. It is just overwhelming. I have no where to put the boxes once I put things in boxes, but I may try that. Then maybe do one box at a time.

    • #81369

      Lyxi, I’ve got the same problem in my shop since some people helped me move things, and my office is starting to get that way. You can’t put everything in its place if you have more things than places. You and I both need to reduce the number of things we have. I’m trying to sell what I can, give the rest of the unnecessary acceptable things to the Waterfront Mission thrift store, and throw much of the rest away. When I’ve cut it down to my size, I can worry about organizing it.

      Good luck!

    • #86860

      A few years ago, I stumbled onto a tv show on PBS called “Hannah Help Me!” She helps moms make their schedule, clutter, budget, kids manageable. I’m not a mom, but I found her humor and encouraging attitude helpful in tackling my own home. She has lots of good tips for tackling the mess room by room, or even drawer by drawer. Breaking down the overwhelming task of cleaning the kitchen into manageable steps was awesome. She regularly does challenges and classes through her website or Facebook. That accountability was helpful for my ADHD brain. Plus she used to be a counselor, so her approaches seem to be backed by research and experience. Her website is

    • #86955

      Hello, and I am with you on this article topic. ADHD makes us so unique and caring, and misunderstood. it is hard to find an equilibrium. I was not diagnosed til I was sixty, and now, I find as I become more aware of my adhd, that I was always, cool, but too much for most people. I don’t know why, but I am. I had to rethink every relationship, and know that I wish I had a friend like me. If you want to have a pal, maybe we can come up with things to help on this forum, and also help and get advice from others. I also have allergies, and was chemically poisoned by hair chemicals, and it makes my system out of balance easily. I had asthma, for the first time, couple weeks ago. I had anemia couple years ago, and am taking iron and b 12. I use to overthink everything, and have a lot of people and places I avoid, because in my mind, I embarrassed myself, does any one relate? we are good people. I don’t like intensity, yet I was so misunderstood, still am at times, I just learned to calmly say, everytime you thought you had it correct about me, you were inaccurate. I did not know me, and I had to learn who I was, when I found out I had adhd, that was just with my kids. I have become a house dweller, and go to my kids. my son lived here, and so did his girl friend, they party, and my load of things I am working on, including house work was getting lighter, but she was cruel, and insensitive, and a fighter, not with me, but she didn’t talk to me, I knew what she was about. I think with us, we are very transparent, and our chaos is visable in our dwelling. dampness makes me worse, and I know that. air quality means a lot, but if I talk too much about the dehumidifier I am getting, on my check coming up, then I am obsessed. I feel that I am more perceptive, happier, yet my house looks like a demilitarized zone, projects started, clothes , clean, but on a bed, and in one room. I get overwhelmed, and just freeze. anyone have an idea? I know paper and organizational things, and math, are hard, grocery shopping is too. peace

    • #86999

      I’m newly diagnosed and while I tried flylady it did not work for me because it was like to-do lists. I found two apps that are helpful. One is Habitica which turns doing your to-dos into a game and another app called Tody which lists what you have to do in each room of your house and how important that particular thing get done now or if it can be put off and also how often do you want to do these things. It’s very cool.

    • #87397

      One topic I’ve been interested in the last few years, has been ‘Minimalisism’.
      It’s helped me remove things in my life which are no longer useful. Whether that is physical things in my life, emotional or mental load, or relationships. It’s about letting go, and intentionally keeping things in your life that have meaning & usefulness. It’s about finding freedom from overwhelm.

      There is The Minimalists podcast. Which keeps me motivates me to keep ontop of all the junk. They also have a documentary on Netflix.

    • #87934

      I COMPLETELY hear you on this one. I have always struggled with cleaning. It’s more that there is too much stuff. I found that I try to get rid of things. Less to get messy. I will say that I struggle with this still and actually currently, my room is getting out of control too. It’s so NOT fun to clean and to organize.

      Try not to beat yourself up though! You’re not alone and you can do this!

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