Ask the Experts

Wash and Weep? How to Simplify Your Laundry Routine

Organizer-in-chief Susan Pinsky solves all your laundry challenges. To start, buy permanent press and fold less.

Clothes spilling out of a basket, symbolizing the challenges of doing laundry with ADHD

Q: “I don’t know if attention deficit disorder and doing laundry are mutually exclusive, but I, along with several friends who have ADHD, have major problems getting it done. There are so many steps. Can you help me get the dirty clothes into the washing machine and back into my drawers and closet?”

They are mutually exclusive. Laundry is a sustained, multi-hour task requiring ongoing but episodic attention—a near-impossibility for those with attention deficit disorder (ADHD or ADD). The best solution is to delegate — a housekeeper, a laundry service, or a sympathetic partner would be your best bet. If not, you have to simplify this task’s length/steps and find a way keep it on your radar.

One option is to take your dirty laundry to a friend’s or parent’s house or a laundromat the same day each week (call it “Laundry Tuesday”) and not depart until everything is sorted and folded. Being in a laundry space, or working with a buddy, keeps you focused and on-task.

[Self-Test: Could You Have Adult ADHD / ADD?]

If you tackle laundry at home, start it in the morning and do not go to bed until it is put away in the bureau and closet. This draconian rule will keep the laundry on your radar. Invest in a kitchen egg timer (or an app that does the same thing) that will not shut up. Set it with every load. Its buzz will alert you when it is time to place the load in the dryer and start a new load. To reduce steps, consider never sorting dirty laundry, or limit your sorting piles to two types —darks and brights/lights/whites, which, for a single person, probably means one to two loads a week.

To further simplify things, buy fuss-free, permanent press, wash-and-wear garments; they are your friends! Weed out the rest, and keep weeding until there is enough room to put things away easily in drawers and closet. If you have mostly permanent press clothes and you take them out of the dryer when the egg timer buzzes, you can eliminate ironing. Drop off formal wear at the dry-cleaners to be pressed.

Reduce folding as well—dump undergarments, silky items, and athletic wear, unfolded, in their respective drawers. Don’t roll and match socks — it is one step too many.

[Your Free Guide for Controlling Clutter]

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