How to clean your house when depression takes over (+ 3 steps to keep it organized)

Does house work seem impossible these days?

I’ve been there. Some days, I’m still there. We all go through phases where it’s easier to be productive, and phases where it’s infinitely harder.

When you’re depressed, it’s like climbing Mount Everest with no oxygen tank. That’s because depression is an endurance exercise on its own, even on the easiest days.

Still, I am a major supporter of the Getting Shit Done movement. I know that is super unpopular in the mental health community. And I definitely believe if you’re tired or overwhelmed, you should rest.

But I am a huge believer in A) the power in productivity, and B) the idea that our minds are a product of our environment. In this post, I am going to discuss that, and give you some tips on how to clean your house when you’re depressed. Better yet, how to keep it organized.

Keep reading for my best nuggets of wisdom!

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Also, I am not a doctor or mental health professional. Just someone who has lived with depression and anxiety for many years who is passionate about sharing her experiences and tips for success. If you are in crisis call your doctor, then click here for some good mental health resources.

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Why cleaning the house is so important

Earlier I mentioned a couple of things I strongly believe in:

  • The power of productivity
  • We are a product of our environment

So, I wanted to talk about those a little more in depth.

The power of productivity

First of all, the power of productivity is really a magical thing. According to Life Hack, being productive on a regular basis has the following benefits.

  1. Improved clarity
  2. Better focus
  3. Helps you say no to unimportant things easier
  4. More effectiveness
  5. Better peace of mind and calm
  6. Improved work-life balance
When you have depression, it is really helpful to get a few basic things done. No one is expecting you to clean your house from top to bottom every day. But if you tackle 2-3 small things on your list, you will not only feel better about… Click To Tweet

Being a product of your environment

Do you ever notice how when the house is a mess, you feel worse? There is definitely a correlation between how messy or dirty things are and your state of mental health.

WebMD lists a ton of side effects of allowing your living space to get cluttered, and I could definitely relate to a lot of them. One in particular really stuck with me. It said, “In one studywomen who saw their homes as cluttered had high levels of the stress hormone cortisol throughout the day, while those who described their abode as a well-organized, restful space had lower levels.”

Just think about that when you’re feeling really stressed out or sad. Look around at how messy your house is! You never know if that could be affecting you.

purple background with white text that says "How to clean your house when depression takes over (+ 3 steps to keep it organized)," black and white photo of a bucket of rags and other cleaning supplies

How to clean your house when depression takes over

Like I said, I get that even reading this post makes you feel exhausted. Especially during a pandemic when things are more overwhelming and chaotic than normal. So I will keep these tips as easy as possible, because I know how hard it can be.

1- Plan out a cleaning schedule

This is the key to being able to keep up with cleaning. Make a schedule that is as detailed as possible. Here is a very basic example you can copy and paste, and fill in the cleaning tasks however you want.

  • SUNDAY- wash your sheets and blankets
  • MONDAY- dust the house and spray with refresher spray
  • TUESDAY- clean your bathrooms
  • WEDNESDAY- vacuum and mop/Swiffer
  • THURSDAY- clean the kitchen
  • FRIDAY- empty garbages & tidy up
  • SATURDAY- Rest Day

Having a consistent plan- rather than scrambling around and winging it every day- will make things much easier.

2- Keep all your cleaning supplies in a central location

The less you can stress about finding the supplies you need (and being surprised to find you’re suddenly out of something) the better! I recommend keeping all your cleaning supplies, rags, paper towels, vacuum, Swiffer, etc in the same closet if possible.

I think it can also really help to keep a running list of all the supplies you need to keep the house in order. Periodically check that list to make sure you aren’t running low on something.

Which brings me to my next point.

3- AMAZON PRIME

If you are living under a rock, and haven’t discovered the glories of Amazon Prime, what are you waiting for? (No, Jeff Bezos is not paying me to say this. He has enough money without my bringing him business.)

In case you’re unfamiliar, they have super quick delivery and discounted prices on select items. So, as you’re going through your list of necessary cleaning supplies, you can place a quick order on things you’re low on. That will save you the effort of having to leave the house and go to the store.

spray bottles, how to clean your house

I love stocking up on essentials using Amazon Prime. Click the link to grab some products you’re low on today!

4- Take frequent rest breaks

It is perfectly okay to take breaks between tasks. In fact, I encourage you to do so. So does Psychology Today. They list 5 benefits of taking breaks.

  • Switching up movements is good for your physical and mental health.
  • It helps your decision making abilities.
  • Taking breaks helps you feel more motivated.
  • Weirdly, it makes you more productive!
  • “Waking rest” is really good for your brain.

5- Go with your natural energy schedule

Even those of us with depression have times of day when we have a random burst of energy. Or what looks like energy to the naked eye. Don’t fight it. Go with it!

If you feel motivation strike, don’t fall into the trap of finishing that season of “Schitt’s Creek.” Put “Schitt’s” on pause. It will be there when you get back. If you feel like you’re up to doing the dishes or vacuuming, just do it as soon as you feel like it.

3 simple organizing ideas

Now that I’ve shared my best tips for getting things clean and clutter free, here are 3 simple organizing ideas that will help you keep things that way.

Make a commitment to not just “move clutter”

This is one of the best takeaways from this post. In your quest to clean up your living space, don’t just move all your clutter from one room to the next. It might seem like a good idea at the time, but what’s the result? A giant messed up crap pile.

Clutter should be put in 1 of 3 places:

  • Where it goes
  • In the trash
  • In a box labeled “Donate”

Easy as that. As long as your items go into one of those three places, you can avoid clutter in the future.

purple background with white text that says "How to clean your house when depression takes over (+ 3 steps to keep it organized)," black and white photo of a very cluttered garage

Ask for help

There is no shame in asking for help! When I’m struggling, I ask my husband and mom and mother-in-law for help so I can get things done. Everyone needs help sometimes, so don’t think of it like a bad thing.

If you don’t have anyone local to you that can help, consider hiring a service to help you clean and organize, if you’re able to manage that financially. You might be able to find someone that can come in and do a general organization job so you have a better starting point for the future.

Check out Thumbtack to find someone near you!

Make it as fun as possible

I find that keeping yourself distracted by doing something enjoyable helps the time pass so you can get more done. Here are some of the things I do to make cleaning as fun as possible:

  • Enlist help from your partner/a friend and chat to pass the time
  • Listen to music and dance and sing along. My favorite songs for this are from The Greatest Showman soundtrack
  • Listen to your favorite podcast. I find getting lost in a true crime story helps make the cleaning pass easier.

Free printable productivity planner

Here is a free productivity planner that you can use to plan out your days a week in advance. You can use it for cleaning, exercise, work tasks, or blogging, like me. Download it here

House work is a great way to stay active and de-clutter your mind.

Keeping up with house work is good for your mind and body when you’re feeling depressed. Not only does it force you to be up and mobile so to speak, but it gives you a goal to work toward.

Being in a depressed episode makes it so hard to focus, and it makes goal-setting and productivity feel impossible. But it’s really not! It’s totally possible for the majority of people.

What chores are the hardest for you to manage? How do you accomplish them? Let me know in the comments, and make sure to share the post if you found it helpful!

Try these organizing ideas, and see how much better you feel.


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Related posts for cleaning and organizing:

The ultimate meal planning calendar for someone living with depression

How to be motivated even though you are anxious

3 helpful spring cleaning tips

7 types of rest- Which one do you need to help you feel more emotionally well?

42 thoughts on “How to clean your house when depression takes over (+ 3 steps to keep it organized)”

  1. Jessica Formicola

    I love that daily core list! Saving this and printing out that list to hold myself accountable and keep me motivated!

  2. This is going to be a very helpful post for some. I love that you posted this. I know a few who suffer from depression, and I know it’s difficult just to clean the house too.

  3. New useful tips to keep my house organized is exactly what I need right now. I will definitely follow them!

  4. I agree, there is something about a clean space that makes you feel better and for me it’s almost like I can breathe. These are great tips to stay motivated and getting the stuff done.

  5. 100% agree that a cluttered space equals a cluttered mind. Even when you don’t feel like tidying up, a clean environment really does help our mental health.

  6. Oh I always feel my anxiety getting worse and worse the messier my house gets. I snap easier at my kids. I HAVE to have a clean kitchen.

  7. Hands up I really struggle with cleaning when I am depressed, I like the idea of having a schedule, I’m going to do this myself and hope it helps me in the long term.

  8. When I was younger, I used to lie in my bed for hours/hours on end. As an adult, it reminds me that when I’m feel good, I should wash the sheets then I’m ready for a low day.

  9. I like to do a few basic things every day just to keep the house in a general state of tidiness and try to tackle big things, like dusting, over the course of a couple days. I do not like cleaning as much as I could, but I like crude even more so it is worth it to buckle down and get the big jobs done. 🙂

    1. Yeah every day I try to at least do the dishes and pick up. If nothing else, that’s at least done. Thanks for reading!

  10. Making a schedule has helped me so much! It feels like I have so much to do until I started planning out the cleaning week.
    I still really need to work on not moving the clutter. I know I’m just moving it to a different spot where it’ll eventually drive me crazy, but in the moment I get lazy.

    Thanks for sharing! This is really helpful

    1. No problem! I’m really glad you found it helpful. Good luck the clutter process 🙂 Thanks for reading!

  11. These are all excellent points to keep in mind. Depression can really affect motivation, so I love the idea of having a set schedule and conquering one task at a time.

  12. This is so helpful for those who are going through a depression. I normally don’t clean due to laziness, I’ll be honest. But I try to get something cleaned each day.

  13. If I am ever a little down in the dumps, which is rare, but it happens, especially now – I am actually more motivated to clean because it keeps my brain busy. I also turn music on, which further helps the mood too!

  14. melissa chapman

    I have always found that when i am stressed or depressed I tend to clean up the house more. My job is keeping the house clean and my kids and husband know this. It is a good way to clear my head during tougher times.

  15. I have a complex relationship with cleaning! Sometimes it’s therapeutic, some days it’s torturous hell. I do think though that our environment can alter our mood and thought patterns. What an inspiring post, thank you for sharing xxx

    1. No problem! I’m glad you liked it. I’m currently in a stage where it’s a little bit of both LOL. Thanks for reading!

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