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The kitchen is one of the hardest places to keep clean. The whole family goes in and out so much each day and every activity we do in the kitchen involves a strong potential for mess. And when you have ADHD, the difficulty only escalates.

My kitchen used to be pretty…gross. That was before I was diagnosed with ADHD and learned how to work with my ADHD brain. Since then, I’ve learned some strategies that help reduce kitchen clutter and keep it cleaner. 

Fair warning–I’m not good at keeping cleaning routines so this post isn’t going to detail the “exact right cleaning routines for ADHD!” because, so far, for me those haven’t existed. I’m also not a “clean as you go” person. Trust me when I say I wish I were. And if that’s you, AWESOME! Keep doing it. But if it’s not you, relax. There’s still hope of keeping your kitchen cleaner and more organized.

ADHD Kitchen Organization Tips

Pro tip: these strategies work best when you have less stuff. I’ve embraced a not-quite-minimalism-but-kinda mentality and it’s been the most important factor in keeping my house cleaner and more organized. I recommend it.

Good organization helps keep the kitchen tidier, longer. Why? Because efficient organization makes it easier for you to put things back where they go after using them rather than leaving them laying around. Outside of reducing how much stuff you have, focusing your organization on efficiency rather than beauty is the most important thing to consider for ADHD friendly home organization.

Using Zones

Organizing the kitchen works really well if we think of it in zones. I have the “cleaning zone” around my sink and any cleaning supplies I need in the kitchen are stored in that zone. I have a “cooking zone” around my stove and I make sure that anything I need to prep and cook food is stored nearby. I’m not a baker, but if you are and you do it regularly, you might think about creating a “baking zone” where you store all the things you need to bake, together.

I also have a “coffee” zone around my coffee pot, which largely consists of a cute basket where I store everything I need to make coffee. I found that before I did that, coffee accessories ended up all over my counter top and rarely put back where they needed to go. When I added the coffee basket right beside the coffee pot, that problem stopped.

Trash Placement is key in Kitchen Organization

Too many people put their trash can in a cabinet or closet. I used to do that too but trash ended up staying on the counter top way too often. I also find that having a lid on top of the trashcan makes me change out the liner less frequently. That leads to “trash tetris” and trash on the counter. Many people don’t like keeping an uncovered trash can in the kitchen. While I totally get that, I’ve found that an uncovered can means less trash on the counter.

It’s pretty important that the trash can is close enough to where I’m cooking that I can easily toss trash inside. The easier we make it to “clean up” the more likely we are to do it.

Don’t make your kitchen organization too complicated

We make it harder to maintain organization than we need to and most of us don’t even realize it. All the “expert advice” out there has a main goal of looking pretty and it sacrifices efficiency in doing so. But when you have ADHD, efficiency is absolutely necessary. Organization needs to be as easy to USE and MAINTAIN as possible.

You know those cute little spice jars, the pretty flour and sugar bowls, and the plastic cereal and snack containers? They are pretty. But once the food inside is gone, we aren’t likely to refill those containers. Don’t bother with them. Keep things in their original packaging; it’s more efficient and less likely to lead to extra clutter when we stop refilling the pretty containers. Remember, efficiency before beauty.

We also make organization unnecessarily complicated by:

  • keeping misshaped bowls and plates that don’t stack well
  • storing things like pots and pans (and definitely food in the pantry) in behind each other.

The not-so-stackable bowls and plates take up too much room and make it harder to get what we need without an avalanche. And when we store things back to front, they are harder to see so we forget they are there or we drag everything out in order to get to it.

If we put that stuff back at all, it’s usually in a haphazard way that will likely spill out the next time we open the door. All of this leads to more mess, the struggle to find what we need, and (especially in the case of food) 5 things of canned beans that we don’t need.

Keeping the kitchen clean when you have ADHD

If you are a “clean as you go” person, DO THAT. I can absolutely see how that would make things easier. But since I’ve never been able to get myself to do that consistently, here are my tips for those of us who aren’t in that cool crowd.

Keeping Clean Dishes

Most of us have too much STUFF in the kitchen (and everywhere else for that matter). And the more stuff we keep, the harder it is for us to keep it clean and organized. Especially if you aren’t a “clean as you go” person. I’ve learned that you can still stay on top of things like dishes if you reduce how many you have.

I’m the person who waits until I absolutely have to do something to do it and I’ve learned to embrace that because trying to push myself to be otherwise has failed miserably. But to embrace that without piles of dirty dishes meant that I needed to reduce the number of dishes I have. The number of dishes I have on hand can fit in one dishwasher load. That allows me to still be the “use every dish before I can get myself to clean them” person but without the overwhelm of a mountain of gross in the sink. It’s not quite “clean as you go” but it still forces me to wash dishes at least every other day in order to eat and that works for me.

Cleaning the Countertops

I’m a huge fan of Clorox wipes. They are more expensive than paper towels and spray cleaner but keeping a tub of wipes on the kitchen countertop has drastically improved how often I wipe down the kitchen. Since they sit there, they remind me that it needs to be done and it’s fast and easy (efficient) to grab them and clean really quickly. I mostly notice when I’m cooking, standing over the stove to make sure I don’t forget about something and let it burn. So I grab one real quick and wipe while I’m waiting on dinner to finish.

Keeping the floors clean

This is one of my least favorite tasks. Probably because I have two dogs who shed so much I have no idea how they still have hair on their bodies. It’s really hard to keep it reasonably clean and it feels almost pointless to put much effort into it because in half an hour, the hair will be noticeably accumulating again. 

A while back I found these cool cleaning slippers on amazon. They have a detachable microfiber bottom that can collect debris like hair while you are wearing them around the house. You can remove the detachable part and throw it in the washing machine. You can also spray the floor and, walking with the slippers, mop the floor. It’s way more fun to sweep and mop with slippers than with brooms and mops so I do it more often. I totally recommend them.

Keeping the Fridge Clean

I’ve never been good at this. It’s one of the absolute worst chores to me and unfortunately, that means I’ve struggled to do it. In the past, the only way I was able to get myself to clean the fridge out was when I ran out of containers or the smell became too much.

Many people tell you to do it more often so that it’s not a monumental task when you finally get around to it. And that’s a great idea, if you can get yourself to do it. But I hate this task so much that I have not been successful at doing it more often.

If you also aren’t the person who can do that, I’ve found two things that have helped keep my fridge cleaner:

  • Get more honest about what is worth saving. I used to save every leftover thing we had. Now, before I start to put it in the fridge, I ask myself if there are any reasons that it will not get eaten. Are we busy the next 3-4 nights and not eating at home? Did I like this enough to want to eat it tomorrow? I put less in my fridge now which keeps it from getting so bad so fast.
  • Every time you open the fridge, look for one thing that needs to be thrown away and do it. I find that this is a small enough task that it’s usually pretty easy to get myself to do it. I can literally grab it, pivot, and toss it into the can and it’s done. Obviously some things you might actually have to scrape out of a bowl or pan but I save those for when I feel like I can get myself to do them. Doing this is surprisingly effective at both getting the fridge cleaned out and keeping it that way.

More Resources on Keeping the House Clean & Organized with ADHD

Guide to Speed Cleaning the House: this printable checklist helps you tidy the house as quickly as possible. I’ve found that if I can do it fast without have to think about it much, I do it more often and that’s exactly what this guide is.

The ADHD Kitchen Organization WORKBOOK! Need a little extra help getting your kitchen organized? This step by step guide helps walk you through the process. Created by an ADHD brain for other ADHD brains.

For more Little Miss Lionheart Home Organization for ADHD articles, check out: 

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What strategies have you found that work for your ADHD to organize and keep your kitchen clean? Inquiring minds need to know!

How to Clean and Organize Your Kitchen if you struggle with ADHD. Tips and tricks from an ADHD woman who can't "clean as you go."

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