Cleaning When Depressed -Tips to Clean When You Feel Like Garbage

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I don’t even want to talk about how gross my house gets when I get depressed, it’s a whole other level of disgusting. I’m messy all the time but usually I spend a lot of time putting things away and cleaning. When I’m depressed that goes right out the window. Cleaning when you’re depressed can be incredibly overwhelming especially if you’re like me and give up on it. It can quickly turn into a vicious cycle. You stop cleaning because you’re depressed but then the dirty house makes you feel even worse. Challenge yourself to break this cycle and do a little bit right now. If you can only do something small that’s OK! Instead of focusing on what still needs to get done celebrate what you are able to do.


Clean the things that will make you feel better first. For me, it is the dishes. This is the first area I give up on when my level of functioning is low. I get sucked into a self-hate cycle of putting off the dishes and then feeling bad about it. Plus dishes get gross the longer you leave them. If having your bed made makes you feel like a queen then do that. Pick something that will make you feel good and clean that first.

Do a Little

Do a little bit. You don’t have to wash all of the dishes.  Start with a few or even just one. A lot of times I end up getting a lot more done than I originally plan on. Sometimes the hardest part is getting started. Pick something easy at first. Clean off the kitchen counter, your desk, or divide your house into areas and clean a small chunk of it at a time. Start with a corner of your room or one side of the kitchen. If you can’t clean your whole house it’s OK. When you’re going through a hard time the goal can be to get a little bit done to keep everything from getting out of control and making you feel worse. You won’t feel this way forever and when you are feeling better you can tackle more of the cleaning.

Make a Schedule

Make a list of what you need to get done and then divide it up throughout the week. Make sure you are being realistic about how much you can expect yourself to get done. Write it all out and hang it where you can see it. I like to set reminders on my phone to help me remember. Schedule the things you absolutely need to do each week and do your best stick to your schedule. I have posted the mental health planner I use and you can download it for free here.

mental health planner

Don’t Be Hard on Yourself

If you haven’t cleaned in a month don’t expect to clean the whole house in one setting. You’ll probably have to do small chunks but that’s OK. Don’t compare yourself to what others are able to do. Not everyone is managing mental health issues. You are dealing with something difficult and it makes life hard sometimes. Just do the best you can.

Use Affirmations and Mantras

Pick an affirmation and try saying it out loud or writing it down. Hold it in your mind and use it to give you strength and energy. You can see some of my favorites on this free affirmation printable. If you need even more inspiration, I have a Pinterest board of affirmations.

Pump the Jams

Play music that will put you in a good mood. I like Beyonce but it can be whatever motivates you. Google Play has a radio station for literally any mood you’re in. I’ve really been liking the indie disco station. They even have a clean the house radio station here.


Focus on what you’ve accomplished instead of what is left to do. Any bit of progress can be a win. Just do a little bit and then rest or do more if you’re up to it. Recognize you’re doing something hard and you’re strong. Getting down on yourself isn’t going to help anything. Focusing on success is the key to cleaning when depressed.

Set a Timer

Decide to clean for a certain amount of time. Set a timer for 5 or 10 minutes and see how much you can get done in this time. Sometimes it’s easier than trying to go task by task. When I find myself sucked into Netflix and/or the couch, I set a five-minute timer between episodes to clean the house. This helps me feel like I am accomplishing something and keeps me from laying on the couch for hours on end. Cleaning for a small amount of time can help you get motivated to clean when depressed.

Hire a Housekeeper

I personally have never (and still can’t) afford this but if you can afford it you should absolutely do it. You’re going through something difficult so take any help you can get. You’re getting something done that you need to have done and you’re helping someone else make money. It’s a win-win. Everyone needs help at certain points in their life and there’s nothing wrong with asking or accepting help from others. You can actually order housekeeping service from Amazon here.

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  1. This was a really great post, thanks for sharing! These tips for great anyone who is just going through a lazy period and needs a push into the right direction 🙂

  2. Often times I can be hard on myself which doesnt help. Thanks for the reminder to be gentle with myself. And gradually it gets done at my own pace.

    1. Author

      I get really down on myself too which ends up just making me less productive and feeling worse. It’s a hard cycle to break.

  3. Thank you for this! I totally get that feeling and I’m glad I’m not the only one who gets in that cycle of depressed and don’t want to clean and its dirty so it’s hopeless to even try. But you are right, even the smallest effort is a step in the right direction. And a clean space is easier to function in when I can barely function to begin with.

  4. This is just what I needed! I’ve never been a neat and tidy person, like the rest of my family, and when depression hits it looks a bit more like a bad disaster movie. Hearing that I’m not alone really helped and I like your suggestions. I think it will help me keep from getting completely overwhelmed and further depressed. Thank you so much for sharing this!

  5. I love this post. Sometimes I can keep up with the mess, but sometimes I just let it get so bad it’s all consuming – a vicious cycle like you said. I signed up to get your planner, and I can’t wait to take a look!

  6. Just what I needed to get me started. Thank you! God Bless y’all.

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