7 Tips for Staying Motivated to Clean Your House When You Are Depressed

woman in the kitchen washing the dishes with yellow gloves

Stocksy / Ana Luz Crespi

Depression can really do a number on your motivation and energy level. At times, it can be difficult to keep up with the day-to-day chores around the house. Yet, too often a messy house only makes us feel worse and it can be very discouraging.

It's amazing how vacuuming the floor, cleaning up the kitchen, and straightening up clutter can improve your mood. Although you won't feel like doing anything when you're depressed, sometimes it's helpful to push yourself to get active anyway. Accomplishing a few chores might give your mood a boost when you're feeling depressed.


Keep Up As You Go

The bigger the job, the more daunting the task. However, small tasks that can be done quickly can really add up and help you maintain a clean home. 

  • Rinse and put the dishes in the dishwasher right away rather than let the dishes stack up
  • Get in the habit of sorting your mail and organizing what you need to keep. It's much better than throwing a pile on the kitchen table.
  • Spray down your shower when you're done to prevent mold and mildew buildup and make deep cleaning a whole lot easier.

These are just a few examples, but it's the simplest things that make a difference. By taking care of things immediately, your home will stay clean and clutter free.


Set Manageable Goals

Give yourself a task to accomplish that feels manageable each day. Over the course of a week, it adds up to a cleaner home. 

For instance, you might clean the bathroom on Sunday, then toss in a load of laundry on Monday.

Each task may take you thirty minutes, but this can be more productive than setting aside an entire day for cleaning.

Plus, if you're not in the mood to clean, a chore that takes less time is easier to handle than a long and seemingly endless list.


Learn to Work Efficiently

Jobs that can be done faster are more likely to get done when you are tired. Come up with a few tricks to cut the time you spend cleaning.

This could be as simple as taking a top-down approach to sprucing up the living room. Begin by removing clutter, then give furniture a quick dusting before getting out the vacuum. 

It also helps to gather all your supplies from the start. This will erase the need to run to the cleaning closet every five minutes. 


Break Through Procrastination

When we feel bad it's so easy to say, "Oh, I'll just do that tomorrow." Learn techniques to break through the urge to procrastinate. This can save you from having all the little jobs pile up into a big one.

You might begin by writing that daily task on a calendar and designating a certain time each day to take care of it.

Some people find it useful to add fun to a cleaning routine. Go ahead, turn up the music and dance through your chores. No one's watching and time will fly by much faster. 


Cut Yourself Some Slack

Expecting perfection is setting yourself up for disappointment and stress. Forgive yourself for being human and set reasonable standards that keep you comfortable and sanitary.

You don't need to disinfect the bathroom so you can eat in there, right? If the laundry gets folded and put away, that's great. Don't stress that the drawer needs to be cleaned out so clothes can be donated.

Designate this secondary task for another day. It will get taken care of, but there's no need to overwhelm yourself right now.


Delegate When Possible

It's only logical that the more people you live with, the more work is created. Yet, you're not alone, so that means you have more hands to do the work.

Get everyone to do their part and help you clean the house. Assign weekly or daily chores so the burden doesn't fall on you alone. Some families even designate a cleaning time and everyone gets to work for an hour or two.

Reluctant kids or partner? Have some fun with the housework and create a lottery system. Write down all the chores on slips of paper and have everyone draw from a bowl. One week they might get something easy and another week may be more of a challenge. Who gets to clean the bathroom this week?

When all the work's done, plan a special reward. Ordering the family's favorite pizza or going out for ice cream is great motivation.


Hire Someone to Help

If it's within your budget to hire someone to help you, you may want to do so. Knowing someone else is going to do a little of the cleaning can free up some of your mind and energy.

That doesn't mean you should depend on them to do everything though. Even when you're feeling depressed, it's important to work on managing some of the day-to-day tasks on your own.

If you're struggling to function it's a sign that you need depression treatment or that your current treatment is working. Talk to your physician if you're having trouble managing your home and keeping things clean.

If you or a loved one are struggling with depression, contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline at 1-800-662-4357 for information on support and treatment facilities in your area.

For more mental health resources, see our National Helpline Database.

3 Sources
Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  2. Rozental A, Bennett S, Forsström D, et al. Targeting Procrastination Using Psychological Treatments: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Front Psychol. 2018;9:1588. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2018.01588

  3. Oxtoby, C. Managing perfectionism. Veterinary Record. 2018;183:106. doi:10.1136/vr.k3182

By Nancy Schimelpfening
Nancy Schimelpfening, MS is the administrator for the non-profit depression support group Depression Sanctuary. Nancy has a lifetime of experience with depression, experiencing firsthand how devastating this illness can be.