Personal Hygiene Tips for ADHD Brains (and Bodies)

Three years ago, I launched the @domesticblisters TikTok channel to serve a neurodiverse audience. Short videos on the channel present strategies for accomplishing daily care tasks. For all the ADHD information swirling around social media, very little addresses how the simple tasks of living are sometimes the hardest for us. Cleaning, doing dishes, folding piles of laundry — these tasks are simple for most people but tend to paralyze some of us with executive functioning problems. Perhaps more difficult than the struggle to stay on top of these tasks is the immense shame we feel when we’re unable to do the things we see our peers accomplish with ease.

In my experience, this kind of shame tends to spike when we struggle with personal hygiene. How could we be so incapable? Our differences in executive functioning can create significant hurdles when it comes to the daily demands of living. And that makes hygiene routines our common kryptonite.

[Download: Free Guide to Health & Fitness: Lifestyle Changes for Adults with ADHD]

The ADHD brain often struggles to transform multiple mundane steps into a routine that works. So instead of forcing on yourself neurotypical routines that are doomed from the start, try adapting your daily hygiene rituals with the following four approaches:

Personal Hygiene Hacks for ADHD Brains

  1. Rather than trying to adhere to a strict schedule and setting for brushing your teeth, build in flexibility so that you can care for your teeth whenever the thought strikes you. Place a toothbrush and toothpaste in multiple locations: by your kitchen sink, in your shower, in your guest bathroom, and even in your car. Because of the way ADHD motivation systems work, you are most likely to think about brushing your teeth while headed out the door (Oh no! My breath stinks!) or when randomly prompted by the sight of your toothbrush (I’m already here, so I might as well!). You might also consider keeping deodorant and a hairbrush or comb in these places.
  2. If showering is too boring, try getting a waterproof speaker. A good podcast or audiobook that you save for the shower can suddenly transform an onerous chore into a decadent treat. Also, a fancy hair towel or a high-powered blow dryer can reduce time spent on your wet hair.
  3. If showering aggravates your sensory aversion, consider changing your environment to mitigate this. For instance, turning on a space heater before a shower will prevent that awful cold shock you feel when exiting the tub or shower. Using a soft and gentle towel also typically helps.
  4. Create a hygiene kit for the days you skip a shower or bath. You deserve to be clean and comfortable; there is more than one way to get that done. A little bag with deodorant, dry shampoo, body wipes, and mouthwash can be kept in multiple locations in your home and car.

Maintaining good hygiene is important to your health, so get creative and find what works for your unique brain.

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KC Davis, LPC, is a licensed professional therapist and the author of How to Keep House While Drowning.

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