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laundry

Health

Expert says this one odd laundry habit could indicate ADHD

Plus, how to make the habit more manageable.

Representative image from Canva

ADHD Coach Jeff Rice says this habit is a near "universal sign" of ADHD

If you were to walk into your bedroom right now, what are the odds that you’d see clothes that never quite made themselves into actual outfits piling up on the floor? Perhaps they are sitting next to—or are even mixed in with—clothes that you did wear once throughout the week that aren't quite dirty, but for some reason can’t make their way back into your closet.

If this sounds familiar, then you have what’s known on social media as a “floordrobe.” And sure, the phenomenon is common enough to warrant a slang term, but according to experts it could indicate neurodivergence—ADHD, specifically.

In a TikTok video that has been watched almost 5 million times, ADHD coach Jeff Rice explained that this type of clutter, be it actual piles of clothes on the floor or a laundry basket “that just sits there for days and days or weeks,” happens to folks with ADHD for two reasons.

“The first has to do with the clothes which are not quite dirty. Usually we leave these things out because it’s going to act as a visual cue to remind us ;this is not quite dirty and I want to wear it again,” he said.

However the problem with visual cues is that “we become visually adapted to them,” Rice noted. And after we’ve adapted to seeing these cues, we no longer act on them.

The second common reason is that it’s neither interesting nor urgent, and so it gets put off until it does at least become urgent, like when there are no more clean socks.

While it might be hard for any of us to focus on boring tasks, it can be physiologically impossible for those with ADHD. We have enough research now to prove that it has nothing to do with laziness or unwillingness, and everything to do with different brain wiring that comes with its own advantages and disadvantages.

And thankfully, Rice has a few ADHD-proof strategies that have helped him with the floordrobe issue, which can possibly help others.

@jeff_coachyouradhdbrain It seems like many people with ADHD have challenges dealing with laundry.  The clean laundry, and the “not quite dirty and I’ll probably wear it again” laundry tends to accumulate and create clutter.  This laundry clutter is often called our “floordrobe”.  Here are two thoughts on how to tackle this kind of clutter. #laundry #clutter #organizationhacks #adhd #adhdtiktok ♬ original sound - Jeff Rice - Author, ADHD Coach

First, he put “parameters'' on which of the not-quite-dirty clothes can stay out. “For example, if I’m leaving a sweatshirt sitting on the edge of the tub in the bathroom because I’m planning on wearing it tomorrow, great. If I don’t wear it tomorrow I either have to put it away or just put it in the dirty clothes,” he says.

As for putting away clean clothes, Rice decided to tackle his warped ability to gauge how long a task might take, commonly known in the ADHD community as time blindness.

“Whenever I look at a basket of laundry, I think, ‘Oh my gosh, this is going to take forever to put away,’” he said. “And objectively, it’s not true. One of the ways that I attacked this was, at one point, I had three baskets of laundry sitting in my closet and I didn’t want to put them away. So I decided to check to see how long does it really take for me to put away three baskets of laundry. The answer — 21 minutes. I set a timer, and I timed myself while I put them away ― seven minutes per basket.”

Rice shared how having the hard data help transform the emotionally overwhelming concept of “forever” into a very manageable “seven minutes” made all the difference.

“It actually makes it easier for me to look at it when I don’t want to do it, take a breath, and think intellectually ‘it’s only seven minutes.’”

And obviously, while Rice says that floordrobes are a “universal sign” of ADHD, there are plenty of other causes. Everything from depression to simply a lack of storage space could leave us making clothing piles from times to time. Still, having ways to declutter when life or our own brain chemistry seems to be working against us can help us better navigate the tough times.

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Whirlpool

Imagine you’re a teacher in a school that’s riddled with problems.

Many of your students act out, against you and against each other. Some kids don’t show up at all. Those who do try to apply themselves are struggling to focus and are falling behind.

All of these problems have solutions, but you’re only one person. You can’t afford to give each child the personalized care and attention they need to fix their individual issue.


So what do you do?

One surprising tool could solve a lot of students’ problems: a washing machine.

A lack of clean clothes is one of the most common problems among families with kids who are struggling in school.

All photos courtesy of Whirlpool.

“There are students that are being bullied because of the clothing that they're wearing,” says Emily Edwards, a social worker at an elementary school in Nashville, Tennessee.

“You want them to think about, ‘Am I accomplishing good work in my math class?’” says Christina Deering, who teaches third grade. “You don't want them to be thinking, ‘I hope I'm not too close to you because I might smell.’”

Not having clean clothes distracts kids in class — and it sometimes keeps them out of school entirely. Absences add up and, ultimately, contribute to bigger academic problems that become harder to fix.

At this Nashville elementary school, the administration found a solution to the laundry problem.

“The Care Counts™ program installs washers and dryers in schools to improve attendance by giving kids access to clean clothes,” says Edwards. The school now has a washer and dryer on school property, and parents can come use them free of charge.

Watch and see how kids' lives are already improving thanks to their new laundry facilities:

Whirlpool Care Counts

No child should have to be teased because they don't have clean clothes.

Posted by Upworthy on Tuesday, November 28, 2017

For many of the students, it’s changed everything.

“The students here, they have a confidence about themselves more than other students who maybe don’t have clean clothes,” says Deering. A study of all schools who have the Care Counts™ laundry program showed that 90% of students who make use of it improved their attendance.

Though it may seem like students’ happiness, focus, behavior, and attendance are all separate issues, they’re all problems that can be helped by adding clean clothes.

It also helps administrators provide resources beyond laundry to families in need.

Typically educators notice a problem and recommend the Care Counts™ laundry program to parents. But sometimes, it's the program that alerts the school to larger issues.

“There have been families that I didn't know were experiencing issues at home and that I'd seen were using the washer and dryer,” says Edwards. “And so that kind of opens up a conversation of, ‘It's great that you're using this resource. What else can we do to help you?’”

The school's new laundry facilities have also helped open up a dialogue around issues facing many of the students' families.

“In our classroom, we've talked about how 7 out of 10 of us are at or below the poverty line,” says Harris. “That means that there are 7 out of 10 of us that have really difficult things often that go on at home, things that are out of our control.”

Talking about that helps the kids feel more comfortable asking for help when they need it. “When they walk in the building and know that they're 7 of 10, that there's not a stigma attached to that,” Harris says. “It's love for one another and it's a support of one another and there’s less shame involved.”

With the washing machine in place, kids will hopefully build better relationships, do better in school, and be able to establish a foundation for a successful future. They're free to stop worrying about their clothes and focus on what counts: being a kid.

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Saul Calzadilla is one of those teachers kids just love. He can always find ways to make learning fun.

All images via Whirlpool.

And his "Green Machine" gardening program is Exhibit A.  


During a typical day at his school in Nashville, Calzadilla's students learn about life, death, and the consequences of their actions (like don’t pick a melon too early or it won’t become ripe) in a garden right outside the classroom.

"For almost every other science class, we find ourselves out in the garden exploring," Calzadilla says. "Putting the seeds in, pulling the weeds out, and making sure there’s hay spread out to keep the weeds from coming back up. It’s a lot of fun."

And of course, with all that dirt, mud, and water, the kids get really messy in the process. (But, hey, isn’t that part of the fun?)

While it can be fun to be messy, it didn’t take long for Calzadilla to realize all that dirt might not be so fun for some families that didn't have easy access to a washer-dryer.

And that's why laundry programs, like the Whirlpool Care Counts™ laundry program, can be so helpful.

Many of Calzadilla’s students are from low-income families that don’t have access to laundry machines at home, and the frequent laundromat visits can get expensive quickly. That meant not everyone was having fun in his class.

Some kids wouldn’t participate in the gardening activities out of fear that their parents would get "really mad" at them if they came home dirty. A few even started missing school because they didn’t want to re-wear their dirty clothes to school.

Instead of learning and playing uninhibited, these kids were letting their fear of getting dirty affect their learning. And most importantly, they were missing out on a class that taught them valuable life skills at the same time.

It was hard on the parents too.

Monica, a mom at the Nashville school, remembers how stressful it was once when she couldn’t afford to repair her dryer after it went on the fritz. You don’t have to be a parent to realize that getting kids ready for school each day is no joke — but in addition to the common morning ritual, Monica also spent her mornings deciding whether she should send her kids to school in damp clothes or in something from the dirty pile.

Something seemingly as simple as access to clean clothes has a far-reaching impact on the education and self-esteem of children.

That’s why the school knew it had to do something, and thanks to a donation from the Whirlpool Care Counts™ laundry program, they were able to install a washer and dryer for all to use.

Suddenly, families could visit the campus and do their kids’ laundry free of charge.

Calzadilla noticed positive results from the jump.

"Kids come to school with more confidence and focus on the things that matter, like playing in the garden or making friends when otherwise it might have been difficult for them," he says.

Plus, thanks to parents like Monica, using the laundry facilities is stigma-free.

As a member of the parent-teacher association, she knew the onus was on people like her to reassure other parents that no one would judge them for using the washer and dryer. "Knowing other parents are there to support you is really helpful," she says. "It’s a lot easier than hearing the teacher say it."

Having the facilities is good enough for most, but the effects of the program are more profound than just clean clothes for the kiddos.

It fosters a sense of inclusion in the community that wasn’t present before.

While they’re waiting for the laundry, parents are able to volunteer in the classrooms and spend time getting to know their fellow moms and dads.

For Monica, a stay-at-home mom, it gave her the adult interaction she desperately craved by helping others. "It gave me a sense of purpose," she recalls.

Thanks to this program, teachers can focus on learning, parents can focus on parenting, and kids can focus on being kids.

And that’s the way it’s supposed to be.  

Parenting is a really tough job, but the washer and dryer at the school has helped to alleviate some of that stress. Instead of spending money and time at the laundromat on a Tuesday night, parents can save their money and help their kids with homework.

Overall, parents at the school are a much happier bunch because of it.

"It’s just an amazing thing, not having to worry about if clothes are going to be clean or dirty or if their kids are going to be smelly," Monica beams.

Often, it’s easy to take clean clothes for granted and forget how much of a privilege it is. An unavoidable aspect of childhood is getting dirty — and no kid should feel ashamed to do what comes naturally to them.

That's why the Whirlpool Care Counts™ laundry program has already donated washers and dryers to 58 schools nationwide, and they plan to donate even more in the coming months so that other kids can learn and play without being afraid of getting a little dirty.

"It’s something so small, but it’s so big at the same time," Monica says.

Anything that helps make the world a better place is always a big deal. Even if it’s just cleaning up life’s little messes.

The pope (you know, this guy, the leader of the Roman Catholic Church) is pretty busy these days.

Photo from Chris Jackson/Getty Images.

Lately, he's been talking with international leaders, supporting indigenous people's rights, and retrieving his hat from mischievous children. Plus there's that whole being the head of a billion-person-strong religion thing.


In short, he's the kind of guy who must have his entire schedule planned out to a T. Man, the guy who's in charge of his schedule probably has a schedule.

So in the midst of all this news and noise and hustle-and-bustle, Pope Francis is opening a laundromat.

Wait, what?!

Ciro Guardaccione uses the pope's new laundromat to wash some of his clothing. Photo from AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino.

Yup, a laundromat.

On April 11, 2017, the pope opened a new six-washer-and-dryer laundromat near the Vatican, according to the Associated Press.

Seems a little weird, right? It turns out, this is exactly the kind of gesture we've come to expect from Pope Francis.

The services at this laundromat are free, and the whole operation is meant to help the homeless.

Homeless people sleep under an arcade at the Vatican in 2014. Photo from Tiziana Fabi//AFP/Getty Images.

Clean laundry doesn't seem like much — until you don't have any.

People who are homeless already face a lot of challenges. They can have limited access to health care. Many have mental health problems or are running away from abuse.    

Clean clothes might not seem like a big deal among all this, but they matter. It's partially about hygiene, but it's also about what they represent. It's dignity. It's about something as simple as other people treating you like a human being.

That clean shirt is important. When you've fought to finally score a job interview, which could help pull you out of a horrible situation, only to have to cancel because you can't get something as simple as a clean shirt — well, then laundry matters a lot.

This is why Pope Francis' comparatively tiny gesture can make such a big, big difference.

The laundromat is just the latest of a long line of services the pope has opened for the homeless, including a barber shop, showers, and a dormitory. Say what you will about the church, but it's hard to deny that Pope Francis really does seem to care about everyone, including our most vulnerable, marginalized neighbors. Go, pope.