Keeping a car clean can be nearly impossible with the added stress of constantly being on the go, chauffeuring kids, or even transporting animals. I am here to share with you a few tips and tricks to keep your vehicle clean and organized in the midst of chaos!
Below are my top 15 rules for vehicle organization. These have been perfected over the years and can absolutely make a difference in your home on wheels.
15 Rules for Keeping a Car Clean
1. Keep your vehicle healthy with protective products stocked.
Setting your vehicle up with easy to access protective products is a great way to keep everyone healthy. I prefer to have stations in my vehicle that are stocked with essential products. The side of the door or center console is a great area to store hand sanitizer and disposable masks.
I also like to have hand wipes available in the side door compartments to make clean up a snap for messy shoes or any sticky situations that might arise.
2. No food in vehicle.
I did not grow up with this rule and often found that with four siblings it was nearly impossible to keep the car clean. Now with my own children, I have adopted this rule and it has drastically cut down on the mess in my own vehicle.
I do keep a small stash of semi-healthy snacks that my kids can grab if they are on the run. The trick is to limit these snacks to be as mess-free as possible. Granola bars are a great snack to keep on hand since they store well in a cold or warm car. Plus they produce fewer crumbs when compared to crackers or Goldfish.
Another tip would be to store snacks in an area that your kids do not constantly see (and of course want to eat them) like a trunk or under the passenger seat. Try this container to keep them neatly stored and organized in the trunk or tucked under the seat.
3. Weekly vehicle clean.
Most people hate cleaning their vehicle because it is not done frequently and can become overwhelming. However, getting into the habit of cleaning it once a week will greatly decrease the time spent on maintaining it. I personally only take 10-15 minutes per week to clean my vehicle out.
Weekly clean out for me includes vacuuming, wiping down the dash and console area, and wiping down the windows. This car vacuum plugs right in to your vehicle and makes cleaning up messes simple. I keep mine in the trunk of my car to have it on hand for anything that comes up. Another great product is this detailing dust remover gel that makes cleaning vents a snap.
Another tip would be to utilize garbage cans in your car. I make a habit of emptying these containers every time I fill up on gas. I love these containers because they have a sleek design and a light to make them easy to use. Another great option for limited space would be this garbage container that fits in side doors or in a cup holder.
A great item to keep your car clean is the Drop Stop Seat Gap Filler. This product is great to fill in the dreaded gap between the seat and the center console. For anyone that has dropped their phone, french fry, or loose change, this is great to keep that area clean and save your hand.
Speaking of loose change, why not consolidate it all into one area of your car. This coin holder allows you to easily access and put away random coins. No more searching to find loose change for a parking meter!
If you maintain a weekly car clean out, once quarterly deep cleans will become less of a pain and can be completed quickly. You will be amazed at the difference.
4. Schedule quarterly deep cleans.
Set a reminder in your phone or put it on the schedule to complete a quarterly deep clean. Whether you complete it yourself or task your whole family with the project, this is essential to keeping your car clean and organized. Plus, I have found that kids especially respond to keeping their area tidier in the car when they have the responsibility of helping to keep it clean.
There are always some wonderful local options for car detailing for those of you that do not have the time or desire to deep clean their vehicles. Supporting local businesses and getting the job done is a win for everyone.
Whatever way you get it done, give the quarterly deep clean a try!
5. Air fresheners are a must so your car smells like a Hawaiian Beach and not stinky cleats.
I am a huge scent person and love burning candles or having air fresheners in my house. There is nothing worse than getting in a stinky car. Even if a car is clean and organized, an old odor can make a car ride unpleasant. There are so many different types of car fresheners on the market today. I have tried many different options and here are some of my favorites. For the standard around the mirror, I love these Yankee Candle fresheners. They are a snap to hang up and offer a fresh scent to your car for months.
Another option would be this vent clip by Febreze. These are some of the best because they allow you to change the intensity of the freshener which is great for people that are most sensitive to smell or if you really want to amp up the scent to overpower football practice.
Lastly, this option is amazing for people that love essential oils or want to have the option of making their own scent. This mini USB diffuser humidifier has two modes and can continue to spray for 4.5 hour which is great for diffusing your favorite oils. Plus, in the winter months it can be used with just water as a humidifier.
However you do it, start using an air freshener in your car to make it smell amazing like you.
6. Clear out the clutter. Essentials only. Bring it in, take it out.
Now is the time to adopt the less is more approach. I try to keep things to a bare minimum in my cars since our family will inevitability bring multiple items in and out constantly. A standard rule of bringing things in and taking them out when reaching a destination helps to keep things organized.
A tip for longer car rides is to keep a small travel bag for kids that is easily accessible to keep items secured in one area when not in use. My daughter uses a small backpack that easily zips closed.
7. Keep designated storage containers to keep things organized.
Storage containers are a must in your car. When deciding what to pack in your car on the regular, ask yourself who travels in the car? What would I need in an emergency? What would I love having for a long car trip? For example, if you have a baby then a container with baby essentials like wipes would be a must for you.
Here are some examples of things that could be packed in your car in a storage container:
Whatever your needs, it is important to be prepared, but also keep things to a minimum to not over fill your car with nonessentials. Picking up travel sized options are a space and money saver for these products.
9. Create a system for the center console.
The center console is one of my most used areas in my car. I like to keep things here that I utilize frequently. Over the years I have found, that depending on the size and shape of your console, using a system of multiple pouches or an acrylic organizer can be the most practical.
This clear acrylic organizer can easily fit multiple items perfectly and makes finding things easy. Plus you can get these in multiple shapes and sizes.
The other approach is pouches. Having specific pouches that are designated to certain categories makes keeping this space easily organized and finding a particular item a breeze. These pouches come in multiple sizes and allow you to easily separate items.
Another item to try for additional space would be these car hook hangers. They can easily be utilized on the back of any headrest and give you additional storage. I love to use these to hang my purse and they are great to have on hand for hanging delicate items.
10. Initiate electronics organization.
For anyone that has been without a charge on their phone or in desperate need of an outlet, now is the time to make a system for electronics organization.
One of the best things that I put in my car was this USB port car charger. I love that it has such a sleek profile so it does not get caught on anything and it makes plugging in cables hassle free.
I also have an electronics pouch that keeps extra lightening charging cables for an Android, iPhone, and tablets just in case someone might need one.
Another thing that is a must is this car charger converter that I keep in my glove box. I love this one since it is compact and can easily fit into a small space when not in use. It offers the dual function of an USB port and a three prong outlet. It is great when you are making those final changes to a presentation in the car while waiting for a kid’s pickup.
Phone Charger Mounts
Utilizing a phone mount is another great way to get easy access to your phone for music or directions. There are so many options on the market for these and I personally love this one that is magnetic and works with most phones or this one that can wirelessly charge your device.
11. Create a System for the Glove Box.
When reorganizing my glove box, I added in some simple solutions to keep things easily organized.
I utilize this small accordion file to keep track of all my essentials in clearly labeled sections like my car registration and insurance information. I also keep an updated list of medications or important medical information (like medical insurance) in here just in case it is needed in a pinch.
Another item that I added to my glove box was an automobile maintenance log from NeatandTidyDesign. This is a great way to keep track of car maintenance.
I encourage you to set a reminder in your phone or put it in your planner for when you might need to renew your license, registration, or change your oil.
12. Always be prepared in an emergency with organized supplies in the trunk.
In case of an emergency, it is always great to be prepared. I like to keep emergency supplies in the trunk of my car in the trunk organizer. Below is what I keep consistently in my trunk just in case.
Having a blanket on hand is so useful in an emergency. I love this picnic blanket that is completely waterproof, sand proof, and warm. This is a great upgrade to the traditional blanket because it can be utilized in numerous situations and cuts down on the need for additional items in your car.
Car Battery Starter- $99.95
For anyone that has ever had a dead battery or hates using jumper cables, this car battery starter is a must for any emergency kit. This starter can be used without the assistance of another car and is able to jump start a vehicle 20 times on one charge. It can function as an emergency flashlight, a traffic hazard warning signal in the event of an accident, and has a built-in compass. Perfect for new and seasoned drivers.
This charging device is great for emergencies because they are small and convenient to carry. Easily charge a phone or device in a pinch. Keep your phone from dying during car troubles for up to four hours. Plus this company has a no cost recycling program.
This product is great to have for emergency flat tire repair and tire inflation and can last for up to three days. It can seal up to a 1/4 inch puncture with no need for additional tools or a jack. It's ready to go with a push of a button.
13. Let your trunk do the heavy lifting.
No matter how large or small your trunk space, an absolute essential for any car is a foldable trunk organizer. I love this one because it is durable and offers multiple dividers and pockets to keep your trunk organized. Another plus is that it is easily collapsable and can fit into large and small spaces depending on what you need to store in your trunk.
There is also an option of this back of the seat trunk organizer that could also be great for keeping things tidy.
I use my organizer to store a few essentials and like to leave some compartments open to allow for additional storage in the trunk for a stroller or for storing my groceries on the way home.
Below are some of my essentials for the trunk. There are a few products worth mentioning that are amazing to have on the go.
Waterproof bags are a must for everyone. I originally purchased them when expecting my first child and have loved them ever since. They can be utilized for so many things like wet clothing or even transporting bottles with liquid. Plus they are easily washable and can be reused. I keep a few in my trunk organizer at all times.
For anyone that loves hiking or being outdoors, shoes can do a number on your car upholstery. Disposable shoe covers are a great solution to keeping your car clean and protect it against dirt and grime.
An expandable clothing bar is perfect for college students, moving, or long trips. It holds up to 30 lbs. of weight and can be utilized in so many ways from picking up dry cleaning to transporting hanging plants. The possibilities are endless and it maximizes vertical trunk storage.
I love a great heated blanket and could not help but put one in my car. This soft, 12-volt electric blanket plugs into any cigarette lighter. Plus with the 96-inch-long cord, everyone can enjoy this heated fleece throw. It can easily be folded and stored in the trunk when not in use.
The Wagan 12V Car cooler/warmer is a perfect item to upgrade from your present cooler. This system is great for road trips or keeping food hot or cold from the store with temperatures ranging from 32-140 Degree Fahrenheit.
14. Pack your own emergency kit.
Everyone has a different idea of what they would want in an emergency. In addition to having a first aid kit and accessories for roadside assistance, packing your own items that you would want in a pickle can be useful. Here is a look at what is in my personal emergency kit.
15. A well entertained child is a happy and tidy child.
As a parent of two, it is imperative to keep them occupied in the car. I have found that a few items can help with this task.
The snack bag is handy to have when going on longer trips or running from one activity to another. During a snacking emergency, I adhere to less messy snacks like granola bars.
Another thing to utilize for kids is this back of the seat organizer. I love this one since it has multiple spaces for their personal items and it has a foldable tray that is great for holding devices on longer trips. The tablet holder for a headrest is another great idea for a sleek way of storing devices.
Kid's Activity Binder
A great option for cutting down on screen time is making a kid’s activity binder to be kept in the car. I love to store printables and games in here with these twistable colored pencils that work great for keeping kids occupied. You can get one of your own on Etsy here.
And for those of you with kids that love reading this car book storage organizer would be a great way to keep those books off the floor and in one place. Plus, kids have easy access to their favorites and it can be easily removed and stored when not in use.
Bonus Tip for Animal Lovers: Four legged friends need organization too.
Pets are just like any other member of your family that needs to have some well thought out systems for maintaining organization in your car.
A must have for any type of animal would be a backseat cover. These are essential for keeping your car clean and also makes your animal feel more at home on the cushioned surface. With this, there is no need to worry about scratches on your seats and if your animal is prone to getting car sick, these are easily removable and can be washed.
Another must for pets in cars would be a hair removal device. This Casabella pet hair removal sponge is reusable and works great to get hair out of your upholstery. Another great investment is this pivot lint roller that can maneuver in multiple directions to get the hair in hard to reach places.
I love to have a designated area for animal supplies that can stay in the trunk of a car until it is needed. This Unicreate Dog Travel Bag is perfect for keeping all pet essential including food, water, treats, leashes, pet toys, and first-aid kit. Plus this bag meets airline carry-on requirements.
I hope you were able to pick up some tips and tricks for keeping your vehicle clean and organized. Keeping these few rules in mind will definitely give your car an upgrade that everyone is sure to love. Feel free to put any of your favorite car solutions in the comments. Can't wait to catch up on the next blog... Stay Organized.
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