Though organizing your car might not seem like it’s part of getting your home organized and clean, we’ve been hauling so many boxes of donations to local charities and otherwise purging clutter that we’ve used our cars a lot in the past 28 days.
If you’ve got young children, your car is probably never as clean and organized as you’d like. Even if you don’t have kids, we Americans spend so much time in our cars that sometimes it feels like they’re extensions of our homes.
One of the best reasons for organizing your car is because it helps maintain the standard you’ve set for your home throughout this series. Of course, if you haven’t been following the program to this point, you should check out the series overview with links to the previous missions.
Every day’s mission has four parts to it:
Keep It Clean
Today, we’re going to ROCK your car!
Organizing Your Car
Just because your ride has lost that new car smell doesn’t mean you’ve got to drive around in a pile of junk. Let’s reduce the clutter by getting rid of what shouldn’t be in your car, organizing the things you should have in there, and then give it a quick cleaning.
Reducing clutter starts by focusing on the function of
Things that definitely belong in your car:
- License, registration, proof of insurance
- Owner’s manual
- Basic car maintenance gear
- Emergency essentials
Things that do not belong in your car:
- Trash (food wrappers, old receipts, dry-cleaning bags, etc.)
- Wet clothing (it will mildew)
- Medicine (heat ruins the effectiveness)
- Sunscreen (ditto)
- Electronics (heat can destroy them)
- Aerosol sprays (they can explode in extreme temperatures)
- Crayons (they’ll melt)
- Canned soda or seltzer water (they’ll burst)
- Makeup (temperature extremes ruins it)
- Battery-operated anything (extreme temperatures cause leaks)
Organizing your car after you’ve reduced the clutter will make it easier to find what you need when you need it. Sometimes that might mean being able to toss a quarter into the toll booth hopper without slowing too much, but other times you need to deal with a vomit volcano in the back seat.
Tips to Control Car Clutter
Put your purse with your packages to remind you to take them in when you arrive at your destination.
Stick a Post-It Note on the steering wheel to remind you of things you need to drop off or return, and leave it there until you’ve completed the task.
Use your time at stoplights or when stuck in traffic to wipe the dash and pick up trash.
Keep your essentials where you need them. The lists below will help you decide what you truly need in your car. Stash them where you’ll need them, rather than letting them take over your back seat where they’ll just turn into clutter magnets.
These are the things you need access to if your car breaks down on the side of the road. Store them in a plastic box or laundry hamper in the trunk and cover them, so they don’t get hit by direct sunlight.
- A first aid kit
- Crank-operated flashlight (battery-powered ones can leak)
- A blanket
- Energy bars or another source of food with a long shelf-life
- Water bottles (for emergencies only, and should remain covered)
- Jumper cables
- Roadside flares
- Tire gauge
- Ice scraper
- Carpet square (or a small rug, to put under tires for traction)
Keeping your car clean and clutter-free is easier when you stash a few tidy-up essentials in your console or glove compartment.
- Microfiber cloth to wipe away dust.
- A small trash can (even a plastic cereal container affixed to the floor with Velcro dots works) lined with a plastic shopping bag. Tuck spares in the bottom and you’ll always have more ready to use.
- A lint brush for crumbs as well as your clothes.
- Spare paper napkins or towels for spills.
Mom’s Taxi Basics
A few back-seat basics make the ride more comfortable for your kids. With an organizer that fits over the back of the passenger seat, you’ll also have the things you need within reach at stoplights.
- A spare towel
- A small throw pillow (stuff a pillowcase with the towel to save space)
- Hand sanitizing wipes
- Picture or comic books for car rides only
- A spare change of kid underwear and socks
- Packaged snacks that don’t melt
- Additional plastic bags for soiled clothing or diapers
Cleaning your car is easier after you’ve removed the clutter and stashed the rest in easy-to-grab plastic totes in the trunk. For a professional-level clean, check out this guide on how to clean your car like a pro. Today, we’re just going for a general level of cleanliness, though.
- Remove the floor mats and vacuum them
- Vacuum the seats, including in the crevice
- Vacuum the floor, moving the seats back and forth to do so
- Use the dust brush attachment and vacuum the dash, console, and cupholders
- Use a damp microfiber cloth to wipe the dash, interior door panels, and seat belt buckles
- Wipe the inside of the cupholders
- Apply leather conditioner if necessary
- Polish the windows
- Return the floor mats to their place
- Put your essentials back inside the car, making sure they’re secured so they can’t fly around in a collision
Keep it Clean
Keeping your car clean is an ongoing task. Remove leftover food, food wrappers, and damp clothing daily, so they don’t lead to pests or mildew. A weekly wash and quick pickup should be enough most of the time, with a thorough vacuuming once a month (or more, if your car gets a lot of use).
As for the rest of your home, keeping it clean is an important part of this program. Once you’ve finished organizing your car, take 15-20 minutes to do the daily cleaning routine and your home will continue to look tidy until your weekly cleaning day.
See You Tomorrow
After 28 days, we are now done organizing our homes! Tomorrow we’ll cover a few tips about recognizing and dealing with clutter creep, then we’ll be wrapping up the series the day after that with a printable monthly list to keep your home ROCKing.
Until then, come join our Do Home Better Group on Facebook and show off your progress.