10 Tips for Keeping Your Car Clean and Organized

As busy moms, our car is our office. We log a lot of hours in that trusty vehicle, from carpooling the kids around, to grocery shopping and appointment hopping. People would be surprised at the kinds of things a mom can accomplish within the four doors of her car, from breastfeeding and changing diapers to potty training and time outs. With all the busyness that your car endures within your 24 hour workday, it’s bound to take a beating and get overloaded with clutter, trash, and stuff. Clock out for the day (or at least for a naptime), grab a Starbucks and some cleaning supplies, and give that four wheeled gas guzzler the cleaning and decluttering it deserves.

1. Wipe down surfaces.

Baby wipes can be used for more than bare bottoms. Instead of buying auto wipes which are expensive and loaded with chemicals, baby wipes can accomplish the same thing. Wipe down all hard surfaces to remove dust and dirt. Keep a pack in your glove compartment too, for impromptu clean ups of the kids and the car!

2. Clean up the carpets.

Don’t look down! You know you will see Cheerios, sandbox sand, and balled up tissues on the floor of your car. It’s time to get rid of the mess and freshen up that upholstery. Remove all the floor mats and run the vacuum over them and the carpet of your car. Vacuum the seats and trunk area too. Anywhere your vacuum can fit, suck it up!

Product Recommendation

For high power suction, try a Shop-Vac. This vacuum can go anywhere and is designed for heavy duty cleaning jobs, including wet messes. Store it in the garage, and it’s always available for car cleaning and garage maintenance. Bonus: Flip a switch, and you can use the ShopVac as a blower!

Now that your carpets are crumb-free, it’s time to freshen them up, and give your car that almost new-car smell.

Homemade Carpet Freshener

1. Place the baking soda in a ziplock bag and add the oil.
2. Shake it up and let it sit for at least 24 hours (to let the dry ingredients soak up all of the oil).
3. Store in a recycled parmesan cheese container or shaker.
4. Sprinkle on your carpets. Let it sit for 20-30 minutes (or longer!) and then vacuum up.

3. Maintain monthly.

A car doesn’t magically stay clean on its own. All that clutter will start to pile back up, so every month or so take a few minutes to go through the entire car and remove trash, take items back inside the house where they belong, and quickly wipe down surfaces. Just like you’re supposed to clean your house, you should clean your car on a regular basis too.

4. Care for your cup holders.

A simple thing as a cup holder can easily be taken for granted. Think of all the Starbucks and sippy cups these have held over the years. Give your cup holders the care they deserve. Take a Qtip dipped in water or cleaning solution and scrub until all the sticky grime is gone. Then protect your cup holders from future wear and tear by using ceramic car coasters. These fun looking coasters give your car a personal touch, absorb condensation from drinks, and are easy to remove for cleaning.

5. Keep a trash can in the car.

Whether it’s a simple plastic bag, a recycled container, or a fancy auto trash can, put something within your reach to throw out your trash, and the floorboards don’t count!

Here are some fun and unique options to check out if you’re in the market for a new car trash can.

6. Use organizers.

You can find these everywhere. And for good reason; they are wonderful at helping keep your car well-stocked and organized. Keep one in your trunk for groceries, shopping bags, and sports gear. Hang one on the back of the front seat filled with your kids stuff: sippy cups, books, toys, and other essentials they need for a car ride.

Product Recommendation

Prince Lionheart’s Backseat Organizer has enough room for everything your kids need during a road trip or just a quick jaunt to the grocery store. This generously sized organizer has several zippered and velcro pockets, including 3 slots for DVD storage, two compartments to hold water bottles or sippy cups, and two carabineers to attach toys or anything you need quick access to. Attach this organizer to the back of a front seat and not only do you have instant storage, but also protection for your leather upholstery from your toddler’s kicking feet.

7. Follow the clean car golden rule.

When something goes in, that something goes out. If you wear a coat in the morning and leave it in the car cause it warms up in the afternoon, as soon as you get home, bring the coat back inside the house. If you leave for a playdate and load up all the kid gear, bring all that gear back inside the house when you get home. If your kid brings 5 toys in the car, make sure all 5 toys end up back in the house. It’s easy to just leave stuff in the car, but if you take the extra few minutes to bring things back inside, your car won’t become a hoarder’s dream.

8. Keep important documents in order.

There’s nothing worse than scrambling for your registration papers when you’ve gotten pulled over for a little fast driving. Keep all your important car documents, such as insurance, registration, emergency contacts, etc. in one easy-to-find place, such as the glove compartment. Try using a cheap envelope size file folder that has several labeled compartments. Make sure you keep all these documents up to date each year.

9. Create a car kit.

Whether your child is still in diapers or in the second grade, there’s always things you forget when out on the road with your kids. Keep a well stocked car kit in your car at all times. This should also help reduce the amount of things you have to carry yourself. Why carry a huge diaper bag when you have a pack of diapers stored in the car? No need to remember a change of clothes for after the playground when there’s already an outfit waiting in your glove compartment.

10. Keep food contained.

We’ve all been there. You look to the back seat only to find your child covered in applesauce and ketchup. So much for fitting eating on-the-go in your busy schedule. Next time, buy a cheap sectioned art caddy to keep in the car for impromptu meals. Set up your child’s food in each compartment and hope for the best!

Happy clean and clutter-free travels!

For a more in-depth look at car organizers, read Organize all that Junk in your Trunk, and for general organizing tips and tricks, check out our NEST: ORGANIZATION category!

Photo Credits: Dani

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Dani lives in North Carolina with her two preschoolers. She is a stay-at-home/work-at-home mom who loves to clean and organize anything and everything. Her happiness is found in Jesus, days at the spa, and combating dark chocolate peanut butter cups with everyday workouts at the gym. She owns a wedding, lifestyle, and freelance photography business, Dani Nicole Photography.

Comments (12)

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    Chariot Auto


    Always keep your car clean from dirt and dust. It will increase your comfort while driving. Avoid also distractions in the car.


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    Katherine G McFarlane


    Organized things should be must to keep our surrounding neat and clean either it’s your car or home. Everyones loves to keep our living area clean. Keep Sharing the great tips and content like this. Thanks for sharing with us.


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