If my husband saw that I was writing a post on how to keep a car clean he would probably laugh at me. My car is my nemesis and for a long time was usually so dirty. I have recently changed a few habits and have been able to keep my car so much more clean! We have four kids and we’re always on the go, so it doesn’t look perfect all the time, but it doesn’t embarrass me if we need to give someone a ride and bottles and toys don’t spill out when we open the doors anymore…(so embarrassing).
How to keep your car clean and organized:
1. Take everything inside with you
Okay, I’m going to start with the obvious. When you get home, take everything inside with you. That usually means you take a minute after you park to remind your kids to grab all of their personal belongings and then you grab all of your stuff (including all the trash) and THEN head inside. I used to run inside thinking I would come right back out to grab my stuff, but 9 times out of 10 I would get comfy inside and stay there – do this a few times and your car can become a disaster.
2. Add it to the regular chore rotation
Bringing everything inside with me when I get home solves most of the problem, but my kids will forget things or items will roll under the seats, so I started adding the car to our weekly chore rotation. I send one of the kids out with a bin and they throw everything they see in the car that doesn’t belong into the bin and then they bring it in and sort it and put everything away.
3. Wait time = clean time
When I pick my kids up from school I usually have 5-10 minutes where I’m just sitting there. I take that time to wipe down my dashboard, cupholders, console and steering wheel. I like to keep some of these Armor All wipes in the car, but baby wipes also work if you have them in your diaper bag. It only takes a few minutes to wipe everything down and makes a huge difference.
4. Car garbage can
Get a garbage can specifically made for the car, or a carbage can, as my husband calls it (dad jokes). Just having a spot to throw trash helps my kids keep it off the floor. They still need reminders, but they’re sloooowly getting better at it. Remember to empty the trash often.
5. No eating in the car
This is an easy solution and a HARD one to enforce. Especially if you have young kids. I know how hangry toddlers and young kids can get and it makes a drive so much easier if they are full and happy. It’s worth a try to plan on meals before heading out to run errands or eat a quick snack once you get out of the car. I know that’s not easy, I really do. But if you’re eating in your car even half as much as you used to that is going to save a lot of crumb build up. You could also have some of these less messy snacks on hand.
6. Audio books
This has worked as my kids have gotten older, but I honestly don’t know if it would work for toddlers. I guess it depends on the book and their attention span. We download audio books and listen to them in the car to keep them occupied. They don’t bring as many toys with them (which helps with keeping things clean) and we get to listen to a lot of great books together.
It really is so nice to have kids happy and content in the car, so I understand why having toys and activities is so important. But crayons, stuffed animals, papers, and toys can make a mess fast (just step into any toy room after a kid has been in it for only a few minutes). My kids love to draw and write stories so I’ve started making them bring their papers on clipboards and it really cuts down on the mess because there aren’t hundreds of coloring pages strewn everywhere.
I love this idea from Reality Day Dream.
8. Car organizers
Bringing everything in from the car will help it stay clean, but there are things that need to stay in the car too. Keep those things organized with car organizers. Just like your house everything in the car needs to have a space. Here are a few of my favorite car organizers. Click on the pictures to shop for the products.
9. Vacuum car regularly
Keep your car looking nice by vacuuming it out regularly. Even if you’re trying your hardest there are still going to be dirt and rocks and crumbs that get on the floor and seats of the car. If you keep up with vacuuming it doesn’t take as long to do. I know when my car looks good, I’m more motivated to keep it clean. Kids can help with vacuuming the car too! I love my Shop Vac and have been really interested in getting this cool vacuuming tool for vents and cupholders.
10. Regular full car detail
You can either detail your car yourself or find someone to do it for you. There is a guy that lives near me that details cars in his garage for a really good deal. I have found that I would rather pay someone to do it for me twice a year. I’m not the greatest at car detailing and I when I pay for it I feel like I try harder to keep it clean.
Good luck! Let me know your favorite trick to keeping your family car clean!
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