An Organization System to Maintain a Clean, Clutter-free Car

Like many areas of your home, the car is an easy target for clutter.  You spend a large amount of time in the car: therefore it is part of your daily living space.  There are many reasons for a cluttered car.  Almost every item in your home enter via the car.  In the age of fast foods and a fast pace, the car is also a restaurant on wheels.  This tends to leave a legacy of forgotten french fries under seats and behind cushions.  Upon returning home from school, lessons, and practices, your kids burst from the car leaving their belongings behind.  Of course, you leave things in the car all the time, too.

You need an organized system to maintain a clean, clutter-free car.  Train family members to be responsible to take their personal belonging into the house each time they leave the car.  You will need to make this a rule using rewards or consequences.  Each time you arrive home, empty the car of your personal items and any purchases you have made.  Do not be tempted to unload the car and dump items on the kitchen counter. Make sure you put everything away when you get into the house so you do not create another clutter area.

Keep a rotating basket in your car.  A rotating basket works similar to the rotating shelves in your home.  The rotating basket is a home for temporary items such as wallpaper, library books, or a return item.   You need to take the wallpaper to the hardware store in order to match paint colors for your bedroom wall, return the library books to the library, exchange an item at a store.  The basket in your car will contain these items so they are not rolling around on the floor.  It will also serve as a reminder of errands you must do.  Take the basket back and forth from car to house for loading and unloading purposes.

Some items should remain in your car.  Keep a plastic trash bag in the car to discard items.  Keep wipes for spills or sticky hands.  If your car does not have a built in drink holder you may want to purchase one.  For music listeners, a cassette or CD organizer is handy.  In the glove box or in a basket under the seat keep car insurance and registration information, a pen, paper, coins for tolls and parking meters, a flashlight, and an ice scraper.

Schedule a time to wash and vacuum your car weekly.  There are several options depending on the weather conditions.  Wash and vacuum it yourself at home.  Fill up with gas and drive through a car wash.  There is usually a vacuum facility available.  Pay your child or a neighborhood child to clean the car.

Each time you eat in the car prepare for a clean-up when you arrive home.  Take trash out to prevent spoiled food odors.  Vacuum food crumbs.  A hand vacuum will work best.  You want to avoid food spills in your car.  When you transport prepared food, put the ingredients in sealed containers.  Put the food you have cooked in a basket or box lined with old towels.  Make sure everything fits tightly and is secure.  Secure lids to casseroles with rubber bands.  You will want to concentrate on your driving rather than catching food spills.  Avoid transporting milk products unless the container is tightly sealed.

On one occasion I decided to bring two gallons of hot chocolate home from a school party.  My gut feeling was to dump it down the drain at school but I felt that was wasteful.  Despite my anxieties about the hot chocolate, my daughter and I arrived home safely in our mini-van.  As I turned off the engine, my daughter decided to come to the front of the van, using the plastic container that held the milk as her stepping stool.  Due to the temperature of the hot chocolate, the lid caved in sending a tidal wave of sticky brown liquid onto the carpet.  I immediately cleaned up the spill but within a week the van was filled with an extremely foul odor.  We had the carpets professionally cleaned but the smell remained.  For months months we tried numerous things to get rid of the odor.  We used car scents, candles, cleaners, odor absorbents and more.  Finally, we removed the carpet and hung it on our back fence allowing it to absorb the rain, snow and sun.  Moral of the story:  Beware of containers bearing milk.

“Spend a few extra minutes to empty the car before entering the house!”


About Diana Koenig