Sometimes, your car can feel like a home away from home. On a typical day, you probably spend at least an hour and a half in your car. While you’re there, you’re likely to eat, sip your morning coffee, catch up on the news, listen to music or a podcast, chat with whomever is in the car with you, pop in a movie for the kids – and, oh yes, you’ll drive.
All the living that goes on in your car can leave it overrun with clutter—and keeping that clutter under control can be a serious challenge. In fact, car clutter can be such a nuisance that a reader specifically asked for some ideas that can help her keep her car clean.
I think it’s worth noting that there are three basic types of car clutter – essentials we want to keep in the car at all times, miscellaneous clutter that doesn’t need to stay in the car but gets left there anyway, and trash. Each can be corralled and controlled in its own unique way.
For the essentials I want to keep in the car at all times, I’ve got a backseat organizer that hangs on my passenger seat. It holds variety of things that I like to have handy – including extra sunglasses, a collapsible umbrella, and CDs. My car’s trunk holds other essentials, such as a plastic storage box of emergencies supplies and a blanket.
To keep essential items in order, organize them in a large basket, backpack, milk crate or other storage container. Limit the essentials to a few things you absolutely want and need in your car and that will fit comfortably into the container you choose. If you don’t have a designated spot for an item in your car, you should either create a place for it, or remove it from your vehicle altogether.
Miscellaneous clutter, on the other hand, needs to be removed from your car every day. It’s much easier to empty your car regularly of the things that don’t need to be there than it is to spend an afternoon cleaning your vehicle. My fellow blogger, Carey, for example, has her young children remove their own toys and from the car and put them away when they arrive home. It takes effort (and a few gentle reminders) to keep clutter at bay, but it’s worth it for Carey and her husband.
Meanwhile, trash can easily pile up because we spend so much time in our cars. Several of my co-workers said they keep a supply of plastic grocery bags in the car. These are terrific, free and plentiful trash bags. I also like having plastic grocery bags to put under potentially messy things. When I take my famous salsa to a potluck, for example, I like to sit the salsa bowl on a couple of plastic bags to guard against spillage.
Ultimately, diligence is the best way to keep a car clutter free. Every day, when you arrive home, remove the miscellany and the trash. If you’ve let the clutter get the best of you and your car, block out an hour on your schedule to tackle the mess. Once you’ve got things cleaned out, get in the habit of implementing the “touch it once” rule when you arrive home. Instead of shuffling unnecessary items and trash from one part of the car to another, or taking car clutter and dropping it inside, deal with it as soon as you touch it. With some ongoing effort, you can drive the clutter away.