Thursday, January 16, 2014

Conquering Car Clutter

We bought a new car this past May and when we first brought it home from the dealership, I basked in that new car smell that everyone so enjoys.  Of course, with two toddlers, the new car feeling only lasted about a week.  Now at a mere eight months old, our car feels like we've had it for a decade.  The car itself is still in mint condition; no scratches or stains so far (knock on wood!).  But it definitely feels lived in, and not in a good, charming, way; more like a dingy, dusty and cluttered way.  A few weeks ago I decided to take charge of my messy car and spent well over an hour dusting the dashboard, cleaning the leather seats, vacuuming the floor mats and emptying out all the trash and crumbs.  After trip through the car wash, the car felt new again!  In order to keep that fresh and clean feeling, I implemented a few car organizing strategies that I thought I would share with you today.

Tip #1:  Have a designated spot for garbage in the car

If you have children, you will have trash in your car.  They finish a snack and hand you a wrapper.  They blow their nose and give you a dirty Kleenex.  It's just one of those inevitabilities of life.  Having a designated garbage spot will keep trash from ending up on the floor of your car.  For me, the garbage spot is located in a covered storage cubby in the console between the two front seats.  I lined the cubby with a plastic grocery bag to keep the space clean and to make taking out the garbage an easy task.  

If you don't have a good cubby in your car to hold your trash, consider re-purposing a plastic cereal dispenser as a garbage can or hang a garbage bag from your gear stick.

Cereal container: Pinterest, orginal source unknown
Gear shift garbage bag:  Sew Vac Outlet

Tip #2:  Keep a garbage can next to where you park your car

Sticking to my garbage theme, for me another key component in keeping my car clean is having a garbage can in our garage.  For larger pieces of garbage that don't fit into my console cubby, I can throw them away in our garage trash can before they even enter the house.  (This is also a great spot to throw away junk mail so that it doesn't end up cluttering your counter tops.)  If you don't have a garage or don't park in your garage, look for a spot in your entryway where you can put a small trash bin.

Tip #3:  Use a coupon holder to organize your car paperwork

If you missed my post about using a coupon folder to organize your car paperwork, you can read it in it's entirety here.  The coupon folder keeps all of your important car documents contained and organized and fits nicely into the glove box.

Tip #4:  Create a "catch-all" container

With two young children, we always have "stuff" in our car.  Whether it be books, stuffed animals, toys, gloves or jackets, our car is never empty.  Instead of trying to fight the clutter, I decided it was better to just contain the clutter.  A plastic bin between the two car seats is the perfect storage spot for all those loose items that would otherwise be strewn all over the floor and back seat.

Tip #5:  Designate a spot for items that permanently reside in your car

I made use of the Pilot's ample storage to hide each of those items that I keep permanently in my car.  My umbrella goes in a pocket attached to the driver side door and the first aid kit is in a small cubby in the rear of the car.   Our car has a good sized storage compartment hidden in the back of the car that I use to store a fleece blanket, a few garbage bags, a spare change of clothes for each child, our park blanket, wipes, jumper cables and old dishtowels (great for cleaning up messes and wiping down damp slides at the playground).  If your car doesn't have built in storage spaces, consider putting everything in a lidded plastic bin and storing it in your trunk.

What tricks do you use for keeping your car clean and clutter-free?  Anyone else with kids notice how quickly that "new" car feeling dissipated?