Messy Car? Here's How To Get It Under Control
by Monica Resinger

Speaking from experience, I understand how easy it is for your vehicle to become an out-of-control mess.  You use it to go shopping, traveling, visiting friends and family, pick the kids up from school, get to work and back and more. All this results in empty soda cans, shoes and socks, French fries, hamburger wrappers, chip bags, receipts, loose change and who knows what else rolling around in your vehicle. 

This is not only embarrassing (if someone is allowed to see it) but it can slow things down when you canít find what youíre looking for and can make you unappreciative or resentful of your vehicle. Wouldnít you rather have a nice clean car with everything in its place?

Itís easy to fall into the trap of thinking itís too hard to keep your vehicle clean and organized but really, it isnít difficult if you apply a few Ďrules of the roadĎ.  To get on the Ďroadí to recovery, begin applying these rules:

When you get home or to your destination, be sure everything that doesnít belong in the vehicle comes out of the vehicle.  I know, youíre tired and donít feel like doing it right when you get home, but youíre most likely not going to feel like it tomorrow either so get it over with now.  Tell everyone that what they bring into the car they bring out of the car the same trip and be sure everyone follows this. If your kids want to take items with them, have them put the items into a backpack or tote bag.  This will make it easier for them to bring in the house
when you get home. It will take a little effort to begin with but after a while, it becomes a habit for everyone. 

If you stop for fast food and eat in the car, be sure to throw the garbage away in the restaurantís garbage can  before leaving the parking lot.  This not only saves your garbage space but also leaves you one less thing to do when you get home. 

Always have a garbage bag in the car.  You might even want to include one in front and one in back.  Tell everyone the only place garbage is allowed is in the bags and they are not to set it anywhere else even if it is only temporary. Good triggers to empty your bag are when you are getting gas, going shopping or stopped at a rest area or fast-food place.  All of these places provide garbage cans and itís a great reminder to get rid of it.

Itís helpful to carry a whiskbroom and pan to clean as you go.  Also, keep some rags and a spray bottle of all-purpose cleaner to wipe things up as they happen.  Replace the rags as needed.

On road trips, make it a habit at every rest stop to do a quick clean up of the vehicle.  Dump the garbage in the cans provided, wipe spills or dust, put things in their places and sweep it out. 

Now, get your car organized. 

The best way to organize your car is to be sure that everything is in it is needed in the car. So the first step would be to go through what you have in the vehicle and decide if each item is necessary. It helps to have 3 containers, boxes or bags to sort the items into. One container for garbage, one for items you don't want and can give to charity and one for items that belong in the house. Anything you want to keep in the car set to the side for the time being.

Once you have sorted through everything, take the garbage container to the garbage, take the charity bag to the charity and put you household items in the house.

Now organize what's left - hopefully it isn't too much because cars don't have much storage space. If you find the glove box or other containing places in the car arenít roomy enough for what you have left, then you might want to double check your items and be sure you really need and want them in the car.  If so, you could go to the store and look in the automotive section for car organizers. There are a lot of different vehicle organizers on the market. I noticed they are now carrying an over-the-seat organizer for childrenís and other items.  The important thing to remember is that whatever you decide to keep in the car, be sure it has a home.

What should be in the car?  First Iíll tell you the must-haves.  In the glove box, you should have current insurance card (if you donít keep it in your billfold), vehicle registration and vehicle maintenance book.  In the trunk you should have a spare tire, jack, lug wrench, and battery jumper cables. 

There are many other helpful things you could store in your car such as a first aid kit, flashlight, screwdriver, etc.  Itís up to you what you decide is helpful when youíre using your vehicle.  If you keep a lot of tapes or CDís in the vehicle, consider keeping 4 or 5 at a time in the car then rotating them from the house. 

To summarize, it doesnít take that much effort to keep your vehicle neat and clean.  Establish Ďrules of the roadí, what you want in the car and places for these items and youíve got it made!

©, 2003, Monica Resinger
About the Author:  Monica Resinger is a loving wife and doting mother of two who enjoys gardening, painting, dancing and homemaking. She edits and publishes the e-zine The Homemaker's Journal, a free e-zine published Monday through Friday, that features a useful homemaking tip and scrumptious recipe of the day; if you'd like to subscribe, just send a blank e-mail to: 

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