Need to give someone a ride? What’s your car look like? I usually don’t even have to ask myself. The answer is: messy! That’s not going to stop me from helping out a friend, but there are always a few minutes spent tossing things into the trunk to free up room, clearing random wrappers off of the seat and of course, apologizing for the mess.
That is, this was the case until lately, when I made a few changes in my car and learned how big of a difference it makes. Here are some tips that I’ve used to transform my car:
Clear Out Trash, then Get a Trashcan
It’s the fastest thing to pile up, and the nastiest thing to deal with. Sometimes we look around and wonder, where does it even come from?! Powerbar wrappers, coffee cups, empty bags and extra napkins, receipts and fliers… In just a week, there’s no longer room for your passenger’s feet amidst all that junk. It’s time for you to come to terms with the presence of trash in your car and buy (or jimmy-rig) a trash receptacle. Whether that’s a bag on the back of the seat, a nice bin in the center console, or a crafted-together plastic cereal box as Pinterest recommends, you just need to make it happen. However, this isn’t going to help all that much until you learn to make a habit out of clearing the trash as well. I like to do it every Friday after work.
Get a Box
I always had one very specific problem when I tried to clean out my car. While it was easy to clear out the trash, there were other items strewn about the seats that really needed to stay there. For example, I like to keep some snacks handy in case I don’t have time to get breakfast or lunch. I also usually have a book in my car in case there’s some extra waiting time in between appointments. And then there’s the scotch tape I’ve found handy on more than one occasion, and a packet of tissues. There are other things, too, but you get the idea.
So, instead of feeling like you have to keep taking these things out of your car, and then getting frustrated later when you wish you had it with you, create a place in your car where those things belong. More organized and crafty people than me have specially made compartments. However, I like to just have one of those boxes that are available for bathroom or tabletop organization. I put it in the middle back seat, where it’s not messy-looking, not in the way of my passengers, and easy for me to access.
Use Car Storage Effectively
Alright, why do I need an extra box in the first place? Cars come standard with all kinds of handy storage: glove compartments, seat pockets, center consoles… Well, for a long time, I never used those pockets because they were crammed with pointless car clutter. Sometimes this was trash. Sometimes it’s every receipt of car work ever done on my car, and tons of registration documents. Other times, it’s just stray cds and empty water bottles. However, if you take a moment to be thoughtful about those compartments, you notice that there’s a better way to do it all.
There should be a specific place for your music, glasses, tissues, and certainly for your important documents. Once you get this down, life is so much easier. You know what you have in your car, you won’t spend so much time digging around and making more mess, and you have things nicely tucked away. This is also a great way to keep your car safe and secure. Having personal items, paperwork, and even something like your garage remote loose throughout your car can compromise your security.
Organize Your Car Documents
Speaking of your important documents, this is the single thing that everyone really does need to keep in their car. You should always have your registration available just in case a cop asks for it. However, you don’t need the last 7 years’ registration and receipts from every oil change in your car’s history. All you really need is the current registration, and current proof of insurance. Keep your title and receipts of car maintenance or replacement parts somewhere else safe. I like having a little file folder or something for these car materials (along with its maintenance manual) so that I can keep it in one spot in the car and find it easily. It’s also a good way to distinguish these papers from trash.
Keep Handy Things in Kits
Keeping certain handy things in your car really can make it easier to keep clean. How? Well, if you already have tape and scissors and a pen in a certain place in the car, you don’t need to haul in a bunch of items when there are some finishing-up tasks you need to do on mailing a package or finishing up a school assignment. If you have almonds in the car and some water bottles, you won’t feel the need to stop for fast food to appease your munchies between work and after-work errands. And if you have certain entertainment items in the car for your children, they’re less likely to feel the need to bring their entire inventory of stuffed animals with them every time you strap them into the carseat. I’ve noticed that the handiest things to keep in the car (for me) are:
- A First Aid kit
- Napkins or wet wipes for spills
- Shelf-stable snacks