9 Tricks to Keep Your Car Clean and Organized

Nothing is harder than figuring out how to keep your car clean all year long! Thankfully, these tried-and-true car cleaning tips make it easy to stay on top of the mess.

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Why have I not heard of these magic car cleaning tips before!? I had no idea #6 even existed! I'm totally going to go clean and organize my car this weekend and I think I'll be using every single one of these 9 tricks to keep my car organized in the future. #organizedcar #carhacks #cleancar #cleancartips

Who here deals with car clutter?

Ugh. It’s awful, right?

French fries end up in the little crevices and cracks. Puffs and cheerios get smushed into the fabric. And lucky us, we also have a 24-hour fight against sand. It’s not because we’re at the beach every day either. Noooo, Florida dirt is pretty much one big sand box, and most of it ends up in our little blue VW!

What once smelled like a brand new car with a crumb-free interior, now smells like….well, maybe we shouldn’t even go there. Basically, L-I-F-E in general results in a very messy car.

It makes sense though. Our car is one big extra storage space. It’s our “office” for phone calls and email check-ins. Sometimes, it even becomes our closet. And over time, it gets stressful to even think about cleaning it, especially when it takes two hours of hard labor and a shop vac to make it look like new.

So, what’s the fix? Besides ignoring it—which is super tempting to do {not gonna lie}—the next best thing is to adopt these 9 smart tricks. They’re essential to keep your car clean and organized so you don’t have toss all your clutter in the trunk when someone asks for a ride!

1. Use an Empty Gum Container For Loose Change

I don’t use a ton of cash, but Joseph always has a few coins in his pocket that find their way into the cup holders of the car. I like to actually use these for water bottles, {imagine that!}, so an empty gum container keeps all our loose change organized and in one place. 

Plus, once the container is full, you can take it with you anywhere—like Coinstar or the bank to change it into cash. Or, you can just keep it on hand for those annoying tolls.


2. Create a Car Kit

If you’ve ever been somewhere and wish you had packed x, y, z, you need to create a car kit! Get a big bag—something that has lots of pockets, or invest in a small storage tub. Next, gather everything you have laying around the car that you use constantly, or use the following suggestions to give you a head start.

Here’s what I have in my own car kit:

Organize all of these things in that bag or box, and stick it somewhere convenient. Now, you have all of your everyday items tucked away in one spot!


3. Dust Vents with a Foam Brush

Air vents can get really gross. And, if you don’t clean them routinely, it can be a tiring job when you finally get around to it. To prevent nasty build-up, keep a foam brush in your middle console, glove box, or even in your newly created car kit to clean in between the crevices.

Do this every couple of weeks, and you’ll keep those vents spic and span!


{Photo Credit}

4. Freshen Car Seats With DIY Upholstery Cleaner

Car seats are masters at collecting crumbs, melted chocolate, dirt, and who-else-knows-what inside the fabric. Last Fall, I was bound and determined to find a GOOD upholstery cleaner without having to pay an arm and a leg. So I created one from scratch! It’s super easy and you probably have most of the ingredients in your house already. You can find the recipe HERE.

Psst…this solution even gets crayon marks out!


5. Shine Cloudy Headlights With Toothpaste And Water

It’s amazing how shiny headlights can make your car look new and fresh. The only downfall is that headlight cleaners aren’t very cheap and it’s always a gamble as to see if they will actually work!

Someone mentioned that I should try toothpaste and water, {say what??} and at first I was really skeptical. But I gave it a go, and even though our headlights weren’t too cloudy to begin with, I did see a big difference afterwards. 

Guess you can say I’m a convert now!


6. Apply Rain-x To Keep Your Windshields Clean

Bugs are icky. Bugs stuck to the car are even ickier. We have “love bug” season every May and September, and it is SO GROSS when our car is covered in those yucky insects! Joseph swears by Rain-x to keep your windshields sparkling, streak-free, and yes, even bug-free after a few applications.


7. Keep Napkins in the Glove Compartment

I never EVER throw away extra napkins from fast food restaurants and drive-thru’s. That’s because we always find a need for them in the car—whether it’s to clean up spills or wipe runny noses. In fact, disposable paper goods cost a lot of money over time, so by saving those extra napkins, you won’t have to buy as many from the store!


8. Turn a Small Shopping Bag into a Garbage Container

Just like crumbs, trash is going to build up in your car too. That means you need to have a spot to put all that trash, otherwise it will end up in the back seat, on the floor, or stuffed inside door pockets and tiny crevices. I like using a small shopping bag as my “trash can” for the car. It’s not too big, not too ugly and it’s easy to clean and store!


9. Establish Car Rules

While you can’t necessarily cut out everyday dirt, you CAN prevent the majority of it from coming in your car with a set of established family rules. This will probably be different for each situation, but make sure you have a plan and that everyone is on board.A few ideas are:

  • No eating in the car. OR, if that doesn’t fly, invest in these handy snack containers to cut down on spills.
  • All trash must be taken out when you are done driving for the day.
  • Drinks must be in bottles with sturdy caps.

Whatever it is you decide on, stick to it. You don’t want to find yourself in the same clutter-filled mess that prompted you to read this post. 🙂

At the end of the day, we have to realize our car is going to get dirty. That’s just a fact. It’s the way you handle the dirt that makes all the difference. Take time to follow these simple tips and you’ll be blown away at how your car can stay clean and organized for a lot longer!

If you liked this post, I have even more cleaning and organizing goodies for you:

How do you keep your car clean?

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  1. These are great ideas! And once it gets anywhere above -32 here (probably May) I am going to attempt to clean up my vehicles and use these ideas. Thanks!

  2. Great ideas :). With six kids and their various activities we spend an inordinate amount of time in the car. It can get gross in a hurry.

    I once decided that I deserve a sparkling clean vehicle and spent hours cleaning it out-right down to q-tips in the crevices. I was so happy to see it clean! My husband looked at it and said, thanks but you didn’t need to go to all that trouble. I was baffled until he reminded me that he was using my suburban to bring wrestlers to camp for a week. I almost cried.

  3. Awesome! Any tips for getting film off the inside of windows / windshield? Not smoke (we don’t) possibly a/c residue. Tried Dawn still a hard scrub

    1. I clean with shaving cream. Sounds silly but I used it on my mirrors in baths at home as anti fog during shower and it worked so on a whim tried in car. Do mine monthly.

  4. My car is filthy, but not with trash. A few months ago, I started putting all my loose papers and trash in the side door compartments. Now whenever I go to pump gas, I clean out those compartments. While there is still dirt and god knows what else in my car, there isn’t any trash! Baby steps right?

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