Living in New York City for over a decade spoiled my relationship with cars. I never learned to take care of them properly. Luckily, my father took the time to show me all the tips and tricks for making sure my car doesn't burst into flames before I moved out to Los Angeles. Unfortunately, he mostly explained how the technical side of car-maintenance worked. There was no mention of the proper way to take care of the inside. Turns out, your car gets messy. And gross. And sometimes (very often) your car smells bad because you forgot to throw out a milkshake you bought on a whim.
For the last two years I've slowly built up an arsenal of tips and tricks to help organize my car. I would like to preface this article with a disclaimer. No amount of tips or tricks will keep your car clean and organized unless you decide to keep it that way. Take it from me. Even though I do major cleaning on my minivan, it's in terrible shape. I forget to do the small upkeep steps throughout the week. I am forced to do major cleaning because at some point I don't even want to look inside of my own car, let alone sit in it for an entire car ride. Hopefully, my mistakes can teach you to be better. I wouldn't call myself the "Mother Teresa of Cars" but you are more than welcome to. So enjoy this guide to the ways you can keep your car organized.
1. Clean It Up
I put this first because it's important. In fact, it may be the most important thing to take away from this article. CLEAN UP YOUR CAR. Make sure to get every candy wrapper, Taco Bell receipt and old cloudy water bottle from underneath your seat and into the trash. Keep a garbage bag ready and on hand so that you have more of an incentive to be clean. Spray your wonderful car with some air fresheners. Treat it well — after all, this car gets you places quickly.
2. Box Things Up
I have a ton of brown boxes in my trunk. The kind that you see being thrown out of a grocery store after they unload produce. They look so similar because that's where I get them. It's free, and easy. I've never had someone tell me to stop or that I couldn't just grab them for myself. It's trash so the stores don't usually mind (butI would ask your local store if it's OK for you to take their trash boxes). I end up storing bags of groceries in them, to prevent any from falling over in my trunk. I also use them for organizing different car-trip materials. Blankets, shoes, coolers, and supplies are all neatly packed away and easy to pick up and carry. This keeps you from cluttering your entire car.
3. Ziploc Bags
If you are not a fan of super intense organization, don't be afraid. Change, chapsticks, cables, and CD's can all be shoved inside of a clear Ziploc bags. That way they are not rolling around in your car and at the same time are easy to find.
4. Plastic Folders
If you are on a budget, it is a good idea to file away you receipts in a plastic folder. Plastic because things are always spilling inside of your car and having a protective barrier between your receipts and liquid is always a good idea. This way you can keep track on how much money you are spending on gas, food, and parking.
5. Coffee Cup Tissues
Finding a place to store tissues is so annoying. The box always falls over and your tissues end up touching the ground. Since you now exactly how many times you've cleaned your car, putting that floor tissue to your face is never fun. Placing a coffee cup with tissues inside of your cupholder is a great organizational idea. They can peak out through the lid if you cut a small hole inside, making it super convenient.
6. Seat-Back Pockets
Utilizing the space in your car is basically what organization is all about. By hanging things of the back of your car seat, you eliminate the floor clutter and at the same time, keep all items in your reach. I suggest getting the kinds that have pockets attached with velcro so that you can easily pull them off and put them back once you are done.
7. Weekly Trash Collection Schedule
Like I mentioned at the start of the article, you cannot keep your car organized unless you want to actually do it. Having a trash collection schedule will keep your trash from piling up and smothering you while you drive. It also makes cleaning far more enjoyable because you don't have to do hard labor every two months.
8. Collapsible Trunk Storage
If grocery store trash boxes aren't your thing, don't worry. You can buy collapsable storage boxes at Target that can make your life a whole lot easier. Best part: they can stack on top of each other and be folded away into a thin layer. Now your shoes and random trunk junk can be stored in a human fashion.
9. Trays For Headphones, Wires, and Change
Just like the knives and cutlery in your kitchen, your car can always use a nice organizational tray. Bonus points for clear plastic lids that would make locating items, super easy.
10. Hand Vacuums
This one is a lifesaver. Instead of spending money of carwashes or wasting time driving to one so you can vacuum your car, why not buy a handy hand vacuum. Charge it and go. No more crumbs or sand or dirt or whatever that glittery stuff near your foot is.
11. Hooks For Groceries
For a quick grocery bag solution try putting a shower caddy over the passenger seat. The hooks can hold your bags while you drive. If you can find closet hooks like that, feel free to use those.
12. Car Seat Storage Pouch For Plastic Bags or Trash
Car seat storage is perfect for all those plastic bags that somehow end up in the middle of your car. Where do they all come from?! Putting them in a big pouch makes it easy to find them when you take your dog to the park and need a poop collector.
I hope these lessened the car organizational load for you!
Images: Dean Mitchell/E+/Getty Images; Giphy(4), Courtesy of Brands