How We Keep Our Vehicles Neat and Clean Almost All The Time

posted by Andrea | 09/7/2017
Print pageEmail page

Last week, we went through the somewhat annoying (but necessary) process of removing ALLLLLLL the car seats from both of our vehicles, vacuuming both vehicles out really well, decrumbing/washing the car seats, and putting everything back in place again.

We also switched a few carseats around to make room for the infant car seat we’ll need in just a couple weeks!

It’s one of those things that has to happen eventually (it’s really not that horrible of a job, I suppose) but I just dread doing it, especially when I’m 8.5 months pregnant!

But now it’s finished, and I won’t need to worry about frantically moving car seats around and installing our infant car seat when we’re trying to rush to the hospital 🙂

Oh, before I get too far into this post, I want to make it VERY clear that when I say our vehicles are “neat and clean almost all the time”, I’m ONLY talking about the inside! Dave and I both drive black vehicles — and while black does hide a lot of the dirt, we most definitely do not wash the exterior as often as we should or could.

We usually wash the cars with the kids at least once in the summer, and then we take them through a carwash a couple times during colder months… that’s pretty much it! So yes, we often have a dirty car on the outside.

The inside, however, is a much different story!

Besides some sand, dirt, and a few cracker crumbs, the insides of our vehicles are almost always very neat, tidy, and organized — even with multiple children, snacks, drinks, blankets, diaper bags, craft supplies, tissues, wipes, etc.

Almost everyone who rides in our car for the first time makes a comment about how we keep it so neat and organized with all the kid’s stuff — and I promise, it really takes very little effort on our part!

Here are 3 simple, but specific, things we do to keep our car neat and clean (almost) all the time. 

1. We have a trash bag in the car.

I know this might sound quite small and menial, but having a designated trash area in our van has been KEY to keeping it neat and tidy almost all the time — and it’s SO simple to implement in any vehicle!

We keep a plastic grocery bag tied to the back of the passenger seat so I can easily reach the trash from the driver’s seat and the kids can easily deposit their trash on the way out of the van.

I have 1 or 2 extra plastic bags rolled up in the back of that seat pocket so we always have replacement bags ready to go when our van trash gets too full or if we put food or diaper garbage in it.

2. We have designated storage spaces for all the things we want to keep in the car.

We actually keep a surprising amount of stuff in our van at all times — which means less stuff for me to lug back and forth. However, we have designated storage spots for all this stuff, so it’s not sitting out, looking cluttery, or sliding around the van when we drive.

Here are a few examples of things we store in the van, and where we store it (I talk in more detail about our van storage in this post).

Blankets and Neck Pillows:

Each child has their own “car blanket” and neck pillow — which they use ALLLL the time. The blankets were baby gifts from a lady at our church; the neck pillows are these Trunki Yondi Travel Pillows.

We have a bag that we keep all the blankets in, and the bag wedges between Simon’s car seat and the side of the van. The neck pillows are looped around the headrest of the seat in front of Nora — so Nora is always in charge of passing out neck pillows and Simon is in charge of passing out blankets. Then they all get put away once we’re home again.

Paper, Pens, and other Craft Supplies: 

We have a little organizer (similar to this one) that hooks onto the back of a bucket seat and provides lots of storage space for pens, paper, crayons, clip boards, stickers, books, etc. etc. We currently have this on the seat in front of Nora so she can pass things out as requested.

The contents of this caddy are not super organized, but I’m satisfied as long as the kids dump all their stuff into it before getting out of the car!

Diapers, Wipes, Sanitizers, and other Baby/Kid Supplies:

I currently keep a few diapers for James, a big package of wipes, hand sanitizer, a travel changing pad, and a spare pair of undies and pants for Simon in the van’s center console. This way, I feel like I can leave the diaper bag at home for shorter trips and outings.

I also keep gum, candy, non-perishable snacks, chapstick, lotion, and a few first aid supplies in a different compartment of our center console — so I feel like I’m sort of ‘ready for anything’ even without a diaper bag along.

I might change my stance on this once we have a newborn again, but with all bigger kids, this method has been working really really well for us.

3. We remove anything that doesn’t stay in the van every time we get home.

I think this is another very simple, but very effective way we keep our van neat and tidy almost all the time.

We just don’t leave stuff for “later”. We take care of it immediately when we get home so the van stays neat and organized and so we don’t have to run back out to the van to get something later.

For example, the kids usually take a snack cup and water bottle in the car — and all 3 are responsible for taking them back into the house. Also, if I do take a diaper bag along, I always bring it back into the mudroom and restock it if necessary.

Of course, any groceries or other items we buy will definitely come into the house right away as well.

Yes, there are many times when our car is loaded down with gear and luggage and all sorts of “junk,” but since we always clean it out right when we get home, it never STAYS that way!

As with most spaces in my life, I’m more calm, less stressed, more relaxed, and happier if my surroundings are relatively neat and organized — so taking a few minutes to clean up every time we exit our van is definitely worth it for us!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Filed under: OrganizingKids StuffDaily LifeMisc.

 
 

Leave a comment

17 comments

  1. Jennifer J

    09/12/2017

    We have car specific water bottles so we’re never without, and each of my children has a folder in the car for all of their art work/Sunday school papers/etc.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    You know, I’ve thought about having “car water bottles” and just leaving them in the car. However, I’m not sure how i’d handle washing them, refilling them, etc. Do you just use disposable bottles? My kids also don’t love “hot” water — so it would probably get too warm for them in the summer.

    [Reply]

  2. Veneta

    09/09/2017

    Thanks so much for this post, Andrea! I really needed some good ideas on how to keep my car clean with two little kids. It’s always so messy and I feel like there is kids stuff everywhere. My kids like to leave toys, drawings and other stuff behind.

    I just need to go ahead and get all the car seats out like you, do a complete clean out, organize everything and enforce a no-toys-left-behind rule. I’m putting this on my weekend to do list.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    just a thought — you really DON’T need to “start from scratch” and pull everything out of your car. You could simply pop in a trash bag and start reminding your kids to take all their toys and “junk” out of the car each time. That’s probably a less overwhelming way to get started than to totally overhaul your car 🙂

    [Reply]

  3. maureen

    09/08/2017

    I purchased weather tec mats for my car a little price but the ones in the front go up the sides and contains spills. I also live in the middle of the snow belt so really help in the winder

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    yes, my sister has these and they are very nice!

    [Reply]

  4. Jane

    09/08/2017

    I think your van is neater than mine with four grown kids! I use old Kleenex boxes to collect my garbage.

    [Reply]

  5. JJ

    09/07/2017

    We have kids about the same ages, and they each have a tote that I got at Dollar Tree for them. They can bring anything to the van as long as THEY carry it to and from the van. My 1 year old feels like such a big boy. Haha! They especially love their Magna Doodles. And we incorporated your trash bag held up with clips tip, which has been sooo helpful.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    yes — I try to always make sure my kids bring all their own stuff back inside again. I can’t stand it when they leave their water or snack or “favorite toy” in the car because they are too much in a hurry to get out. I make them go back and get it (which they hate!)

    [Reply]

  6. Angela

    09/07/2017

    Love this! We have the same van, also black. We live on a gravel road so it’s often dusty, but I try to keep the inside tidy (our floor mats are always full of gravel bits though.) We also have a black Suburban, so we buy discount carwash cards and try to wash them regularly in the winter, to keep the salt off. We’ve had two previous vehicles rust out prematurely from the salty roads in our Minnesota winters, so we’re trying to be better about it with these vehicles. : )

    I laughed out loud at the picture of your center console – it looks almost identical to mine, right down to the smarties and spearmint gum! : ) Now that we are beyond our stroller days, our back area usually contains a couple of lawn chairs, a picnic blanket, and our “activity backpack” that our littles take along to their older siblings’ tennis and football games. We have games once or twice a week in the fall, so we just keep these items in the van for the season.

    We always had one seat stowed when we had three kids…I loved that extra area for diaper changes, coolers, etc., just like you. Now that we have four kids, and often drive friends around so we use all the seats, we never ever stow them, so I use the “stow” area to keep an old beach towel or two (because we find ourselves out and about on lots of adventures and like to splash in any creek we find) and an ice cream pail filled with a few ziploc and grocery bags (because on those adventures we sometimes find turtles that need to be brought home). : ) When the kids were little I also kept a change of clothes for everyone in there, in case of spills or accidents, and those came in handy quite often. We spent LOTS of time at playgrounds when they were younger and it was nice to always be prepared.

    Now that we also have a Suburban (it’s an older one), I love that vehicle too, especially for the cargo space in back for traveling, but it doesn’t have any of the “cubbies” for storing various odds and ends like my van does! I really miss my cubbies in that vehicle, and feel very unprepared when I drive it! It’s ok though, now that the kids are older and I don’t need to have quite as much stuff for them. I’ve even downsized to a normal person purse instead of my big “mom purse”…although it will probably always and forever contain a small pack of wipes and a couple of band-aids!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    yes, we use the “stow space” for lots of stuff now too — a couple blankets, bungee cords, a tarp, and even a portable high chair — so we’re still utilizing our space well I suppose!

    [Reply]

  7. Amy

    09/07/2017

    I’m so glad you recommended the neck pillows. I have been on the hunt for them and wasn’t sure which ones to get! Thanks!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    yes, we love those neck pillows!

    [Reply]

  8. Rhonda

    09/07/2017

    Andrea, I follow all of the tips you have listed here, except I don’t use the storage on the back of the seats. I have a 7 seat Pathfinder. I use the small and extra small EZpacking cubes to store some stickers, small sheets of paper, crayons, markers, etc. My 4 and 7 year can use those in the car, or we can easily take them with us into a restaurant (we do like to go out to eat a couple times a month). Thanks for the tips!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Sounds like a good system!

    [Reply]

  9. Jen

    09/07/2017

    I am the SAME way about our cars. And, to me, it’s the same principle as staying organized in the home: give everything a place and PUT IT THERE! Our daughter’s car routinely looks like a bomb went through, and it makes me crazy! We’ve paid a lot of money for those vehicles–we maintain the engine and tires, why not do the same with the interior??? I also keep a microfiber cloth in the glove box so I can do a quick dust of the dash, controls, etc. Ours are black and I can’t stand to see the dust. I also have a small square trash basket that fits perfectly under our center console. I “line” it with several Wal-mart bags at a time and that way, when one is full, I can just peel it off and the next one is ready to go. (It’s also come in handy for a few motion-sickness prone family members, ahem….) A friend recently got into our car and saw the basket and was amazed! It had never occurred to her to have a trash bag/can/basket in the car. Another trick that I think helps us is that I keep a trash can right in the garage. This way, it’s easily accessible for tossing trash from the cars. My husband is pretty anal about the outside of our cars, and I worry about the inside so we make a good team!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Yes, we have a kitchen-size trash can in our garage — which we surprisingly use ALLLLL the time (even though our big rolling dumpster is right outside the garage. It’s amazing how much trash we can accumulate in one short car trip!

    [Reply]