I used to drive a Volkswagen Beetle. As in, the car that is basically the same size as my boys’ cozy coupes. It was black, its name was Heidi , I kept a white silk gerber daisy in the vase, and I was literally the coolest person ever with that Beetle. Literally ever, y’all. And man do I miss that Beetle sometimes. For one, parking in Seattle with my mom car gives me severe anxiety. For two – that was the last time in my life I had a clean car. Because as soon as I upgraded to an SUV, I had babies, and man do these kiddos just wreck my car. I love ’em, I do. But the snacks, the toys, the jackets, shoes, socks… It can get crazy, and fast.
But luckily, I have a couple tricks to keep the car from getting too cray. I mean… I wouldn’t go as far as to say it’s exactly clean…I still have toddlers. I’ll say… clean enough. It’s not perfect, but it is manageable and I can see the floor. And for that, you will hear no complaints from me.
Do yourself a big ol’ favor and get it detailed. I mean… at least once a year, if not twice (or more…). I have made it a habit to get my car detailed on, or right around, the anniversary of the day I got it, which is pretty easy to remember (or set a reminder for) and keeps it from going too long. I also try to have it done about 6 months later too, but I can’t say that always happens. Basically, what I am trying to say here… get it detailed so that you are trying to maintain the clean, not get it there. And I know a good detail can get spendy, but there are Groupons for them every day, everywhere, and they become pretty affordable that way.
Keep a trash bag in the car… I used to think it was so trashy to leave a trash bag in the car all the time, but it’s a lot less trashy to have a trash bag than floating trash, and no trash at all just hasn’t been an option. I typically use paper grocery bags for this since they stand on their own and the whole thing can be recycled. It’s worked the best for me, but there are tons of options available (look at all these options on Pinterest!). It’s helpful to keep it behind the passenger seat so when I’m done with my Starbucks, it’s easy to reach back and throw it in instead of just letting it hang in the cup holder.
Keep reusable grocery bags in your car. I do this for two reasons: 1 – I don’t forget them for grocery runs, which I always used to do, but now I just forget them in the car and look like I stole all my groceries because I ask the cashier not to bag them and go bag them in the car…. anyway. And 2 – I can round up the stuff that collects in my car. I just grab a bag, throw all the stuff in it that doesn’t go in there, then take it in the ouse instead of loading my arms full. Tip: I put all red bags in my car. Anytime I get a reusable red bag, I know it’s a “car bag” so I don’t lose track of the bags I want to keep for the car.
Keep some junk in your trunk. Not like Kim K junk, y’all. Not like that. Like, the junk that you’re constantly wishing you had when you’re in the car. If you can keep it corralled in a bag or box in the back (I have a little boot in the back of my SUV that helps keep it coralled), then it’s not floating all around the seats, compartments, and getting messy. I keep diapers, wipes, an umbrella, and a box of essentials: a lint roller, ice scraper, hair clip, first aid supplies, multi-tool, pen and notebook, feminine products, wet wipes, and an extra phone cord, just in case. I rarely have to get into this stuff so it’s not a big deal to keep it in the back, but if I tried to keep this up by the driver’s seat, it would be a mess. And I don’t need anything else making a mess for me.
Corral the kid stuff. We keep specific small toys in the car that are only for the car and it helps with the constant back and forth of toys in and out of the car. I keep a small bin in between the boys’ car seats so we can just throw them in (and that’s where they throw them when they’re done anyway) and keep the toys from taking over the car. P.S. Mini Magnadoodles – best car toy/restaurant toy/stroller toy ever. Get them.
Six. Dedicate a day. On Fridays, I do a thorough sweep of the car (usually with one of those gorcery bags!), and clean out everything that’s collected from the week. Collect the socks the babes took off, anything that ended up hanging in the car, and I switch out the trash. It’s so helpful to have a dedicated day because it helps my forgetful mom-brain remember the last day I did it. (The same reason I clean my whole house on a schedule.) I sometimes grab the little mini-vacuum and sweep up crumbs if I’m feeling extra motivated (not often), and I will take a baby wipe and wipe down the handles and dash, and call it good.
Seven: Clean your car seats. Car seats get gross. Just ew. So I clean them about once every few months. Be sure to check out my post here about how to properly and safely clean your car seat, according to a certified tech.
Related: How I Keep My House Clean (Enough)
So tell me, y’all. How is your car doing these days? Is it more of a wheeled dumpster than a vehicle? Or do you keep it pristine? I’m somewhere in between… but we’ll just keep saying it’s my kids’ doing and not at all the amount of drive-thru coffee I drink.