It started with the kids’ soccer equipment. Then, that collapsible outdoor chair a friend loaned you for a festival last summer. And somewhere in there, lodged behind a set of tennis rackets, a bag of clothes you’ve been meaning to donate. Before you know it, your trunk is a cluttered mess, and chances are, the rest of your vehicle could use some tidying, too.
It’s hard enough to keep your house and office clean. Finding time to keep your vehicle organized too can be a difficult task, but it’s a necessary one. Unless you’re an essential worker, chances are you’re not driving much these days, which makes it a great time to get your clean and organized.
During non-pandemic times, Americans are spending more time than ever behind the wheel, averaging 17,600 minutes of driving annually, according to the American Automobile Association (AAA).
Despite that statistic, one-third of drivers only clean their cars once a year, according to a survey by Carrentals.com. The need for more frequent cleaning is clear: 20% of people eat in their vehicles regularly, according to the survey, which could lead to a buildup of clutter, bacteria and foul smells.
To help curb your cluttered vehicle burdens, we spoke to a professional organizer about reasonably priced tips and tricks to keep your ride spotless.
1. Designate a space for everything.
Kirsten Fisher, founder and CEO of Imagine Home Organization, tells Bounce that it’s important to keep in mind that organizing a vehicle is no different than any other area of your personal space.
“You want to have the things in your car sorted into items and give them a home,” said Fisher. “Sunglasses [go] here, spare change goes there.”
2. Keep that center console organized
Fisher said she noticed that there’s one particular area of the car that tends to harbor the most junk.
“The center console is a deep cavern,” she said. “Anytime there isn’t a lot of structure, things get thrown in there.”
The solution? Utilize pouches or zipper bags.
“If you’ve got things like pencils you want to keep, you can put that in a zipper bag,” said Fisher. “Wipes and hand sanitizers can be in another. Any emergency supplies can go in one, too, like a phone charger that can slice your seatbelt and smash a window.”
Fisher says those handy emergency items are often purchased, but misplaced in the house or forgotten in storage spaces like a garage.
“I see those [items] in houses,” she said, “but you’d be upset if that’s in the house when you need it and not in the car.”
Fisher also suggested using acrylic dividers, which are often used for desk drawers. You can easily place different items in each section of the containers.
Consider: Center Console Organizer, $11.99
3. Storage crates in your trunk are a must.
For more organized trunk storage, Fisher said to use collapsible storage crates for groceries, leaving room for items like strollers. Keeping disposable grocery bags in the trunk as a reminder to grab them on the way to the store is also helpful, Fisher said.
Consider: Orionstar Foldable and Collapsible 3-Compartment Trunk Organizer, $25.99
4. Use back-of-the-seat organizers.
Fisher also offered a method to store children’s items.
“I have seen some great [organizers] that hang on the back of seats to give you extra storage compartments,” she said. These are helpful for storing “a travel kit or markers or crayons or books. Those tend to slide all over the car.”
Consider: Lebogner Car Front Seat Organizer, $19.77
5. Get a trash can!
One key purchase step: Find a way to handle vehicle trash.
“I recommend having a trash can for cars,” she said. “No one would throw trash on the floor of their house, but they do in their cars. They make trash cans that hang off the back of the seat or go over the center console to the back seat, or they have Velcro bottoms so they don’t slide.”
Consider this: Knodel Leak-Proof Hanging Car Garbage Can With Lid, $13.99
6. You don’t have to spend a ton of money.
Some products that help with car organization are low-priced and can even be purchased at the dollar store. Use a toiletry organizer to hold crayons and coloring books, or use a carabiner as a bag hook for purses, totes and umbrellas. You can even use a smaller shower caddy for lunch-on-the-go to make sure those French fries you purchased at the drive-through land in your mouth and not under the seat.
Consider: Casabella Rectangular Storage Caddy, $10.23
Using these tips and products, you’ll spend less time stressing out about your messy car and more time enjoying the ride.