My husband and I were getting ready for a double date with another couple last night, so I decided to make sure our car was clean as we were to pick them up. This sparked the topic for today's post.
As a professional organizer and a bit of a neat freak I have always driven clean cars, both inside and out. For a brief moment yesterday I had a flashback of some cars I have gotten into in the past. I can remember some specific times where I was a passenger inside a colleague's car or carpooling to College with a friend and their cars' were an utter pigsty! Not only is this a turn off in general but it is not at all classy, or hygienic for that matter. I was amazed that a father of two children had loads of McDonald's leftovers and banana peels in the car near where his children sat.
My cleaning today was a quick vacuum and ensuring our large umbrella and sunshade were moved to the trunk and off the floor of the backseat, that is the extent of our cleaning because we make it a point to keep our car as close to spotless as we can. For many of you who are trying your best but your children or spouse seem to be the culprit, or maybe you yourself just need a little organizational wisdom, here are some pointers on keeping a cleaner car and having happy passengers.
1. Keep only what you absolutely need inside the car itself. Look inside your glove box, side door compartments, armrest and under the seats too. Spare change, receipts, food wrappers, mail, kids toys, etc., can really start to add up. Instead, remove everything except the important documentation for the car such as owner's manual and insurance, which are to be kept in the glove box. Keep a book of CD's under one seat only if you like to have CD's in the car for yourself or your children. You can keep a first aid/emergency kit in your trunk along with salt and a winter kit for the colder months. All other items that don't belong should be cleared out.
2. Is there junk in your trunk? If you have a tendency to accumulate things in your trunk from sporting goods to shopping bags, get in the habit of removing everything from the car when you get home, that applies to the inside too. This way, things cannot pile up. When you really need the space in your trunk for groceries, Christmas shopping, or an unplanned trip to Ikea, you'll have the room! If you happen to be a soccer coach or absolutely need to house things in your trunk, invest in a couple of clear bins with lids and clearly label them. You can also buy a cargo net for your trunk which will keep items at the front of the trunk area, it also prevents items like grocery bags from rolling all around your trunk..
3. The Basics-Apart from the excess items in your car, the basics to keeping a clean car are making sure the exterior is washed as to not ruin good clothing by rubbing up against it when it is dirty. You can wash it yourself, take it to a power washing station for under $5 or if you have a little more cash to spend, take it into a drive-thru car wash where they can also take care of the vacuuming for you too, if you like. Vacuuming is the next step to insure all pebbles, crumbs, hair, dirt, etc are eliminated from upholstery, leather and floor mats. We vacuum houses on a regular basis, a car should be no different. The final touches are ensuring the windows and mirrors are finger-print free, wiping down all other areas such as the dash, steering wheel, console area, handles, etc. In addition, if you use rubber mats on top of or in lieu of the cloth mats, do wash these with soap and water to remove dirt, salt stains in winter, etc. All of these tips will help keep things clean, and germ free.
5. How to Handle Trash-Trash as with all other miscellaneous items should leave your car every time you get out of the car, no matter where you are. Everyone is responsible for their own mess including children, who are responsible for their own stuff at the age of 4 and up. If children take ownership of their own mess at an early age, you'll have far less to clean up in your car and in your home. If you stop to pump gas, buy a coffee, or head to a store, throw out any drink containers, junk mail, wrappers, tissues, etc. When you get home you can offload the other items so your car always stays pristine.
Nobody I know has time to vacuum or clean their car everyday, but if you can plan to keep on top of the physical washing and vacuuming once to twice per month, your car will always look pristine and ready to accept guests. You'll feel so much better about your car as you've taken pride in it, regardless of what you happen to drive.
Have a blessed week!