The secret to keeping your car tidy and organised is to keep the driver and passengers clean, tidy and organised. It’s up to the people using the car to be mindful of what they do in the car and what they leave behind. But if you start with a few good car care systems, you’ll find that your passengers respect your car and treat it well.
Basic car care means regular cleaning
Everything feels better when your environment is clean. Travelling in a clean car is so much nicer that you owe it to yourself to make a habit of cleaning it. Not everybody is the type who loves to spend hours on a weekend vacuuming, hosing, polishing and wiping their car. For some, going to a car wash is far more convenient.
Of course, even car washes have a range of options. You can wash it yourself in the auto bays, take it through a tunnel wash system or pay to have detailing done by the professionals. Whatever you choose, what matters is the result.
Keeping it tidy
Don’t let your car become an archive for old junk. Whenever you eat in the car, put the packaging in the rubbish bin. Not only will the car be tidier but you’ll avoid inviting cockroaches and ants in. Make a weekly habit of inspecting the contents of your car and removing what’s not necessary. That could include work documents, clothing, shoes, toys, picnic sets, CDs, tools and travel mugs. And don’t forget the rubbish which could be food, paper, plastic bags, chewing gum containers, broken items, disposable water bottles and coffee cups or any number of other bits and pieces.
Look under the seats and in the console compartments too and definitely open the boot and have a look in there. You might be surprised what you’ve forgotten to bring into the house that’s still lurking in the boot after a week.
Keeping it fragrant
There really is no need to buy expensive products to keep your car smelling pleasant.
Great organising ideas
- Fabric softener – Purchase a cheap, generic brand fabric softener concentrate. It comes in a soft little pouch that, to open, you snip off a corner. Don’t open it; just place it under the driver’s seat so that it won’t be stepped on and the warm air of a closed car will release the fragrance.
- Soap bar – Do the same with an unwrapped soap bar. As a bonus, if you find yourself needing soap one day on a road trip, it’s there!
- Essential oils – Dab a couple of drops of your favourite essential oil on a cotton ball and place under the seat. Or, moisten the end of a wooden clothes peg with essential oil and attach to the air conditioner vents.
There are several everyday objects that come in very handy for keeping your car tidy and organised.
- Shoe organiser – Hang one on the back of the front seats and your children will always have their favourite things within easy reach. They are easy to clean, inexpensive and waterproof so if you have a leaking lunch box or drink bottle, the spill will be contained.
- Cereal pourer – Take a plastic cereal pourer (the type that usually fits the contents of a regular size box of cereal), line it with a used shopping bag and put the lid on. Whenever you have rubbish such as food wrappers, papers, chewing gum, tickets, tissues or used wipes, simply open the lid, drop it in and close the lid again. There’ll be no odours and no spills and all you have to do is replace the bag when necessary.
- Car boot caddies – You can buy collapsible car boot organisers that open out to create multiple compartments. These are brilliant because when they’re not in use, they take up minimal space but when you do use them, they keep groceries from rolling around and spilling, pot plants from spreading dirt everywhere and muddy boots from messing up the interior.
- Empty tissue boxes – Stuff them with used grocery bags then store in the boot. Pull out a bag whenever needed.
These days, many cars are built with curtain air bags on the front and rear doors. That means that seat covers are not to be fitted, or else they will hinder the operation of these important safety features. If you would still like to protect the seats, you can purchase a pet rug, fold it in half lengthwise and place it over the back seat. Pet rugs have a waterproof backing and the double thickness will prevent damage to the upholstery from shoe buckles, zips, toys and of course, pet claws.
Or, you can fashion your own ‘fitted’ seat cover with the same kind of pet rug; cut holes where the seat belts have to fit through and have an alterations service stitch the edges. These custom covers won’t interfere with the air bags on the sides.
Another good idea where safety is concerned is to carry a first aid kit in your glovebox. You may never use it but the day you do, you’ll be so glad it’s there. The St John Ambulance organisation sells excellent first aid kits online.
In case of emergency
Your glovebox is an important receptacle. In the event of an emergency, you should be able to open it and take out exactly what you need. An emergency doesn’t have to be a car accident. It could be any minor or major circumstance that happens away from home. Here’s a list of what should be in every car’s glovebox:
- A small torch for searching the car or for use outside the car.
- Napkins, tissues or travel wipes to keep hands, faces and noses clean.
- Paper and a pen to take down another driver’s details.
- A notebook containing emergency phone numbers and any important medical information.
- Your car’s log book to record all repairs and maintenance.
- Your last pair of distance glasses so that if you can’t find your latest ones, you can count on your emergency pair.
- Around $20 in notes and change for any unforeseen expenses.
- The abovementioned first aid kit.
- Spare fuses in case your power windows or tail lights stop working.
Car care is one of the responsibilities of car ownership, which is a privilege. Look after your precious investment and it will provide much greater service to you and your family.