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Messy Car?  Here’s How to Get it Under Control.  
By Monica Resinger

Speaking from experience, I understand how easy it is for your vehicle to 
become an out-of-control mess.  You use it to go shopping, traveling, visiting 
friends and family, pick the kids up from school, get to work and back and 
 All this results in empty soda cans, shoes and socks, French fries, 
hamburger wrappers, chip bags, receipts, loose change and who knows what else 
around in your vehicle.  

This is not only embarrassing (if someone is allowed to see it) but it can 
slow things down when you can’t find what you’re looking for and can make you 
unappreciative or resentful of your vehicle. Wouldn’t you rather have a nice 
clean car with everything in its place?

It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking it’s too hard to keep your 
vehicle clean and organized but really, it isn’t difficult if you apply a few ‘
rules of the road‘.  To get on the ‘road’ to recovery, begin applying these 

~ When you get home or to your destination, be sure everything that doesn’t 
belong in the vehicle comes out of the vehicle.  I know, you’re tired and don’
t feel like doing it right when you get home, but you’re most likely not going 
to feel like it tomorrow either so get it over with now.  Tell everyone that 
what they bring into the car they bring out of the car the same trip and be 
sure everyone follows this. If your kids want to take items with them, have 
put the items into a backpack or tote bag.  This will make it easier for them 
to bring in the house when you get home. It will take a little effort to 
begin with but after a while, it becomes a habit for everyone.  

~ If you stop for fast food and eat in the car, be sure to throw the garbage 
away in the restaurant’s garbage can before leaving the parking lot.  This not 
only saves your garbage space but also leaves you one less thing to do when 
you get home.  

~ Always have a garbage bag in the car.  You might even want to include one 
in front and one in back.  Tell everyone the only place garbage is allowed is 
in the bags and they are not to set it anywhere else even if it is only 
temporary.  Good triggers to empty your bag are when you are getting gas, going 
shopping or stopped at a rest area or fast-food place.  All of these places 
garbage cans and it’s a great reminder to get rid of it.

~ It’s helpful to carry a whiskbroom and pan to clean as you go.  Also, keep 
some rags and a spray bottle of all-purpose cleaner to wipe things up as they 
happen.  Replace the rags as needed.

~ On road trips, make it a habit at every rest stop to do a quick clean up of 
the vehicle.  Dump the garbage in the cans provided, wipe spills or dust, put 
things in their places and sweep it out.  

Now, get your car organized.  

The best way to organize your car is to be sure that everything is in it is 
needed in the car. So the first step would be to go through what you have in 
the vehicle and decide if each item is necessary. It helps to have 3 
boxes or bags to sort the items into. One container for garbage, one for 
items you don't want and can give to charity and one for items that belong in 
house. Anything you want to keep in the car set to the side for the time 

Once you have sorted through everything, take the garbage container to the 
garbage, take the charity bag to the charity and put you household items in the 

Now organize what's left - hopefully it isn't too much because cars don't 
have much storage space. If you find the glove box or other containing places 
the car aren’t roomy enough for what you have left, then you might want to 
double check your items and be sure you really need and want them in the car.  
so, you could go to the store and look in the automotive section for car 
organizers. There are a lot of different vehicle organizers on the market. I 
noticed they are now carrying an over-the-seat organizer for children’s and 
items.  The important thing to remember is that whatever you decide to keep in 
the car, be sure it has a home. 

What should be in the car?  First I’ll tell you the must-haves.  In the glove 
box, you should have current insurance card (if you don’t keep it in your 
billfold), vehicle registration and vehicle maintenance book.  In the trunk you 
should have a spare tire, jack, lug wrench, and battery jumper cables.  

There are many other helpful things you could store in your car such as a 
first aid kit, flashlight, screwdriver, etc.  It’s up to you what you decide is 
helpful when you’re using your vehicle.  If you keep a lot of tapes or CD’s in 
the vehicle, consider keeping 4 or 5 at a time in the car then rotating them 
from the house.  

To summarize, it doesn’t take that much effort to keep your vehicle neat and 
clean.  Establish ‘rules of the road’, what you want in the car and places 
for these items and you’ve got it made!

©, 2003, Monica Resinger

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