From traffic jams to road trips, Americans spend a lot of time in their vehicles. We also tend to treat our poor cars as a mobile filing cabinet or storage unit. Despite this behavior, our cars are often forgotten when it comes time to get organized.
Since so much of your time is spent on the road, having access to what you truly need easily and quickly is incredibly important. The ultimate goal in car organization is to only carry essentials around, so the space stays as uncluttered as possible. Unfortunately, there are some challenges, such as working with limited space, making room for your childrens’ belongings, and considering how the items you store will be impacted by acceleration and deceleration.
Luckily, there are a lot of tips, tricks, and products that can help make the job easier!
The first step in organizing your car is to declutter the space. Take everything out of your car and sort it into three piles:
- Items to keep in the car
- Items to store in the house or garage
While only you can truly decide what belongs in each pile, it’s important to note that the space in your car should be as uncluttered as possible. You want there to be plenty of comfortable, free space for passengers, as well as creating a space clear of anything that may become a dangerous projectile in the event of an accident.
To keep your car clutter free, you’ll want to ensure there’s a designated space for collecting trash. You can purchase a specially designed car trash can, use a cereal container with a plastic liner, or you can just use a disposable bag — whatever suits your needs best. I personally recommend buying a car trash can, as most of them have a built-in way to attach the bin to your seats, gear shift, or center console to keep it immobile.
Tip: Empty your car trash into one of the bins at the gas station each time you fill up!
3. Glove Compartment
It’s easy to view the glove compartment as a sort of catch-all for small items, but it really does have a specific purpose. Since this is such a small space, it’s best to only keep the essentials in there. Your glove compartment should contain:
- Required items
- Proof of insurance and registration
- Roadside assistance information
- Vehicle maintenance log
- Vehicle owner’s manual
- Pen and small notepad (to exchange/record information in the event of an accident)
- Optional Items
- Tire gauge
- Small first aid kit
Keep tissues, wet wipes, napkins, sunglasses, a small flashlight, phone charger, and non-perishable snacks in the center console so as not to take up space in the glove compartment.
Tip: If your glove compartment is too small to hold your important papers, use a coupon organizer instead.
4. Front Seat
Cupholders are so important in a car, yet they always seem to become a sticky mess. To avoid this, consider popping in a couple silicone cupcake liners or ceramic car coasters to keep them clean. Speaking of cupholders, stop cluttering them up with loose change. Instead, use an empty gum container or pill bottle (decorated with paint or washi tape) and store it in your center console.
Phone mounts are great for talking hands free or keeping an eye on the GPS. You can buy one ready-made, or simply loop a rubber band through the vent wings. Keep purses and bags from launching themselves off the seat by securing them with a carabiner, car hook, or scarf attached to the headrest. Empty tissue boxes or cocoa cans can be used to store small garbage bags, which come in handy for unexpected messes.
If you have children, you know how quickly your backseat can turn into a disaster area. To keep
toys, coloring books, and snacks from taking over the interior of your car, store them in plastic boxes that fit underneath the seat, or organizers that hang from the back of the seat for quick access. If seat space isn’t a premium, consider placing a box, basket, or other container directly on the seat between children to hold favorite plushies and small blankets for those longer trips.
If you’re feeling crafty, this travel book storage is a great way to take a mini library with you wherever you go. A DIY travel activity binder is another fantastic method of keeping the kids busy on the road without cluttering up the backseat. Fill it with coloring pages, word searches, and other free printables for hours of fun!
Tip: If your seats contain airbags, do not place anything over them (such as a hanging organizer). Safety first!
The trunk has two main functions. The first is to transport items from one place to another (groceries, shopping, etc.). The second is to hold the essentials that you need when you go out, such as an auto first aid kit and emergency kit. Depending on your needs, you may also want to keep tools, extra outfits, diapers and wipes, and a roll of paper towels as well. Store these items together in a plastic bin, crate, or large tote bag.
Have a space cleared in your trunk to hold groceries. You can make shopping trips easier by placing a laundry basket in the trunk before you leave the house. Pop the grocery bags in the basket, and then carry the basket into the house. No more making multiple trips!
Tip: A trunk organizer is highly recommended as it will separate your “always there essentials” from the empty space reserved for cargo, as well as keep things from shifting around a while you're driving.
Organizing your car doesn’t have to be a total hassle, and once you have it done, it’s easier to keep it clean in the future. Plus, it’s super nice not to constantly apologize to your friends for the state of your car. With that in mind, challenge yourself to set aside time in the next few weeks to declutter your car and turn it into a truly functional space. You won’t regret it!
Liz Greene is a dog loving, beard envying, pop culture geek from the beautiful city of trees, Boise, Idaho. You can catch up with her latest misadventures on Instant Lo or follow her on Twitter @LizVGreene.
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Amazing share, Liz. I usually brought needed items when traveling, most especially if you have kids with you. Decluttering is one way to sort out things and never forget the necessary tools in case of bad weather.
I’m interested to see what other people suggest. I want to learn how to get faster at decluttering too.