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How to Keep Your Car Organized

For many of us, our car is as important and personal a space as our home. And a car has the advantage of being mobile. Stocking your car with any essentials you may need on the go is a great way to be prepared for emergencies or even just unexpected situations. It comes in especially handy for moms. Even the biggest diaper bag or purse doesn’t have room for everything. More than once having a stash of extra clothes, diapers, band-aids, water, or snacks in the car has come in handy. But just like at home, having everything in a haphazard jumble makes it hard to access. It also makes your car feel messy and look unattractive. So, all you have to do is keep it organized. And here are some great tips on how to keep your car organized.

car organized

3 Ways to Keep Your Car Organized

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little girls sitting in the back of car at the beach

1. Pack it In, Pack it Out

As with any organizational project, you can’t even begin to organize until you clean up any existing mess. And come up with a plan for dealing with future trash and clutter. I’ve found the wilderness motto, “pack it in, pack it out” to be a useful way to think about how to keep your car organized.

For instance, if you or your kids bring snacks or water bottles in the car, take them with you when you exit the car. This includes wrappers, unfinished snacks, or any associated trash.

The pack it in, pack it out rule should also be applied to jackets, changes of clothes, hats, shoes, and anything that wasn’t in the car when you entered it. Get your kids on board! If they take off their jacket in the car, they need to take it into the house when they get home. Did they bring a gym bag into the car for sport’s practice or a game? They need to take it out again once you reach home.

This doesn’t mean you have to do a full on car clean out at each stop throughout your day. But once you reach home and are staying put for the night, pick up the day’s detritus and pack it into the house. If you don’t your car will be littered with trash in a few days. And it isn’t too long before keeping your car organized is a major task instead of a few minutes of pickup.

2. Designate a Place for Trash

To make the end of day car clean out less burdensome, designate a place in the car for trash. Lifehacker recommends a plastic cereal dispenser lined with a plastic bag.

To see the value of this simple organizing strategy, picture yourself crawling around your car gathering up snack wrappers, gas station receipts, plastic baggies, and candy wrappers. Then picture yourself pulling the plastic bag from your lined plastic cereal dispenser that contains all your miscellaneous wrappers and trash for the day. Which would you rather do?

If you drive a family sized vehicle, consider placing a trash receptacle in the front and another in the back seats to make it easier for everyone to reach. Then make sure everyone uses it! You’ll be amazed at how much easier it is to keep your car organized when you’re not starting the organizing battle over again each and every day.

3. Get an Organizer for Every Space

Now that you have a plan for keeping your car clutter free and easily rounding up trash you need a place for everything else. And you don’t want it to be on the floor. Fortunately, there are a variety of simple and inexpensive ways you can organize every area of your car. Try these ideas to keep your car organized.

Glove Box

There are actually designated glove box organizers you can purchase. But an inexpensive coupon organizer will work just as well for a lot less money. I use one to keep my insurance information and registration organized and accessible.

coupon organizer

In addition to paperwork, like most moms, my glovebox is home to napkins, tissues, and a mini first aid kit for emergencies. This article inspired me to use a small cosmetic bag for neatly storing these items in the glove box.

Over the Seat Organizers

An organizer that hangs over the back of your front seat is a great place to store items where they won’t be in anyone’s way. If you have kids in the back, you’ll want to make sure everything stored within their reach is kid-friendly and something you don’t mind if they have access to.

car organization headrest

You can purchase organizers specifically for your car but this article shows how a backpack can work just as well. Especially if what you’re storing is snacks, activities, and toys for your children’s entertainment on the ride.

Emergency Kits

An emergency kit is an important addition to every family car. And there is more than one type of emergency to consider. You may end up with more than one kit.

The DMV provides this useful guide for what to pack in your emergency kit. It lists the essentials for car, weather and natural disaster-related emergencies. Purchase an adequately sized tub with these essentials for your car. In your quest to keep your car organized, look for a tub that will fit under the backseat or in the trunk.

emergency car ket

I also like to have a Mom Emergency Kit in my car. This typically has diapers, wipes, hand sanitizer, extra clothes, sunscreen, and anything else I can think of we might need. Have you ever walked off without your diaper bag? Or have an unplanned outdoor stop with the kids and need some emergency sunscreen? It’s always a good idea to be prepared. In an organized way of course. Find a storage tub that fits under a seat or in the trunk. You can combine everything in one kit, or have two tubs if it fits better.

Organizing the Trunk

While you’re finding a place for your emergency kits in the trunk consider other ways to create order out of chaos in the back of your vehicle.

car trunk organization

Over the door hanging organizers or shower caddies hang nicely over a backseat into the trunk of many SUVs. It’s a great way to store small items without taking up floor space.

You can also consider building a shelf in the trunk of an SUV to give you more space for storing various tubs or even groceries.

I keep my setup pretty simple. I have two tubs in my trunk. They keep grocery bags from sliding around. Or anything else I need to keep in the back standing upright. They are also easy to remove when I need open trunk space. Consider your vehicle and what will work best for your needs.

Everything in its Place

The beauty of knowing how to keep your car organized is you can easily find things when you need them. When you have kids you can sometimes feel like you are living out of your car!  I’ve also found, that much like having an organized house when you keep your car organized you feel less stressed when you’re in it. I hope these ideas help you experience a clutter-free organized car ride.


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