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If you hate dealing with a messy car, here are our top tips on how to keep your car clean day to day.

how to keep your car clean without spending time

Does this sound familiar? You get a new car and tell yourself, “This time I’m keeping it clean… There will be no eating in it, all the trash will be thrown away, they’ll never be any empty coffee cups on the floor, I’ll get it washed regularly and I’ll actually dust the dashboard.” That might last a couple of weeks until, little by little, the trash starts accumulating. Crumbs find their way on the seats and drinks spill on the floor. Fail.

We’ve all been there. Do you want to know why? Because we’re busy. Our cars are our second homes. We are constantly on the go and therefore constantly in our cars. We don’t have time to keep it clean. Or so we think.

To help you out, we’ve gathered five simple items you should keep in your car that will help you keep it clean without even realizing it. Even if you travel with kids often, these ideas will help you keep your car clean without spending an afternoon cleaning it out.

Minimal effort to a consistently tidy car. Sound good? Just keep reading below.

Keep Your Car Clean By Keeping These Five Items Handy

keep your car clean with windex wipes and plastic bags storage

1. Amoral and Windex Wipes

If you always have them in the car, you will be more likely to use them to clean up your car on the fly! There’s always time to kill, whether it’s sitting in the drive-through line or waiting for someone you’re picking up. Grab a wipe and rub down the center console and interior to capture all the dust and crumbs that have built up. It will take seconds and make a huge difference in making your car feel fresh and clean.

(Be sure to hang onto the empty wipe containers for the next car cleaning tip!)

2. Plastic Bags

Grab a handful of extra plastic grocery store bags and keep them in your glove compartment. Anytime you stop to pump gas, do a quick floor and seat check. Gather up all the trash, throw it in the plastic bag, and then immediately toss it in the trash next to the pump.

Even better: keep a plastic bag hanging in the interior of your car. That way it’s even more convenient to throw your trash away before it accumulates on the floor.

Storage Idea: Try using an old wipes container to store plastic bags in your car. It’ll fit nicely into a cup holder and give you easy access. Check out Infarrantly Creative’s folding technique for fitting the plastic bags into the container (and how she decked them out to look a little nicer, too).

how to keep your car clean - trunk tote organize items

3. A Storage Tote for the Trunk

Use a tote to keep all your “must haves” gathered in one place rather than thrown on the floor or rolling around the trunk. Whether it’s your gym bag, an extra pair of shoes, a beach blanket or whatever else you like to always keep in your car, having it contained to one bin will definitely save time down the road so you aren’t rummaging through a mess.

We love this one from on sale for $25!

4. Rubber Floor Liners

Save yourself a stained carpet and a bunch of quarters for the vacuum by inserting rubber floor mats or liners in your car. They are worth the investment. Not only will they help with the resale value of your vehicle, but they’ll also make it so you don’t have to worry about spills or tracking in mud and snow. You’ll have comfort knowing you can just take out the liner, shake it off and hose it down.

READ ALSO:  10 Cheap and Easy Ways to Organize Your Makeup for Under $10

5. Car Fresheners

Ok, this last one isn’t really an item you need to keep your car clean, but it is more of a motivational point. Pick out a few of your favorite scented car fresheners and keep them in your glove compartment. Anytime you do a good deep clean of your car, reward yourself with a fresh new scent. It doesn’t need to be often. Every time you get in your car and take a whiff, your mood will instantly be better and your car will feel cleaner.

What Else Should You Keep in Your Car?

what to keep in your car - emergency items

Now that you have the tools to easily keep your car clean, you should be able to make room for what you actually should be keeping in it!

Hopefully you have the emergency essentials covered, like a spare tire and jumper cables, but what about the non-emergency essentials? Here are nine things to keep in your car that will definitely come in handy in a pinch.

  • An umbrella. You’ll never have to worry about a surprise downpour again if you always keep a travel size umbrella stored in the car! You’ll be surprised at how often you’ll be thankful you have it.
  • Extra cash. Our parents always told us to keep an extra $10 or $20 bill tucked away hidden in the car for emergencies, like an unexpected toll!
  • A sweatshirt. Keep an extra sweatshirt or sweater in the trunk for those unseasonably cool nights or a visit to a place where the AC is a little too high… like the supermarket.
  • A towel/blanket. Or both. They’ll come in handy with a wet dog, soccer game or tailgate!
  • An extra car charger. Because you can never have too many, especially with everyone using their phones as a GPS, which drains your phone battery.
  • Pen and paper. Keep it in your center console for quick notes or directions you need to jot down. In the unfortunate case of a fender bender, this will come in handy for exchanging insurance information, too.
  • Tissues (or napkins). Because not being prepared after a sudden sneeze can be the worst.
  • A granola bar and water bottle. This makes getting stuck in rush hour commute traffic on your way home from work a little more bearable.
  • A magnetic dash mount. Always keep your phone in sight and hands free, especially while using your GPS app.
  • Important paperwork. The glove compartment is the perfect place to stash your car registration, proof of insurance and the vehicle’s owner’s manual.

Now you’re ready to hit the road, prepared and organized! Did we forget anything? What are some items you like to keep in your car that we should be adding? What tips do you have for keeping your car clean? We’d love to hear in the comment below.

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About the Author

Layla Gunning

Hi! I'm Layla, a new homeowner living in the south shore of Boston with my husband and 2 pups. I'm obsessed with affordable interior styling, mixing old and new and all things home. I blog over at sharing how we're making our little 1900s New England bungalow our dream home on a DIY project, thrifted find and decor deal at a time!

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