Today I wanted to share with you how I have recently organised my car and how I keep it clean and tidy with two young kids.
If you were to ask anyone who knows me and who has seen our car – especially my Dad – they will tell you that our car is a total mess 100% of the time. As embarrassing as it is to admit it, they would be absolutely right. Ever since I started driving I have never been able to keep my car tidy and in order. When I was younger the boot and back seat would slowly fill up with clothes and bags as I hopped from one friends house to another each weekend. It would get to the point when my passengers couldn’t put their feet on the floor and only then would clean it out, vacuum and wash it. Each time I vowed it would stay this way……it never lasted long.
This cycle continued when I had my children. I’m sure all the Mum’s out there can relate. When you have a newborn screaming to be fed or a toddler screaming about……well everything a toddler screams about, cleaning out the car after every trip it the last thing on your mind when you finally arrive home. Each trip it gets a little worse – until its the kids who can’t put their feet on the floor.
Almost 2 months ago I finally hit breaking point. My daughter had lost not one but two pairs of shoes in the black hole that was our family car. It was time to stop this cycle, take off my slob vision glasses and dive in.
I was on such a mission that I forgot to take a before photo. Although I will be totally upfront and say that even if I had taken a before photo, it was so utterly shocking, embarresing and disgusting – I probably wouldn’t have put it in this post anyway. #truth
I will tell you that this was a 2 day process. Seriously, it took me two days to finish cleaning our car. I filled three laundry baskets with jackets, kids clothes, toys and books. I filled (to the brim) a grocery bag with rubbish, old notes and receipts that had been thrown on the floor.
With a bucket of water and eucalyptus and microfiber cloth, I dusted and cleaned the interior including the vents, doors, steering wheel, dash, console, glove box and the windows from the inside. When I had finished I then went back over the dash with the ArmorAll Protect and Shine.
I then removed the kids car seats. #OMG #IHAVENOWORDS
Only a parent of toddlers can truly understand the horror that lies beneath a car seat…..and on the car seat…..and in the nooks and crannies of the car seat. The covers came off and got a soak in hot water and the seats were hosed off and left to dry.
I pulled out our old vacuum and got to work. It took 2 hours and 10 minutes to vacuum every inch of the carpet from one end of the car to the other. The dirt, crumbs, leaves and sand was unbelievable. I had that old vacuum working so hard that it overheated and cut out twice.
And now for a little side by side…..
So much better!
After stopping for a late lunch with the kids and a quick rest (it was hot that day) I dug the leather cleaner out of our laundry cupboard and got to work cleaning the seats.
We actually purchased this leather care kit when we bought our couch 3 years ago. It is a two step process where I used the sponge and cleaning solution to really give those seats a good scrubbing. I then rubbed the leather conditioning cream all over. If like me you have never cleaned your leather car seats properly before, I highly recommend doing it at least once a year. They looked like they were brand new. This whole process took another took another hour but it was absolutely worth it.
At 5.20 PM we called it a day.
That night when the kids were asleep I left hubby at home and snuck down to out local 24 hour Kmart to pick up a few things that I needed to organise the car the following day.
Many years ago when I was thinking about starting my blog I actually organised our old car. At the time my Son was about 8 months old and as any new Mum would do I set up the biggest most obnoxious car kit that had enough stuff in their to prepare us for any emergency that may arise. I’m sure the 1st aid kit everything except the defibrillator. I had enough spare clothes, nappies, wipes, water and snacks to last us a week if we were to break down on a back road in the middle of nowhere. There was even an inflatable “high chair” seat that strapped and secured baby safely to a regular chair. Needless to say it took up so much room.
Did I mention that it takes 10 minutes to get from one side of town to the other and my entire family lives in the same town. I had prepared us for survival of a week stuck on the side of the road – and I had 30+ family members a 5 minutes drive away. #FirstTimeMum
It was ridiculous. Too big, completely over the top and my son outgrew every spare outfit and nappy before using any of them.
This time around I took a very minimalistic approach. I made a list of what we get stuck without regularly and was very realistic about what we would actually use. So I using the pencil cases and made two very small kits for the car.
The following day I grabbed the bucket and sponge and scrubbed our car from top to bottom with my little helpers of course. I then gathered up all the bits and pieces and went and organised the car.
So let me take you on a little tour.
In the glove box
In our glove box I have the car manual, our two kits and of course baby wipes. I do not know a mother that does not have a packet of wet wipes on hand. I popped in a bottle of insect repellent because our son will get eaten alive by mosquitos without fail, every time we leave the house. The black pencil case was what I had originally used for our first aid kit. I later found another little case I already had that fit everything a lot better. So let me show you what are in my two little kits that I put together.
In the pretty pink pencil case I gathered a few fairly obvious items that I though would be convenient for any woman to have on hand.
- A few hair elastics and bobby pins
- Feminine hygiene products
- Lip balm
Basic First Aid Kit
You can purchase very inexpensive first aid kits like this one at Kmart for just $10. I didn’t actually realise that they sold them until a few days ago. So I had already put together a little kit with all the basics to keep in the glove box. It included the following:
- A few larger band aid style patches
- Alcohol wipes
- Eye drops / wipes (for flushing sand out of eyes)
- Pawpaw cream
- Antiseptic ointment (not pictured)
- Panadol and nurophene (adult)
- Dissolvable children’s Panadol (not pictured)
- travel sickness tablets (for me….not the kids)
- Hand sanetiser
In the centre console
I tried to keep our centre console fairly empty but I did put the phone charger and aux cord in there as well as a pen.
Drivers side door pocket
In the door pocket I keep my cd wallet, a torch and a few plastic bags on hand for gathering any rubbish. I didn’t want to shove a huge bunch of grocery bags in the door all crumpled up but I remembered seeing this folding technique on pinterest which is actually pretty great for keeping the plastic bags small and tidy.
So I can hear you all asking, will I now go and fold every plastic bag in my kitchen into tiny triangles?? No way in hell!! But for the purpose of saving space in the car and keeping it tidy, I will make the effort.
In the back seat
I used the small blanket to cover the seat and protect the seats as well as to catch any sand or dirt that may fall down the side. I have heard that putting a blanket on the leather will effect the look and cause it to go shiny. I’m not sure if this is true – I guess I will find out soon. I will say one thing though. If it came down to cleaning the horror that was under the car seats before and a few shiny spots – I will take the shiny spots on the leather any day of the week.
Now For The Rules
I then sat with the kids and explained the new car rules. The first one was that there would be no more eating in the car. We live in a small town and it doesn’t really take longer than 10-15 minutes to drive across town. So from now on the kids can wait until we arrive at our destination before cracking open the snacks.
Of course if we are taking a long trip, we will make an exception but this happens rarely so we will cross that bridge when we come to it.
With the food issue addressed I pulled out the little bags that I found at kmart. Rule number 2 was that if it doesn’t fit in the bag, it doesn’t get put in the car. These little bags attach so easily to the head rests with velcro. They are actually marketed as garbage bags and are lined with plastic so they dont leak. This is a fantastic idea to begin with but I didn’t buy them to contain the garbage, I bought them to contain the toy clutter. I painted their initial on the front of their bags so there is no fighting over them. I just LOVE this idea and it is definitely my favourite improvement that we made.
Let me tell you this has been such a game changer when it comes to “stuff” in our car. I’m kicking myself that I hadn’t thought about this sooner. And for only $3 each, it was an absolute bargain.
Let me give you a run down on what it cost to organise our car.
So how is it all working out?
It has now been 10 weeks since we organised our car. I’m so happy to report that it’s still as tidy as the day we cleaned it. I have vacuumed my car 4 times in those 10 weeks, 4 times!! It is the quickest job now because of our car mats. While I’m on the topic of car mats, they have been worth every cent. It is so easy to just pick up and tip the sand and dirt off and they will save our carpet when the rain sets in. The kids are much more aware of taking jackets and school bags inside each time we arrive home. Probably because I’m constantly one step behind them
nagging reminding them to take care of their belongings. I also make it a priority to dispose of all the rubbish in the car as soon as we pull into the driveway.
The main thing has been forcing myself to check the car and empty it out after each trip. It has already become second nature in such a small amount of time.
It is always so much nicer to travel in a clean car, no one can deny that. Although I don’t want to jinx myself just yet…… I think I’ve finally conquered the car clutter once and for all. I hope this inspires you to to the same and get your car a little more organised.