Rudey's Room

Four Ways to Keep a Clean Car

“If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading.”

– Lao Tzu

Au secours! My car was disgusting …

Between the girls and little ol’ me, the state of our car’s interior was in peril.

Organization amid happy chaos is a strength of mine – at home and at school. But the car … it was my junk drawer.

My car-cleaning strategy (or lack thereof) required a makeover. Stat!

My messy car was my secret shame. Only family (and close friends) knew about those fossilized French fries between the seats, the café-au-lait stickiness in my cup holder, and the empty Lacroix cans I tossed on the rear floor so they could hop in.

Hidden within my family, it was noticed, but tolerable.

My husband razzed me, but I’d shrug my shoulders. He’d offer easy clean-up tips that I’d try for a couple days before reverting back to my sloppiness. Every few weeks, he’d grow tired of my ways and whoosh the car to the car wash.

The interior of our car looked like a tornado ripped through it – the floors covered with goldfish crumbs, discarded wrappers, and broken crayons.

I’m turning red, but voila, a little show and share:


Isn’t it disgusting? … I know you’re nodding your head … yikes! I’d like to say this was a bad week, but it was the standard look.

Hey … everyone has something that has to give, right?

I told myself: Keeping a tidy car is more than I can manage as I mother and teach. I am on the brink of a breakdown, driving between V’s school and mine. It’s just this year. Subconsciously, my messy car housed the lurking frustration that V was not admitted to my school.

In June, I hit my breaking point. The cost of my pride outweighed my sloppy laziness.

The dawn of carpooling was breaking. My mobile grime scene was about to hit broad daylight.

The time had come for me to fess up to my role in the unkempt car. The real culprit was me, Rudey. My car was a pit because of my ways, and monkey see, monkey do. I set the tone, and was (mis)training my girls.

I scoured the Internet and uncovered ways (many were the very ones my husband had suggested) to clean and organize the car. I needed a fast fix, nothing requiring a six-man NASCAR pit crew to keep us humming happily down the road.

I vowed to stay vigilant. It’s been five months, and by George!, we’re doing it. Here’s how we’re rolling …

Take it in, Take it out

Pack It In Pack It Out Trash Sign

Stealing the camper’s battle cry, I have my girls parroting, “take it in, take it out.” When we exit the car, we grab anything extra … anything we packed in that day or left behind, such as lone socks discarded by Stella, my Bella Cinderella.

It’s about the routines. I brought my girls on my team to work with me. I’m developing in them a sense of responsibility for helping keep the family car in order. They are on board!

Bag it up

It’s critical to head off trash accumulation. I repurpose my overstock of Target bags. Thanks to a Real Simple trick, I keep two paper towel rolls in my glove compartement. I stuff them full of plastic Target bags. I grab a bag to remove Kashi bar wrappers, apple cores, bits of paper, and crumbling stickers. I use them for the occassional wet clothes or muddy shoes. A bag leaves my car almost everyday.

Also …

  • When I stop for gas, I reach into all the cubby holes and pull out the trash and throw it out.
  • I keep one reusable bag in my glove compartment. We use it to ferry indoor (keeper) items back into our house.

Wipe it up

Pulling from parenthood, I keep a container of baby wipes, wet wipes, and Pledge wipes in the car for quick cleanups. This simple clean up helps with sanity as the bits next to the carseats and the spilled juice disappear in a snap.

Fix it up

Some websites suggested keeping bins in the car for your children’s add ons. Living in Chicago, I’m wise to petty larceny, so I subscribe to the camp of keep most everything out of sight.

I give items that are consistently with us a home … a hidden home.

A couple noteables: I stash creativity tools and boredom busters in behind-the-seat pockets for the girls. Sketchbooks, assorted markers and crayons, Brain Quest games, and books are staples. I bought each girl this …

OIC® Slim Clipboard Storage Box, Charcoal, 10in. x 14 1/2in. x 1 1/4in.

It’s a find for $14.95.

I use an empty pill bottle to store coins for an emergency cup of coffee.

What tricks help you keep your car clean and organized?

P.S. This blanket is a must have for impromptu picnics and concerts in the park.

Ciao for now.

(The top picture V created in art class. It brought to mind the swirling chaos that was our car. Check out the alien in the corner!)

2 Responses to “Four Ways to Keep a Clean Car”

  1. Joan radue

    Oh so much truth here. Dad always has his car pretty neat and clean with minimal garbage or junk. It is a male thing. You pointed out some great ideas to make it easier and excuse free.

    • Rudey's Room

      So funny because in my brain I pictured Dad’s car with cans on the ground. Must have been you — haha. I’m by no means perfect, but it’s been working much much better!


Et alors ... Please leave your comments here.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Basic HTML is allowed. Your email address will not be published.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS

%d bloggers like this: