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Spring Cleaning Tips for 5 Types of Car Clutter

Spring Cleaning Tips for 5 Types of Car Clutter

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a person in possession of a vehicle must be in want of the best driving experience possible.

However well-cleaned or well-organized your home is, your efforts are practically meaningless if your primary mode of transportation isn't similarly spotless. After all, you spend a good portion of your day commuting - ACS reports the average American commute is 26.4 minutes one way. Why not carry that feeling of cleanliness with you?

In the words of organizational guru Marie Kondo:

"The objective of cleaning is not just to clean, but to feel happiness living within that environment."

Whether your car just needs a good wash or it's overflowing with sports equipment, reusable shopping bags, shoes, and toys, there's likely some way you can bring spring cleaning to your vehicle.

So no matter the cause of your disarray, we're here to help. To start: a personality test. Which type of car clutter best describes your vehicle?

Carpool Confusion

Your car is clean, but cluttered… and there's nothing you can do about it! You're in charge of the kids' carpool, which means that multiple times a week you get the influx of kids with all their backpacks, sports equipment, and knickknacks. Inevitably, something gets left behind, effectively turning your car into a lost and found. Your car's messy state is caused by social factors - your family, your friends, your kids' friends, and anyone else who might eventually be your passenger.

Hardship Hoarder

Your car is usually clean, but when a major event happens in your life, stuff starts to build up. Maybe you're going through a breakup, move, or other life change. Either way, you just haven't had the space or time to keep your car clean. The mess is situational; soon enough, you'll have the resources to clean it.

Chronic Chaos

Your friends are starting to question why you need to move stuff from the backseat to the trunk every time you're the designated driver. You've tried everything, but somehow your car is still full of junk that doesn't belong there. By now, it's just a habit to drop coins and receipts in your console, clothes and shoes in your backseat, and miscellaneous stuff in your trunk. You're habitually disorganized, and your car shows it.

Raised on Ruckus

Your car is messy because it's all you've ever known. There's a good chance it looks a lot like your parents' and siblings' cars. You learned how to keep up your car from your family, and you might need help knowing where to start cleaning it.

Just Needs Some TLC

Your car isn't disorganized, per se, just a little dirty. Maybe the paint is concealed beneath a layer of winter brine; maybe you have a sheen of dry grass, leaves, mud, and salt on your carpets. Either way, it needs a good rubbing down.

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Thankfully, these states of disarray don't need to be permanent. Keep reading for tips on cleaning, decluttering, and organizing your car.

Working at the Car Wash

To clean your car:

  • Wash the exterior of your car with two buckets: one containing clean, soapy water and one containing dirty, rinse water.
  • Use a hose to clean dirt off the underbody of the car.
  • Use a cleaning spray and microfiber cloth on hard services inside the car.
  • Use a lint roller to clean pet hair and lint off the upholstery.
  • Vacuum the carpets and upholstery. Don't forget the trunk!
  • Use glass cleaner on the windows and mirrors.
  • Clean rubber floor mats with soapy water and carpeted floor mats with carpet cleaner.

For more tips, see 8 Car Cleaning Hacks That Will Make Your Vehicle Shine.

Tidying Up with NJM

If you're habitually disorganized, you might find a game plan useful to declutter your car:

  • Dispose of the actual garbage. Used bottles, wrappers, boxes, and papers can go straight in the trash.
  • Take a look at what you have in your car: what really needs to be there? Filter out the items you use on a regular basis. Relocate anything else to a designated spot in your home, garage, or a storage unit. Car insurance doesn't cover items stolen from a vehicle (although home insurance does), so set the habit of protecting those items by bringing them inside.
  • Organize the remaining items in your car. Make strategic use of the storage you have, including your glove compartment, console, and trunk. Purchase, make, or recycle storage solutions to keep everything in its place.

Keeping It Clean

To keep your car spotless:

  • Install a designated garbage can in your car. You can purchase one online, or you can drape a plastic bag over the armrest or headrest of the passenger seat. Either way, your passengers will have a place to put their trash other than between the seats.
  • If you have a large trunk or backseat, consider adding more hooks for hanging coats, uniforms, and bags. Hooks can hang off the back of headrests or from a mesh bungee that you've attached to the ceiling.
  • Keep a box of shower caps or plastic bags in your car for storing dirty sneakers or cleats.
  • Install a trunk organizer. Whether it's made of plastic, cardboard, or fabric, a trunk organizer can help you sort what you use by purpose, day of the week, or family member. No need to clean off a back seat if you're in the habit of storing things in the trunk. Plus, if you're the carpool coordinator, you can designate one area for lost and found items.
  • Keep a designated container in your car to hold loose change. You can purchase a box or a jar for the purpose, or you can recycle a plastic bottle. Just make sure the opening is wide enough to easily access the coins when you need them. Set a habit of dropping change into the container instead of your cup holders.
  • Install an expandable, tabbed folder in your glove compartment to keep your car documents.
  • Searching for objects in your vehicle while you're driving is one cause of distracted driving. One way you might address this problem is by keeping toll tickets, checks that need to be deposited, and other papers in the visor. This can cause its own hazards when those papers inevitably fall on your lap when you're least prepared. Attach some elastic to the visor to hold the papers in place while you're driving. As an added bonus, you can store sunglasses using this method, too.

As warmer weather approaches, your car is going to get dirty, whether from the last remains of salt on the road or the first hints of spring mud. But you don't have to live with it. You also don't have to live with damage to your car. NJM provides personalized auto insurance to residents of New Jersey and Pennsylvania.Get your online quote today.