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For real, ya’ll. My car leaves me cringing in disgust every time I get in it, but if I’m getting in it that means I need to be somewhere which translates to not having time to clean it. Then when I do have time to clean it, it’s impossible with two small kids trying to climb in the car to play or taking off into the woods to be eaten by raccoons. By the time they are in bed, I’m too tired and it’s too dark and cold anyway. I will admit, summer time my car looks much better. Wintertime? Straight up biohazard.

Yes, that's my darling son's name scribbled all over the dirt on my car.

Yes, that’s my darling son’s name scribbled all over the dirt on my car.

 

So I’m here today to give you the secret to having a clean(er) car. Ready? Here goes.

 

Don’t have children. The end.

 

Too late? Yeah, me too. Dang.

Seriously though, let’s be realistic and know as parents, our cars will never be spotless. But there are a few tips to help keep it from being embarrassing. Speaking of embarrassing, I’m posting pictures of my own car as an example. Yes, it’s gross. No, my house doesn’t look like that too. Not all the time anyway.

Dirt. And more dirt. Baby carrier, gloves, the never ending stickers from Trader Joes, and an elusive belly pad. They don't belong there yet gravity must be strong because they all migrate there anyway.

Dirt. And more dirt. Baby carrier, gloves, the never ending stickers from Trader Joes, and an elusive belly pad. They don’t belong there yet gravity must be strong because they all migrate there anyway.

Tip numero uno! Don’t eat in the car. Yes, easier said than done. But long road trips aside, will you or the kids really waste away if you don’t eat for the short time you’re in transit? I know sometimes it’s the only way to keep your kids quiet but the amount of wrappers and crumbs and stickiness and spilled drinks is part of what makes cars so scummy. I don’t regularly allow my kids to eat in the car, I figure they can snack when they are home or when we get where we are going but in the instances that I do, I’m picky about what is eaten. I try to avoid crumbs and small pieces. Cheerios will forever remain in your car if you allow them to enter. Things in bar form are good providing they are not crumbly. Pouches are good if your kid is old enough not to squirt it everywhere. The problem with food aside from the crumbs leads me to tip number two….

Have an in car trash can. It makes a world of difference. Up until recently, my cupholder was the car trash can. It didn’t work so hot…I’d stuff it so full that eventually I’d hit a bump and it would spring back at me. Wrappers, receipts, coupons, Trader Joes and Target stickers, wipes, tissues, you name it…scattered. I now keep an empty shopping bag looped around the arm of my seat so it dangles down below my center console. Everything goes in there. And once it’s full, I just take it out and throw it away.

Three! Every time you leave the car, take something with you. Everyone. Every time we go somewhere, Liam wants to bring a toy in the car. The rule is, you bring it, you have to take it back inside when we are home, plus one other thing (providing there is something else in the car and there almost always is…a discarded jacket or hat, book, etc). This keeps the clutter to a minimum and also prevents me from having a time consuming massive destash of junk in my car. It also keeps projectiles to a minimum, which we recognize as safety hazards.

Four! Keep a container of wipes in your trunk and every time you get gas, wipe your steering wheel, console, and dash down while the car is filling up. It only takes a second and keeps the grime at a minimum. If you don’t think it needs a wipe, grab your floor mat and give it a shake. The floor mats in my car are what gather the most crud. We live in a fairly rural area and the kids are always full of dirt and leaves. Shaking the floor mats out regularly keeps the dirt from migrating off of them and to the side where it’s impossible to vacuum out.

Last but not least…keep it smelling clean. A stinky or musty smelling car is always going to feel dirty. Some lemon or orange essential oil can make your car smell fresh and give you the motivation to keep it that way.

These five things can help keep your car maintained in between the occasional (who am I kidding…never?) deep clean or detail. We spend a significant part of our day in ours cars so keeping it in a state we can be comfortable in makes that more bearable. Drive safe and watch out for Legos in your seat; I hear they can reach up in places you’d never dreamed they could…