10 Curiously Strong Ways To Declutter Your Car

10 Curiously Strong Ways To Declutter Your Car

For years my car has looked like a cross between a mobile dorm room and a pile of trash. Between piles of books, papers, pizza boxes, and random things that belong in a garbage disposal my car was becoming a less and less friendly place to be.

One day I developed a system for keeping the car tidy, smelling fresh, and a pleasure to drive in. I even took steps to turn it into a university on wheels when I developed a system to eliminate a 48 hour commute.

Why curiously strong? Because at the root of my system is the trusty altoid box… you know, the curiously strong mints.

Decluttering Your Car

  1. Box The Change. Coins come from everywhere, and for a long time I tended to horde in my car, in a not so organized fashion. At one point, when I reached the end of my altoid box, I started to put all my coins in it. This allows me to have coins easily accessible for tolls, parking, and other necessities.
  2. Just One Bag. I keep 1 empty bag in my car. I just leave it on my side inside the door. All garbage, water bottles, etc. go into this bag. At the end of my driving day I take it right out, so that my car is clean and ready for the next day. Leaving trash in the car will saturate it with foul odors.
  3. Organization Crate. I’m still a student, so I have binders and text books with me all the time. I now keep a plastic crate in my trunk, where I keep a couple of books, an umbrella, a sweater, some water bottles, and a first aid kit. The crate keeps everything from falling all over the place, making clutter, and getting destroyed.
  4. Bare Necessities. If you’re an avid driver you will notice that certain things come handy when you’re on the road. Some kleenex tissues, water bottles, mints, and writing utensils just to name a few. Most of these little things can be kept out of sight in the globe compartment.
  5. Music and Audio. I generally keep most of my audio tucked away digitally on my iPod. However, when I borrow from the library I get CDs. For the few CDs that I own, I keep them in a CD case, so they are organized, and not getting scratched up.
  6. Fresh Smells. I like it when my car is an appealing, even delicious, taste to it. I love when people complement my car on being clean and smelling good. For this I either keep a bottle of one of my colognes, or a little bottle of air freshner. If you use principle 2, and throw away your trash, you shouldn’t have to worry about odors.
  7. Bi-weekly Scrub. Whether you do it by hand, or take it to the car wash, your car would really appreciate a good cleaning. I don’t put wax or anything on my car, just a regular wash, and an interior vacuuming. I think it’s 5-7 bucks well spent. If you’re lucky the cash in your curiously strong box could potentially pay for this cleaning!
  8. Keep It Covered. Especially if you are leaving your car outside for extended periods of time, it is a good idea to put a cover on it. This helps to prevent weather and sun damage, which can wreak havoc on your paint, and will keep your car looking shiny and new.
  9. Wipe It Off. The car surfaces tend to accumulate lots of dust. A good solution I have found is to use auto-wipes. They work a bit better than just paper towel with water, because the shine lasts longer and it also tends to protect against sun damage. You can get them practically anywhere.
  10. No Food Rule. This one is a must. In the past when I’ve been busy rushing around I would grab something to eat while I’m driving. This has always resulted in crumbs and food smelling up the car. The worst is a spill on the seats. Those may get stuck there permanently.

What are your tips for keeping your car clean?
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Posted by in Productivity | March 7, 2008 | Digg | Del.icio.us | Stumble | Print | 25 comments

  • http://thegrubhound.com/ The Grub Hound

    I remember my days of commuting to and from college. Boy my car had garbage bags of fast food piled up in the back at one time. Keeping a trash bag in the car at all times is the best thing you can do. Since I now have kids, I also remind them to take their trash each and every time. As far as as not eating in the car, I can not do it since often times it is my home on wheels…got to eat at home.

    • http://www.alexshalman.com Alex Shalman

      The hardest thing to do is to implement ALL the changes at the same time. That usually leads to failure. My trick was slowly but surely picking these habits up one by one. Which is what I recommend for anything and anyone! =)

  • http://www.freefrombroke.com/ FFB

    No food – especially if you have kids. Also real tough if you have kids.
    We try to always keep a plastic bag for garbage. We use the ones we get from the supermarket.

    • http://www.alexshalman.com Alex Shalman

      I don’t have kids… I don’t know first hand. My older and wiser sister has 3 kids and I’ve been lucky enough to have the opportunity to help her out with them. I don’t have a really good solution… perhaps you could blend all their food and feed it to them through a special spill proof cup? =)

  • http://www.freefrombroke.com/ FFB

    Haha, the one year might take to that but our 8 year old wouldn’t. What we’ve done, a little late, was to buy car seat protectors. It helps keep any mess off the seat and protect against wear and tear from car seats and boosters.

    One rule we have is there’s no drinks in the back while the car is moving. That’s helped tremendously in keeping the spill rate down.

    • http://www.alexshalman.com Alex Shalman

      I like your rule about no drinking when the car is moving – that’s smart. I can’t help but wonder, so I’m just going to ask you, do you happen to have plastic covering over all your furniture at home, like the parents from Seinfeld? =)

  • http://www.freefrombroke.com/ FFB

    No, none of that (though my grandmother did). We decided on the cover (which doesn’t really cover the entire back seat just the actual sitting area – ) when one day we discovered a mysterious black stain on the seat about the size of a half dollar. To this day we’re still not sure what it is but it seems to like our car so we’re not going to disturb it.

  • keef

    dont smoke anything in the car. not even once, your girlfriend will smell it for sure!!

    • http://www.alexshalman.com Alex Shalman

      Yes, I wouldn’t want my car smelling like an ash tray…. New car smell for the win! =)

  • http://www.varkalabeach.com Pramod

    Hi alex
    I invite you to Kerala(God’s own country)

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  • http://www.dealmoneyblog.com Mister Jester


    Good tips here, but I live tidy, and the only thing that comes into my car is me, bottle of water, cds, and possible a book bag. The only other time I have stuff in there is when I buy some new Gadgets!

    KISS : Keep It Simple Stupid

    Mister Jester

  • http://www.mayankrocks.com Mayank Rocks

    I don’t own a car myself. But my dad does. We have a shelter, so rain water and stuff would not attack, sun light maybe.

    We never ever put a cover yet. I think it’s time to give suggestions to dad ๐Ÿ˜€

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  • http://www.a-must-have.com Milos

    What I recently found are the little vacuum things with a hook so you can organize different stuff on the windows. Definitely a must have for a car!

  • Diana

    I lived out of my car when I was a commuter in college .. wish I had your tips then!

    • http://www.alexshalman.com Alex Shalman

      You lived out of your car literally? Like I said, my car was a mess as well, but I’m glad I learned new systems to take care of that. =)

  • http://www.egirlhelp.com Get A Girlfriend

    Hey Alex…love the idea of a crate. My schoolbooks usually fall all over!

    Crates for the win!

  • http://flimjo.com Flimjo

    I follow the “no food” rule. That helps A LOT. The inside of my car is always tidy because there aren’t any candy wrappers, food bags, soda cans, or water bottles anywhere.

  • http://www.stanleybronstein.com Mr Positioning (Stanley Bronstein)


    This reminds me of a girl I dated from out of town many years ago.

    The first time I stayed at her place, I spent 2 days cleaning up her apartment. Seriously, I found change all over the floor of one of her rooms. When I added it all up, it was $800 (no kidding).

    Then, I cleaned out her car and found 2 paychecks in it that she had never deposited . . . Can you believe that ???

    Some people just are not crazy about being organized . . .

    Just remember, organization is bliss . . .

    Take care

    Mr Positioning (Stanley F. Bronstein, Atty, CPA, Author and Professional Speaker)

  • http://www.knowtheledge.org Know The Ledge

    When I bought my new car I was excited at all the little nooks and crannies it had to store stuff. One of the little places was perfect to store spare change. 8 months later, I hate that thing. I continuously put change in, but for whatever reason, never really take any out. Now it just falls out if I make a sharp turn or accelerate quickly, it drives me nuts.

  • Jeff

    Dryer sheet under the seat for fresh smell.

    • http://www.alexshalman.com Alex Shalman

      Haven’t heard of that one. By Dryer sheet you mean a fabric softener sheet, right?

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