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How to Organize Your Car


Organize your messy car.

Use these tips to organize your messy car.

Photo by: Jennlang/Flickr

The Problem: A Messy Car

Your car is more than just a mode of transportation; it's a mobile command center. You use it:

  • as an office;
  • as a kitchen for on-the-go meals;
  • as a taxi service when you take your kids and, oftentimes, their friends from one activity to the next;
  • as a delivery vehicle for groceries; and
  • as a storage unit for sporting equipment, roadside emergency supplies, toys and CDs.

With all that activity, cars get messy and seem to stay messy. Not only is a disorganized and messy car an efficiency problem, it can be an embarrassment as well. Do you cringe when someone says, "Let's take your car," or "Can I ride with you?"

The Challenge: Organize Your Car in One Hour

Take one hour this weekend and get organized. Use this step-by-step solution to organize your car and keep it organized.

Tools Needed to Organize Your Car

  • CD holder that attaches to the visor
  • Two or three baskets or bins for the front of the car
  • Two or three crates or bins for the trunk or back of the car
  • Small individual plastic containers with lids
  • Portable filing bin with hanging files

These tools can be purchased or you can simply repurpose other bins and storage containers you already have.

Step One: Empty Your Car

Take everything out of your car. If it's not attached, it comes out. Collect and throw away all garbage.

Review the pile of items to determine what should be put or stored elsewhere but has just ended up staying in your car for far too long. Remove those items and put them where they belong.

Sort and group everything else into the following categories:

  • Roadside emergency items - first-aid kit, roadside flares, jumper cables, flashlight, etc.
  • CDs
  • Sporting equipment
  • Your children's items - books, dvds, and toys
  • Work items
  • Console items - pens, paper, tissues, hand sanitizer, change, rubberbands, coupons, etc.

Step Two: Create a Central Command Center

Use your console to create a "Central Command Center" for your car. Include the things you use or need to access each day:

  • Notepad
  • Pen
  • Sticky pad - great for reminders that you stick to your steering wheel so you don't forget something important at the end of the day
  • Change - use one of the small plastic containers with a lid
  • Tissues
  • Hand Sanitizer

Organize other small items such as rubberbands, paperclips or ponytail holders in a small plastic container with a lid.

Step Three: Corral the CDs

How many CDs can you listen to at one time? Far fewer than the number you typically carry with you in the car.

  • Calculate how many CDs your visor storage unit will hold. 
  • Review all of the CDs you found stuck in the various nooks and crannies of your car.
  • Only keep in the car a number equal to or less than the maximum number of CDs that will fit in your visor storage unit.
  • Return to the house the CDs you are not keeping in the car.
  • In the future, if you add a CD to your car collection, you must also remove one at the same time.

Step Four: Create a Mobile Business Center

If you use your car for outside business appointments, you have two options for creating a mobile business center:

  • Put your briefcase next to you in the front seat. Make sure you have it organized so that you can easily access to-do lists, call lists, paper and pens.
  • If you need storage capacity in addition to your briefcase, use a portable filing bin that accommodates hanging files for things such as additional client files, marketing pieces and product literature. Choose one with a handle to make it easier to relocate to another spot in the car when you are finished with your business day.  

Step Five: The Kid Collection

If you're not careful, you car can get overrun by a collection of your children's books, toys and DVDs - all of which seem to end up rolling around on the floorboard or up under the front seats.

  • Set limits - unless you are going on a long trip where your child will be in the car for an extended period of time, you don't need that many toys or distractions.
  • Allow each child to pick two things that will stay in the car. Keep these items together in a small bin or bag. A reusable cloth grocery bag (available at almost all grocery store chains) is a great storage option for toys. Not only is it sturdy, but it can also accommodate odd-sized items. Use the handles to hang it over the head rest of the front seat.
  • When you and your children are in the car together, consider making it an electronic-free zone. That means no cell phone for you and no DVD player for them. Not only will this help minimize car clutter, but it will also allow you and your children to connect at the end of the day and make the transition from work and school to home easier.

Step Six: Tackle the Trunk

Use separate bins or crates for each category of items you typically keep in the trunk or the back area of your vehicle:

  • Roadside emergency equipment and supplies
  • Sporting equipment and gym bags
  • Consider adding one or two extra crates to be used for groceries or other shopping items. This will keep these items from rolling around the back of the car as you transport them home. You can also carry the entire crate full of groceries inside, making unloading the car after a trip to the store much easier.

Ongoing Maintenance: How to Organize Your Car and Keep It Organized

  • Clean your car out each time you stop for gas. While your tank is filling up, use this time to go through your car, gathering any garbage or items that can be thrown away. Most gas stations have garbage cans next to each gas pump.
  • Take 5 to 10 minutes each Sunday to go through your car. Gather any items that don't permanently belong in the car and put them where they belong. For those items remaining in the car, make sure they are in the appropriate bin, basket or bag.
  • You'll start each week with an organized car. 





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