7 ways to keep your family car clean
By Aimee Heckel
The car of a parent is a special kind of landfill.
Even if you’re the most organized, clean parent, lift up that car seat. We dare you.
You won’t believe what has wedged its way under there to rot. The underneath of a car seat is a crumb crime scene. And that’s not even the worst thing you will find if you venture into the dangerous land of the back seat.
Milk splatters. Boogers. Shoe scuffs. So. Many. Crumbs. Stains. Scratches and dings and unidentified sticky patches. Barf spots. Unspeakables. It’s like you’re driving around a Taxi full of screaming animals that have minimal bodily control and concept of cleanliness. Oh wait, because you are.
Keeping your family car in order may seem impossible, at best. That’s why we have enlisted the experts this month: the professional organizers from Colorado-based Major Mom.
We talk to Major Mom once a month to provide expert advice to help you tackle the challenges of parenthood.
This month, we bring you tips on car organization, courtesy of Major Mom “liberator” Linda Sovich. Pick up her (must-read) book, “Kid-Friendly Car Organizing Tips — Your Jumpstart to Getting on Track,” at Amazon.com.
The average American spends two and a half hours every day in the car, according to an Arbitron Inc. study.
And 89 percent of women say they feel like a safer driver when they’re driving an organized car, Roadandtravel.com reports.
An organized car allows you to focus on driving, according to Major Mom. It eliminates worry, frustration and safety hazards.
And should you come across and emergency (even if that’s just your child spilling her chocolate milk), you can respond quickly and easily.
Here are seven ways to begin organizing your car today:
1. Identify the need.
What do you use your car for? How can it best serve your family’s needs?
2. Divide your car into zones.
Depending on the type of car, this may be front seat, back seat, trunk, glove box, center console, trunk, plus any other compartments or areas (middle row of seats for a mini van, pick up, etc.).
Start thinking about what supplies do you need for these different zones? For example, you need your registration and manual in your glove box, but you may also need some napkins there to reach easily, sunglasses, gloves (does anyone actually keep gloves in the glove box?).
3. Gut your car.
Take everything out of your car and sort it into respective categories.
4. Pick your treasures.
Only put the things back into your car that you need. Find a new home for the rest. This home may be in the shape of a trash can.
5. Designate the home for items based on the frequency of use and accessibility.
The front seat area — glove box, center console — is for frequently accessed items. This might be music, change, maps, sunglasses, membership cards and first aid and emergency items. Major Mom recommends the LifeHammer Emergency tool for cars, which can shatter windows in an emergency and cut through seat belts.
Also consider a designated trash can for the front seat, like the Highland trash keeper, available at Walmart for only $5.66.
The back seat can store kid’s stuff: toys, snacks, water bottles and games.
The trunk is best for storage and emergency items, like a tool set, jumper cables, an empty gas can, grocery bags, extra games for restaurants, sports equipment, seasonal items (extra jackets), pet items.
Note: The top of the dashboard, the floor and the read window are not storage areas.
6. Select fitting containers.
Cars have limited space, so pick smaller containers. Don’t overfill them. Consider using baggies for snacks, first aid items and vehicle information.
Major Mom also recommends this large utility tote from Thirty One.
7. Start new habits.
Some easy ways to help keep your car in order: Throw away trash every time you stop for gas. Store fresh scented wet wipes in your car to clean up messy spills. And each time you get out of the car, every family member is responsible for removing everything they brought into the car. Every time.
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