How to Keep Your Car Clean When Your Kids Are Messy Animals

how to keep your car clean

Kids. Man, they mess things up, don’t they? Don’t get me wrong – I love my kids. They are my world. But before becoming a mom I vastly underestimated the amount of damage a toddler can do to a clean car with a snack cup of goldfish. Am I right? Well, keep reading friends – today I am sharing my tips for how to keep your car clean with kids.

Let’s get started, shall we?

Have a trash receptacle in your car.

Parents, let’s just accept our kids are messy. They are! They just are. Let me tell you what you could find in my van right now: empty Sonic cups, art from church, wrappers to fruit snacks, fruit snacks, the aforementioned goldfish, and probably many, many socks.

One thing I highly recommend is to have some sort of receptacle for trash already in the car. I’ve heard of people using plastic cereal bins and lining them with plastic shopping bags. I’ve heard of people using actual (empty) cereal boxes lined with plastic bags. As for me, I keep a diaper bag dispenser in my car. The bags are small and perfect for collecting the trash my kids seem to accumulate each day.

picture of a diaper bag dispenser
I like this because it is small and fits easily into a cup holder. I can use one bag and then I have more for the many more messes my kids will create in the coming days and weeks.

Every day, have your children spend time gathering any trash, cups, or clothing in your car.

Are my kids the only kids that take off their socks and shoes in the car? It never fails. I give my oldest a trash bag and instruct him to bag anything that needs to be thrown away. My other two children are responsible for taking in shoes, socks, books, backpacks – anything that has gathered in the car but really belongs inside.

Keeping clutter out of your car goes a long way towards the appearance of cleanliness and organization!

Line all cup holders will silicone cupcake liners.

I don’t know why, but dirt just seems to accumulate and gather and multiple in my cup holders. This leads to me spending way too much time scrubbing the cup holders with a toothbrush when I detail my car.

silicone cupcake liners

Who needs to spend time doing that? Not this girl. I line the cup holders with silicone muffin tins and then when I clean my car, I pull them out and run them through the dishwasher.

Keep a container a baby wipes in your car.

baby wipes

Not only can baby wipes clean up immediate messes and spills, but you can easily grab a wipe while sitting in traffic or in car line and wipe down your dash.

Remove odors with vinegar.

We’ve all been there. A rouge sippy cup, a diaper you forgot to throw away, a window you didn’t roll up before the rain can lead to some nasty, unpleasant smells. That’s easy to remedy! Just fill a small bowl with white vinegar and place it in your car overnight. The vinegar will absorb the smell.

Create a car cleaning kit and leave it in your trunk.

leather cleaner

My car cleaning kit contains the following items: a roll of paper towels, a package of baby wipes, grocery plastic bags, Windex, Armour All, and leather conditioner. If I’m out and about and want to go through the car wash, I’m ready to really deep clean my car.

Take the car seats out of your car quarterly.

Not only does crumbs, trash, and dirt collect behind and beneath the car seat, but you also need to clean your car seats periodically. I recommend you check your car seat manual for instructions on cleaning. I personally remove the seat, vacuum out any crumbs or dirt, wipe down the entire surface with a Clorox wipe, and spot treat any stains. If needed, I will remove the car seat cover and wash according to my car seat manufacturer’s instructions. I never wash the straps or submerge the straps in water because it can weaken the fibers.

Psst – have you read my post about How to Get Major Stains Out of Upholstery? I’ve used my “recipe” on car seats, car upholstery, and carpet!

Keep pertinent receipts in a small file folder in your car.

I like to keep all my car-related paperwork in my car. I have a file folder with the following tabs: registration, insurance, oil changes, tires, maintenance. I can easily look and see when I last changed my oil, or access my tire warranty if I get a nail in my tire or have a blow out.

Keep change in an old medication bottle.

I keep a couple of dollars worth of quarters in my car in an old medication bottle. This is useful when I need to fill the air in my tires or I’m headed into Aldi and forgot a quarter!

Create a car kit.

I really can’t stress the importance of this enough. I have a 31 tote bag that contains a first aid kit, jumper cables, a few bottles of water, some protein bars, a blanket, sunscreen, and a change of clothing for each of my children. I leave the bag in my trunk and replace the items in it as they expire.

Have a back up key for your car – or a trusty locksmith!

I’ve learned this the hard way multiple times. Jason has a key to my car, but he works over an hour away. The first time I locked myself out of the car, I had to sit in a church parking lot in the 100 degree weather and wait for him to come and rescue me. The second time, I found a locksmith to help me open my car and he quickly got me on my way. STL Locksmith can help you with all your needs: automotive, residential, commercial. Please check them out!

I hope you found this list of car cleaning and organization hacks helpful. What do you do to make cleaning your car (and keeping it clean) easier?

*This is a sponsored post. All opinions are my own.*