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DIY Car Organizers & Cleaners: 10 Tips to Get Rid of the Mess

car organizers - cleaners for your interior

Cleaning is never fun, but it doesn’t have to be hard. If you’re tired of the trash and funky smells inside your car, try these 10 tips for cleaning up the mess that even lazy people can get behind.

Here are car storage tips, car organizers and DIY cleaners that will help you get the job done with the smallest amount of effort.

1. Stuff an empty canister of wipes with grocery bags 

This is one of my favorite car organizers. The next time you use up a can of car cleaning wipes, save the canister, rinse it out and stuff it with the plastic grocery bags that are probably overflowing from whatever drawer you keep them in. Toss the container in the trunk or cabin and presto! You have garbage bags whenever you need them.

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2. Use a seatback organizer 

Some people tie hanging shoe racks to the backs of their seats, and that works. But if you’re looking for something a little classier without breaking the bank, High Road makes a bunch of car storage and car organizer products, including a tablet-holding organizer. If anything, this helps you keep your books and other belongings from getting trampled on when people get in and out of your car.

3. Bottle your own car cleaner 

With one of those spray bottles you can get at the dollar store and a little white vinegar you can make your own car cleaner, which you can use to wipe the dashboard and clean grime off your windshield wipers. Pour 1/4 of a cup of vinegar in the bottle and fill the rest with water and there you have it. Just don’t overdo it, unless you enjoy the scent of vinegar.

4. Make your own air freshener 

Watch the video above to learn how to make a homemade air freshener out of stuff you probably have inside your home. It may look like a Parmesan cheese shaker from your local pizzeria, but it will smell nice (and gives you a sense of accomplishment!). You’ll need a Mason jar, baking soda, your favorite essential oil and some cardboard.

5. Turn a plastic storage container into a trash can 

Small to medium-size plastic storage containers work well as car trash cans; the bigger the better. Line it with a grocery bag so you don’t have to clean it as often, and keep a few extra bags in the bottom of the container. It’s an easy way to get your passengers to clean up after themselves.

6. Buy a dedicated car vacuum

I once reviewed a Black & Decker car vacuum for AAA. It had lots of power, and the best part was that it plugged right into the cigarette lighter socket. There was no need to run an extension cord from inside the house. You didn’t have to lug a huge vacuum out of the house, either. Having a car vacuum also helps you get after spills as soon as possible when you’re away from home. Of course, there are lots on the market, so do your due diligence before purchasing one.

7. Collect change in an empty gum container

With drinks coming and going and dirty change piling up, center console cupholders can get disgusting. Try using a plastic gum container – the ones that hold chewing gun of the tab variety – to collect change. You can easily replace it when it gets dirty, or move it when you need to hold a couple of drinks up front.

8. Keep a shower caddy in the car

This works best if it’s large, but any will do the trick. It’s good car storage for things like Febreze or other air fresheners, motor oil and even drinks and snacks. And unlike hanging car organizers, you can easily pick it up and put it in the trunk if it’s in the way.

car organizers
(Photo: Roberto Cruz)

9. Put everything in the trunk in a duffel bag

I learned this one from Car Coach Lauren Fix. She suggested keeping everything in your trunk inside a duffel bag. It makes the trunk look neat. Plus, nothing is ever out of reach when you can grab for the bag. It’s also easy to take out when it’s time to vacuum.

10. Build your own emergency kit 

In addition to inputting 800-AAA-HELP in your contacts list on your cellphone and downloading the AAA Mobile app, make sure you have some important supplies stashed neatly in your car, where you can easily access them in the event of a breakdown. These should include a flashlight, jumper cables, a first aid kit and more. If you want, throw that stuff in the aforementioned duffel.

Car storage and car organizers come in all shapes and sizes. If you have a tip of your own for keeping you car clean, let us know in the comments section below.

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3 Thoughts on “DIY Car Organizers & Cleaners: 10 Tips to Get Rid of the Mess

  1. To keep my vehicle smelling fresh I put the Christmas tree air freshener under the front seats right by the floor heater ducts (that some vehicles have) so when the heat is on or outside air comes in (recirculating mode) you can smell the scent of your air freshener. Passengers often comment on how nice the car smells as they’re looking around for an air freshener!

  2. Very helpful! I use excess tote bags to hold (other) tote bags for shopping, maps and the other junk I like to keep iin the car. The handles fit over the head rests or in the trunk. I have storage trays from supermarkets that were originally used for boxes of fruits. They are great for holding loose items when shopping. Also, I keep big garbage bags as flloor covering in the trunk to keep it clean.

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