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How to Organize Your Messy Car

During National Get Organized Week, don’t forget about your trusty friend in the garage. When people say, “Let’s take your car,” do you always make an excuse why that’s not a good idea? It’s probably because you’re thinking, “There’s no place for anybody to sit in all the mess.” Don’t worry, you aren’t alone. For many of us, our cars become extra storage spaces because we don’t have enough storage solutions.

There’s no room to put the 8-pack of paper towels you got on sale. They don’t fit in the garage or basement, so they wind up living in the trunk for weeks. But, just like rooms in your houses, there are efficient ways to clean up a messy car and employ organizer systems, so you can use it to actually transport people instead of clutter.

Step 1: De-Clutter and Throw Out the Trash

The first step in tackling any organizational project is to clean up the existing mess. Sort everything into bags – one for trash, one bag for items that should be kept in the car and one bag for items to put elsewhere. It’s important to first clean the physical space of your car and identify what should or shouldn’t be in the car. Then, put the items where they belong.

It’s good to have certain things in your car for emergencies such as water and flashlights, but don’t overdo it or you’ll be dragging around unnecessary items that also will affect your gas mileage.

Step 2: Organize Your Car’s Interior

There are certain items that should be kept in the glove box for easy access including your car’s manual, registration, insurance information, and your own emergency numbers and medical information. Using a coupon organizer that has pockets for each individual document is an easy way to make sure you always have these papers on hand.

You can also invest in a cell phone holder so your phone is accessible and make sure your cell’s accessories and your music are within easy reach so you don’t have to fumble around for them while driving.

Step 3: Recognize You Will Accumulate Trash

It’s only normal to accumulate trash in places where you spend a lot of time, so prepare for trash by keeping a plastic bag in your car to collect it. You can also buy various car trash receptacles available on the market, but really all you need is a thin plastic container with a removable lid. A lid is helpful to keep any odors contained, and remember to empty the container on a regular basis. Whatever you use to collect your trash, make sure it fits in a small space in the car or the trash receptacle will become a part of the car’s clutter.

Step 4: Organize Your Car’s Trunk

Neatly organize the things you need to keep in your trunk in removable containers or bags, so they can be easily moved to make extra space in the trunk when needed. There are organizer systems made specifically for a trunk, but all you need are a couple of big duffle bags and a sturdy box. A large duffle bag with compartments can help organize your emergency kit and auto supplies.

If you have children and you need to keep sports equipment or snacks in the car, also store them in a portable bag. For groceries, keep a large, sturdy cardboard box in the trunk to put grocery bags so they don’t rattle around in the trunk. When the box is empty, you can store the duffle bags in it so there’s no wasted space.

Go to our blog for more storage solution ideas, and now that you’re getting more mileage out of your organized, clean car, check out our section on garage organization projects to see how to get more mileage out of organizing your garage.


— Don’t forget to check out our other National Organization Week tips.

The Psychology of Clutter vs Closet Organization

Pantry Organizers: A Purrfect Solution

Organizer Systems: Parse that Purse

How to Clear Virtual Clutter


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