Oh, if only it were that easy. Goldfish cracker crumbs and crumpled water bottles might seem like an unavoidable part of life for your on-the-go family.
But here are a few tips for keeping the car clean and organized in the new year:
Be the bag lady
The next time you’re heading home from the store, empty a bag and keep it in the car. Designate it as the trash bag, where food wrappers, juice boxes and used tissues can find a home. When the bag is full, throw it out and replace it with another.
Limit the clutter in your car by giving each child a bag they can take to and from the house. The bag can include toys, iPods and even nonperishable snacks. If it doesn’t fit in the bag, it doesn’t make it into the car.
Take it with you
If you don’t think you can successfully keep a trash bag in the car, then practice this rule: Every time you leave the car, take at least one item with you. It could be that empty travel mug you used on your way to the store or your work bag at the end of the day. It will help to ease the clutter — and your stress level.
Knock it off
Especially in the winter, shoes can get messy with a gloppy mix of snow and salt. When you sit in the car, keep your feet off to the side with the door open. Knock your shoes together until the snow falls off. The kids can do this, too, while reciting “There’s no place like home” for fun. This habit will help prevent white salt stains on the floor mats.
Speaking of stains …
Keep paper towels, napkins and/or baby wipes on hand. Every time you stop by a drive-thru, stash the extra napkins. Have a pouch on the back of your front seats? That’s a great place for storing napkins, suggests David Benfield, president and owner of Clearview Car Wash in Hanover.
“Then you have a rapid recovery,” he said, whenever spills take place. Having something readily available to wipe up the spill will help to prevent staining and any lingering odors.
Other car keepers
Besides items for clean-up, it’s wise to keep a First Aid kit for boo-boos. Also, store a flashlight in your trunk for the nights you can’t find a toy under the seat. A plastic storage bag works well to keep quarters for parking meters the next time you take the kids to an inner-city museum. And, for the nights you’re rushing home with no dinner plans, stash a few of your favorite restaurants’ takeout menus in the glove compartment.
Start a routine
It’s that time of the year to set resolutions. Why not make one of them to clean your car on a regular basis? Heated bays, like those at Clearview, make it a lot easier to wash your vehicle in the winter.
Benfield suggests keeping old, clean towels in your trunk to dry the car off if time allows and no one is waiting. Not into sweat equity? There’s always the automatic car wash.
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