It’s January again, which means New Year’s resolutions and packing away holiday decorations. January is also considered ‘GO Month’ aka Get Organized Month in the world of organization. We all set new goals of what we would like to achieve, but what if this year we focus on one location where we spend more time than we think; our cars. According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, Americans spend, on average, over 290 hours in our car EACH YEAR. If I’m going to spend the equivalent of seven work weeks driving my car each year, I want to make sure I am comfortable and prepared. Organizing your car is an accomplishable goal that will enhance your everyday life and can be achieved in an afternoon. Below are a few easy steps to follow on cleaning out your car and what supplies you need for safety and convenience.
Clear everything out of your car…and I mean every penny and empty coffee mug! Sort everything into three piles; ‘Toss’, ‘Put Away’, and ‘Keep in Car’. The ‘Toss’ pile is all the junk you want to throw away; wrappers, receipts, bottles, etc. The ‘Put Away’ pile might mean it goes in the house, back to the office or needs to be returned to a friend. The ‘Keep in Car’ pile is everything that belongs in your car. Cross-reference the list below to decide what stays and what goes.
Clean the car inside and out. Start by vacuuming from the top down, including the upholstered ceiling since dust builds up on soft surfaces. Don’t forget to remove any floor pads and vacuum under them and the pads themselves. Next, dust all of the hard surfaces and wipe down the windows. I use Swiffer dusting wipes and I usually buy the generic brand at the local dollar store, they work great! After dusting, I use ArmorAll Original Protectant Wipes ($10.79 for a 3 pack at Target) on all of the hard surfaces and glass wipes for the windows and windshield. You can also use a damp rag or any other car interior polish you’d like. For really dirty jobs you may want to consider shampooing your upholstery.
I like to do this stage at my local self-service car wash. This way, I don’t have to worry about lugging a vacuum in and out of the house or hooking up the hose. I keep the interior wipes along with some window wipes in my car at all times so I can just roll up and pay a few dollars for their vacuum and then wash the exterior and be on my way.
Now we address our three piles. First, throw away anything labeled ‘Toss’. That was easy! Next, anything that was deemed ‘Put Away’ should be contained in a box or a bag and immediately brought inside. If your like me and decided to clean the car off site, make sure everything is contained to be brought inside and put away. Now it is time to put the ‘Keep in Car’ pile away. Below, I have provided a list of what every car owner needs and added notes and suggestions on how to use each item and where they are best stored.
- Paperwork – insurance card, registration, title, inspection, license, mechanic info, emergency contacts, car manual, & photocopy of drivers license (keep in glove box, console, or under the front seat)
- Safety kit (listed below)
- Quarters/Emergency money (keep out of plain sight)
- Umbrella – back of seat or door storage
- Pen & Paper
- Ice Scraper & Shovel
- Trash bag
- Dedicated phone charger – NEVER leaves your car
SAFETY – Almost all of this can be kept in the trunk
- First aid kit
- Blanket/towel/thermal blanket
- Jumper cables
- Flares/Reflective triangles
- Flashlight & batteries
- Life hammer (breaks glass & cuts seat belts/keep in center console)
- Tire jack & spare tire
- Duct tape
- Important prescription medications
- Energy bars
- Materials for tire traction – sand or kitty litter
- Work gloves
- Fire extinguisher
- Pepper spray – keep in center console
- Change of clothing/walking shoes/winter coat
- Sunglasses – should never leave the car
- Air freshener
- Reusable shopping bags
- Disposable grocery bags
- Paper towels/napkins/tissues
- Auxiliary cord
- Optional Health & Beauty pack (do not include anything that could melt)
- Hair ties
- Oral hygiene items
- Feminine products
- Wipes – disinfectant or baby
- Hand sanitizer
Follow these three easy steps and you’ll be ready to plan your 2017 road trip! Happy New Year!
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