To the Mom with the Messy Car: Best Tips & Tricks

Confession: I have a messy car.

No matter how hard I’ve tried, my car always ends up a messy disaster.

I wish I was kidding that what follows are actual photos of the inside of my car. WHAT is all of that, you ask?

Deep sigh. Crafts from daycare, fruit snack wrappers, Goldfish crumbs, lone socks, random post-it notes, and receipts, used napkins, banana peels, and SO MANY COFFEE CUPS. The better question is, what isn’t there?

By far, my husband’s least favorite thing about me is the messy state of any vehicle I’m in.

So much so that he gifted me all-weather floor mats for my car last year for Christmas. While I highly recommend them now, that really stung. I resolved to find and try a few ways I could possibly stay organized. Because if nothing changes, nothing changes, right?!

Cue the Amazon shopping.

  • Buying a car trash can was the first order of business. I can’t remember why I was against one at first, but now I can’t believe I waited so long to put one in there!
  • A backseat organizer was the next step. Now the free book that the kids read during commute times is corralled to one spot, along with toys, water bottles, extra blanket, and other supplies. No messy car!
    • Bonus: for my oldest, it’s accessible without needing help!

In addition to the tools, I needed to change my habits. Here’s where I started:

  • Schedule weekly car clean time (literally, on my phone calendar)
  • Now, once a week, I take two bags outside: one for things to return and put away inside and one for items to recycle. Plus, I throw away the accumulated trash bag. I also threw a microfiber cloth in the glovebox for a fast wipe down of the dashboard and console. All the mess gets dealt with, and it’s surprisingly quick. For about a 15-minute investment, my car no longer looks like I’m living in it!

My husband thinks I should aim even higher.

His tip to staying clutter-free is to take everything out that doesn’t belong every night before walking inside the house.  He would not, for example, ever leave a rogue toy part or empty Gatorade in his vehicle without some feelings of severe distress. (When they say opposites attract, it was surely right in our case!)

There are, of course, many other ways to stay on track with all the sports equipment and other necessities, but these are the natural and cheap things I tried to start.

I haven’t taken any “after” pictures, but guess what?! It has only been a short amount of time, but I was actually able to give someone a ride without clutter or embarrassment! We even survived a family road trip without overwhelming ourselves with stuff everywhere. And my husband no longer looks inside my car with a face full of disgust.

Up next is to tackle a system that works my trunk. Trust me, if I can do this, you can do this.

Does anyone else struggle with keeping their vehicle tidy while transporting the family everywhere? What’s your best mom-car hack for a messy car?

Blair Bonczynski is a wife to one, mom to two. Born and raised in the Metro area, she finds great joy in playing intramural sports, listening to a good audio book, figuring out ways to save the environment, and indulging in a craft beer every now and then. She spends her days working as the marketing and communications coordinator for the Archdiocese of Omaha Catholic Schools Office, and she spends her nights playing with her kids and picking up toys at home. She is constantly discovering the joy in the little things.


  1. Just today – like an hour ago – I went to the garage to get something out of the way back of my suv and I was like oh my word this is awful everything. One of my go-to tips for the car is a bucket with everything I need to do a quick clean – towel, spray bottle of glass cleaner, cleaning wipes and air freshener are in my bucket. I carried that baby to the car and went to town on the kid detritus, dog-paw mud and fur, and dust that accumulates everywhere. Note to self – never again with the black dash, black carpet and black leather seats. ? it feels a million times better after 20 mins work and I can drive carpool in the morning without having the kids feel like they’re riding in the back of a hay wagon.

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