Whatcha gonna do with all that junk, all that junk inside your trunk?

No, I’m not gonna get you drunk (cue: sad face). BUT I am gonna help clean out that car of yours and, as a mechanic’s daughter, I kinda feel obligated. While I still can’t change a tire at 32 (cue: dad disappointment), I can organize your ride as easy as 1, 2, 3.

It’s true, I have a SUV and no kids but it doesn’t mean I’m immune to having it be overrun with shopping bags, shoes, work tools, and the like. I’ve certainly had moments where I cringe as I pick someone up and apologize for the mess. There were systems I put in place in the car that did work but I realized the difference between my home and my car was this: I frequently reassess and purge my home but rarely do it with my car. Maybe twice a year I’ll go through it but ideally, if I did this on a monthly basis, those systems would keep themselves running. In this post, I’ll share those systems and hope we can all make a pact to keep em up!

Ready to whip your whip into shape? Let’s go:

  1. Front seat cleanin’

  • The glove compartment is where the oh so important stuff lives. Your car manual, registration, and proof of insurance should be contained to one spot. When I bought my car, Nissan included the important documents in this handy holder - every year I replace my new card from Geico and every two years, the registration. It stays put no matter what (24 year old Mary learned this the hard way when pulled over for speeding and couldn’t find the registration which resulted in not one but two tickets #neveragain). If your dealership didn’t include this, there are a ton of inexpensive options on Amazon. The only other items I keep in there are a small accordion file for business cards and store rewards (i.e. nail salons or car washes that will give you free services after a certain # of punches), a ziploc bag of plastic straws/utensils, napkins, and a wheel lock for easy access when I need new tires.

  • The console holds smaller, more personal items. A travel first aid kit, extra pair of glasses for my four eyes, a small notebook, pen, packet of wipes, and an Eos egg. I keep a car duster in my driver’s side console and pull it out to dust at red lights (while maybe getting some funny looks in the process). My cup holders have coasters so no sticky coffee stains YAS! Lastly, my mom bought me the Catch Caddy awhile back for between the seats and I thought it was so silly at first but dude, do you know how many times it’s caught a bobby pin or a credit card!? Just get it, you won’t regret it.

2. Back seat, straighten up

  • There shouldn’t be too much going on back here (stuff wise, I mean #winkwink). If you frequently have passengers, a cup holder tissue box and Yankee candle fragrance sphere are nice touches. Since I work mostly out of my car, I took a shower caddy from the dollar section of Target and added items I like to have with me on long days (toothbrush, lint roller, Excedrin, makeup, Visine drops). I leave it on the floor of the backseat and take it out when I don’t need it or have guests.

  • If you have kids, the backseat becomes a little more complicated (hey, maybe that’s even how they got here in the first place). The shower caddy premise works great for them too! Fill it with coloring books, crayons, snacks, wipes, and small toys. There’s also the option of over the seat organizers in which you can pop those items into pockets for the kiddos to reach. Whichever works for you but the important thing is that you’re not constantly cleaning crap up off the floor or in between the seats. 

3. Dumps like a trunk

  • Be honest. You just throw things in here and forget about them. It’s ok, we’re in the trust tree. But we’re about to change the game. I cannot express the importance of a trunk organizer enough, no matter the size of your car. When I drove around in a little Accord coupe, I had a net divider going across the long way. Now with a bigger car, I found this organizer that velcros to the floor dirt cheap at Home Goods. It houses a blanket, pair of heels (I oddly find myself in frequent situations where I wish I had them), canvas shopping bags, a paper towel roll, and multi purpose car cleaner. The mesh side pockets hold loose small items such as a poncho, umbrella, flashlight, and box cutter (I also frequently cart boxes so need this handy...or for if I ever find myself in a real life SVU episode).

  • Admittedly, I’m obsessed with these Instacrates I found in Costco. I probably don’t need three of them but they barely take up space so they’re good to have on hand. They stay folded up when not in use and just pop open when you need to contain and/or carry items. I’ll use one to keep groceries from flying around then make that enviable single trip into the house. Regarding equipment, I toted around a tennis racquet for years and literally used it once. It’s now in the back of my closet until I actually decide to play again. I do, however, regularly attend yoga so it makes sense to store my mat in the car. Shovels and ice scrapers should find a different home during the warmer months. Speaking of which, you might want to locate those soon because it’ll be record breaking cold temps this weekend in New York #woof


I hope some of these tips help you in getting the car clutter under control! Life happens at a fast pace and finding the time to clean out and organize a vehicle can seem low on your priority list. But once the system is in place, you’ll be amazed at how good it feels to not only drive around in it but also be prepared for things that come up. In the words of Memphis...