8 Tips for Keeping Your Car Clean with Kids
As parents of two messy boys, one of the things we didn't really think about pre-kids is the mess they can make in our cars. Over the years, we've learned a few tips and tricks for keeping the mess to a minimum and thought we'd pass them along. Some of these are easier than others and of course it depends on your specific situation as far as kids' temperaments and schedules. As parents we're all just winging it and doing our best!
1. Limit Food and Drink (as much as possible)
I know this can really vary from family to family, but for our family we don't do much eating in our cars and for the most part limit drinks to water in water bottles. A couple of reasons we started this from the beginning were due to a car seat safety class we took before our first was born. One of the nurses brought up the tip of limiting eating/drinking in the car because when they're rear facing it's harder to discern if the child is choking. So our kids have never really known differently. Does this mean they NEVER eat or drink in the car; of course not but it's definitely not a habit for them and really reduces messes/spills. For us, we carry the snacks in a purse or bag and dish them out as necessary during our errands (plus it keeps them busy while we're out in public). If this is not an option for your family, you can still evaluate what food and drink is allowed in your car. Think of it in terms of "if this is left in my car on a Texas summer day, how bad will it smell and will it be awful to clean up??".
2. Consider Covering Your Car's Seats
This one can be tricky, but there are options. There are seat covers that can go under child safety seats, but you need to do your research to ensure that you're not compromising the safety of your child safety seats in any way. If you're not comfortable with something under your child's seat, there's always the option of covering the unused seats or placing those seat catch-alls between seats to help catch debris and accelerate clean ups.
3. Contain Trash
This is pretty easy to implement. Have a bag or even a trash can with an old grocery bag to collect any trash and empty as needed. This eliminates tossing trash on the floor to "grab later" which inevitably gets left behind and begins to accumulate.
4. Clean Up Spills ASAP
Spills happen, and they happen a lot with littles. As hard as it is and as annoying as it is, cleaning them up as soon as you (safely) can will go a long way in reducing those pesky/lingering odors that are so hard to get rid of. Keep some old towels or paper towels and even a package of baby wipes or wet wipes in your vehicle so that if you're en route to somewhere other than your house you can still address the mess before it sets in.
5. Use an Organizer
There are a million different options from super fancy to simply a plastic bin or basket, but using organizers of any kind can help keep you and your kids organized. You can have them for everything from books/toys/distractions to extra clothes, wipes, and diapers. It keeps things from getting lost under the seat or buried somewhere and you can teach your kids to help you put things back where they go so the organizing doesn't fall solely on you! Which brings me to my next point...
6. Have Your Kids Help
This is one of the best tips I can give; teaching (and then expecting) your kids to help keep the car clean. Once upon a time, I was a kindergarten teacher (pre-kids) and I learned really quick that kids are really good at meeting, reasonable, expectations set for them. So have your kids help you out! You can even do weekly or monthly "cleaning" where your kids help pick up any trash or debris and wipe down their seats and areas with baby wipes. It's really a win/win and kids as young as 1-2 years are able to help out!
7. Follow the "What Goes In, Must Come Out" Rule
This is something that has always come naturally to me, and I realize that's not the case for everyone. However, it's not a bad habit to build; if you bring it out to your car, bring it back inside! Try not to leave jackets, shoes, toys, or other items just sitting in the back of your car. Take just a few minutes when you come home and collect the things that you brought out to your car and bring them back inside. You’ll be so thankful later!
8. Call In the Professionals
And if all else fails, or the hustle and bustle of life takes it's course; bring your vehicle to the professionals...or better yet, have them come to you. Every 3-6 months, have your vehicle detailed. It really resets your car to it's former glory and gives you a chance to enjoy a clean interior...if only for a few hours. Our Professional package is perfect for resetting the interior and exterior and starts as low as $100. If you've had some bigger messes and your interior is needing more love and a shampoo then stepping up to our Flawless Package which includes deep cleaning leather seats and shampooing carpets and upholstery seats and starts as low as $175. You'll love the feeling of a clean car, we promise!