Spring Vehicle Pre-Cleaning: The Declutter Stage
Get Ready for Spring with a Tidy Vehicle
According to AAA, the average American spends 17,600 minutes each year in their vehicle. That’s about 293 hours every year driving to and from work, running errands, going on road trips, and overall just running around. That’s a lot of hours to spend somewhere that, as Marie Kondo may say, doesn’t spark joy.
Think back to when you first got your vehicle. It did spark joy didn’t it? But as you got used to it, “broke it in,” and ultimately dirtied it up, it stopped being quite as joyful. There’s good news though, you can return that joy! The first step is what we here at Big Sky Collision Center are calling the pre-spring cleaning stage (since at the time of writing, it’s still below zero out there in early March).
Here are 6 steps to decluttering your vehicle.
Pull it and Pile it
In order to declutter, we have to get everything out of the vehicle. Get ready to make three piles of items that you pull out; we will process them when it’s all out and done.
Trash Pile – Just as it says, these are the useless items in the car. Wrappers, napkins, pens that don’t work, a mismatched sock, sticks, you name it. If it belongs in the trash, get it to the trash!
Car Pile – These items will go back into the vehicle. Floor mats, owner’s manual, a small box of tissues, first aid kits, and anything else that will ultimately end up back inside.
Home Pile – Our vehicles end up as a dumping ground for stuff. Mugs, clothing, dishes, books, toys, kitchen sinks, if it doesn’t belong in the vehicle, it goes inside (or into the garage or shed).
Dump the trash pile, put the home pile inside and sort it later, and push the car pile off to the side. We will deal with that as we go along.
Designate a Trash
In order to keep those granola bar and Taco Bell wrappers off the floor, we need to specify a place for them. Who remembers stuffing garbage into the ash trays as a kid? Who remembers getting in trouble for it? Let’s avoid that as adults (just substitute “cup holder” for “ash tray”). There are three ways you can take care of trash in the car.
Plastic Bag – The easiest way is to simply grab a grocery bag and loop it off the shift lever. It can tend to get in the way and be unsightly, but it solves the problem.
Old Box – Using an old cereal box or Kleenex box, you can create your own trash can for the vehicle. Line it with a grocery bag and you’re good to go.
Car Trash Can – Just about every make and model of vehicle has an aftermarket trash can that will sit snugly somewhere in the cab. They’re not that expensive, they blend in, and ultimately this should be your choice.
Now there are no excuses for trash on or under the seats.
Fill the Jockey Box
Glove box, glove compartment, jockey box… it all depends on what are of the country you grew up in. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter, because nobody actually puts gloves in there! Here are a few things that should go in the glove box.
- Insurance Card
- Owner’s Manual
- Pen and Notebook
- Vehicle Maintenance Log
- Other paper items
The glove box should be kept largely free of miscellaneous items. For those items, like a tire pressure gauge, napkins, corkscrew wine opener for when you get the impromptu bottle of wine on your way camping but don’t have a corkscrew in your camping supplies, phone chargers, and other things get to be tucked away in the center console.
Ultimately items should be tucked away instead of left laying about the interior of the vehicle.
Spruce up the Cab
There are times when you can’t get everything tucked away, especially if you have kids. To prevent the seats and floors from becoming a catch-all for just about everything, invest in some organizers.
In the front of the vehicle, a hands free holder for your cell phone can help give you a heads up display (for maps and navigation of course).
Since nobody uses maps anymore, the map pockets in the doors are a great place to store your CD’s… if you even use those anymore. If not they make a convenient holder for items like sunscreen in the summer (for when you get to the pool or lake and you have forgotten it), or an extra water that will inevitably be too hot to drink satisfyingly (or frozen in the winter).
Figure Out the Back
Kids, without them our vehicles wouldn’t have cheerios mashed into the seats and sticky handprints on the windows. A good auto detailing will take care of that mess, but today we’re in the pre-cleaning stage.
There are some great seat-back organizers that can help handle all of the toys, books, ipads, notepads, and other pads that your kids may be using. They clip onto the headrest, and store everything handily in front of the child. A little instruction on keeping their area neat and (hopefully) you won’t be cleaning action figures out from under the seats anymore.
If you have multiple kids, a storage container placed between the seats can offer a handy area to store extra napkins, water bottles, quick snacks, and other necessities of a long-ish car trip. Don’t forget the wet wipes.
Don’t Neglect the Trunk
Finally we have made it to the trunk. Of course you have your spare tire and emergency kit back here. Other than that, it should be largely kept free of items, unless you’re on your way somewhere.
In the trunk, you may want to put an extra blanket (if it’s not already in your essentials), and it’s often handy to put a couple of collapsing camp chairs. You never know when you’re going to end up at the park, lake, beach, ball game, or otherwise need a place to sit without anything available.
Big Sky Collision Center Details Cars
When the snow finally melts, and the slush has largely retreated from the ground, we can then move on to stage two of the spring cleaning: the auto detailing.