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Tips to keeping your car clean when you have the kids

keeping your car cleanIf your family are anything like mine, more often than not the inside of your car will look more like a semi full skip after a house clearance rather than a clean, tidy and comfortable method of transport. Crisp wrappers litter the glove box, sticky sweets and crumbs can be found lurking between seats and half empty drink bottles roll aimlessly around in the foot wells. Add to this the smell of sweaty sneakers that have been in the trunk for the past six months, and travelling anywhere of any length of time suddenly becomes more health hazard than relaxing getaway.

School holidays tend to be the worst time. When the car is regularly taken to the pool, the park and the beach. No matter how hard I try, most of the beach seems to travel home with us including a couple of buckets of semi dead marine life that my daughter thought she could resuscitate once home. Needless to say they didn’t make the journey!

It doesn’t have to be this way. It is possible to create a clean, mean driving machine with very little effort and just a bit of organisation. In fact it’s almost as easy to get your car kiddie friendly, as it is to compare australian car insurance! Here are our top 5 secrets for doing just that:

1. Get organised and start as you mean to go on

The very first step to dirty car rehabilitation is to just get stuck in there and spend a couple of hours removing EVERYTHING from the interior that isn’t firmly attached, or part of the car itself. This includes car seats, floor mats, cushions, blankets and cuddly toys. Once empty, spend time cleaning the car from top to bottom remembering to vacuum between seats, clean sticky handprints from windows and check the roof and seat fabric for stains or marks. Replace car seats and in-car essentials tidily into the vehicle and throw everything else into the trash.

This is now the blueprint from which you should work.  Remember this moment, and how good it feels!

If they’re old enough, show your children the new and improved car and explain to them that this is the standard you expect it to be from now on, explaining that it’s everyone’s responsibility to keep it this way.

2. Invest in a hand-held rechargeable vacuum cleaner

A small hand-held vacuum cleaner is likely to become your new best friend, and should be given a special home in your garage or shed (pick the closest place to where you park your car that has an electric point for charging) ready to whip out following any journey that involved crumbs, mud or sand.  

Try to get into the habit of giving the car a very quick once over after every couple of journeys, and you’ll be amazed at how long the car stays fresh and clean. Consider incentivising an older child to do this as one of their chores.

3. Keep a stash of wipes and tissues in your glove compartment

If you already have children, I won’t need to explain how essential a ready supply of moist wipes and tissues is. From wiping up sticky hands to cleaning muddy shoes before they enter the car, you must NEVER be without these!

4. Become a bag lady

Before any journey of longer than an hour or so, remember to take a few disposable plastic or paper bags with you.  Crucial for easy disposal of litter, but can also double up as a makeshift laundry bag for soiled or wet clothes.

5. Store in car entertainment in plastic containers

Keep your children’s favourite CD’s, DVD’s, reading books and games in plastic containers that can be stored in the boot or under seats.  Encourage your children to replace everything into their box after each journey, and add little surprises to each child box before each journey  – like a new colouring book or set of pens. Not only will your car remain spick and span, long journeys become a source of excitement rather than one long chore.


  1. I have 2 kids and my car is always a mess.I use a small basket container to keep wipes or snacks in little bags for little hands so that containers or big wrappings of food don’t get trapped all over the car. At the end of the day simply take trash and clean out the car .Good tips, thanks for sharing.