Scientists tell us that everything tends toward disorder. You probably don’t need a scientist to point that out. Look at an abandoned building that once held windows intact but is now littered with broken glass. Peek inside your closets or your garage or your basement. Look inside your glovebox. Or your trunk. If you are like many people, those places are perennial junk piles – or at least they are disordered and disheveled.
How in the world do you keep it all organized? According to the law of entropy, only with intention! Here are some ideas to keep your car neat and organized, and some reasons why it is worth doing.
Why clean and clutter-free?
Someone once told me that he avoided washing his car because the layer of dirt formed a barrier that protected the paint. He was wrong (and his car rusted away badly because of it). There is a reason to keep the outside of your car clean with regular trips to a soft-touch automatic car wash and the occasional coat of wax to keep the paint from looking dull. Likewise, it is more important than you might realize to maintain the inside too.
First of all, a clean and organized interior makes it safer for you and your passengers, for a couple of reasons. It helps you to avoid distraction and it minimizes potential danger. Distracted driving due to a frantic search through all of the junk in your glove box or center console can easily lead to a crash on the road. And loose objects, especially heavy ones, become flying objects – projectiles – if you have to use your brakes in a panic situation, or you get in a crash (maybe while looking for your phone charger in the mess). Think about it: a trailer hitch drawbar sitting in the stowage area at the back of your SUV suddenly becoming a missile flying forward when you slam on the brakes. A clean and organized interior keeps everyone much safer on the street.
Keeping your car in good order also saves you money. Extra “stuff” crammed into compartments (especially those with latching lids) or loose objects rolling around can cause damage to trim panels and seats. Damage that is expensive to repair or at least decreases the value of your vehicle. If you find that you keep way too much stuff in your car, rendering it a giant junk drawer, the likelihood of making duplicate purchases for things you already own goes up tremendously. And carrying around the extra weight in your car decreases fuel mileage while increasing your fuel costs.
If for no other reason, you just might find that keeping your car clean and organized makes for more enjoyment. Who doesn’t relish the look and feel of a car when they first drive it off the dealership lot? Heck, it even feels good to drive on a full tank of gas, or with a new set of brake pads after a complete brake job. When you care for your car, chances are you will appreciate and enjoy the experience of driving it. You could break an intentional cleaning and organizing process for your car down into four thoughts, each with the aim of keeping you safer, saving you money, and making your drive a lot more fun.
The first thing to do when you tackle the responsibility of cleaning and organizing your car is to clear it out. Empty it out. Get rid of the junk. Throw away the extra napkins that keep blowing around every time you open your windows. Pull the pop cans from under the seat. While you are there, snag the shriveled french fries and spare change. By all means, dispose of anything that is not of real value – especially if it has no place in your car. Now is the time to fill up the trash bag.
With your car emptied out, take the time to detail the interior. You can schedule an appointment with a professional detailing service for a premium job. If you either cannot afford that option, or you prefer to do it yourself, make sure to follow some professional detailing tips to make it look amazing (and avoid causing damage). Vacuum the carpets, wash the mats, clean the cracks and crevices. Use a lint roller to capture pet hair, dust the dash, wash the windows. Each of these operations requires not a mechanic’s license but a careful touch (washing your car by hand can actually do more harm than good…). When the details have been attended to, you will have a fresh interior reminiscent of a new car – and you will be ready for the next stage.
Look at all of the stuff you pulled from your car. Then look through all of the compartments again and remove the rest. No really, all of it. Now, sort what you have left after disposing of the trash into piles, two or three. One pile should be for the essentials that should be in your car (more on this in a bit). Another pile is dedicated to things that should not go back inside, those items that were forgotten in the mess and should have made their way back into the house or garage long ago. You might consider a third pile for items that could stay in your car but are not essential. Golf clubs are one example; they are essential for some folks, but maybe not for everyone. What about ratcheting tie-down straps? Do you need to keep them in the backseat of your truck? Or can you store them in the garage when not in use? Once you have done the sorting, decide. Decide what is “essential” for inclusion in your car. Try to keep it to the bare essentials as much as you can. And put away everything else.
Once you have decided on what to keep in your car, it is time to put it back. But don’t do it without a plan. Remember, everything tends toward disorder. If you just plop everything inside, chaos will return. Instead, give everything a home and keep it that way.
Because many people struggle with the daunting task of getting organized, we will use the word “arrange” instead. There are dozens of tips for arranging the essentials (and almost essentials) in your vehicle. Here is a sample list of ideas.
- Place a small trash bag or container in the back seat and use it for things to throw away that do not produce a bad odor
- Since you are using a trash bag, you can keep your cup holders free from trash. If they tend to get gooed up from sticky soda, line them with cupcake liners to trap the mess.
- Keep your center console clutter-free by stacking and storing everything vertically. That way, you do not need to dig to find something.
- Your car might have a compartment or a dispenser for spare change. If not, consider an old prescription bottle so you never have to do a deep dive under the seats for meter money.
- Rather than packing everything possible into your glove compartment, how about limiting what goes in there, and what does go inside, give it its own organizer. For instance, store clean napkins in a poly sealable bag. Place your registration and insurance paperwork inside your vehicle owner’s manual and routine maintenance schedule folder. And keep facial coverings required during the coronavirus or other national crisis in a sealed container.
- If you carry a lot of paperwork with you, think about getting a plastic folding file folder to keep it from falling on the floor, in between the seats, and out the windows.
- Instead of turning your doors into maracas as objects rattle around inside, purpose to use them for items such as an umbrella or a microfiber duster that you can use on your dashboard while you are waiting for your gas tank to fill up at the station.
- A trunk organizer comes in handy to hold an emergency kit, tool kit, first aid kit, spare blanket, paper towels, and other urgent essentials, as long as it is sturdy and not overstuffed.
- A mesh trunk net can also help to keep stuff from rolling back and forth in your trunk when you turn a corner.
- Your sunglasses can hang from your sun visor with a sunglasses holder.
- Hang a bag, storage pocket, or even a shoe organizer from the back of a headrest to keep objects in order.
- Place your phone charger(s) in a cord organizer to keep them tangle free.
The list could go on and on, but the idea is simple. Stick as closely to the bare necessities in your car. And clean it every week. If you don’t allow it to get out of hand – if you are intentional about keeping it clean – you will overcome entropy and enjoy the experience.
Columbia Auto Care & Car Wash | Author: Mike Ales | Copyright
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