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15 Things People Who Always Have Clean Cars Have in Common

Does keeping your car tidy seem impossible? With these genius tips from a professional organizer, you can turn that dream into a reality.

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They Never Leave Home Without Garbage Bags

If you’re super busy or you travel for work, you might end up at your fair share of drive-throughs or grab-and-go sandwich stores. Why can that be a problem? “Those people often end up having messy, smelly cars because food bowls, wrappers, and debris start to pile up,” says Dena Sanowicz, a New York–based professional organizer and the brains behind Instagram’s best-kept secret for organizing tutorials. “If you’re late for a meeting or you’re running somewhere, it’s easy to let these things pile up. You can solve that issue by always keeping car-specific garbage bags on hand and emptying them daily.”

Try an easy-to-use product like Tossits, which you can hang on the passenger-side headrest and tear off with minimal effort. These eco-friendly bags also have adhesive strips to seal away the mess before you make it to a trash can.

Try this little trick to keep your plastic bags organized at home.

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They Don’t Use Their Car as a Storage Facility

“When traveling with small children, we sometimes think we need to travel with our whole house for all those ‘just in case’ moments, and after a few trips, we end up having multiples of the same things all over the place,” says Sanowicz. “Instead of reloading the car with doubles of everything, try just keeping absolute essentials in a carefully thought out organizing bin in the back or trunk.” This sturdy organizer from Fortem can hold everything from changes of clothes to sports equipment. Plus, it has a non-slip bottom and securing straps, so it will stay exactly where you need it to. It’s one of the Amazon products you’ll definitely use every day.

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They Treat Upholstery Stains Immediately

Rather than waiting for that annual spring cleaning, tidy drivers treat car upholstery and dirty floor mats with stain-fighting products the very same day they notice an issue. Try a cost-effective spray solution like CLR Stain Magnet, and keep it in your trunk organizer for unexpected spills, accidents, and particularly messy rides.

Here’s the real trick on how to get stains out of car seats.

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They Clean Handles and Knobs Every Week

If you have enough people in the car to use the HOV lane, you need to thoroughly disinfect everything in your car more often than you may realize. That includes all of your car’s interior handles, knobs, and vent adjusters, which are particularly prone to germs, dirt, and fingerprints. Try a pet- and child-safe spray like Greenerways Organic All-Purpose Multi-Surface Cleaner, and commit a few minutes one day each week to cleaning all the nooks, crannies, and windows you take for granted.

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A Cordless Hand Vacuum is Their Best Friend

“Carpools, long rides, and other drives are always off to a better start with a clean space, which is why I always try to take my hand vacuum,” explains Sanowicz. “Clean out the car seats, cup holders, and other areas so that you start off fresh and not feeling cramped.” One great, user-friendly option to consider: the Hoover ONEPWER Cordless Hand Vacuum.

This hack will stop crumbs and other things from slipping through the cracks of your car.

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They Always Have Reusable Wipes on Hand

Reusable microfiber wipes are the eco-friendly answer to paper towels and disposable wipes, and once you start keeping them in your car, you won’t know how you ever lived without them. Use them with your favorite cleaning sprays, dust down dashboards, and rescue upholstery from unforeseen soda spills in a jiffy. Casabella Micro Wipes are budget-friendly, reusable, and can be machine-washed between uses.

Find out the six things you should use a microfiber cloth to clean.

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07_They love lint rollersvia

They Love Lint Rollers

If you think they’re just for clothes, think again. Giant lint rollers can easily pick up pet hair, coat fuzzies, and random gunk from car upholstery and other surfaces. Opt for a long-handled version, like this Evercare Mega Roller, that can access hard-to-reach areas.

See how a lint roller can help you clean up glass too!

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They Spray the Nasties Away

Organized carpoolers know they can’t control every cough, sneeze, or bacterial nightmare, so they keep their car-cleaning caddy stocked with germ-busting disinfectants that do double duty. This eucalyptus-and-spearmint-scented disinfecting spray from Seventh Generation effectively combats the viruses and bacteria that make their way onto door handles, window buttons, and other highly trafficked interior spots. Plus, just one spray will make your car smell like a spa. Here’s how you can make your own car freshener.

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They Use Products That Do Double Duty

You don’t need to fill your caddy with every cleaning product under the sun, according to Sanowicz. Instead, pick products that combine functions, like disinfecting and deodorizing, or cleaning and protecting. For example, 303 Automotive Protectant Wipes get rid of gunk and dust while sealing in UV protection for your rubber, vinyl, and plastic surfaces. Each matte-finish application lasts a month or more, giving you a cleaner car along with UV protection for dashboards and other sun-affected areas. (Still, for a truly clean car, a month is really too long to go between cleanings.) Don’t miss these 74 other maintenance tips that will extend the life of your car.

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They Repurpose Household Items in Genius Ways

If you’re diligent about cleaning just one part of your car’s interior each day, make it your cup holders, says Sanowicz. They tend to collect every bit of junk, and they’re notoriously hard to clean. Consider simplifying this task by inserting silicone cupcake liners and taking them out for cleanings. Just dump out any accumulated crumbs, and then pop them in the dishwasher. You can store extra liners in your glove compartment for those just-in-case moments, and they make great snack cups, too.

These items are really great for repurposing too!

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They Store Paperwork Thoughtfully

Don’t leave receipts, car documents, insurance cards, and other important paperwork strewn about your car. Not only might they get damaged or lost, but they’re also an eyesore. Instead, invest in an inexpensive file folder for your glove compartment. You’ll enjoy appropriate sections for all your favorite coupons, manuals, and other must-haves without stressing about keeping track of everything.

Find out why you need to create a homeowners journal.

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They Spot-clean Their Car’s Exterior

You probably suspected cleaning wipes for your car’s interior would make this list, but did you know that bird-poop-specific wipes exist for your car’s exterior, too? They’re perfect to use in between washes and detailing appointments, and they effectively remove even baked-on bird poo. They can also go to town on sticky residue on the inside of your car. If your parking spot is under a tree, Drop Wipes need to go on your Amazon Wish List ASAP.

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They Get Into a Car’s Nooks and Crannies

You know that fun hair-teasing brush you probably haven’t used since your prom? It turns out that it’s nearly identical to the car-detailing brushes that professionals use to wipe and loosen debris from hard-to-reach cracks, corners, and car seats. Wash and use your old one, or pick up a new, inexpensive one to stash in your car-cleaning kit. Protect your car from dust and sunlight with these car covers.

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They Squeegee

Clean cars stay that way because they’re cared for diligently. Investing in your own squeegee can obviously help keep your windows clean, but in a pinch, they’ll help clear pet hair and spilled snacks off seats in under a minute. They’ll also get spilled drinks under control faster than you can grab a towel.

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They’re Smart About Smells

Store potentially leaky liquids in an airtight cereal container to make sure mistakes don’t stink up your car (or get it sticky). This inexpensive staple from Rubbermaid is also great for holding garbage and pet items.

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Reader's Digest
Originally Published on Reader's Digest

Bryce Gruber
Bryce Gruber is an expert in gift ideas, shopping, and e-commerce. You've likely seen her work across a variety of women's lifestyle and parenting outlets and on TV shows. She lives and works in New York's Hudson Valley with her five small children.