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How to keep your car clean on road trips

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Many of the best tips for keeping a car clean on a road trip are implemented before you leave the driveway. Besides ensuring your car’s maintenance is up to date, these tips involve carefully choosing what goes into your car and how each item will be organized and stored during your trip. Keeping your car neat on a road trip is important for comfort and safety. It also saves time from reorganizing, looking for lost items or cleaning up avoidable messes so that your family can enjoy the fun stops along the way during your road trip.

How to keep your car clean on a road trip

Here are the top seven tips for keeping your car clean on a road trip.

1. Everyone should have a personal backpack

A personal backpack should be able to hold all items that your family intends to bring into the car for the ride. This would include everything from iPods, to reading books or coloring and activity books, to change of shoes, to sunglasses or rain jackets. For young children it may also include a doll, a stuffed animal or a blanket. Before each stop everyone should put all of their personal items into the backpack and place it next to their seat or floorboard.

2. Bring plastic zippered freezer bags for trash

The size and number of bags needed will vary depending on the length of the trip. Plastic grocery bags are not practical for long trips as they can spill, small pieces of trash can float out and other items can leak or melt and make a mess. If you have to eat fast food or even a picnic food in the car, the plastic bag should be passed around following every snack and meal and all trash should go in. Likewise, if you hand out pieces of gum, pass around the bag for the wrappers. If you hand out a band-aid, pass the bag for the wrapper. Keep the bag zippered after every collection.

3. Bring baby wipes

Baby wipes can help to clean up any sticky messes or spills. Also, if everyone keeps their hands clean with baby wipes, there will be less greasy grime building up in the car. You guessed it, if you hand out baby wipes, pass the freezer bag to collect them back up.

4. Have an organizer that closes, for important trip papers

If you have paper items such as directions, hotel phone numbers, brochures and the like that do need to stay handy, be sure to keep them all in an organizer that closes, whether it has a zipper or a button and stretchy band. Having papers strewed around on dashes, in consoles and door pockets makes them harder to find when you need them. A long trip road trip is different than an hour trip to a museum. It is amazing how you can forget where you stuck something after driving through several states.

How to keep your car clean on road trips_ MommySnippets.com

5. Markers or crayons?

Sure there are many brands of washable markers on the market. The issue though is the tops. They fall. People who are strapped in car seats can’t reach them. They roll under seats, get lost and markers dry out. One issue with crayons is that they can melt in a hot car. Another issue is the little pieces of broken crayons and the marks they make. Another issue with crayons is the little bits of paper from the wrappers that almost always flutter around little artist. The best bet: The crayons that are encased in plastic holders. There’s no paper and no breakage. They can be purchased at Staples and other office supply stores. As great as they are, limit the number per person. Is there really any reason for one child to have 24 colors for coloring in the car? Again, they should go in the child’s backpack when not in use.

6. Avoid worst offender car snacks

Raisins are a nice healthy snack for anyone- that is not in a car. The amount of mess that three smashed raisins can make in a car is exponential. Also avoid “cheesy” snacks that have orange powders or anything covered in yogurt or chocolate.

7. Plan on a visiting a car wash

Depending on your budget in time and money, get the car cleaned or else bring along rolls of quarters and stop for a do it yourself vacuum and rinse. People are more likely to maintain order and cleanliness in a clean car.

Once things start to get messy, it seems that one little candy wrapper or hair band won’t make a difference.


If you’re in the market for a new or pre-owned vehicle in the Edgewood, MD area, visit the Thompson Chrysler Jeep dealership, our partners for this feature. You know the success of a smooth drive always lies with the reliability of the vehicle you own.