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By: John Adams, author of and dad of two young daughters
Posted on: Jun 13, 2019

Ten Tips for Avoiding the Family Car Disaster Zone

If there’s one thing I like, it’s to get behind the wheel of a pristine, clean motor car. If there’s one thing I rarely get to do with a young family, it’s drive a car that's spotlessly clean!

Young families and clean cars don’t always mix very well. I know my driving habits have changed a lot since I became a dad, especially since my kids started school. I am forever doing short, stop-start journeys as I take them to and from school and to various activity clubs.

School bags and clothes get thrown in and out of the car. Toys and sports equipment have to be taken to places. And on long journeys, the kids want food and drinks. It’s easy to forget to empty your car and before you know it, it looks more like a trash can than a serene mode of family transportation.

Based on some hard experiences, here are my tips for avoiding a family car disaster zone.

Ban all food & drink

I know it sounds harsh, but stopping children from eating and drinking in the car really does make a massive difference. The 'no food and drink' rule should also apply to any adults travelling with you, too. In my experience it’s food wrappers, empty packaging and unfinished food that make the biggest mess.

Keep a trash bag in the car

If you are going on long journeys or a road trip, it may not be practical to ban food altogether. What you can do is keep a trash bag in your car and make sure all trash is placed in it during the journey, so you only have to deal with the bag when you arrive at your destination.

Use refillable drinks bottles & food containers

Refillable drinks bottles and food containers not only keep your car tidier, but they also reduce the amount of plastic you are using - a win for you, your car and the environment!

California Innovations offer soft-sided cooler bags enhanced with Microban technology - allowing you to worry less about bacteria and focus more on enjoying your lunch!
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Knock your shoes clean

Before getting into your car, knock your shoes clean if you’ve been anywhere muddy or to the beach. If you or your passengers’ shoes are very dirty, take them off altogether and place then in a box in the back of the car.

Address the mess as and when it happens

Always clean mess and spills when they happen. A damp cloth will help a lot when wiping down the dashboard, door handles and so on. For patterned areas, you might want to use a toothbrush or nail brush. For getting into nooks and crannies, a screwdriver or wooden coffee stirrer can prove useful.

Vacuum the car regularly

You should vacuum your car regularly to remove dirt and/or sand that builds up. This also reduces the amount of dust in the vehicle that can gather around the instrument panel.

Get your children involved

Everyone’s children are different, but mine love washing the car! In the summer months this is very important because of all the pollen in the atmosphere. If you can persuade your children to wash all or some of the car, why not? Maybe even reward them with a little cash or a treat.

Buy a car organiser

In the past, I have used car organisers to keep the interior tidy. They are a great way for storing charging cables, children’s toys, tissues and other items in the one place.

Use car air fresheners

Air fresheners are a great way of keeping your car that bit more pleasant. My kids always comment on how nice our car smells when we get a new air freshener so they’re an easy way to help avoid the family car disaster zone.

Remove something every time you get out

Every time you get out of the car at home, remove something from the vehicle that doesn’t need to be there. It could be an old parking ticket, maybe it’s an old newspaper or food wrapper etc. If you get into this habit, it should stop rubbish from piling up.

Good luck!

It isn’t always easy keeping a family car clean - so many people use it that mess can easily build up on a daily basis! However, with careful planning and a bit of luck, these tips and hacks should help you avoid the family car disaster zone.