How to Have a Clean Family Car Even When You Have a Bunch of Kids

The Top Car Cleaning Tips Won'T Work If Only The Parents Are Cleaning. Get Your Kids Involved!
The kids can mess up the car so make sure they help clean it up too! Photo: Maria Smith

Parents like us have so much to do besides seek out clean car tips, but I’m here to tell you this: A Clean Car Will Take You Far.

If you want to have a clean car but think it’s impossible because you have kids, you can think again. I have four rambunctious, messy kids, and we pretty much live in the car. Yet, we have figured out how to keep my minivan clean.

Read this article to know why I absolutely have no minivan shame.

The Top Car Cleaning Tips Won'T Work If Only The Parents Are Cleaning. Get Your Kids Involved!

A clean car can make your carpool run so much smoother! Photo: Maria Smith

Let me start by saying that it is not easy to have a clean family car. These clean car tips can be difficult to follow at times. My Honda Odyssey is not always sparkling. It is better than it used to be though, and I feel good about driving it.

Clean Car Tips for Families

The Top Car Cleaning Tips Won'T Work If Only The Parents Are Cleaning. Get Your Kids Involved!

The kids can mess up the car, so make sure they help clean it up too! Photo: Maria Smith

1. Get the kids to clean

One of the most important car cleaning tips I’ve learned along the way is to make sure I’m not the only one cleaning up the car. I tried that, and it didn’t work. Making the kids clean up the car gives them some skin in the game. Then they understand that the more they mess up the car, the harder it is to clean. Make sure the cleaning includes drink holders and under the car seats too. I’m sure we all know how nasty those spots can get with neglect.

 2. Never stop cleaning

I learned this lesson the hard way. I have to do a little cleaning every day, or else the Chick-fil-A containers, juice boxes and random pieces of paper will overtake the minivan. Every time I get out of the car (and I do mean every single time) I remind my kids to bring in their wrappers, toys and everything else. It gets tedious, but it works.

Car Cleaning Tips For Families Need To Include Some Ways To Keep Things Organized.

Keeping things organized, especially in the third row, is key. Photo: Maria Smith

 3. Use a car organizer

For my family, being organized is one of the best ways to have a clean family car.  I keep drawstring bags in the trunk for extra balls, clothes, and road trip essentials. Also, I was sent the Stow ‘N Go, which is a seat-back organizer. It has seven full-sized pockets and two drink holders in a washable, waterproof fabric. The top fastens around the headrest while the bottom fastens around the seat for a secure fit. I have two of them in the third row that help to collect basketball cards, Matchbox cars and extra napkins for my 6 and 8-year-olds. It’s super useful and only $11.

Have a road trip coming up? Check out these awesome road trip hacks for a clean car there and back!

 4. Go to the car wash

You can wash the car yourself. But when you have a bunch of kids like me, time is precious. About once a month I go to a car wash and let the machines work their magic. Then I spend some time vacuuming my Honda Odyssey to get it as factory-fresh as I can. Just set a date once a month, and go.

 5.  Put plastic bags in every row of the car

This is a simple trick that has helped my family so much. Putting a plastic shopping bag in the second and third rows helps to collect those little bits of garbage that end up all over the car. Once the bag is full, just tie it up and throw it away. Be sure to replace it though!

I hope these car cleaning tips can help keep you sane! Good luck with all the carpool shifts, soccer drop-offs, and dinners on the go. May the clean car forces be with you!

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These Clean Car Tips Can Help Anyone, But Specifically Those Of Us With A Bunch Of Messy Kids. We Can Have A Clean Family Car Again!

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Maria Smith is the founder of, one of the top parenting, travel and auto blogs in the country.... More about Maria Smith