How to KonMari Your Car and Spark Joy

Konmari Your Car

Yes, a clean car can bring joy. 

You Might Have Heard of Marie Kondo. Tidying expert, best-selling author, and star of her own Netflix series, Marie Kondo has helped thousands of people organize their homes and lives with her KonMari Method™. But can you “KonMari” your car? You bet you can! The KonMari Method™ encourages tidying by category and keeping only items that speak to the heart and spark joy. I follow many of her methods in my own home and have found a way to translate them to keep my car tidy, too.

About Marie Kondo

Marie Kondo has been around for a while. She started her tidying consultant business as a 19-year-old university student in Tokyo. Today, she has a New York Times #1 Best-Selling book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. She has also written two more books on the topic. In 2015, she was named one of Time’s 100 Most Influential People. Kondo also has a blog where she talks not only about organizing but also gives productivity tips and other ways to spark joy in your life. But it’s her new Netflix series, Tidying Up with Marie Kondo, that has really thrust her into the spotlight and made her a household name.

Six Steps to KonMari Your Car

So how can you apply the KonMari Method to your car? First, I am not a KonMari expert or consultant (yes, she has a certified consultant program, too). But I do consider myself a very organized person. I keep my car immaculate. Using Marie Kondo’s six basic rules of tidying, I’ve come up with a way to clean, organize, and #KonMari your car.

Further Reading: WHat’s the Best Mother’s Day Gift? A Freshly Cleaned Car!

Rule #1: Commit Yourself to Tidying Up.

Decide you want to keep your car clean and tidy. Tell your family that this is your goal and you expect them to respect it. Get them involved in the process. Commit to seeing it through and keeping your car tidy from here on out. Once you’re committed, sit in your car for a few minutes. Say hello and tell your car how much you appreciate it. It gets you where you want to go. It keeps you safe. Give it some appreciation.

Vintage Car Style

What is your ideal car style? Photo: Pixabay.

Rule #2: Imagine Your Ideal Lifestyle.

Your car is an integral part of your life. Think for a moment how your car fits into your lifestyle. Is your car mainly your mom taxi? Your sanctuary where you sit quietly and read a book? Your transport to sports and adventure? The things you keep in your car should directly relate to how you want to feel while driving. Think of your car as a room. Is it more like a living room, a kitchen, or a mud room?

For example, I think my car is most similar to a kitchen. The things I do in my car are analogous to creating a recipe. It’s where I think and prepare. I make mental lists, come up with creative ideas, and transport myself to exciting places. So I want the things in my car to facilitate creativity and assist me in keeping track of my ideas.

Rule #3: Finish Discarding First.

Marie advises against discarding and organizing at the same time. So now comes the real work. Get in that car and throw stuff away! Does it spark joy? If not, let it go! Empty your car completely. That’s right, take out everything that’s not attached to the car. Empty the trunk, the glove box, the console. As you are taking things out, sort into two piles: keep and throw out.

Bonus: Once your car is completely empty, take it to get detailed so it’s sparkly clean!

Woman Cleaning Car

Clean out that car – completely! Photo: Google/Creative Commons

Further Reading: How to have a clean car even when you have a bunch of kids!

Rules #4 and 5: Tidy by Category and Follow the Right Order.

I’m putting these two rules together because they don’t exactly translate perfectly to tidying up your car. But there are still some parallels. Let’s look at the categories, in order:

    • Clothes. Some people do like to keep extra clothing in their cars, especially if they are involved in sports. I keep a sweatshirt, blanket, and towels in a bin in my trunk in case of emergency. Go through the clothes in your car and decide if they are really necessary to keep in there. And if so, fold them neatly (KonMari style!) and put them in a box or bin.
  • Books. Maybe you have downtime in your car and you like to read. But even if that’s true, you probably take your book in your bag and don’t keep it permanently in the car. If there are old books (or books overdue at the library!) in your car, find another place for them.
  • Paper. Here’s a big one. I see so many people with so much paper in their cars. Receipts, food wrappers, maps, notes. Hopefully, a lot of this was taken care of during the “discard” step. Again, look at what’s left and decide if you really need it in your car. If you do, dedicate a space for it and keep it tidy. Maps can go in the side door pocket. Car documents, receipts, notes, in an envelope or organizer in the glove box.
  • Miscellaneous items. Toys, tools, electronic cords/chargers, food, sports equipment, emergency supplies. This is probably your biggest category of “stuff” when it comes to your car. Get a handle on it. Dedicate a specific space for each type of item. For example, cords go in the console. Toys in a stylish bag or colorful bin in the backseat, or hanging on the back of the front seats so your kids have easy access. Emergency supplies in a plastic bin in the trunk. Tools in another bin. Better yet, get one of these great trunk organizers!
  • Sentimental items. Your car is not the place for sentimental items. Those should be safely stored or displayed in your home. It’s great to personalize your car a bit – maybe you have something special hanging from your rear view mirror – but keep it to a bare minimum.

    Trunk Organizer

    Trunk organizers are magic and spark joy! Photo: Amazon.

Can That New Car Smell Last Forever? Meet the In-Car Fragrance Diffuser.

Rule #6: Ask Yourself, “Does it Spark Joy?”

As you are going through every item in your car, ask yourself, “Does this item spark joy?” I’ll add another question here that applies to your car: “Will this item help me feel happier and more secure in my car?” If not, thank it for its service and either discard it or put it in another place.

Your car can be a tidy place of peace and tranquility if you stick to these tips. And trust me, getting in a clean, organized car every day will absolutely cut down on your stress and result in more joy in your life.


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Feeling most at home when on the road, Shannon Entin grew up under the impression that the highest form... More about Shannon Entin