10 Must-Have Items to Keep Your Car Organized and Ick-Free This Fall


When a first grader calls you out about your messy car, it’s time to clean it up.

Do you know who made me realize my car was a little icky and kind of unorganized? My 6-year-old son.

“Mommy, it stinks in here. It’s a little messy, too.”

Yep, my 6-year-old said that to me when he got into my car. I wanted to tell the kid he was being dramatic or rude or something else, but I couldn’t. He was right. It did kind of stink in there and it was messy.

The sad part is, I couldn’t even identify the odor right away. I never can. And although my car is far from straight up nasty, I have to admit that I haven’t always the best at keeping it clean and organized. My husband wins the award when it comes to organization and cleanliness (I will never hear the end of it if he reads this).

Since having your kid call your car stinky and messy isn’t cool, I decided that I had enough of the mess. It was time to show my kids that mommy cares about the car more than it seems. Plus I was getting tired of my husband’s car being referred to as the “cleaner car.”

So with a little research and a few tips from my super-organized husband, I decided this is the perfect time of the year to put my car in order, make it ick-free.

The result? My kids are happier, I am happier, my husband is a whole lot happier, and my car smells great!

These tips can help you get your car to a happier place

Now, of course, I want to share a few tips to help you get to this happier place, too.

Here are 10 must-have items that will keep your car organized and ick-free this fall (you’re welcome).

1. Fabric Deodorizer:  This comes in handy if you have fabric seats, but that’s not all. You can use to it get funky odors out of your rugs and even clothes. Why would you need to deodorize your clothes? Have you ever cooked dinner and then got in the car to head somewhere, only to realize that you smell like what you just cooked? Now it might be okay to go to the PTA meeting smelling like a lemon pound cake, but if you just made fish for dinner, it’s not cute. Fabric deodorizer saves the day all the time.

2. Backseat Organizer: If you have kids, this is a must. You can either purchase one, or use things you have around the house to create a decent organizer. I decided to use this green caddy in the center of the car for my kids because it’s easier for both of them to reach. Depending on the type of car you have and what your kids prefer, you may find that an organizer that hangs over the back of the front seats is the way to go. When their snacks, toys, and supplies are organized, you are a lot less likely to end up with toys under the seats, crushed snacks, and melted crayons.


A backset organizer keeps everything tidy. Photo: Martine Foreman for AGirlsGuidetoCars

3. Trunk Organizer: Soccer balls, paper towels, rags, water bottles—you name it, I had it in my trunk. Now I have a crate that I use to keep everything organized. You can also purchase a trunk organizer with multiple compartments if you’d like. Keeping your trunk organized prevents you from looking all over the place for stuff. It also avoids that mad rush to squish everything into one corner when you go on a big shopping trip and actually need the space in your trunk.

4. Air Freshener/Neutralizer: You can’t stop odors from coming in and out of your car. Foods, pets, and sweaty kids are just a few of the things that can make your car smell not-so-fresh. With the right air freshener or neutralizer, you can really keep your car smelling fresh, and a fresh ride makes all the difference. See that little orange thing on my vent? It keeps my car smelling like a tiny piece of heaven.


This little orange thing on my air vent keeps my son from holding his nose now! Photo: Martine Foreman for AGirlsGuidetoCars

5. Plastic Bags: When my son was almost 3, he threw up all over our back seat. Thank goodness we had paper towels in the car, but we struggled to find a bag. I was not happy. If you keep a stash of bags in our car, you can use them for sick kids or for placing yucky paper towels after wiping up a mess. If you have an old tissue box, just stuff a bunch of grocery bags in it and keep the box under a seat in the car.

6. Change of clothes: You don’t need anything fancy, but sweats and t-shirts for everyone is always a good idea to keep in the trunk. You really never know when they will come in handy. Spills, accidents, and sickness can quickly turn your fresh-smelling car into a funky mess. Being able to change your clothes instead of driving home in smelly clothes is the way to go.

7. Paper Products: Everyone need to keep tissues, paper towels, disinfectant wipes, and antibacterial wipes in the car. They will always come in handy. From icky hands to a sick kid to a coffee spill, having paper products available is a must.


These paper products are a must to keep spills and icky messes out of your car. Photo: Martin Foreman for AGirlsGuidetoCars

8. Trash Bag or Can: There will be trash. Wouldn’t it be nice if you were more prepared for it? Having a bag or an actually trashcan in your car seems so simple, but so many people don’t do it. Once you designate a place for all the trash to go, have your kids take turns emptying the trash. You can make it one of their regular chores or you can hand out a bonus for doing it (like cash, or the ability to choose the music for the next long drive).

9. Handheld Vacuum: Nothing catches crumbs and messes like a handheld, cordless vacuum. Keep one in the car and you can clean things up before it gets way out of hand (and anyone with kids knows that it gets out of hand quickly).


A cordless vacuum is great for quick clean-ups and even the kids can use it. Photo: Martine Foreman for AGirlsGuidetoCars

10. Window Cleaner: Car windows get really yucky really quickly. And as much as I appreciate a good rainfall, it doesn’t get rid of all the grime. You shouldn’t have to wait for a complete car wash to have windows that are free of dead bugs, finger prints, and who knows what else. Cleaner windows just make me feel like my car is cleaner. I love it.

Martine Foreman is a proud New Yorker now living in the suburbs of Maryland. Martine is a lifestyle and... More about Martine Foreman