9 Easy Road Trip Hacks to Keep Your Car Clean Mile After Mile

Keep Your Car Clean Road Trip Tips

Road trips – they’re not for the weak of heart nor the weak of stomach.

I can’t wait to be on the road again… but this time without the mess. Yes, of course, everyone has those amazing memories that come along with the adventure. Stopping at your favorite diner for breakfast, taking the back roads to see the fall colors in a small town, and discovering a hidden gem. But as the good memories pile up, so too does the trash. And as the limited space becomes a mess, the tensions rise.

This time, let’s avoid the stress. Stay sane, clean and ready to roll with these inventive ways to eliminate waste in your car. These quick and cheap road trip hacks will keep your car looking and smelling clean, mile after mile.

Looking for the best car for a road trip? The 2018 Honda Odyssey could be the one. 

Number One Road Trip Must-Have: Trash Can

The first stop I make when heading out on a long trip is the drive-through of the nearest Starbucks. I get a venti iced black coffee, and yes, I drink the entire thing. And no, I do not have a caffeine problem. The real problem is when the leftover ice melts and creates a scary brown slush that threatens to leak all over. Not this time, Starbucks.

To make your very own car trash can, get a cereal container and line it with a plastic shopping bag. Voila! A spill-free, airtight garbage can.

Easy Road Trip Garbage Can

Photo: HGTV Design Blog

Next stop, the gas station to fill up the tank and fuel up on snacks. My personal favorites include beef jerky and trail mix (mostly for the M&M’s). We all know calories don’t count on a road trip, but sometimes the wrappers add up. For a cute way to keep them out of sight and out of mind, make this DIY garbage can.

These Road Trip Hacks And Tips Will Keep Your Car Clean And Fresh, Even After Many Days On The Road.

No One Invited You, Car Sickness…

I’ll admit it: I had the worst case of carsickness when I was younger. Some of my lowest moments have been spent sitting in the backseat, stomach in a knot, trying desperately to hold on until the next stop. But with this homemade bag dispenser, you’ll be ready for anything. Just grab a plastic bag, no cleanup necessary.

Pinterest Road Trip Diy Bag Dispenser

Photo: The SITS Girls

Smell Me Something Good

In my book, it is not a road trip without the fried deliciousness that is fast food. My personal obsession is Chick-fil-A, but no matter how good the food is, there is always the lingering stale smell of grease and regret left behind. Make this DIY air freshener before you head out on the road, and keep your car smelling fresh as daisies (or lavender).

Or if you’re like me and you prefer kittens over everything, hang these kitten cuties on your rearview mirror. They smell like clean linen, with the added bonus of being adorable. Warning: Do not be distracted by the cuteness!

Road Trip Hacks And Tips To Keep Your Car Clean (And Cute) - Kitten Air Freshener

We hope Calendars.com restocks this super cute air freshener that hangs from the rearview mirror. Photo: Calendars.com

Not Much of a DIY-er? Me Neither!

And if you’re also like me, a “What is the easiest and quickest way I can get this done?” type of girl, simply open a box of dryer sheets and leave them under your car seat. Simple, easy and cheap way to give your road trip a fresh spin from start to finish.

Road Trip

Dryer sheets with that have a fresh fragrance are a great car freshener hack; just put a few under the seats. Photo: Bounce


Get Ahead of the Grime – Prep Your Cupholders for the Road Trip

You can plan all you want for this road trip, but the truth is life happens. However, my mom taught me two things in life: never give up, and it doesn’t hurt to be one step ahead of the game. Keep your cup holders grime-free with these reusable silicon cupcake wrappers. Pop them in for the trip. Then when you get home, put them in the dishwasher for an easy clean. Bonus: they are rainbow colors!

Cupcake Liners In Cupholders On Road Trip

Silicone cupcake liners also make cute cupholder liners, and you can remove them and toss them in the dishwasher. Photo: The Krazy Coupon Lady

Messy Travelers Along for the Ride? Avoid the Avoidable

If you’ve got a lot of travelers, sometimes you need a few extra cup-holders to make it through the wilderness. Grab a cupcake tin, and place it in a laundry basket. Boom, somehow you’ve made it through. More cup holders, fewer spills. Win.

Cupcake Tin In A Laundry Basket = More Cupholders On A Road Trip

Here’s a brilliant idea: Laundry basket + cupcake tin = cup holders! It’ll also hold French fries, popcorn and anything else that goes in a round cup. Photos:Target

Keep your backseat travelers entertained with these fun road trip games!

Road Trips Shouldn’t be ‘Ruff’

Bringing your pup along for the ride? As much as we love our four-legged friends, their fur is not exactly the cutest upholstery. There’s no need for an hour of lint rolling. Make a DIY seat cover, which doubles as a dog hammock. Your pup will be hanging loose, and your seats will be hair-free.

Diy Dog Hammock For Road Trip

Photo: Choosing to Be Colorful.com

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Journalist, entrepreneur and mom. Expertise includes new cars, family cars, 3-row SUVs, child passenger car seats and automotive careers... More about Scotty Reiss