4 Moms: How do you keep the car clean?

In light of the fact that:

a. I just had a baby, and

b. whenever we open the door to one of our vehicles, trash falls out faster than children,

I think this is a good week for me to skip the weekly 4 Moms post and just refer you to the wisdom of the remaining 3 Moms of many, whose vehicles probably stay far cleaner than mine even though one or two of them will try to tell you otherwise.

See what the other moms say:

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  1. I can’t speak highly enough of Flylady (Flylady.net) when it comes to keeping house, home and car tidy.

    We have 5 children and an 8 seater van. We swish and swipe and collect any rubbish on Fridays (often when stopped at a traffic light). We have some plastic bags to use as rubbish bags when we are travelling, and everyone knows that we are trying to keep it clean (and not to eat in the car, etc).

    We also take everything out when we get home. The thing about taking everything out of the car is that it’s easier than it seems when you have a place for everything – and it only takes a few minutes to put things back in their place. So instead of this being a chore it becomes a necessity if I want a peaceful heart.

    You probably already know about flylady – her “15 minutes a day” “shiny sink” mentality has saved me so many times, both my husband and mother have said “thank you flylady” on many occasions when we’ve had people visit without warning or we’ve had to put our hands on some paperwork etc.

    Here is a excerpt from her blog: http://blog.flylady.net/wp/?p=99

    May 31st, 2009 by admin

    UFOs are Un-tethered Flying Objects in your car! Yes you know the ones I am talking about! Our cars are usually the last frontier when it comes to getting organized. When I was a small child I was hurt by bottle in our car. I still have the scar to show for it. Think of it this way when you are riding in a car going 55 mph if you have to stop abruptly everything in the car becomes a missile. Think about being hit by a baseball or a bottle that was thrown at that speed.

    Here is the worst thing about UFOs in your car! You are embarrassed for anyone to ride with you. I know because I am just like you! My car has been clear of clutter on the inside for almost two years. There is no telling how many accidents have occurred because a bottle rolled out from under the seat. Then it got under our foot or brake and we reached down to get it.

    So how do we stop from cluttering up our cars? We have to establish simple habits that will keep the clutter eliminated.

    1. Don’t eat in your car. If you do, then bag up the trash as soon as everyone is finished. The bag the fast food came in is a great bag to hold the trash. When you get out of the car, find a trash can.

    2. Every time you get home empty the car of things you put in it before you left. Not only will this keep your family safe from UFOs but it will deter thieves. When there is nothing in the car there is no temptation to break a window. My purse was stolen from my car once when I went into a funeral home to pay my respects.

    3. While you are filling your car up with gas; play a game with the children to pick up the trash in your car. Then throw it away. They can hand it to you through the car window after you have filled up.

    4. Keep things in your trunk, confined in zippered bags or under a cargo net in your van or SUV.

    5. Establish a day for blessing your car. Fill it up, Clean it out and Shine it up! We do it on Fridays. We have some simple tools for this; Hey Tom Car Duster, Rubba Scrubba and FlyLady Purple Rags in a bag. Rubba Scubba sweeps the floor and seats, Duster does the dash and console and the Rags cleans the windows. That is if you put them in your hand and use them.

    Don’t put your family’s safety in jeopardy because you don’t think you have time. Think of it as Swish and Swipe for your car. Daily maintenance takes less time than a whole day clean up to get ready to go somewhere with strangers in your car. Be sure and keep them contained too in the trunk or glove box.

  2. Ok, I’ll answer this one for you as a baby present.

    I have five children and a 15 passenger van. It’s not perfect but we do a lot better than we used to because I have gotten very strict. I don’t allow the children to bring toys in the car. They can learn to entertain themselves by looking out the window, talking to their siblings and playing feet babies – something my little girls do and it’s adorable! They didn’t really play with the toys anyway. They just cluttered up the car with them. I do let my children that are 12 and older AND responsible enough not to throw their books on the floor, bring them in the car to read if they keep them in a book bag when they’re not using them. Luckily none of my children get car sick like I do when I read.

    The next thing I do is require everyone to keep their jackets and shoes on. If it gets too warm for coats I take them all and put them away so they don’t get dropped and trampled. I keep a large rubbermaid container in the front next to me between the seats. That’s where I keep my purse, shopping bags, snacks, water bottles, jackets, etc. I also keep a small garbage can in the car. Even if the children don’t use it I can quickly clean up any garbage when I see it.

    I used to let all of them bring water bottles but they kept getting tipped and leaked so now I keep the water bottles with me and everyone can have drinks when we stop. We almost never eat in the car because we can’t eat fast food but if we need snacks we take bananas and homemade crackers that aren’t crumbly and messy. The older ones help feed the younger ones and clean up after them.

    We always try to clean out the van when we get home but if it’s late and we don’t get it done we do it the next morning during our chores.

    Our van stays pretty clean this way.

    Another tip? Slow down! Don’t over-schedule and be in such a hurry that you can’t keep up with life. Easier said than done, I know, but we are so much happier with a slow and simple lifestyle. When we try to do it all we don’t accomplish much. It’s ok to miss some activities and just stay home.

    • Thank you, Lara, for some great tips!
      When we lived an hour from town, every trip to town was a full day. We rarely got home before dark, making it difficult to clean the big mess that accumulated.
      Now that we’re in town and everything is just a hop and a skip away, I’m hoping we can make some new habits. Your ideas sound like a great way to start!

    • We have the same number of children and a 12 passenger Ford van. We handle things very similar to Lara. One tip I would add here is that 30 seconds from pulling in the driveway, everyone is to brush off their seat, arrange van pillows and blankets, and basically leave their seat/bench neat. The floor of the van gets vacuumed or brushed out as needed. (Detailing secret–a dry squeegee gets dog hair off the seats and floor better than anything!) Dashboard area and windows inside get wiped as needed. When we arrive home the van is to be totally emptied and stuff put away. And of course, we keep a grooming bag in the van at all times: baby wipes, brush, comb, vanilla lotion or some other unisex scented lotion, and baby powder.

  3. I only have 3 kids and I do well to not lose trash every time a door opens. My husband however has a spotless car. His trick, he rarely has kids in his car and when he does he makes them take what they bring back out. Oh, and he doesn’t shop with them in his car either, he takes mine for that!

  4. We only have six at home with us. Number nine is due in two weeks and the oldest two are grown. We struggle so much to keep our van clean! It is reassuring to know we are not the only ones. Sometimes I actually pay them 25 cents a plastic shopping bag full (put away) to get it done!

  5. We are a family of 10 and drive a 12 passenger van. We keep our van clean (consistantly) by me making that the only cash paying job in the house. I pay our 11 year old 5 dollars for each cleaning and for keeping it ALL clean, ALL the time. (it’s worth it) If I climb in it and it’s not clean, the job was not done properly. 😉 Sometimes, I only have to pay twice in a month because it wasn’t dirty enough to clean. He’s not on a schedule, but he does it on a “need to” basis. Previously to my now 11 year old doing it, it was his older brother’s job. He passed down the job about 6 months ago. We’ve done it similar to this for years and it has worked really good.
    I think a clean car is a good testimony. 🙂

  6. Well, THANK GOD I’m not the only one whose “trash falls out faster than children!” I never thought I’d be *that* mom, whose 15 passenger van is loaded with more kids’ junk than people! It’s all I can do to hope it doesn’t all fall out in the parking lot when we travel somewhere.

  7. You do realize ALL of the 4Moms said they couldn’t keep their vans clean? Maybe its an unrealistic expectation, especially for large families? 🙂

  8. Blog post, orrrrrr snuggling new baby. Good choice! Snuggling the new baby would win out in my house too. 🙂 I think you’re good to sit this one out!

  9. That’s ok, Honey. Just sit back and relax and let the children clean the car.

Don't just think it: say it!

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