Like most people, your car is probably one of the first places you go when you’ve lost something. There’s no question, cars collect things. Maybe you dropped a pen or a chapstick. If you eat on the run, there may even be a few french fries under the seat. Storage is complicated or inconvenient and nothing is handy. The point is, it’s tough to keep an organized, clutter free car, especially if you have frequent passengers who wreak havoc on everything they touch – uh, hello toddlers. From crayons and snacks to maps and everything in between, modern day cars are the black hole of the highway.
The good news? People today are creative, and there’s no shortage of truly amazing (and quite simple) hacks that you can use to shape up your auto experience. Whether it’s getting organized, staying clean or simply making road trips more enjoyable, if we have to spend time behind the wheel, shouldn’t the car work for us? Here are 13 of the most amazing hacks to keep your car looking and smelling as it should: clean, neat and organized.
No. 1: Hang a Plastic Shoe Organizer On the Back of the Seat For Easy Storage
Small children are the gifts that keep giving when it comes to cars and, for parents, this first hack is, without question, a life safer. Kids love to travel with things. That means even a quick trip to the grocery store involves dragging along stuffed animals, coloring books, a few crayons and the infamous zip lock bag of goldfish. Why would anyone under 5 possibly need all of these things? Don’t try to figure it out. Instead, make it work to your advantage by hanging a simple plastic shoe organizer with six or more convenient pockets on the backside of the passenger seat. Voila! Store snacks, crayons, favorite toys, etc. without have to dig them out from under the seat. No kids? A shoe organizer is also an easy way to store maps, pens and pencils, extra paper, even small first aid items without having to over stuff the glove box.
No. 2: De-Bug the Grill With Dryer Sheets
Despite washing and waxing your ride regularly, it’s tough to avoid collecting dried bugs on the grill and front side of your car. If you’ve tried to remove them in the car wash, you probably realize what a disaster that is. Luckily, you don’t need to break a sweat to remove these unwelcome additions. Here’s the hack: grab some dryer sheets (the cheap kind don’t work as well, so opt for the name brand) and gently rub across the bug-infested area. Like magic, the bugs come right off into the cloth. Why didn’t anyone tell us about this years ago? Keep a package handy in the glove box and the next time you take a road trip you’ll have an easy fix for the carnage that awaits.
No. 3: Dust Interior Vents With a Foam Craft Brush
Who hasn’t been frustrated trying to remove dust from insanely hard to clean car vents? A paper towel either doesn’t fit or tears, leaving you with an even worse predicament in your vent. Problem solved: grab a small, spongy craft brush from your local art supply store and slip it between the spaces on the vent. If you choose the right size, it’s almost too easy. Not only is this a super effective and convenient dusting method, but it’s healthier too, given that you’re not breathing in years of dust that’s been trapped in those annoying spaces. Better yet, spritz a little car freshener on the end of the brush and when the vents are turned on, you’ll have an automatic and highly potent car freshener.
No. 4: Make a Crayon Carrier Out of an Empty Baby Wipe Holder
Kids and crayons. If you’re like me, you could probably outfit your local school with a year’s supply of crayons with just those you find rolling around the car floor. Here’s the solution: plastic travel size baby wipe containers. They’re the perfect size for a handful of crayons – just enough for a short road trip. Plus, the container snaps shut so the contents stay put instead of rolling through the interior of the car. As an added bonus, plastic provides protection from the sun. So if you live in an area where heat scorches (and melts) everything left unattended while you’re shopping, the crayons will never turn up melted on your leather. Bonus! Two kids? Give each their own container and let them pick the colors at home before you leave. They’ll feel involved and, as a result, will be more likely to keep track of their personal stash.
No. 5: Use Toothpaste to Shine Headlights
This sounds silly, but it actually works. Over time, car headlights become drab and yellow looking. Pick up a tube of toothpaste (not gel, use the regular white kind) and buff those yellow, faded headlights to a sparkly shine. I don’t know why it works, but I’m not going to complain because my headlights are amazing! The trick to getting the best shine? Use small amounts of toothpaste at a time, rub in circular motion, let dry and buff with a clean rag. Pro tip: don’t use water or the paste will smear and you’ll end up with cloudy headlights.
No. 6: Never Forget Which Side to Pump Gas Again
I know this isn’t really a hack for cleanliness, but it does keep you organized in the car, and that’s never a bad thing. Be honest: how many times have you waffled when pulling up to the gas station because you can’t remember which side of the car the gas tank is on? Maybe you know your own car well, but if you’re driving a rental and you’re not familiar, it can be a hassle to have to back up and reposition at the tank. Hack: Look at the gas gauge on the dashboard. On the bottom or top of the dial there should be a picture of a gas pump. In nine out of ten models, the picture also has an arrow beneath the icon that points to the left or right. Ah ha! It’s a cheat sheet to let you know which side of the car the tank is located. Regardless of what car you’re driving, you can know in an instant where to pull up – amazing information to have when it’s 3 below and you’re faced with an empty tank.
No. 7: Pop Out Small Dents With a Plunger
Why let minor dents in the side of the car door or on the trunk make you miserable? Should you pay to get them removed? I think not. You can avoid hiring a mechanic to fix that eyesore if you know about this one ingenious hack! Little dents are ugly and if you don’t fix them, they rust. I know this from experience. Grab a standard bathroom plunger (wash it first) and position it over the dent. Pull gently and the metal should easily pop back into place. Caution: This hack will not work with large dents, despite your best efforts. However, for the little ones that drive you crazy, give it a go. What do you have to lose?
No. 8: Open a Tight Key Ring With a Staple Remover
Quick question: how many people in the world do you think have ever been able to successfully pull apart the typical key ring to add or remove a key? If you’re like me, the experience is almost certainly a guaranteed nail break. Isn’t it time to make adding or remove a key from your existing key ring simple? Why do they make them so ridiculously tight? Never fear. Use an ordinary staple remover to grip onto the edge of the ring and pry apart. Simple. Bye-bye split fingernails.
No. 9: Stop Cracks On Windshield From Spreading With Clear Nail Polish
Have you noticed a small hairline crack on your windshield? Sometimes following a construction vehicle on the highway can send a few unwanted rocks your way that eventually lead to unsightly cracks. The problem is, cracks grow and if you don’t fix or stop them, they travel. When repair isn’t an option, stop the crack from spreading by using this simple item: clear nail polish. Amazingly, a little dab is all you need to seal most windshield cracks. Use it on tiny marks and prevent them from growing into a costly and dangerous spider crack.
No. 10: Attach a Pool Noodle to Your Garage Wall and Avoid Scratching the Door
We’ve all done it. You’re in a hurry, distracted by the kids or just not paying attention and bang the door on the garage wall when you get out of your car. Never make marks on the garage wall or the car again with this creative hack. Remember the colorful pool noodles that the kids “had to have” last summer? Cut one in half and use it to create a bumper on the walls of the garage. Now when you pull in to a tight spot and swing the door open in a frenzy, you’ll hit the noodle instead of concrete. Ingenious. And you thought those noodles were useless.
No. 11: Clean Nooks and Crannies In Your Console With A Screwdriver and Cloth
For the OCD in all of us, there’s an easy way to remove crumbs and who knows what else from those tiny spaces between the stick-shift or around the cup holders. Dirt and debris always seems to settle in nooks and crannies, which is frustrating. Strong suction on the best vacuum doesn’t stand a chance, but this hack is guaranteed to make you happy. A screwdriver with a small piece of terrycloth wrapped around it slips into tiny areas effortlessly, removing cracker crumbs, hair and anything else that’s trapped. The perfect solution for a deep clean, try this one at home too for tight corners and hard to clean edges.
No. 12: Dispense Tissues From a Disposable Coffee Cup
Who hasn’t needed a tissue while in the car? Small travel packs are always MIA when you need one and the larger boxes get crushed or disappear. You can try to store a few in a purse, but no one wants to dig through a handbag on the highway. Cup holders are in almost every car. Why not maximize them with something more useful than spare change. Here’s the ingenious hack: Place a handful of tissue in a clean disposable coffee cup with a lid. Pull the first tissue out from a small hole you create in the top of the lid and you have a cup holder tissue dispenser. The next time a passenger or the kids need a quick fix, you’re prepared.
No. 13: Cool Down a Hot Interior In Seconds
Finally, when you’ve been shopping all day and the car has been baking in the summer sun, there’s no question it’s going to be hot. But why stand around wasting time, waiting for the car to cool down to a reasonable temperature before getting in? Here’s a hack that has a little science to it: roll down the driver’s side window and then quickly open and close the passenger side door multiple times. Doing this forces cool air in, which forces the hot air out. And anytime you can save is appreciated!
There you have it – 13 of the most convenient, practical and easy to implement car hacks that are guaranteed to leave you happy, organized and content. Why struggle with cleanliness or settle for distraction and clutter when you can make life a little easier for practically no money and little effort? Let’s face it, most of us can’t live without our automobile. And between washing, repair and gassing up, it’s nice to finally enjoy the satisfaction that comes from knowing you’ve pulled one over on your car.