Organizing your car (and keeping it that way) can feel like an overwhelming task if your automobile already resembles a thrift shop on wheels. But wait! You're organized, right? In fact, you've got a whole CD panel strapped around your visor that holds burned discs that you haven't played since 2001. OK, maybe it is time to freshen up the interior a bit.
Depending on how long you've let things pile up inside your ride, you may want to start by grabbing a tall kitchen-sized trash bag and trashing old receipts, clothes that are too far gone and anything else that you feel deserves an expiration date. It's always a good idea to remind yourself that your car isn't a storage unit. In fact, a clean car increases your overall safety, along with creating easier access to important belongings.
Start with the glove compartment, because the items that belong there are pretty standard. Keep your registration, insurance card and car owner's manual inside the glove box. In your mind, label this your "important" area, and you won't have to dig through piles of stuff looking for any of these things while you're frazzled from an accident or a mechanical issue. While you're at it, store an extra phone charger, flashlight, batteries and any other small safety tools there.
Depending on your car's make, you may have deep pockets behind the driver and front passenger seats. You can keep a standard first-aid kit behind the passenger seat so that it can be accessed without ever losing sight of the road. If you don't have a middle compartment, you also can store sanitizing wipes, baby wipes or any other type of sterilizing foams, gels or creams in these handy pockets.
The best way to organize music is through an iPod or iPhone, simply because you can create a playlist and rock out without ever having to look around for CDs or scan radio stations. If your car doesn't come with the connecting capabilities, find the appropriate adapter. Make sure to spend extra money on a phone charger, as well, because a dead phone battery is one less (huge) thing to have to worry about.
Middle compartments are the perfect place to keep your vanity and personal items. You can store a mini-hairbrush, deodorant, tissue, gum or mints, lip balm and even nail clippers. (Just remember that no one wants to wait at a green light while you trim your cuticles.) On the passenger side of the car, keep a small plastic bag for trash. Or if you're feeling fancy, look for a car-specific trash tote such as the Highland Car Trash Keeper (sold at Wal-Mart and online for about $5), which fastens to the back of the passenger seat headrest.
If you constantly have kids in your car, encourage the habit of them storing their toys in either a small laundry basket or a large covered Tupperware bin nearby. When the key comes out of the ignition, the toys go back into their place.
Towels, extra shoes, blankets and winter wear if you live in a colder climate should also be stored in a bin, but in your trunk. If you are athletic, keep a separate bin for sporting supplies, as well as an additional bin for jumper cables, an old washcloth that can get dirty and any tools you feel you might need.
And the cherry on top: a little "new car" air freshener. It's the final touch to make everyone in your car a happy rider.