Summertime often calls for adventure, travel and exploration, which means getting dirty along the way. While that can lead to a lot of fun-filled memories, it can also lead to a lot of dirt-filled car interiors! But have no fear -- there are tons of easy tips to keep your car clean and ready for your next journey ahead.
One of the ways you can stay on top of the dirt, mud, sand and grass leftovers is to prepare for them with some DIY organizational must-haves ready to go at all times. You can pick up some towels at Target, sometimes bundles starting at as low as $5, and keep them in a small bin in your trunk. That way, whether you're heading back from the beach or the woods, you can use the towels to dust and wipe off any residue from the outdoors, and then place the towels on the seats to keep those clean, as well. Of course, don't forget to do the simple tap; you simply just tap your foot on the ledge of the car until the excess sand/dirt/debris falls off, and whatever doesn't fall, you can always scrape away.
It's also a great idea to keep one or two extra empty bins in the back (plastic or mini-crates) so that you can throw your or your kids' dirty clothes, wet swimsuits or swampy hiking boots in the back for easy transferal into your house or garage when you get home. You may also want to fill one plastic bag with other plastic bags in case you want to keep things extra clean.
You can designate another small bin as your "extra stuff" pile. Fill it with dry, clean underwear, socks, a warm T-shirt, sweatpants, sneakers and bathing suit. This has you covered in case you forget to pack extra dry clothes or if you feel like being spontaneous.
Keeping a blanket in your trunk is another way to plan ahead for getting dirty. The summertime naturally welcomes the idea of sitting in the grass, the beach, or anywhere outside while enjoying activities. Therefore, having a blanket on hand that you can get dirty can cut your cleaning time in half. Just keep the blanket stored for any opportunity and wash it overnight when needed. Target offers several options of durable outdoor blankets, with fleece and nylon options, as well, for the more rugged adventures that call your name. You can find an option that doubles as a baby blanket, in case you're looking to keep the littlest ones extra clean.
In the middle seat, you can create a DIY garbage that can be passed around. The simplest and most cost-effective option is to save leftover bags (paper or plastic) from the grocery and change them out every few days or whenever they fill up. This sounds like a small and relatively obvious idea, but it can be a lifesaver, especially when it comes to cutting down on the time it takes to crawl around and reach your hands under the seats to get to the bottom of whatever that strange smell is.
A great option for cleaning products is to buy a back of seat organizers from various online stores. Target has several great selections to choose from, most under the $15 mark. You can stock up on wet wipes, hand sanitizers and paper towels, but this is also a great organizer for your essentials -- flashlights, maps, small first-aid kits ... really anything that you can fit into the small mesh sections. Sounds like a win-win!
If you want to save time and maximize efficiency, there are many car vacuum cleaners to choose from, ranging anywhere from $15 to $150. Some of the most well-known brands create a battery-operated, car-specific version of their products.
You can also invest in an unlimited monthly membership at a carwash where you can pop in and out and have them clean your interior as often as you'd like. Groupon is a great option for finding deals for monthly packages or several sessions for a much lower price than what you'd normally pay for one. You can get another over-the-seat hanger for the passenger side of the car where you can store the mini vacuum cleaner.
If you check out Amazon.com and search for the "California Car Duster," you'll find a nontoxic duster that doesn't require any additional cleaning spray. You can use it to wipe away crumbs or other little annoyances that can turn into bigger problems if left to sit.
Overall, the memories of summer always outweigh the little frustration that comes with having a dirty car, but these tips and tricks should help leave you with more time to focus on the stuff that really matters: the fun!