Long summer days are perfect for getting out on the open road and taking a road trip with family and friends. Whether traveling from state to state or just to a nearby city, road trips are a convenient way to travel while simultaneously building memories. However, they can wreak havoc on your car. We’ve put together our six favorite tips for keeping your car cleaning while road tripping.
Keep a Trash Bag Handy
When you’re spending a lot of hours in the car, trash is inevitable. And, without a place to put all the garbage, it’s going to end up somewhere you don’t want it. Trash is trash, and without a place for it, it’s only going to make your car dirty.
Have a trash bag handy that you use to collect trash along the drive, and empty it or throw it away at a stop. If you forgot to bring a bag, make use of something handy. Even an old paper bag will work.
Collecting trash in a bag keeps it from getting ground into your carpet or upholstery. It also collects it in one spot, allowing you to dispose of it quickly when you do have a break.
Spot Clean Frequently
Cleaning isn’t as easy when you’re traveling, as you don’t have the time and resources to do a solid, complete clean. You’ll be limited in your capabilities to deep clean the car interior, and the easiest way to avoid a situation like this from happening is frequent spot cleaning.
Make it a habit to spot clean at least once per day, if not more frequently. Spot cleaning doesn’t have to be complicated or time consuming. Focus on the following:
- Wipe down surfaces
- Clean out all trash
- Pick up any spills, crumbs, or dirt
- Organize items into their place
Frequent cleaning keeps any messes at bay and limits the possibility of big clean ups down the road.
Finding something to wipe your car surfaces can be hard if you don’t plan in advance. Bring some disinfectant wipes with you on your road trip so that you have them handy.
Wipe down your interior surfaces at least once per day. After a long day on the road, it’s natural for dust and dirt to build up on the surfaces of your car. Condensation from chilly mornings attracts dirt, which then dries onto the surface and sticks.
This frequent wipe down is even more important if you have children, who are prone to leaving things on a dash or door. Whether this ends up melting, sticking, or falling into a crack, frequent wiping will help keep this at bay.
Don’t Eat or Drink In the Car
If possible, try not to eat or drink in the car. This can be a tough one – long days on the road sometimes make eating while driving unavoidable. But, eliminating food and drink from your car is an easy way to help keep it clean.
If you can’t uphold this rule, try enforcing it as often as you can. Even minimizing food and drink in your car will help a lot.
Another approach is to limit the types of food or drink you have in the car. Many families employ the approach of only allowing solid foods and clear liquids. This way, if anything spills, it’s a lot easier to tend to.
While it certainly isn’t classy, adding liners to your flooring and upholstery is a great way to keep your car clean on a road trip. While not for everyone, this strategy is particularly effective when you are traveling with young kids.
Many people will use old bedsheets to line their seats and plastic tarps for their flooring. Keeping these in place over the course of an entire trip can be a challenge, but even a basic lining will help to minimize a lot of the dirt that makes its way in from being ground into your carpet.
Make Use of Bins or Backpacks
Over the course of a road trip, clutter starts to be a challenge. For whatever reason, the longer you’re on the road, the harder it is to keep everything in its place. To combat this, try organizing your items into bins or backpacks.
Pick up a few cheap, flexible storage bins before you leave and put them in the trunk of your car. Use each box to store different types of items, such as things that need to stay in the car and things that need to be moved back into the house.
Or, if you’re out of trunk space, opt for backpacks that can be moved around. Either way you go, this ensures you have a place for all of your clutter as the trip progresses.
It’s entirely possible to keep your car clean as you travel. With a little forethought and some time and energy on the road, your car can remain in good shape while you drive the open roads.
Allen Michael is the founder and editor of Home Viable, a website focused on helping others keep a clean home and car (as efficiently as possible). Allen stumbled into this focus while trying to help his family clean with less work.