When you open the door to your car, do you feel overwhelmed with the accumulation of random odds and ends strewn from front to back? It doesn’t take long for a vehicle to become a literal dumping ground for papers, crumbs, sippee cups, lost library books and goodness knows what else. The good news is that with just 15 minutes, you can quickly clear out and clean your vehicle and breathe a sigh of relief. The key is to find an uninterrupted 15 minutes for this task so that you can work quickly and efficiently.


QUICK TIP: Take your vehicle through a car wash first and start wiping the dashboard while you’re in the car wash.

Ready to start?

Before you begin, gather your necessary supplies so that they are close at hand. You’ll need a garbage bag, laundry basket and a small storage bin. The bin will remain in your vehicle when you are done cleaning to house items that stay in your vehicle. I like to use baby wipes or a damp microfiber cloth for wiping down interior surfaces. I started keeping my new dusting mitt in my car for quick touch ups while I’m waiting for kids or if I notice the dash is looking dusty. Choose what you prefer for this task.

Ready for a cleaner car?


Toss and sort

Beginning in the front, throw any trash directly in to the garbage bag. Anything that needs to go inside your home goes directly in to the laundry basket and anything that stays in the car goes in to the bin.

Shake it off

Remove all the floor mats and shake them off outside. Use a handheld vacuum cleaner, Shop-Vac or your vacuum of choice to quickly vacuum the floor and seats. The upholstery attachment is my attachment of choice for this area. Hit any crumb collecting points like the cracks between the seats and built-in cup holders especially well. Don’t forget under the seats. The crevice attachment for your vacuum works especially well on the narrow gaps and areas.

If you are pet owner, you’ll probably notice that a vacuum alone doesn’t get rid of all the pet hair. A lint roller works especially well to remove the hair left behind.


Wipe down surfaces

Using a damp microfiber cloth or baby wipe, clean all the surfaces in  your car including the steering wheel, dashboard, control panels, window and lock panels and cup holders. If you are using a microfiber cloth, be sure rotate the clean surface on your cloth frequently to avoid just smearing the dirt around. I like to have a stack of damp microfiber cloths ready to save time rising and wringing out just one cloth.

Find a Home

The next step is to find a home for all the items that stay in your vehicle. You may want to look in to purchasing some organizers for your trunk or back seat if you find that you store a lot of things in your vehicle. I find that having a small stash of extra plastic bags comes in handy for muddy shoes, garbage bags and little emergencies.

Institute the “what goes in, must come out” rule

The motto in our family is that what goes in the vehicle must come out. This goes for us adults as well as the kids. A quick reminder before the kids get out of the car usually suffices. Younger kids may do well with using whatever they may have brought in car or eaten on the way as their “ticket” to get out the vehicle.

You’ll be amazed by what you can accomplish in such a short amount of time when you put your mind to it. Set your timer and try it for yourself! Get the family involved – give your kids a cleaning cloth or baby wipe and I bet you’ll have a helper or two (or at least a little driver)!

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