Top 10 Tips for Keeping the Family Car Clean

Keeping the family car clean with kids can be difficult, to say the least. Between sports practices with muddy equipment, eating snacks in the back seat to bringing the family dog along for a hike, our car’s interiors go through a lot. Not to mention taking long road trips with kids in tow!! The struggle is real! My car currently looks THE WORST. Considering how much time I spend in the car and how much a clean car helps my headspace you would think we would have a better system for keeping the car clean…

Fortunately, keeping your family car clean and organized doesn’t have to be impossible, and you can even enlist the help of the kids themselves to help keep the family car clean! There’s a novel idea!

So to help me get my kids on board with looking after the back of my car I’ve researched 10 tips for getting your kids to keep the family car clean, as well as a few ways on how to keep the car organized. With these tips, you won’t have to be embarrassed with how your car looks any longer. Say goodbye to stale cereal in the seat cracks or muddy footprints on the carpet – these tips and tricks, will have your car sparkling clean in no time.


Top 10 Tips to get your Kids to help Keep the Family Car Clean

  1. Make Them Clean Up After Themselves

The first thing you should do when teaching your kids how to keep the car clean is to teach them responsibility for cleaning up after themselves. It might be easier to do all the cleaning yourself, but making the children join in teaches them accountability, and they will start to see the car as their space, too. There are many fun and easy ways to help them clean up after themselves, such as providing a designated bin in the boot of the car for each child’s stuff or providing them with a car bag that they can use to bring things into the car, as long as they come back out. This could include everything from toys to snacks to activities. This will also help teach your children how to keep track of their stuff.


  1. Avoid Food in the Car

One of the messiest ways to dirty up a car is to bring food into it. Even the most careful of eaters are bound to have a few spills, so limit food in the car. If you have time before you leave, give the kids a snack before you get in the car. If you’re ordering food on the go, make sure no one opens the food until you’re back at home. This trick will help eliminate a lot of the dropped cereal, fruit snacks, and juice spills that seem to always come along with our kids.

  1. Host a Family Car Wash

Cleaning the outside of the car is just as important as cleaning the inside, and hosting a family car wash is a fun way to have the whole family involved in keeping the car clean. The best, most organized way to have a family car wash is to assign everyone a specific job. Dad might be the one with the bucket, the kids can be the scrubbers with their sponges, and you can do the wheels. Things become a lot more fun when everyone’s involved.


  1. Provide a Rubbish Bag in the Car

No matter how clean you are, there is bound to be rubbish in the car at some point. But an easy way to contain this mess and make it easier to take it out later is to provide a rubbish bag right in the car. Not sure you want a rubbish bag sitting where everyone can see it? There are countless cute rubbish bags, like these ones on Etsy, which make cleaning up easy and fashionable.


  1. Empty the Rubbish at the Gas Station

You’ve got your rubbish bag, but now what do you do with it? A good tip to not let the trash get out of hand is to empty it every time you’re at the gas station. This will help you stay ahead of the curve and not find yourself drowning in wrappers and Kleenex.


  1. Have a Family Meeting to Discuss Cleanliness

If your children don’t seem to be grasping the concept of keeping the car clean, it might be beneficial to have a family meeting to discuss why it’s important. You can share that keeping the house and car clean show that you care about your space, that you’re responsible, and that you’re proud of your car’s appearances. During this family meeting, you can also assign specific roles to each child to have them help. For example, one child can be in charge of wiping down the dashboard and seats with a wet cloth to keep the dust from accumulating, and another can be in charge of the weekly car vacuum.


  1. Limit the Toys

Toys are one of the things that really clutter cars and not only are they messy, but they can also be dangerous. Hard toys can quickly become dangerous projectiles in the case of an accident. Limiting how many toys your kids bring in the car will help keep you organized.

  1. Put Everything Back Where it Belongs  – in the seat organizer!

Car organizers are a life changer and will help keep both you and the kids organized. Now, you have a place to put everything, so instead of having everything from tissues to toys rolling around in the back seat, they can be stored with ease. Explain to your kids where everything goes so they can learn to put stuff back.


  1. Schedule a Monthly Cleaning 

Even with all of the above tips, it can be nearly impossible to keep the car completely clean. Schedule time every month to do a deeper clean and vacuum the carpet and in between the seats, clean all the surfaces, and organize everything. Plus, if you’re the type who has a car with advanced technology, such as cameras and sensors, you’ll want to make sure those are properly maintained and clear from any debris to keep your family safe. You could also take your car in to get a professional clean if your budget permits.


  1. Remove Odours

Lastly, even the cleanest cars can accumulate odours with active kids. Eliminate these odours by investing in an air freshener that not only adds perfume to the smell but actually clears the air. Alternatively you could stash a refill of sweet smelling fabric softener under a seat or pop a few drops of essential oils onto the car floor mats. Remember after accidents and spillages you should clean all upholstery right away so it doesn’t start to smell!



Keeping the car clean is everyone’s responsibility, and you can get the kids to help keep the family car clean with these fun, inventive, and organized ways!



Rachel is a freelance content writer who has written articles on a variety of topics including health, parenting, and fitness. In her free time, she enjoys running along the beach with her two puppies, being with her family, and practicing yoga.

Kathryn Rossiter

Kathryn is a South African lifestyle blogger and mom of 2 who has been blogging daily for over 9 years! She writes about travel, health, beauty, fashion, decor and family... but not food (unless it's food she's eaten made by someone else) as she is a hopeless cook. She only wakes up early for 2 things... a red-eye flight to somewhere exotic and early morning game drives. She has just finished an extensive home renovation and would prefer to never see another box again. She's never met a chocolate or glass of bubbles that she didn't like!

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