How Do I Organize My Car?

Car Organizing

Our cars: we love them, we abuse them, we live in them and we rely on them.  For many of us, being in the car is as much a part of daily life as eating. It is no wonder that they often look like war zones… coffee stains in the carpet, trash all around, smelly sports gear in the back, bags of items we intend to return, etc.  Still, we often find ourselves needing something in the car that we forgot to put in.

Here are some ideas to help you make smart decisions for maximizing your car’s efficiency:


In the glove box:

  • Insurance and registration cards
  • School/work directories
  • Tire air gauge
  • Car inspection/emissions forms
  • Car manual

In the center console:

  • A small zipper bag (e.g. a pencil case) with a couple of pens and pencils (sharpened)
  • A small notepad
  • An extra phone charger (handy if you get stranded and need to make calls)
  • Chapstick/lipstick
  • Hand sanitizer (great to have the kids use it whenever you pick them up from an activity)
  • Box of tissues and box of wet wipes
  • Gum/mints

In the back seating area:

  • Container for car toys if you have small children (soft toys are best in a car)
  • Car seats, if needed
  • Road atlas (for when you don’t have GPS access)
  • Container of retail store coupons (e.g. Bed, Bath & Beyond)

In the trunk/back:

  • Bottled water
  • Jumper cables
  • Umbrella
  • Flashlight
  • First aid kid
  • Towel and blanket
  • Duct tape (can be handy in many situations)
  • Reusable shopping bags
  • Ice scraper
  • Current sports gear
  • Water/food bowl if you frequently transport pets



  • Trash – designate a space in the car for depositing trash and empty it frequently (e.g. when you pump gas or pull into the garage next to a trash can.)
  • Out of season recreational gear – keep only what is in season now.
  • Receipts – don’t stash receipts (e.g. gas, cash machine) in your car. Instead, get them into your house and into a financial records system.
  • Returns – if you put a return item in your car, be sure to schedule when you will complete the errand.
  • Dirty cups/coffee mugs – bring them in and wash them.
  • Wallet/purse – never leave these items unattended in a car.
  • Electronics – don’t leave electronics in a car unless they are bolted down.
  • The car title – keep this separately in a secure place.
  • Piles of  spare change – it is smart to keep a little, but don’t let it overflow or slosh around.
  • Anything on the floor – it will get wet and dirty fast.



There are a variety of great tools for organizing your car, as well as many great DIY options. Here are a few ideas to get you motivated.

Trunk Organizer


Visor Organizer


Mesh Storage Bag


Back of the Seat Organizer


Car Trash Container


Reusable Poly Envelope

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If you are going to spend a lot of time driving around, it is worth the effort to get things in order.

What’s your best tip for organizing your car?


38 thoughts on “How Do I Organize My Car?”

    1. Moms practically live in the car, so why not make a space that functions well? A friend used to joke that she took her car in to the carwash every 6 months to have it “fumigated” from such heavy use. That image sticks with me:)

    1. Now if I could just convince my husband to do the same, we’d be all set. Seems like whenever we go somewhere in his car (and I’m dressed up…), it rains, and he has no umbrella. Just buy a couple and stick them in all the cars!

  1. Great lists, Seana! I love the “Remove from the car” list. I find that without a trash can in the car it can get pretty messy.

    I recently had to get another car (kids driving and all that comes with additional drivers in the home). I pulled all the car supplies from the other two cars and was able to divide the necessary items into three cars. All I needed to buy was a trash can. I even had an extra truck organizer in one of the cars. I didn’t even realize it was there. It was tucked in the corner and never pulled out. By doing this, it saved me so much money and time. Not only did the new car get car supplies, but the other two cars were cleaned out minimized. It was a win-win. =)

    1. I call that “shopping around the house!” So often, we actually have what we need, we just need to find it! That project must have felt SO GOOD!

    1. I also once saw a tissue box that was round and fit inside a cup holder. This would be a great solution, especially in the back seat where you might have a cup holder that doesn’t get regularly used for beverages. Totally agree on the projectiles. Those who have been through an accident will marvel at how far things traveled and where they ended up!

    1. I know.. great minds think alike, right? We all live in our cars, so worth making the effort to make it as good as it can be. I used to use the “pick up line” time to wipe down the inside with wipes. Now that I’m not picking up kids anymore, I need to make more of a conscious effort.

  2. I think our car organizing posts complement each other! Yours is for what to keep in the car. Mine is for how to efficiently move things back and forth from house to car on a daily basis. I always love how different organizers have a different perspective on the same topic!
    Hazel Thornton recently posted…The Self-Cleaning Organized CarMy Profile

    1. I couldn’t agree more, and this is why I think NAPO is such a valuable resource. We compliment each other and help each other rather than compete. I love reading other people’s perspectives, and get a window into their personal style and the talents they bring to the table for their clients!

  3. Taking any garbage out of the car daily really helps to keep the interior looking good. I like to keep in the trunk Windex, paper towels and bags for grocery shopping. In the interior space I like to have an extra pair of reading and sunglasses.

    1. Oh yes, the reusable shopping bags are always in my trunk. In fact, my biggest challenge is remembering to bring them into the store. I’ve gotten at bringing them into the grocery store, but still often forget when I’m heading into the pharmacy or another retail outlet! Reading glasses is a great addition!!!

    1. It just makes sense to keep the retail establishment coupons in the car. We often find ourselves near the store while we are “out and about,” and then wish we had he coupons with us. Stuck waiting in a pick-up line or arrive a few minutes early to an appointment? Pull out the envelope and throw out the expired ones.

  4. The back of the seat organizer never worked for me – I could never get it tight enough to the seat that it wouldn’t slide around. But, I am a fan of the trunk organizers! Goodness knows all POs typically have a full trunk! 😉

  5. Just like our homes, our cars need thorough cleaning too! I like to dump trash each time I get gas. Then I like to wash the exterior and vacuum the interior once a month. I find that this makes me feel so good each time I get in the car.

    1. Wow – once a month is a pretty good track record! I am diligent about trash, but don’t get it washed and vacuumed that frequently. I always love when I do… that fresh scent is empowering!

  6. I would add a glass break hammer/seat belt cutting tool in the glove box, and a small set of socket wrenches, and a lug wrench – not the crummy one they give you with the car, but and actual good one that will actually break your tight lugs, and a set of wheel chocks, and an emergency reflector and or road flares, make sure you know where your jack points are on the car, and make sure you have an adequate jack – sometimes they give you a very poor quality jack that you do not want to be stranded with, get a decent bottle jack that is small and can be stored in the same compartment – it can save a lot of grief. Make sure your first aid kit also has an emergency poncho or two, since you will be stuck in the rain when you get stuck (murphys law), and also – if that first aid kit is more than a few years old – replace it! old antiseptic wipes that have dried out or band aids that have long since dry totted will do you no good. In fact, think about assembling your own first aid kit with some common sense items. The things that come in those kits you buy are often inferior quality, and not very useful in an emergency. Invest a few dollars in a box of brand name band aids and a box of gauze pads, first aid tape and a decent tube of Neosporin or triple antibiotic ointment. A decent pair of tweezers can be a god send when you are trying to remove that splinter, or stinger or fish hook that’s gone through your finger. Oh, and that reminds me, get a multi tool for the glove box too, a Leatherman or a Gerber multi tool that has a pair of pliers and a screwdriver and a knife, the basics. Heck, even a small Swiss army knife can be very helpful in an emergency. Oh, and make sure to have a couple of clean rags/cloths, or a bandana that you can use too, they can be used in a variety of life saving situations. Make sure you keep a supply of emergency food too, like a few powerbars or granola or something that keeps for a year that you can have in case you are stranded and can’y get to help right away. Keep emergency water too, just a couple of bottles that you can stash somewhere.
    … Sorry… I’m a Boy Scout leader… I get carried away 😉 My wife would have stopped reading this after the first sentence… but our cars are well stocked with supplies… even if I’m the one who has to remind everyone about them! I’ve had to pull many a fishhook out of a boys hand/ fingernail/ cheek…so… you can never have too much first aid gear. Oh, and if you have space to mount a small fire extinguisher somewhere under or behind a seat or in your toolbox in the back of your truck, that’s handy too.
    Bob Ruckle recently posted…How Do I Organize My Car?My Profile

    1. Wow – if I am ever stranded in a car, I hope I’m in yours! Certainly some basic tools and a good/well-stocked first aid kit are terrific suggestions. I’m not sure I could change a tire no matter which jack and lug wrench I have, but if you are inclined to DIY, it makes sense to have high quality tools! Thanks for all the great suggestions, Bob!

      1. Well, even if you aren’t the person changing the tire on your car, having good tools to do it will make that person’s job easier too! Many of today’s cars don’t even have decent tools to change the tire. You usually get an undersized spare, or no spare at all is the new norm. That’s scary. If you’ve never looked to see what you have for a spare or for tools to change your tire it’s worth at least looking at it. You should always check the pressure in your spare tire too, the only thing worse than not having a spare tire is pulling out the spare, only to find out it’s flat too! Flat tires will only happen in the worst locations at the most inconvenient times. Carrying a few things like those jumper cables or as good lug wrench may not be something that you will need, but maybe you can be that good Samaritan who stops and offers the other guy stuck by the side of the road some assistance.

  7. You’re so good Seana…the consummate organizer!! 😀 Now the “Remove From Your Car”…I’ve got that, but the “Keep In Your Car”…I’ve got lots of work to do! Lol! Thanks for sharing and always keeping us on our “organizing toes”! Have a wonderful rest of your week my friend!

    1. So nice to see this comment, Michell! I keep on putting the “organizing tips” out there – I love it all. Wishing you a great remainder of your week and very Happy Easter!

    1. Thanks, Susannah. We spend so much time in the car that it is definitely worth a small investment of time and energy to get it set up efficiently. Happy Easter!

    1. Yes, that is nice. I bet he takes good care of your cars too, making sure they have all the services they need. Not all guys do this, so you are lucky indeed!

  8. Great post Seana, with lots of great ideas! I love how you divided into what to keep and what to remove. And thanks for adding in the great list of resources. I’m with Ellen, in that I always empty out my trash when I’m getting gas; just a good routine to have without having to think or plan too much 🙂 I do like the window breaking tool to add to the list. My husband bought one for each of our girls. They are small little tools to have but can make a huge difference!
    Liana George recently posted…15 Apps to Help You Get OrganizedMy Profile

    1. A bit of cash is always a good idea. You never know when you might need it. I’m “in” for an ice cream treat, Olive. Soft serve vanilla with lots of hot fudge?

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