Our vehicles by nature go with us everywhere. That means for many, our cars become a second home! In fact, the average person spends 101 minutes in their car per day, and anyone spending that much time in the car WITH kids has experienced a really messy vehicle it might even be the norm that your car is a disaster zone!

If that’s you, no shame. We’ve all been there! But, a messy vehicle can be stressful and unsafe. So, we’re going to share some tips to help you keep your vehicle clean with kids! Here’s what you can do to keep that car squeaky clean:

How To Keep Your Car Clean with Kids

Have a designated car seat trash can.

A car trash can is essential for any driver! Whether it’s junk mail you picked up on your way to work or the wrappers from your kids’ after-school snack, there’s going to be trash that finds its way into your car. Without a designated place to put it, that trash will pile up and make your car look messy. So, add a soft-sided car trash can to your vehicle! (Just make sure to take the trash out after each trip!)

Add removable car mats and spray them off regularly.

Mud, dirt, salt, pet hair, spilled drinks, and more will likely get on your vehicle’s floor. Cleaning those carpets is not easy either and you have better ways of spending your time! So we recommend getting weatherproof floor mats that you can take out and spray off when they get dirty. In addition, it makes cleaning your car much easier!

Vacuum after every ride if food is involved.

This vacuum is one of our favorite car-cleaning tools! Guys, you need to know that food bits and paper can attract bugs and rodents. Not only are things like rodents dangerous for the disease they carry, but they can also chew on car seat harnesses and seat belts, ruining your seats! So vacuum up everything right away using this handy car vacuum. It’s a lifesaver!

Limit the types of food and drinks in the car.

First of all, food of any kind in the car is a choking hazard. However, we’d be lying if we said we didn’t let our own kids snack in the vehicle! It’s just important to understand you need to be very careful and be intentional about what foods you allow your child to eat. Here’s more on the safety of snacks in the car.

If you do let your kids eat in your car, you know there is going to be evidence of it all in your car. To limit the mess, be selective about what foods and drinks you let your child have in the car. The more sticky spots and crumb piles you can avoid the better! For instance, a snack container like the classic Munchkin snack container or this Gobe Snack Spinner can help, but if there is debris make sure to clean them up right away.

Keep cleaning gel, paper towels, and other cleaning products on hand.

Messes of all kinds are inevitable in a family car. Have plenty of cleaning products ready to go, so you can clean up messes anywhere. There’s nothing worse than having a sticky spill or a potty accident on a long drive with no way to clean it up. Just ensure whatever products you choose are safe for the car’s interior! Here are some things we like to keep on hand:

Keep wipes, hand sanitizer, tissues, and other essentials in the car.

There are lots of things you should keep in your car to be prepared for anything! Here’s a full list of essentials for your vehicle, but some things you should consider are cupholder-friendly tissue boxes, stain fighter, hand sanitizer, and wipes.

Use wet bags for soiled clothes and other materials.

If clothes or blankets get soiled from a potty accident, spill, or even a sudden downpour when racing to the car, you don’t want to let those soiled clothes sit on your vehicle’s floor or, worse, sit on one of the spare seats. Instead, keep these wet bags on hand that’ll trap the moisture and odor until you get home!

Have a safe and practical place for everything.

There are a lot of things you should keep in your car, from first aid kits and emergency water to spare diapers and hand sanitizer. However, having all this stuff shoved into the glove box or shoved under a seat is going to make the car cluttered and even dangerous! Anything loose in a vehicle could become a dangerous projectile in a crash, so it’s important to have any hard items contained.

The solution? Have a place for everything! There are so many car organization options! Here are some of our favorites:


Establish a routine of car clean-up after every ride.

Every time you arrive back at your house, clean up your car. If you do it every time, it really shouldn’t take very long! In addition, don’t forget your kids can help. This is actually a great daily chore for kids as young as 7 years old. If you have them help clean up the mess, it’ll be one less thing on you and you can also ensure your car stays (relatively) clean!

Prepare for car sickness.

If someone in your family struggles with car sickness, it can feel impossible to keep your car clean! First of all, see if our tips for getting rid of car sickness will work for you. If you still have a problem, make a plan for what you’ll do when motion sickness strikes. All the tools and cleaning supplies should be on-hand! Also, even if your kids don’t have a history of car sickness, we still recommend having some vomit bags on hand! You never know when you’ll hear that dreaded, “Mommy, I don’t feel so good!”

Treat stains right away.

Stains can make a car feel dirty even when it’s not. Just like you treat your clothing stains right away, treat vehicle stains right away! Whether it’s a stain on the car seat, on the upholstery, or on the carpet, get it treated right away. This will not only prevent staining, it’ll also prevent lingering odors from some of the most common vehicle stains.

It is important you treat stains safely. So, here’s how to clean car seat stains without damaging your seat. You can also follow our guides for effectively cleaning vomit from your car or cleaning pee out of your car!

Clean car seats regularly.

Car seats attract mess. That means when they can also attract rodents, bugs, smells, and stains. Because of this, you should clean your car seats on a regular basis. We know that no one loves removing car seats and re-installing them, but this is an important way to ensure the longevity of your seat! However, you can’t just spray it down with a pressure washer or scrub it with bleach. Here’s how to safely clean your child’s car seats.


Get your car washed every 2 weeks.

It’s not just about the inside of the car, the outside of the vehicle is important too! So, prioritize bi-weekly car washing to keep everything clean and well-maintained.

Keeping your car clean is a great way to keep your vehicle tidy, safe, and stress-free.

We spend a lot of time in our vehicles, and that time can be a lot more pleasant when everything is organized and clean!

Use these tips to maintain your vehicle and ensure the safety of your whole family. And, for more tips on vehicle and car seat use, head to the Safe in the Seat blog! We have all the information you need to keep your family safe every ride!

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