Have you ever gotten to the point where your car was so messy that your child actually says “I think we need to clean the car!” When your car is too messy for kids, it is pretty much the lowest of the low on the messy scale, and yes, I hit rock bottom during the last week of August.
In my defense we had recently been on vacation at the shore and my kids had brought home a lot more “souveneirs” aka seashells and rocks than we realized. Since there was no good place to put these lovely collections once we arrived home, they had become a permanent fixture in the back of our car. Not to mention the beach toys, random food wrappers and endless amounts of sand that were spread throughout. I knew I needed to work on cleaning up the car, but I kept putting it off.
The fact that I avoided cleaning my car wasn’t due to ignorance on my part. I was well aware of how out of hand it was getting every time I got in the car. As a mom of two young boys though, I do not have the luxury of a full hour to clean out my car. Finding time was the obstacle that was causing me to avoid this task day after day; however, there is nothing like a 7 year old boy commenting on it to kick my butt into gear. It was time for a serious clean, but I knew that I would have to approach this like a marathon and not a sprint.
Breaking down large tasks
I decided to look at my daily routine and see where I could find time to dedicate to this task. There were never huge chunks of time, but I found that there were a few 10 minute pockets of time that I could use to possibly tackle some quick cleaning. I could vacuum out the car when the kids were playing nearby at the sandbox or riding bikes in the driveway. Maybe I could even get the kids involved and make a game out of pulling out all the clutter from the car. This shift in thinking got me motivated to start and I began to divide each task into 10 minute intervals.
Yes, it can be frustrating to start a job and not be able to finish it because the kids are hungry or fighting, but that is just the reality of being a mom. Develop the mindset that it’s better to start small than never start at all. You will quickly see how those 10 minute pockets of time add up, even if it takes you a few days to complete them all.
1st 10 minute interval- Remove and Sort
First, lay out four bags of your choice on the ground. Depending on the amount of stuff that is in your car, they could be as small as grocery bags or a big as 13 gallon trash bags.
Second designate a separate bag for Trash, Recycling, Car, and Home and designate each with these free printable labels. Then, start pulling everything out and putting it into the appropriate bag. Enlist the kids to help. Old food wrappers and coffee cups? – Trash bag. Last week’s ad circular?- Recycling. Car phone charger?- Car pile. Stuffed animal and camera? – Home Pile. Don’t worry about organizing anything in the bag yet. That will come later. Just throw everything into the appropriate bag. Remember this shouldn’t take more than 10 minutes.
If you think you have time to do more, you can go onto the second 10 minute interval. If your kids are screaming, throw out the bag labeled trash, recycle the contents of the other bag, then throw the last two bags in the car until you get another 10 minutes.
2nd 10 minute interval- Vacuum the car floors
Now that everything is out of the car, it is time to get rid of the dirt. This is the perfect time to vacuum out all the dirt, sand and remaining food remnants left behind. This is such a rewarding task, because you immediately see all that dirt being sucked up and you are left with a clean slate. I was able to fit this in while my boys rode their bikes around the driveway.
First pull out any floor mats and shake them to get rid of loose debris. Then put your vacuum to work! Check out the before and after shots from my car. I used a shop vac with a brush to get into all the crevices of the car. A vacuum with a suction wand or other hand tool should work just as well. No outdoor outlet or extension cord? Try a hand vacuum instead.
3rd 10 minute interval- Vacuum the child car seats.
This took me a whole other 8 minutes to do, so I needed to put it as a separate task. I don’t know about your children, but mine are messy and their car seats reflect that. Car seats are exceptionally good at hiding food in the layers of padding. If you have never cleaned your child’s car seat, you need to make this a priority. You will be amazed at the crumbs and other items you find hiding in those crevices.
First I vacuumed the actual car seats, lifting up layers to get into the crevices. Then, I detached the seats from the back of the adult seat, tipped them forward, and vacuumed under the car seat base.
Last 10 minute interval- Wipe down car interior
Use car safe wipes or a microfiber cloth with water to wipe down the car interior. Make sure to wipe down all areas where bacteria might gather. I made sure to clean the steering wheel, car handles, center dashboard and car seats. Don’t forget to wipe cup holders and the center console as well. Then if you haven’t done so yet, take the items from your “Home” bag and place them in the appropriate spot in your house.
What about the “Car” bag?
Now you are ready to take the “Car” bag full of pens, tissues, manuals, etc and put them back in the car, but WAIT! Are you just planning on throwing them back in there!?! Before you start to clutter up your car again, learn how to best organize the items you keep in your car by checking out 8 fool proof ways to conquer car clutter in under 5 minutes!
How did the 10 minute intervals work for you? I’d love to know if breaking down the tasks into smaller timed sessions helped motivate you. Please leave a comment.
Want some more cleaning and organizational ideas that can be done in 10 minute intervals? Get my 10 Minute Tidy Up Challenge Printable!