Many of us treat our car like a home on wheels, complete with all the goods we need. But when the summer heat hits and things start melting, it can be daunting to think about going without our creature comforts all summer. So what exactly is safe to keep in your hot car during the summer?

Before you start to empty out your ride, we came up with a list of what absolutely should NOT be a in a hot car and those items that’ll probably survive. Check out what’s likely to fare best during the summer months (or that cross-country road trip).

1. Drinks

Plastic leaching into your water is a major cause for concern these days. And at least one study from the University of Florida suggests that when plastic water bottles heat up, they release a chemical called BPA that’s been linked to potential health risks. Plus hot water tastes gross! So why not stock your own refillable stainless steel water bottle? It’ll help keep your water icy cold — and be a lot friendlier to the environment.

2. Snacks

It’s always nice to have a little nosh in the car. But before you pack your emergency car kit (or even just your picnic basket), consider which foods can withstand heat and which are going to become an ooey gooey blob. Obviously, foods that need to be refrigerated, such as lunch meat, cheese sticks, or leftovers, are a no go. But also consider which foods are likely to become a melted mess, such as chocolate, chewy candies, or cream-filled cookies. Chips, crackers, nuts, and other hard snacks are heartier and safer bets for withstanding the heat.

(If you’ve got time to plan ahead, invest in a a small cooler or ice pack so you can pack whatever you want.)

3. Gym stuff

If you’re an active sort, you never know when you might happen across a hillside you can’t wait to scale or a trail that’s just begging to be run on. By all means, keep your running shoes in the car (although know the heat can degrade the rubber over time). But refrain from leaving those sweaty clothes in the car for the next outing. Yes, they’ll stink up your car, but even worse, the moist conditions can cause bacteria to multiply, especially when you have your windows rolled up.

4. Beauty products

When the temperature’s hot enough to melt the makeup on your face, it’s only natural to want to touch it up in the car before you reach your destination. Though you might be tempted to redo your makeup on the go, your beauty stash won’t be in great shape cooking in your car. If you absolutely must keep a touch-up kit in the glove box, opt for a powder foundation or blush, which will hold up better than anything that’s liquid-based. (Or try this alternative: keep your kit in your purse during the hot months.)

Of course, no matter what you decide to store in your car, use your best judgement — if an item is melted or altered, throw it out. And never (ever!) leave kids or pets in a hot car.

Safe and smart | Travel hacks


about Cathie

Cathie Ericson writes about personal finance, real estate, health, lifestyle, and business topics. When she's not writing she loves to read, hike, and run. Find her @CathieEricson.