Does it seem like you spend more time in your car than out of it? A car often doubles as our mobile office, restaurant, and opportunity for “quality time” with our kids as we travel from school to hockey practice to the grocery store to the library. But it’s also one spot that’s frequently overlooked during organization projects.

So, for the final installment in our Organize Your Life Series, we’re focusing on our beloved cars. Here are 8 common household accessories that’ll help you straighten them up once and for all.

1. Trash bag

Yeah, we’re putting this one first. Chances are good that if you glanced around your car right now, you’d see gum wrappers, water bottles, tissues, stray french fries, gas receipts, and/or some combination of the above. Create a designated trash receptacle and empty it every single night. Too ambitious? Aim for at least once a week or whenever you’re at the gas station.

2. Zipper pouches that hang on the seat back

Got kids? Then you’ve got needs to entertain them. But between the coloring books, crayons, mini cars, snacks, and other assorted distractions, your car can quickly resemble a toy box on wheels. Corral the mess using clear zippered pouches that hang over the seat back so your kids can grab what they need, freeing up your attention for, well, the road. And if your kids are plugged in the moment they get in the car? You can stick headphones and the remote in the pouch too.

3. Glove box folder (or at the least, a ziptop bag) 

Designate a spot to store all the papers that need to be in the car, such as your registration, insurance ID card, emergency numbers, car owner’s manual, service records, and any other important papers.

4. Console organizer

When you organize your car, you’ll likely find a hodgepodge of random items lurking around your console. Keep it from becoming a black hole with a small box that allows you to stow your lotion, lip balm, mini hairbrush, umbrella, gum, etc.

5. Receipt envelope

Use your car for business? Get in the habit of sticking every receipt straight in a designated envelope. You can figure out later which ones are necessary to keep for taxes and which can be recycled.

6. Trunk organizer

These come in various sizes and shapes, from hampers to storage containers to baskets. Determine what works for you and the various tasks you perform in the car whether you want to corral sports equipment, groceries, or a last-minute change of clothes for an impromptu meeting.

7. Errand bag

Keep a tote bag inside your house and fill it with items that you want to remember to take with you as you run around town, from library books, to purchases you need to return, to packages that need to be shipped.

8. Emergency road kit

We saved the most important for last. Your emergency car kit should contain everything from first-aid items to jumper cables and other essentials. Find a complete list of the elements in our “Perfect Emergency Road Kit” here.

Bonus: 6 things you’ll be glad you had in your car

Though these 6 items don’t count as “emergency” items, you’ll still be darn glad you have them more often than you might expect.

  • Hand sanitizer
  • Phone charger
  • Pen/small notebook
  • Gum or mints
  • Emergency non-melting snack
  • Extra plastic bags (these are good for everything from trash to muddy shoes)

In case you missed the rest of our Organize Your Life Series, check out our tips for controlling the chaos in your pantry, your linen closet, and your bathroom.

DIY hacks | For your car


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.