Where do you live? It’s a simple question that accurately elicits a home address — the place we sleep at night. However, a good many people spend so much time in their cars taxiing family around, commuting to and from work, and traveling that it could come in a close second. It may also double as a dining car, with fast food in hand for a hurry-up life. It may also be a mini-nursery with infant seats in place. In some cases, the car is a second office, a mobile unit that carries the worker from one appointment to the next or a workshop full of various tools of the trade.
Cars that are thoroughly used tend to become trash receptacles. In them one might find papers, tools, wrappers, bottles, cups, toys, crumbs, grit and whatever else makes up the life of the driver.
As people get a new car, they are wont to say “I am going to keep this car clean” and they really mean it. If the car becomes a mobile office/taxi/workshop/dining car/nursery, it doesn’t take long for things to begin to accumulate again.
Obviously, keeping the vehicle tidied up is the first step. De-junk the car when you arrive home. Solicit help for this one. If they bring it out, they can carry it back in.
Some children get the idea that there is going to be a toy famine wherever they are going, so they feel the need to carry an armload of toys with them each time they go to the car. Of course, they will return to a home known to have a bounty of toys, so the ones they carried out remain forgotten in the car. On the next trip the toy famine fear overtakes them again. It can get totally out of hand and can be hard to dissuade them from bringing them.
A second option is to avoid the argument. Set aside certain “car toys.” Keep a container with a few specific toys in the car and remind the kids that they are there when they try to head to the car with a bag of toys the size of Santa’s.
A trash receptacle for litter and “dining car” refuse will go a long way toward keeping a car tidy. The trash container must be emptied often and be stable enough to stay upright. It may come in the form of small trash bags attached to handles or a small trash can that fits snugly between the seats so it won’t tip.
Clean As You Go
Keep a few clean-up supplies on hand. Some napkins or paper towels in the glove compartment or a rag tucked away under the seat are useful to wipe up spills as they happen. A small container of moist towelettes or baby wipes is useful for more than diaper changes. They make quick clean-up easy. Wipe off sticky hands to reduce the incidence of sticky door handles and interior surfaces and wipe off sticky surfaces before they gather dirt.
Vacuum the car regularly to keep grit out of the carpet. Grit that works down into the fibers has a cutting action that damages fibers and reduces the life of the carpet.
Use floor mats to prolong carpet life. Mats are far easier to replace than the carpet.
Use a spray foam carpet cleaner when the carpet gets really dirty and vacuum when it dries.
For a really sparkling look, polish the chrome on your car after you wash it. A wet sponge dipped in baking soda will scour without scratching. Wipe down with a clean damp sponge or rag and rinse. This process will also work to clean headlights, front grills and enamel surfaces.
To clean, squirt water over the entire surface of the car paying special attention to the wheels and undercarriage.
Clean off leather or vinyl upholstery and dashboard surfaces with a gentle cleaner on a sponge. Rinse with a clean, damp rag and buff dry.
Over time, windshield interiors develop a haze. Wash the inside of the windshield from time to time using window cleaner and a soft rag or paper towels.
It may take a razor blade to scrape off a bumper sticker. Nail polish remover will help remove the sticky residue left behind when they are removed.
We do spend some time in cars waiting. Keep reading material available or bring along the window cleaner to wipe down the inside to pass the time while waiting for children after school or at music lessons.
Keep a sweater or jacket in the trunk of the car. A large plastic bag will hold most sweaters, keeping them clean and the trunk tidy. Think of it as a weather insurance policy. Many of us have gone from our home to the garage without going outside only to find that it is colder than we imagined when we set out. Even if we do start out on a pleasant day, it is hard to know what may come. Remember that Utah weather changes quickly, especially in the spring and fall.