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Car Organization Ideas – Simple and Effective Tips and Hacks

Car Organization

On average you will spend 18 days driving per year! Use these car organization ideas to keep your car clean and ready for constant use.

Car Organization Ideas

smelly car Seinfeld episode play by play

Remember that “Smelly Car” episode of Seinfeld where Jerry’s car starts to stink for some unknown reason and, no matter what he tries, he can’t get rid of the smell?   He is reduced to abandoning his car on the street with the keys in it for anyone who wants it.  This is one of my favorite episodes but as we all know, having a stinky, messy car is not really all that funny.  Yet even people who keep their house clean and tidy are often guilty of having a car filled with junk and hidden surprises in all the pockets, especially where the kids sit. 

Car organization ideas and cleanliness can be simple to master if you follow some basic steps that don’t take much time or maintenance.  Key to keeping your car organized and clean is to start with an organized garage, to equip your car with the correct storage and organization containers, to keep gear like reusable grocery bags, first aid kits, and jumper cables corralled, and to put some thought into organizing things in the car that your kids need or want. 

Garage Organization Ideas

clean organized garage

We like to think of the garage as the “staging area” for things going in and out of the house but also in and out of the car.  The more organized your garage is, the easier it is to use our car organization ideas.  Of course, not everyone has a garage, so you might think about having a small space in your entryway, mudroom, or carport storage locker to keep storage containers stocked with cleaning supplies, motor oil, windshield wiper fluid, and extra reusable grocery baskets at hand.  

Car Trunk Organization

Before and After Car and Trunk Organization

Keeping your car trunk organized is a challenge for two reasons.  First, it is so, so easy to just throw things in the trunk and then let them roll around back there.  If you are on-the-go a lot, you probably do this often, and if you have kids, even more often.  Second, if you are someone who likes to be prepared, then you probably keep things in the back of the trunk and use them regularly.  But are they corralled, organized and tidy?  Maybe, maybe not. 

Here are the things that we think are the basic essentials to have on hand in your car trunk:

  • Emergency kit
  • Reusable grocery bags, boxes or totes for eco-friendly grocery shopping
  • Cleaning supplies for spills underway, especially if you have kids
car first aid kit 3d model obj fbx blend

Emergency Kit

Your essential supplies may differ depending on whether you are just out and about near where you live or taking a road trip that takes you far off the beaten path.  Our list of supplies is based on what we think you need for everyday life so you may want to bolster this for any type of road trip or family vacation you are planning for. 

Our list of emergency kit supplies fits in a meori Medium Foldable Box to keep everything contained and easy to carry to wherever the emergency may be.  It includes:

  • First aid kit
  • Emergency blanket
  • Jumper cables
  • Water (we recommend 1 gal)
  • Energy bars
  • Flashlight
  • Leatherman or Swiss Army Knife
Reusable Grocery Baskets in the back of car

Reusable Grocery Bags

Keeping your car “grocery shopping ready” is easy if you make the commitment to stop using disposable bags and simply make space in your car trunk to store foldable, high quality shopping totes that are always on hand.  We recommend using large two-handled collapsible boxes for heavier loads to Costco or Target and stylish, easy to carry Grocery Baskets for smaller trips to Trader Joe’s.  Our Grocery Baskets come in many colors and you can also opt for an insulated basket to store frozen items for extended shopping trips.  Finally, you might want to invest in a few machine-washable Pocket Shoppers that are easy to stuff into your purse, the glove compartment, or the door side pocket for easy access. 

Cleaning Supplies

We recommend using one of the compartments of your trunk organizer to keep a few cleaning supplies in your car – both for emergencies but also to just have handy when you want to tidy the car up a bit.  It makes it easier when the supplies you need are right there where you need them.  The easiest thing to do is keep a set of wipes in the trunk organizer but you may decide to do something more eco-friendly or something more robust if you have small children in the car. 

Car Trunk Organizer – Trunk Storage

Car Organization for Groceries and Wine

What kind of organizer you decide to purchase for your car trunk really depends on the type of trunk storage you have, how big it is and whether you are in a car or an SUV or stationwagon. 

Using trunk organizers is one of our favorite car organization ideas and they come in a variety of sizes, colors, and design functionality.  Choose the size that is best for you and consider how long you want it to last.  You don’t want a flimsy trunk organizer that looks terrible and falls apart after only a year. 

We recommend a large two compartment box to store your emergency kit on one side and your reusable grocery bags on the other.  But you may decide you need more than one container or box, and you may want to add functionality such as a shoulder strap, cooler for keeping things cold while on-the-go, or a bottle insert to keep glass bottles from rattling around or breaking. You may even decide you want a waterproof liner so you are always ready for that tailgate party or outdoor entertaining adventure.  Check out our full line of Trunk Organizers at meori and choose your size, color and functionality. 

Car Organization for Kids

If your children are young enough that they must sit in the backseat, and you are driving them all over town or going on long roadtrips, this section is dedicated to you.  We have found through experience that there are three things to think about when organizing your car to function better with kids as passengers. 

  1. How can I better organize my own things so that they are easily accessible to me and stay out from under foot of my kids?

If you want to keep the passenger seat free from clutter, we love the type of organizer that you can hang in the middle of the two front seats.  This makes it easy to reach your handbag without wrenching your arm while reaching for your bag.  Look for one that has small outer pockets that you can put your wallet, sunglasses and other small essentials into so that you are not digging through your handbag while driving. 

A must have is the mount for your cell phone on the front dashboard.  This keeps your phone up out of the cup holder, out of reach of the kids, and prevents it from falling on the floor while you are driving.  Make sure you are connected to your Bluetooth speaker (you can buy an external one if your car is older and doesn’t have this feature) so that you are truly hands-free and can keep your eyes on the road. 

Hanging File Boxes in the back seat of car

If you are in need of document organization on the road, we recommend one of the meori Hanging File Boxes because they are light and easy to carry and fold down when you aren’t using them. 

  • How can I better organize the kids stuff so that the kids can reach it themselves (so I can keep my eyes on the road) and makes it easy for the kids to help keep the car tidy?
foldable basket, in the bask seat of car with kids grabbing books out of it
meori’s Double Mini Box
is a lifesaver for keeping
kids’ toys & books organized on road trips.

We like to use a combination of back-of-the-seat organizers together with a storage bin that sits between the two seats in the back to store bulkier items.  Check out meori’s Double Mini Box to place in the middle of the two seats.  It contains two compartments for each kid or you can keep small coloring books and toys in one side and crayons or colored pencils in the other compartment.  Or, if you need a little more storage space, try one of the meori Small Foldable Boxes which also sits nicely on a middle seat or space between two seats.  Add a desk organizer insert to the box to create compartments that can store craft supplies and sippy cups.  Another great item to store in the car for kids is a portable lap desk for drawing or doing homework. 

car organization hack

We also recommend keeping a small backpack for each child in the car trunk organizer so that you always have toys and activities on hand for restaurants and doctor’s appointments.  You might also think about storing a beach bag with outdoor games and sports equipment in the back of the car.  Check meori’s best-selling Large Essential Tote for one option. 

  • What are some things I can do to keep the mess at a minimum or at least make the car easier to clean once I have time to do that?
  • Line the cup holders with paper muffin cups. This makes them so much easier to clean out later on.
  • Keep a small portable hanging garbage can in the back seat.  Encourage the kids to throw their trash away just as you get out of the car each time.
  • Use the activity of cleaning the car as a fun project to do together.  Let the kids take turns using the vacuum and reward them for helping clean out the car once per month with ice cream or a smoothie afterwards.
  • Get into the habit when the kids are very young to ask them to help carry things into the house each time you arrive back home.  Make sure to let them know how much they are helping out. 

Car Camping Organization

foldable baskets with tent in the background

We could write a whole book on strategies for car camping, especially with the family.  But we wanted to take this space to acknowledge what we hear from so many customers which is that they wish they had better organization when camping with their car.  One of the best strategies for getting organized to take the family on that long-promised camping trip is to make a list of all the things you need to bring, keeping in mind what each family member needs, and then spend some time weaning that list down to something that would actually fit into your car.  Save the list for later!  After your first camping experience, re-check that list and add or subtract things based on your first experience. 

Check out our guide on how to plan a road trip!

That trunk organizer and set of reusable grocery bags can come in very handy when car camping.  After making your list of things you are going to take on your camping trip, look to make sure it will fit in the back of your car.  If not, you may want to invest in a top of the car box like the one from Thule.  Remember to pack your food in an airtight container and keep it in your car at night, away from wild animals.  Next, decide what food items need to be stored in a cooler so you know how big of a cooler you will need.  Don’t forget to pack plenty of water.  And invest in a comfortable air mattress.  If you have room for a pillow, you might think about packing one. 

foldable basket full with clothes and towels on the beach
Try this Outdoor Box with a Shoulder Strap to get your gear to and from the car.

One of the great things about car camping is that you can still get away from people and out into nature, (if you pick the right spot and plan your trip at the right time of year) and because you can park the car at the campsite, you can bring a bit more luxury with you than if you were backpacking.  We recommend laying out all of the things you are going to take and filling them with collapsible boxes that are easy to carry.  Once you have everything packed in your entryway or garage, make sure to take the time to see if it all fits in your car before the day (or hour) of the trip.  If you are looking for some high-quality collapsible storage bins that hold up to moisture and are easy to clean, check out meori’s line of Outdoor boxes and accessories, including shoulder straps, cooler, and bottle inserts

Conclusion – Car Organization Ideas

Look for more from us on camping with the car in a future blog post.  In the meantime, we would love to hear from you. 

What are your vacation plans for 2021?  Will you be to traveling by car?  Are you looking to do a road trip or camping trip and if so, where? Are you going to use any of our car organization ideas?

Are you planning a road trip? Check out our list of the best road trips in the USA!

Check out the Meori Pinterest.


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