This week I tackled our vehicles and I went into the project thinking it would be a walk in the park. Boy was I in for a surprise! It would be a miracle if we could pull off a successful drive to the park with the condition of our vehicles.
In my making excuses defense, it is nearly impossible to clean our vehicle for about 6 months out of the year due to our cold climate. Truthfully, I don't think either of our cars have been touched in over a year though, so I really don't think that my excuse holds that much weight. The funny thing is, I can't stand a dirty car because I just love the feeling of a fresh clean car so much more. But I had some major goggles on or something, because they both just got progressively worse and worse to the point where I didn't even realize how bad they really were.
No joke guys, I went out this week to clean out the cars and had a minor panic attack in the middle of the day, in the middle of our driveway, in the middle of our neighborhood. I knew the cars were bad, but the back of the vehicle that we primarily use to travel as a family, was in far rougher shape than I realized or even could have imagined. Remember, this is a judge free zone friends.
Toys, crumbs, dirt, coloring pages, books, water bottles, clothing, sporting equipment, more clothing... You would think we live out of these vehicles. Wait, we basically do lately!
The front seat wasn't all that bad. Just felt dirty and had a lot of disorganization in the cubbies and crannies.
I am sure cleaning out a car and organizing it isn't the most thrilling post to read, but my goodness, the outcome sure was thrilling to me. I completely underestimated the mess, and therefore, completely underestimated the amount of time it would take to clean out and organize both cars. Here are the steps I took to whip both vehicles back into beautiful shape.
STEP 1: Assess (like really assess). Check out all areas of cars to determine scope of project and potential needs (this is where I failed to realize how bad things really were). I used my project planning printable to come up with a game plan.
STEP 2: Create solutions for trouble spots. We were lacking in preparation and organization, so I put together a few kits to be better prepared while traveling.
STEP 3: Sort and purge! Just like any organizational project, I got out some bins and started the sorting process. You can download your free sorting signs here.
The goal was to empty the cars 100%. I enlisted the help of all of the boys, they were partly responsible for the mess after-all.
STEP 4: Clean! Once we had the cars completely empty, it was time to scrub them top to bottom.
This process probably seems pretty straight forward, and it really was. I used a combination of our shop vac and Dyson attachments to get all of the carpet clean. A slender attachment worked well to vacuum out all of the narrow nooks, door pockets and cup holders. I decided to cheat for this project and purchased some Pledge Multi-Surface cleaner (I usually DIY my cleaners). I was impressed with how well it worked on all of the interior surfaces, including the windows. Not to mention, it smelled amazing. #notsponsored #justlove
A small scrub brush paired with a bucket of warm water and dishsoap removed all of the salt stains from the floor mats. Once they were dry, I went back over them with our upright vac.
STEP 5: Take it all in. Every last minute!
STEP 6: Implement new systems. I had a chat with the kiddos, and we agreed that majority of the items we put in our car kit, should get them through shorter car rides without the need to bring a bunch of extra coloring pages or toys.
We also agreed that part of the problem was not being diligent about bringing things in when we returned home. Our "keep" bin was full of items that needed to be brought back into the house and put away.
I added a small trash bag to the back of the passenger seat in both cars.
The sporting equipment was also put away, and replaced with a bin of essentials and our reusable shopping bags.
I actually divided our reusable shopping bags into two sets of 5 bags each, keeping one set in each car. In the past, they were stored in the house and they were forgotten for far too many grocery shopping trips. The woven basket in our car holds our returns, and can easily be moved from trunk to trunk.
In the front of both cars, I made sure we had a plug and cord for each of our phones.
At this point, it is probably not a surprise that the glove compartments were also a smidge on the messy side...
We keep spare fuses in both glove compartments. Our car had a nice divided case, so I mimicked it for the SUV.
I also added a small container of money for tolls, parking meters or an emergency gas stop. I don't typically recommend leaving money in your vehicle, but I wanted to add a small back-up fund in both cars just in case. Does iced coffee count as an emergency?
I didn't want to continuously purchase Swiffer refills, so I upgraded each vehicle to a reusable duster instead. They are compact enough to fit in the glove compartments.
We were also lacking in any type of document management in the car. We didn't always have insurance cards in the car, and have been trying a few different methods for tracking mileage (we both need to track it for business purposes). To solve the problem, I put together a thin Auto Binder to slide under each passenger seat.
How about a quick look inside?
I used a generic white 1/2" three ring binder and dressed it up with some decorative paper and a label. Inside, I used tabbed binder pockets, which are great for holding miscellaneous documents and receipts.
Right inside the cover, I added our insurance card and proof of vehicle registration.
Behind another tab of more insurance docs/details, I printed out a new auto maintenance log, and filed away the previous one which we had been keeping in our Household Binder. The pocket is great for holding maintenance statements and receipts.
Next tab is a Mileage tracker, which I created for this project.
Would you like one too? OK!
|(download your FREE mileage tracker here)|
For the final tab, I decided to take my own advice and keep a donation tracker in each car. We are always dropping off a small box of items at local donation facilities, and I find myself jotting down notes at the last minute in my phone or on random scraps of paper. Now, I have a much more organized way of keeping those details straight.
The one shown above is from my shop here, but you can also download another version for free here.
A pen fit perfectly inside each binder, and the cover provides a hard surface to write down all details while on the go.
And that is that my friends! Our cars are no longer embarrassing or gross or dirty! Although I may be hiding under a rock in shame, I am doing so with a smile!
I am sure I am a bit more excited about the before and afters this week than 90% of you, but that is what these organizational challenges are all about. Doing something you have been putting off for far too long and then celebrating your accomplishments. #cheers
Now! Who wants to win a $50 Gift Certificate to Amazon.com!? The majority of the items I used for this week's task, were purchased from Amazon (flashlights, umbrellas, tire repair kits, roadside flashers, fire extinguishers, collapsible pet bowls (thanks for the recommendations), dusters, trash sacks, etc...). These days, I do the majority of my shopping on Amazon because it is convenient and typically less expensive than driving to surrounding bigger cities to shop. You can find just about anything for just about any project. Using random.org, one link party participant will be selected to win the gift card at the end of this week's challenge (no need to participate each week to win)! Time to share your Week 2 stories and projects with me!
I was so overjoyed to see how many of you joined in with me last week! Let's keep the organizing momentum going this week!
UPDATE! Congratulations to this week's winner! #16 has been selected by Random.org as the winning participant of Week Two! Keep an eye on your email, I will be contacting soon to coordinate your Amazon.com gift card winnings!
You can find all of the challenge details in this post here, and also download some FREE project planning printables to help you get started!
Have a great weekend everyone!