This Mother's Day, Clean Mom's Car

img 659225875 1494268627319 jpg illustration by Paul Dolan

CARS.COM — For parents, messes are as inescapable as diaper blowouts and Elmo obsessions. But as moms who frequently drive the family bus know, some messes often get taken to a whole new level. As a mom of three and an auto journalist, I can confidently say moms hate messes and cars are home to lots of them, from sticky fingerprints on the windows and mysterious stains on the seats to smelly gear in the trunk and piles of crumbs on the floormats.

Grab the kids and get to work this weekend; Mom deserves a mess-free ride for Mother’s Day.

Related: Top Cars for Mom’s Day Out

Clean It

First, start outside and make it shine. Roll up those sleeves and wash the family car yourself using our two-bucket car wash tutorial. Short on time or not feeling the DIY spirit? Check out the Spiffy app; download the app, schedule your car wash, and the Spiffy team arrives at your home or work with everything to wash your vehicle. Packages start at $25. 

Prepare yourself for the next step: The real work happens inside. Like that red marker streak snaking up your staircase wall (wait, that’s my house), you’ve probably been turning a blind eye to the trash pile quietly accumulating behind the front seats. It’s time to take a look. Grab a trash bag, unleash the wipes, charge up the car vac, and make it squeaky clean. 

Deck It Out

Now that the inside is no longer a toxic waste dump, corral the clutter so the car stays clean. First, invest in a trash can. The High Road StashAway connects to the center console and comes with a smell-trapping lid. Others are simpler and hook onto the seatback. The MyTravelAide trash can loops around the head restraint and is leak-proof.

Next, give all your junk a home with an organizer. Lusso Gear’s backseat organizer loops around the head restraint and faces the backseat. Others, like this one from High Road Organizers, get buckled into the middle seat and also act as a cooler — perfect for organizing kid gear and snacks. Lastly, this Kodiak’s sectional design and large Velcroed pockets will help take an SUV or hatchback’s unruly cargo area from nightmare to neat. 

Finally, little touches go a long way and will make this Mother’s Day gift extra special. Pick up a travel vase and add some blooms to the cabin. Then, seal in that clean smell with a Yankee Candle air freshener (because Mom is classier than a dinky, chemically stinky tree).

Keep It Up

So that was a lot of work. The garbage can and stuff organizers should help keep the junk in check, but you’ll need an army to keep it that way.

Good thing you have kids. Enlist your crew to help by adding car cleaning maintenance to their weekly chore list. This teaches them two valuable lessons: the importance of taking care of your belongings and — just as important — if mama’s not happy, nobody’s happy.

Photo of Jennifer Geiger
News Editor Jennifer Geiger joined the automotive industry in 2003, much to the delight of her Corvette-obsessed dad. Jennifer is an expert reviewer, certified car-seat technician and mom of three. She wears a lot of hats — many of them while driving a minivan. Email Jennifer Geiger

Latest expert reviews