Video: Here's How to Keep Your Family Car Clean

With all the demands of family life, making time to clean the family car usually ends up far down on the never-ending list of things to do. But sometimes the clutter and grime just get too much to take anymore, often resulting in a daunting cleanup job. I’ve been there myself; it’s not pretty.

Fortunately, with a little planning you can keep your car looking clean and shiny long after you’ve scrubbed and vacuumed the interior. Here are some things that’ve worked for us.

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Since spills and messes are an inevitable part of life with kids, protecting as much of the cabin as possible is key. All-weather floor liners are great ways to prevent dirt, slush and mud from ruining your car’s carpet and are easy to wipe clean or vacuum.

Thin seat protectors provide similar protection for your upholstery if you have child-safety seats installed. Just make sure it’s OK to use a protector with your child’s seat.

Water bottles with tough lids and covered snack cups can help minimize the size of messes, too.

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And when messes do happen, they’re usually easier to deal with right away rather than a few days later after they’ve baked in the sun. That’s why it’s handy to have a pack of baby wipes on hand to wipe up any spills. For bigger messes, paper towels work better, and self-closing bags can keep it all together when you’re done wiping things up. Plastic shopping bags also make great in-car trash containers, too.

Finally, if a spill has left a foul odor in your car, try covering the area with baking soda for a few days and then vacuuming it up. With any luck, the smell will be sucked up with it.’s Editorial department is your source for automotive news and reviews. In line with’s long-standing ethics policy, editors and reviewers don’t accept gifts or free trips from automakers. The Editorial department is independent of’s advertising, sales and sponsored content departments.

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Mike Hanley has more than 20 years of experience reporting on the auto industry. His primary focus is new vehicles, and he's currently a Senior Road Test Editor overseeing expert car reviews and comparison tests. He previously managed Editorial content in the Research section. Email Mike Hanley

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