How to Declutter Your Car

Last Updated on February 23, 2020 by EditorAfter choosing what make and model you want, how to purchase your vehicle, what type of insurance to buy, you’ve just rolled away with your new fancy car and now all you’re worried about is making sure that sparkling shine stays in your fresh rims. That was most likely around the time you first brought your car home from the dealership.

Fast forward to a few months, maybe even weeks later and you find yourself losing things in your car while realizing that the clutter has built up faster than your basic car wash. From overstuffed trunks, to soda bottles in your backseat, clutter can happen without even realizing it because it’s easy to let one hoodie in the backseat turn into an entire living room over time. It happens to the best of us.

That’s why today we take some time out to look at how to declutter your car the right way.

Take an Inventory

If you deem yourself a responsible car owner, then at first when you drove away after signing on the dotted line at the dealership you may have created a must have list of essential items to keep in your car at all times. Aside from your-

  • Spare tire
  • Tire Jack
  • Water
  • Jumper Cables
  • Tire Inflator
  • Your car’s manual

The list goes on…

You may have started to find yourself adding extra items to your car that you don’t need. It happens, one day you leave an item like an old pair of shoes in your backseat and the habit continues to grow.

The key here is to simply take inventory.

Much like retail stores annually cover all their items to see what’s accounted for, went stolen, or got sold, the same needs to be done for your vehicle when the rear-view mirror begins to only see a pile of unnecessary things rather than the cars behind you. Go over what’s back there, in the glove compartment, the trunk, and see what doesn’t belong.

Bags and Cases

Hypothetically you do take a vast inventory of you vehicle and you find that you do actually need a lot of items in your car. From work necessities, medical requirements, baby car seats, and more, sometimes your car may just need more than average.

And that’s okay.

But, this doesn’t mean that those items need to form a clutter. Bags, cases, and storage can be the easy and simple middleman to solve this problem. And there’s plenty of resources out there for you to shop for the perfect perfect bag or case to better organize what right now seems like clutter in your car.

Organizing can be key when looking into how to declutter your car. It can create an easy system so that instead of rummaging through piles in the trunk or back seat, you can simply go through a bag designated for whatever you need while keeping the car looking neat and without clutter.

Store seasonal items at Home

On our list of how to declutter your car examples, this should be one of the easier remedies for you. One example of seasonal clutter is the classic four seasons shovel.

It usually goes something like this: you get your first vehicle and all goes well in the summer and fall. It’s smooth sailing with a few rain storms that are no match for you new tires and windshield wipers. Everything else is accounted for too like your jumper cables and other essential items.

But then winter comes and the snow barrels down hard overnight. You wake up to a few inches of snow on the ground with no way to dig out. You borrow a shovel from a kind neighbor and eventually buy your own.

The only problem is that nine times out of ten that shovel stays in your car year round just adding to the clutter.

This goes back to taking an inventory. It’s as simple as just noting what items you need in you car for the weeks to come and taking out the ones you don’t, leaving them safely at home.

Move from Back To Trunk

The phrase goes “out of sight, out of mind.” This tip falls under more of the cheat category.

Or maybe it’s more of a life hack.

The situation might simply be that all your items are in the wrong place of the car. There’s no reason for everything to sit on the floor of the passenger seat or in the back seat when the trunk is entirely empty.

If this is the case then all you need to do to declutter is move all your items from the back to the trunk and then try to keep the interior in this state. Sometimes all it takes is a simple shift of stuff rather than an elimination of that stuff, and if you have the space in the trunk then why not?

Car Interior Organization

Let’s say you put everything in order. You have what you need for emergencies in the trunk, you bought a few bags and cases for the backseat, trunk, roof, and whatever else, but it just so happens that things are still looking a bit cluttered. That’s entirely okay because it’s the effort that matters here. One simple fix to all this is of course just a little bit of car interior organization.

Have a case of water that doesn’t fit in the trunk? Leave it on the floor rather than the seat? Have a hoodie that you want to stay in the car at all times?

Fold it up neatly or hang it on the back of the seat so it’s out of the way. Clutter doesn’t always have to be rid of, sometimes all it needs is a little bit of organization to make it look neater.

Glove Box Storage

Does your glove box storage overflow like a cartoon once you open it up for a tissue?

That’s a bit of a problem especially if you keep your car manual in there, insurance cards, and or registration. Hypothetically you get pulled over, you’re most likely going to get a little frazzled right off the bat, the last thing you need is to have the problem of a messy glove box storage. Just as it goes with the above tips, you can apply them all to the glove box.

From gum, tissues, flashlights, papers, etc, it can all be rearranged to make for a more organized glove box. It’s also not always easy to stretch over from the driver side and have to rummage through it, so keeping it clean and simple to access is a must when it comes to how to declutter your car.

And if anything it should be the first thing you clean up.


Under all that clutter comes the really tricky and tedious part that requires a little bit of a long term investment. If you don’t already have one, you’ll want to put some money aside for a decent car mini-vacuum. Because once you remove all those shovels, summer floaties, and leak rakes, there’s going to be hair, crumbs, dirt, you name it.

Even if the car remains uncluttered, debris always finds its way into the car somehow and it always builds up rather quickly even if you just put in a fresh set of floor mats.

You can easily find a mini-vacuum for cheap on Amazon or Ebay, but it does help in the long term if you shell out for a higher end model to really get the job done. This definitely falls under a long term investment.

Car Trunk

For most people, the car trunk is the biggest culprit when it comes to car clutter. It’s fairly simple to just throw something in the trunk and forget about it.

Because well, you can’t see it anymore.

This goes back to out of sight, out of mind, but in a bad way. One simple trick to overcome the dread trunk clutter conundrum is to set a reminder for yourself much like for when you need an oil change.

Set a reminder for every six months to go through what’s in your trunk. Worst case, make it a yearly part of your routine. Spring or early summer is always a great time to do it.

Solution To Consider:
Rola 59001 M.O.V.E. Rigid-Base Trunk Organizer, Customizable Storage, Removable (Black), 38" Interior Organizer
  • DIMENSIONS: 38” x 15” x 7”. Material-Polyester, Nylon
  • CUSTOMIZABLE STORAGE: This extra-large, premium-quality organization solution features movable interior dividers that create...
  • NON-SLIP BASE: Material helps prevent the organizer from sliding during sudden stops or fast cornering so your gear stays...

Over time, you may not even need to do it anymore out of force of habit. The thing is, once the trunk is filled up, that’s when the clutter spills over into other parts of the vehicle. So keeping the trunk clear is paramount and you should take an inventory of it every six months.

Get a Bigger Vehicle

Okay, so now let’s say you followed all the tips above, you’ve gotten rid of the non-essential, bought some bags, taken an inventory, spruced up the glove compartment, and everything else.

But, you still have a cluttered vehicle and you need all the items that are in there. It’s a safe bet that you may just need a bigger vehicle. Maybe you have three car seats and live in a town where it snows all the time?

And that’s okay!

You just need to be realistic with how much space you really need. Instead if a Volkswagen buggy you may need a Jeep. That’s what taking an inventory is all about. There’s no shame in it.

Admit That You Need Help

Lastly, maybe you’ve tried all the above tips on how to declutter your car but you still have clutter filling up the back seat and trunk. It’s a really common issue to have and you shouldn’t have to upgrade your vehicle because of that.

But now’s the time to really sit down and see whether or not you need to bring in outside help for your clutter problem. Sometimes a second set of eyes and hands can make a world of difference when it comes to habits whether they’re big or small. So ask a friend or family member for help, and maybe they can steer you in the right direction for better habits in the future.

And there you have it. These have been the best ways to declutter your car. It’s not the end of the world, with a little ingenuity and creativity, a basic problem can have plenty of solutions. It all comes down to better habit building and self-awareness. Once that’s squared away your car will be fresh again.