The Self-Cleaning Organized Car


organized car

How is it possible to keep the inside of your car clutter-free at all times with almost no effort? Introducing… the organized car caddy!

It’s not a special gadget with lots of pockets. And it doesn’t live full-time in your car, either.

It’s a bin, or bag, or box, or basket that you take out to the car with you every day when you leave home, and bring back in from the car with you every day when you return home.

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Your caddy needs to be big enough to contain the things you need, but not too bulky or too heavy to carry around. It needs to be deep enough for your stuff to not fall out, but not so deep that you have a layer of things from two weeks ago languishing at the bottom.

If you have school-age kids, this system presumes that everything they need for the day is in their backpacks. And, if you carry a purse or briefcase, most of the things you need every day will be in there.

What you take out to the car:

organized car

  • Full water bottle
  • Special items you need to bring to work that day
  • The gift you prepared for someone you plan to see today
  • The thing you borrowed and want to return to a friend
  • Items needed for errands:
    • Library books and store purchases to return
    • Shopping list and coupons (if you use them)
    • Things to mail at the post office
    • Etc.

What you bring in from the car:

  • Trash (to throw away immediately)
  • Empty water bottle (to refill)
  • New things you’ve collected during the day (to find homes for):
    • New purchases
    • Library books
    • Business cards and flyers
    • Etc.
  • That day’s mail (to sort into your action file)
  • Anything that was in the car but really belongs inside the house (to put away)

Where it lives

Your caddy can sit wherever you like in the car, but it needs to be handy so you can see it, remember it, and use it. Its location depends, of course, on the configuration of your car, and how many people will be riding in it. Good choices include the driver’s side back seat or floor, or the front passenger seat or floor. A not-so-good choice is the trunk, because: 1) you’re likely to forget about it there, and 2) the caddy is not meant for the permanent storage of anything. It can, of course, go in the trunk temporarily if you want to hide something more valuable than a water bottle from plain sight while you are away from the car.

It also needs a home inside the house. See this blog post for ideas: Six Organizing Systems Everyone Needs — System #3: Launch Pad


The caddy is not a substitute for things you want to keep in your car at all times, such as emergency items, extra clothes, toys, or whatever else your lifestyle requires. The caddy is for items that are unique to that day’s activities, so you don’t have to make multiple trips to and from the car, or risk forgetting something, or dropping things along the way when your hands are too full.

It’s also a great way to keep clutter under control. If you make it a habit to clean out your car daily – and make it super simple to do so – it will seem as if the car keeps itself clean! It will be a much more pleasant place to spend time in; you’ll never be embarrassed to have car guests; and clean up won’t turn into a big chore.

Make sense? Do you think you’ll try it?

How do you maintain a clean, tidy, and organized car? Or, do you?

Please share with us in the comments below!

Copyright 2017 by Hazel Thornton, Organized For Life.
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  1. Diane Quintana on April 10, 2017 at 12:41 pm

    Good idea, Hazel. I use tote bags for my errands. I like the idea of a caddy because it has a sturdy form.

    • Hazel Thornton on April 10, 2017 at 3:23 pm

      I think most people do use tote bags. They’re great except you can’t see into them easily and they’re deep enough to overlook things at the bottom. Are you going to try something else?

  2. Janet Barclay on April 10, 2017 at 2:07 pm

    What a cool idea! I don’t think I need one myself, but I’m amazed that more people don’t do this!

    • Hazel Thornton on April 10, 2017 at 3:21 pm

      Yes, if you don’t have any of the problems it would solve there’s no reason to do it. It seems like a fairly basic concept, but I don’t think I’ve ever heard or read it as a specific suggestion before.

  3. Seana Turner on April 10, 2017 at 2:26 pm

    That is so funny that we were both writing about the car this week! We both are talking about what needs to go into the car and out of the car.

    Makes me smile!

  4. Karen Sprinkle on April 10, 2017 at 4:53 pm

    Great post-Hazel. I’ll share it on my page too. This is an idea that many of my clients can use.

  5. Liana George on April 15, 2017 at 2:33 pm

    Great tool! I usually just carry things in my hands, but I’m sure I have a caddy or basket around that would work too. Wonderful post, Hazel!

  6. Olive Wagar on April 24, 2017 at 8:22 am

    Simple & clever & useful = great idea! It also helps you collect up all the things you need for your errands. I have a designated library tote and church tote that I use the same way. They are short & wide & stay open so I can see inside. Hope to meet you at NAPO 2017!!

  7. Audrey Cupo on April 24, 2017 at 10:15 am

    Great ideas, Hazel! I like the basket idea with the handle. Easy to contain and transport your items. Thank you!

  8. Hazel Thornton on May 9, 2017 at 9:27 am

    Thank you, everyone, for your comments and shares!

  9. Laura Alba on June 23, 2018 at 4:09 am

    Thank you Hazel for your ideas. I will follow this and i must share it in my page. If you had more insight i will greatly appreciate it.

  10. Tim Roberts on February 11, 2021 at 2:04 pm

    Thank you. Your ideas are awesome. Hope sure my kids won’t disturb my car’s accessories lol. Mostly, I loved the basket idea with the handle. Easy to contain and transport your items.

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