Organize Your Car with These Helpful Tips from The Home Edit

Your vehicle is an extension of your home, and Clea and Joanna are here to help you organize it.

Clea Shearer and Joanna Teplin, the professional organizing duo behind The Home Edit, help clients and viewers of their Netflix series, Get Organized with The Home Edit, learn how to tidy up their spaces in style. Known for their love of clear containers and rainbow color coding, Shearer and Teplin took the organizing industry storm upon the show's debut and are partially responsible for making home organization services more mainstream.

Recently, The Home Edit teamed up with the car maintenance company Jiffy Lube to advocate for a clean, well-run vehicle. Now, you might be wondering what cars have to do with home organization. According to the duo, cars are an extension of our homes (and, oftentimes, offices) and they should be given the same consideration we would give to a closet or pantry. Being that your car helps you run your day smoothly, one could argue that it takes top priority on your list of organization projects.

I sat down with Shearer and Teplin to discuss why organizing your car is so important and scored their best tips on how to get and keep it tidy. Read on to find inspiration to organize your car just like you would your home.

Plastic hooks on the back of a car seat
Ake Dynamic/Getty Images

Why Is Organizing Your Car Important?

"The car is a back-burner situation," says Shearer. "People treat it like a garage or an attic or a space where they can throw stuff into it and deal with it later." When working with clients, I often refer to the car as a dumping ground and, admittedly, treat my own vehicle the same way. But The Home Edit sparked a change in this thought process.

Similar to paying rent or a mortgage for a home, having a lease or a loan on a car means you're putting money into it regularly. Even if it's paid in full, you still spend money on insurance, maintenance, and gas. "It's square footage," says Teplin. "Treat it as a space you should honor and use to its fullest and not as a junk drawer."

The duo considers your car to be a compact home on wheels. For them, they start and end their days in the car, frequently turning it into a mini office on the go. Successfully taking business calls and answering emails from anywhere depends upon little distraction. And car clutter is no different from that in your home. "I'm just as cranky if my car is not in absolute tip-top shape as I am if my home is not organized," jokes Teplin.

How to Declutter Your Car (And Keep It That Way)

While it lacks storage, a car is a much smaller space to tackle than a house. Shearer and Teplin suggest designating specific zones for each area of the vehicle. They also consider a car to have three "closets": the console, the glove compartment, and the trunk.

"The center console should be [for] things you need touch access to, like hand sanitizer, a notebook and pen, wipes, anything you know that you're going to need to just reach in and grab,'' Shearer says. The trunk and glove compartment, on the other hand, should only hold things that won't need to be reached unless the car is parked. Storing important documents in the glove compartment is the perfect example. "It's helpful to designate the area so if you think of your glove compartment as for your docs, that's a clear path to what's in there," says Teplin.

Top Car Organization Ideas from The Home Edit

As for how to organize your car, The Home Edit has some pretty creative ideas for adding storage to the small space.

1. Contain Small Items in Zippered Pouches

Shearer and Teplin are big fans of utilizing zippered pouches to corral like items such as emergency first aid, snacks, or even those all-important documents. "For pouches, I tend to like the pack of clear with the different colored zippers. It helps you quickly identify what you're looking for. That way if you don't even want to label it, you just know that the red zippered pouch is registration and insurance," says Teplin.

2. Hang Bags on Headrest Hooks

Since reusable bags are the norm now, many of us (myself included) stow them in our cars to make shopping easier. And everyone knows the dreaded experience of getting to the grocery store only to realize you left the bags inside the house. Give them a no-nonsense home in the car by looping them over a headrest hook behind the front seat. You can also store your purse there, which is especially helpful if you have a friend, furry or human, riding in the front. Another use for hooks? "A small compact umbrella so you don't have to get out and go in your trunk when it's already raining," says Shearer.

3. Utilize Trunk Organizers

The car trunk is where a lot of things go to disappear. Shearer and Teplin are proponents of trunk organizers to keep things tidy, but with a caveat. Use "anything that's collapsible and that can easily expand. Something that has some flexibility." This way, if you need to reorganize or rearrange your trunk, it will be much easier to accomplish and reuse the storage products you already own.

4. Seat Gap Fillers

"Another storage tip is to get a seat gap filler between the front seat and the console. There's nothing worse than when you drop your keys or your phone in that spot. It's a black hole," says Teplin. "A lot of them now have pockets so you can keep your cell phone or a small hand sanitizer; it just makes it so easy and it frees up your cup holder and you have more room in your center console for larger, bulkier things."

The bottom line is that the things in your car ultimately need a home. "It's like being in the house; it's just like a pantry, a closet, a cabinet; your car functions the same way," says Shearer.

When asked how often one should go through their car (partially for my own knowledge), Teplin recommends a quarterly clean-out. "However, if there's trash in your car: every day. That has to be thrown out every single day," she says. "There's nothing worse than getting in the car and there's a Starbucks cup. Even if it's empty, it just puts you in a bad mood and it starts to make your car smell."

Implementing these car organization tips can have both you and your vehicle running smoothly from the second you walk out the front door.

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