Definitely not my car.

This week’s project is one I thought I would be doing last week, but I got my date wrong for a family gathering. This week I thought I was also racing against the rain but that didn’t happen. It was warm this week but not too bad. Still, I exhausted myself with this project. My car hasn’t been cleaned in years. Between unemployment and medical issues it hasn’t been a priority. This week I had the opening to make it happen so I washed down the car, vacuumed it out good with my dad’s shop vac, and then turned to the part of the project you care about, organizing the stuff inside.

I’ve never really had what you’d call a messy car. I only rarely travel with others, never let wrappers and stuff in my car, or any of that usual clutter one finds in your typical automobile mess. However I do keep stuff in it for convenience and safety, so this week the job was to see what I actually needed and better sort it through the various places to put stuff in a car and got rid of stuff I didn’t need. There wasn’t a lot of the latter since like I said I don’t keep a lot of junk in my car and I do have one of those garbage bags that hangs off the headrest of the front seat. The stuff I did have required a lot of resorting to better organize and maximize stuff. Combine this with the car washing and vacuuming and I was pretty beat by the end, but it was worth it!

I think this is the first time I used this outdoors.

My dad recently had some work done on the car and was even considering just getting a new car, but he really likes his current vehicle and it was cheaper to repair than replace. I wish the same was true of my last car because while I like my current transportation I think I’m just made for compacts. At any rate this is what inspired the clutter cleaning of my car and I figured why not go full out and clean the vehicle itself while I was at it. Once that was done attention turned to making this disorganized mess into an…organized mess. I also just saw a similar car declutter on another site so the timing is nice.

This isn’t even all of it. For example I have a Bumblebee keychain hanging from my visor, which shouldn’t surprise any of you long-term readers.

The first step was laying everything out on the table, and then going through essential stuff. I have a blanket I keep in the backseat in case I get stuck on the roads during a snowstorm. (In Connecticut that’s possible.) A cup holder adapter came with the car. You see things like my phone charger (a cheap cable I keep in the car), spare glasses, driving gloves, night-time driving glasses that don’t work as well with modern headlight bulbs (they meant well but it’s not good for the driver on the other side of the road), and a box of tissues. Do you know how hard it is to find car tissue boxes these days? I got lucky this time but I also keep a pack of pocket tissues for emergencies. Darn allergies.

You can also see the ice scraper and brush in the bottom right corner. I have a second scraper with no brush but in a kind of cozy that keeps the user’s hand warm while scraping. It’s good to have a back-up but the one with the brush I keep in the car itself to brush off the snow. If my hand gets cold and the gloves are too much trouble then I can break up the ice around the trunk and grab this. And that’s how I went through stuff. Is it something useful? If not I took it out. For example I have a nail care kit in there, something my cousin and his wife gave away one year at either Easter or Christmas. I put it in there because I already had one and didn’t need it in the house. I moved it to my bedside so I don’t have to run into the studio if a toenail starts rubbing against the sheet. I had this electric powered scraper in there that was broken, so I threw that out. If you can’t re-purpose it, toss it out.

I have the best kept hands on the road.

My hands get dry so I keep a travel-size tube of hand cream in there. I have a few wet wipes for my hands or the steering wheel. (I also have one of those packs of multi-surface wipes for car windows and consoles.) There’s a cleaner for the windshield wipers that I never use but it came with one of the replacement wiper sets. There are hand and body warmers, more holiday giveaways, for the same reason I have a blanket. Since I wear glasses the repair kit for that as well as eyeglass cleaner wipes are also a must.

I have daytime driving sunglasses in a little space near the map lights, a good feature to have. I do keep spare sunglass clip-ons in my car though for when I’m not driving.

I’d say this is here to jot down pretty girls phone numbers but that would imply I’ve had the opportunity.

My side console has this upper slot, a small place where I can put a pad, spare pen, and just because it fits a small pocket version of the New Testament some group was handing out one year. I keep a pad in my pocket but you never know when you might need one handy to jot down important information, especially if you end up in an accident, see the license plate of an escaping car, or want to write down the description of that UFO to get it right in the papers.

Now if I only knew how to use this thing.

Another holiday giveaway, an engineer’s compass. If I get lost a compass could be useful but even after reading the instructions that came with it I have no idea how to use the other features. I also have an umbrella in case it rains, and a rain poncho in case it rains hard or I need my hands free. There are also handy maps in case my GPS isn’t working on my phone or I just get lost somewhere I don’t have a map downloaded for. I don’t need a lot of extras but I do keep essential stuff around as well as stuff that could be useful in an emergency. It comes with being mildly paranoid.

Every car should have one of these.

This is a combination first aid and auto accident kit. On the medical side it comes with different bandages and a tube of first aid cream that expired in 1989. This must have been an old kit when I got it because I didn’t start driving until the early 1990s. I just have to replace that. There’s also a CPR mouth guard for giving mouth-to-mouth without looking like your making out (more for sanitary reasons than your dignity though), a road flare in a box shape, and a “HELP!” flag to put on your antenna if something’s wrong. Like the caption says, everyone should have one of these in their car.

Two other things I have in there are a flashlight and one of those mini hammers designed to break window glass if you need to get out of your car. It also have a tool for cutting a stuck seatbelt and puncturing a stuck air bag. I know a lot of us have flashlights or at least a flashlight app on our phones (I have a flashlight using the flash bulb for the outer camera) but it’s good to have a back-up.

Speaking of things long-term readers shouldn’t be surprised by, cardboard.

Finally we have this cardboard box I keep in my trunk along with a shovel for getting out of snow. (I used to take the shovel out when winter was over but I have a big trunk I rarely use since I stopped delivering groceries so what the heck? Leave it there.) I had to organize the stuff in there as well. What I do have in there? It’s going to be weird to most of you but you may not be a forgetful paranoid.

I have a spare windbreaker in case I’m at an outdoor party when it starts getting chilly and I didn’t bring a jacket, which has happened. There’s a spare belt in case the one I have breaks so I don’t have to hold my pants up all night. (This has not happened but there were a few times I forgot to put a belt on or with a change of clothes.) A spare cap is in there because I like wearing hats and like the belt there have been situations where I forgot one because I was in a hurry. Yes, I’m weird. It’s also where I keep the rain poncho I mentioned. I have paper towels in there but if I can figure out where I put that shamee (of course when I go to put it in the car finally it gets lost–and yes, another holiday giveaway) I’ll replace it. Sadly the shopping bags won’t fit in there and since Connecticut is on a mission to get rid of “single-use” plastic bags (a lying term given that we’ve re-used them for everything from garbage bags to separating pans to carrying stuff places with a bag we don’t mind losing) they’ve become essential as well. Over time the stuff was just thrown into the box so I resorted everything to fit in there properly.

Everything fit nice and neatly because my car has plenty of spaces to put stuff. If it didn’t fit I would have to pull even more items out but I started with the essentials and worked my way out. What did I really need in the car, what did I really want in the car, and what would be nice to have in the car. Everything else was used elsewhere or tossed out. Then I chose what would go best where. It all fit in there quite well and I can get to what I want when I need it. At least until it gets so messed up again that I have to go through this all over again. It happens but the results were worth it. My car is much more organized. Now if I could just put gas in it I’d be set. 🙂