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I wanted to share how to keep the car clean with kids.
keep your car clean with kids

My husband and I have four kids and they are all very young (8, 6, 4, 2) which means that we deal with messes on a daily basis.   Between the sandbox, the dirt from the yard, snacks, etc…  there is always some sort of mess in the car.   (Why is it that they somehow get a ton of crumbs in their cupholders?  Do your kids do this?  I think that they think of it as a mini-garbage can!)

If you read my past post on what I do on a daily basis (daily cleaning list)  you will see that we clean out our van every Sunday.

The kids gather everything and put it into a big basket and then my husband or I vacuum.
While we are vacuuming, they are taking wipes and cleaning the dash, etc…  (& putting away everything that they have collected in their basket).

Here is a little guideline on how to clean your carpets in your car.

At LEAST once a week, you should vacuum your carpets.  Sometimes I will even have to do this once a day because one of our kids will have had snacks that always end up on the floor (crumbs).  This is life with four little ones.  My husband would rather they not eat in the car, but I just can’t seem to make that work between sports, school & running errands and so I vacuum more often.

Luckily I have a BISSELL and it has a detacable center that I can take outside to clean the car.  It works GREAT for this.  (This has to be my favorite feature.)  My husband has a shop vac, so now we can really use either option.

And a close-up of the part that I love!  (You can see what its easy to take in the car…)

A person holding a hand held vacuum.


I also use a carpet freshener in our van.   (Soccer spikes, baseball gloves, wrestling shoes, etc… all leave an odor behind, making it not so fresh in our van.  This is a way to ELIMINATE odors.)


DIY natural carpet car freshenerHere are two quick and easy recipes to MAKE YOUR OWN CARPET CLEANER
1 Cup Borax
1 Cup Baking Soda
about 8 drops of essential oil (I like lemon the best- or lavender)

Another recipe that we have started using since our son was been diagnosed with Asthma (omitting the borax):
1 cup baking soda
5 drops essential oil  (you can get this at a lot of different stores)


To make the freshener, just place the dry ingredients in a ziplock bag and add the oil.  Shake it up and let it sit for at least a day (to let the dry ingredients soak up all of the oil).   Keep it in an old (clean) parmasian cheese container.
Sprinkle it on.  Let it sit for 20-30 minutes and vacuum with your BISSELL.

I like to make my own because the store-bought ones smell SO strong and I really don’t like the smell of the store-bought ones at all (too “fake” smelling, in my opinion).   I do not use it often, maybe once a month or every few months- just often enough to freshen things up a bit, but it works well.

My last tip
is to keep antibacterial wipes and plastic grocery bags in the glove compartment for quick clean-ups.  (If you have 5 minutes while waiting at preschool, you can do a quick 5 minute clean up with these things.  Use the wipes to clean up and then throw the garbage that you find in the car and the used wipes into your recycled grocery bag and toss it out, on your way into the preschool or wherever you may be going.

How do you keep your car smelling fresh and looking clean?



Hi there!

I’m Becky, a former elementary school teacher turned certified child development therapist and blogger. I work at home with my husband and together we are raising (and partially homeschooling) our four children in the Carolinas. I love diet coke, ice cream, and spending time with my family.

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  1. With 3 kiddos I live in my car so naturally it is always a mess. I have to look into this, thanks for sharing!

  2. I love my Bissell too! Thanks for the carpet cleaner recipe. I’ll have to try it.

  3. Ooh I love this! Can’t believe how convenient and lightweight this model is…. definitely perfect for cleaning the car (which I need so desperately!).

  4. Keeping the car clean when you have kids is a HUGE challenge! Thanks for the helpful tips!

  5. Awesome article! Thanks so much for sharing! I am lucky that my husband has a “thing” for cleaning cars!

  6. I struggle DAILY with keeping my car clean. I can clean it one day and it will shine and the next day it looks like a total mess. I need to come up with a plan to keep it nice!

  7. I could totally use one of these not only to detach to clean my car.. I have places in my house that this would work perfect for.

  8. As a mom of 4, can you even use the world kids, car, clean in the same sentence? lol great tips!

  9. Keeping the van looking clean with three kids under 6 is no easy task. To keep it smelling clean, though, I put some Unstoppables in a little bag and keep it under the seat.

  10. Oh, I can’t even tell you how badly I need a vacuum for my car! I can’t go anywhere without the kids, and I can’t stop and do it with them because the noise scares the baby. If I had one of these, my car might actually stand a chance!

  11. Now this is something that I really need! Our van gets so messy with 4 kids always dropping crumbs in there. Yes, mine also somehow get them into the cup holders too! How they do it, I will never know! 🙂 I’ll have to check this vacuum out!

  12. I don’t have kids, but I could definitely see this being a great product for my little family. The interiors of both my car and my husband’s truck are DISGUSTING right now, but our vacuum isn’t lightweight enough to lug it out and use in our cars. Plus it doesn’t have accessories like this one to get into the nooks and crannies. Thanks for sharing your experiences!

  13. We have a miniature vacuum that we keep in our car too. We also use towels or sheets to cover the the seats.

  14. We have a dirt devil we use to keep our car looking clean and fresh. It is small and portable! Great tips, thanks for sharing them with us.