Keeping the interior of the car clean can feel like a losing battle against fast food wrappers, spills large and small, dust, hair, loose change and of course smells.
You don’t have to pay for expensive detailing services to keep your car’s interior looking almost like new—and keep it: We polled experts on how best to clean seats, floor mats, the dash, and center console, and their picks for elimination products and absorption of odors. We’ve combined their recommendations along with some of our own to bring you the best products to clean your car and keep it organized, all for under $25.
VacLife Portable Home & Car Cordless Handheld Vacuum ($19.99, originally $24.99; amazon.com)
The absolute best thing you can buy to keep your car clean is a handheld vacuum. With it, seats, floor mats and even the dashboard can be cleaned in no time at all. This portable vacuum from VacLife has great reviews and a low price, a pretty much perfect combination.
Sayonakuaj Portable Vacuum Cleaner ($24.99; amazon.com)
This portable vacuum is tiny, and we love that about it. It fits under the car seat or even in a cup holder. It comes with three attachments – a wide-mouth nozzle for seats and floor mats; a long-neck nozzle for tight spaces; and a brush nozzle for use on air vents – so you can get into every nook and cranny of your car.
It’s always a good idea to stash a roll of paper towels in the car and these super absorbent shop towels are a great choice for mopping up spills or cleaning up messes big and small.
Microfiber towels are a staple when cleaning cars. Use dry to remove dirt and debris from the dashboard and center console, or with an all-purpose spray or foaming carpet cleaner to remove stains from fabric seats or sticky stains from rubber floor mats.
Shout is one of my favorite stain removal products and when I saw that the brand offers a multi-purpose cleaner for use in cars, my eyes lit up. Shout is particularly good at removing food stains from fabrics. So if you eat in your car a lot, keep a can of this stuff on hand for those inevitable spills.
For cars with leather seats, Gina Perry, a senior clerk who oversees cleaning inventory at The Home Depot, recommends pre-moistened leather towels. “The easy-to-use wipes are designed to clean, condition and protect leather,” says Perry. “Natural oils rejuvenate, moisturize and restore leather, while UVX-15 sunscreen protects it from the sun’s damaging effects.”
Perry also likes in-car wipes to keep surfaces like the dashboard and side panels clean. They’re also great for getting into smaller spaces that tend to collect dirt, dust, and other debris, such as desks. B. the center console or cup holder.
When a horrible odor hits your car, it’s reasonable to think you’re in for an expensive trip to the detailer. But Perry says that “the average car owner can eliminate odors with an airspray like Ozium.” Ozium is a spray odor eliminator that destroys odors quickly, but reservation emptor: It has its own scent that not everyone will like.
Armor All Freshfx Air Freshener and Purifier ($4.98; amazon.com)
Perry also recommends the Armor All air freshener for its convenience. “You can keep it in your cup holder,” she says, which makes it a good product if you find you use an odor eliminator frequently and want to keep one handy.
Marilee Nelson, a cleaning expert and co-founder of Branch Basics, recommends using Breathe Green bags in the car to absorb and remove odors, allergens and pollutants. Unlike many other odor-fighting products, they are fragrance-free and have moisture-wicking properties, which help keep mold growth at bay.
The car is essentially its own ecosystem when it comes to cleaning, and thinking about it that way can help when it comes to preventing it from getting dirty. One of the most effective things you can do is create a place to dump the trash so it doesn’t fall on the floor. This hanging trash can, designed to fit on a car’s center console, does just that.
Take the center console bin to a new level with this all-in-one bin. As well as a bin with two removable inserts for easier emptying, it also has a compartment for tissues, napkins or wet wipes – perfect for preventing greasy or sticky fingers from leaving greasy or sticky fingerprints all over the car.
Who doesn’t love a storage solution that also solves a frustrating problem? This seat gap filler fits the space between the front seats and the center console and serves two functions: 1. It provides additional storage space for narrow items such as phones, face masks, tolls, etc. and 2. It prevents narrow items, such as phones, face masks, tolls, etc .slide into the cavity between the seat and the center console.
One of the basic rules of organization is to consider and use vertical space. In a car, that means recline. This organizer mat ups the rear seat bag by 10,000 notches by adding eight compartments that can hold anything from bottles to tissue boxes to an iPad.
Frequent travelers will love this tote-style organizer. It fits over a center console to store drinks, snacks, tissues and anything else you want to keep handy when you’re on the go. When not in use, it folds away so you can store it under a seat or in the trunk until the next time you need it.
A hook is an incredibly useful organizational tool in any space, and the car is no exception. This car seat headrest hook can hold backpacks, handbags, shopping bags, jackets and hoodies, etc. to free up space on the seats and on the floor. We particularly like the CC L model, which can also be clipped to a cell phone, allowing rear seat passengers to watch their favorite shows while driving.
A trunk organizer can serve so many functions – we could be here all day to list them. One use we love for them is as a traveling cleaning cart. Fill the bin with a roll of paper towels, a handheld vacuum, cleaning wipes, and other items you want to have on hand for when a car mess happens. This trunk organizer is as simple as it is, with a divided interior, four exterior pockets, and loop handles on either end – and best of all, it’s collapsible, so you can fold it flat when not in use.
This trunk organizer is extremely versatile. It has multiple internal compartments that can be configured exactly as you need it, side pockets and a non-slip and waterproof bottom to prevent leakage. Also, it is foldable for easy storage.
If you often transport tools, hardware, garden supplies, and other heavy items, a super-sturdy crate can help protect your trunk and back seat from damage. This super strong polypropylene container can hold up to 66 pounds and folds flat when not in use.
Sometimes you just need a trash can to store things in the car. This Rubbermaid luggage bin is just that and not much more – but it has a few features that make it a great choice for in-car storage. It has handles for easy carrying, a non-slip and waterproof bottom, and is dishwasher safe.