Today I'm sharing my best car hacks, tips, tricks, gadgets, and life-saving tips that have saved my bacon more than once on the road. Ready to see what we can't live without for our family of ten?!
As a mom of eight active kiddos, I basically LIVE out of my car. Over the years, I have learned simple ways to make my car a mobile “office” of sorts, and have turned it into a place where I can actually get quite a bit done! It might sound crazy, but with a few car hacks and essentials, you can transform the way you run errands, too.
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Since we found out we were having twins, we knew we needed a new car fast! We ended up getting a 15-passenger Ford Transit 350 XLT mid-roof standard van and we loooove it! We may have gotten it decked out a bit to fit our family's needs… It's super smooth. Check out our new car tour here! But don't forget to come back to learn about these amazing car hacks that will change the way you drive.
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CAR HACKS TO KEEP YOUR CAR CLEAN
It’s a fact of life: cars get dirty! Especially if you basically live in yours, as I do. Add in some little munchkins to the mix and you can take a car from squeaky clean to eww in about 15 seconds!
- Hanging Garbage Can – These little garbage cans are lifesavers! I have one on the back of every single headrest in my car so my kids can easily throw away garbage rather than throwing it on the floor. These cans are great because they’re waterproof on the inside and hold their shape.
- Silicone Cupcake Liners – Do your cup holders ever get disgusting thanks to some nasty, mysterious gunk, or is that just mine? These cupcake liners are probably one of my favorite car hacks! I have one in every cup holder in my car. They’re also easily cleaned – you just dump them out and stick them in the dishwasher! Easy peasy, that’s my kind of cleaning. These are one of my favorite car hacks!
- Car Vacuum – This car vacuum is one of my must-have, non-negotiable items in my van. It is such a lifesaver when it comes to keeping the car clean! It’s small, so you can hide it under one of the seats when you’re not using it. It plugs into the car’s cigarette lighter and it can reach ALL the way to the back of my van. Have you seen her? She’s a beast!
- Microfiber Disinfectant Cloth – Let’s get real here… If your car is anything like mine, it is disgusting like 99.9% of the time no matter what you do! To combat this, I keep a microfiber cloth in my console. (Use the code JORDAN for 10% off of ecloth, or get them from Amazon). Put a small amount of water on the cloth and do a once-over while you’re waiting in a line or in a parking lot.
- Air Freshener – We all love a good air freshener at the front of the car, but have you ever thought of putting one (or ten!) at the BACK of your car? Hide one in the back where the little people, and the source of the stink, are. You and your guests at the front of the car will be none-the-wiser!
- Waterproof Seat Covers – These seat covers have become essential in all of our cars! They’re great for dogs, kids, and humans in general because they catch all the messes. I love them because you can take them off the seat, shake them off, throw them in the washing machine if they’re really gross, and then put them back in the car to keep your seats nice and clean. They’re so worth it! You can find covers for single seats and for bench seats.
Pro Tip: I love this car vacuum because it keeps the bottom of my van from looking like the bottom of a cereal box. So gross! While I’m waiting in a fast-food line, in the school pickup line, or at a bank window, I’ll plug the vacuum in, hand it back to the kids, and let them go to town with it. It’s definitely essential for my car!
CAR HACKS TO KEEP YOU ORGANIZED
The car is too small to let it turn into a mess! Keep everything you need at your fingertips with these great car hacks that not only keep you organized but help you stick to your budget, too:
- Magnetic Mount for Your Dash – It’s important to be safe in the car with your phone, right? But let’s get real, sometimes you NEED to use your phone, especially if you need it for the GPS. One of my biggest car hacks is one of these magnetic mounts. You basically stick a magnet to the back of your phone (it can even go under the cover) and then your phone sticks right to your dash on the mount. BOOM! All of your phone problems are solved and you’re driving hands-free!
- TV Hacks – Skip the DVDs! Plug this nifty HDMI cable into your car’s HDMI. Then plug it into the HDMI input that plugs into your phone or iPad and voila! You can easily play the shows or movies that have been downloaded to your phone or iPad on the TV where everybody can see them. This keeps you from losing or breaking your DVDs and is a lot less to carry around with you.
- Collapsible Crate – This crate comes in super handy when it comes to gathering all the things in your car trunk! It folds flat when you’re not using it and can be tucked under a seat. I use it to store all of the random junk that accumulates at the back of my car. I’m talking hats, random shoes, and the returns that need to go back to the store. I also keep a plethora of water bottles in it because you just never know when your child is going to be DYING of thirst and they forgot to bring their water bottle with them.
- Accordion File Folder – Junk mail and weekly shoppers have some pretty legit restaurant deals in them! Put them in an accordion file folder in your console and then when you’re waiting in line for something or killing time in your car in a parking lot, go through and organize them. My folder has tabs for restaurants, services, places, and whatever else I happen to get useful ads for. No more having to worry about grabbing these before leaving the house!
- Small Zipper Bags – I keep my receipts in one of two places: either in my budget envelope in my purse or in a little zipper bag in my console. This makes it easy to keep up with all of my receipts for when I need to return something while keeping them from bulking up my purse. That thing is big enough as it is, it doesn’t need any help!
Pro Tip: Keep another zipper bag in your console with all of those important (but annoying) membership or rewards cards, punch cards, and frequent shopper cards. It’s frustrating to have so many of them, but they’re totally worth holding on to. I’ve found that if you keep a single hole punch in your bag, then you can punch a hole and put your cards on a binder ring to keep them organized that way!
EXTRA CAR HACKS YOU DON’T WANNA MISS OUT ON
These car hacks are about to rock. your. WORLD. You know I love a good hack and these do not disappoint:
- Clean Headlights with Toothpaste – Have some hazy, foggy headlights? Take a rag and buff the headlights with toothpaste. It works like magic!
- Suction Cup Shower Basket – Suction shower baskets to the inside windows so your kids can store any toys or coloring supplies in them.
- Seat Warmers to Keep Food Warm – When you grab carry out, turn on your seat warmer and sit the food in the seat! It'll keep it warm until you can get home.
- Hand Sanitizer to Unfreeze Door Handles – Pump hand sanitizer into the lock before inserting the key or around the handle if it's frozen shut.
- Shower Caddy to Hold Food – A cheap shower caddy from the dollar store is the perfect way for kids to eat a meal in the car. Put their food in plastic cups; the caddy will hold on to multiple cups perfectly!
- Keep the Change – Use a portable gum container to store loose change. Keep it for a money saving challenge!
- Car Windshield Snow Cover – Keeping the snow and ice off your windshield is the worst. It takes way too long to scrape the windshield clean and honestly, who wants to stand out in the cold, working up a sweat? A car windshield snow cover is the perfect solution. The snow falls on the cover and all you have to do is remove the cover from your car and voila! No more scraping ice, simply pop the snow off the cover, throw it in your car and you'll be on your way.
Pro Tip: Keep these in your car at all times, that way you're never without!
Don’t leave the house without these! Better yet, make your life easier by leaving them in your car. You don’t have to worry about forgetting to grab them when you’re running late (which is basically the story of my life).
- Bottle Tether – Does your cute little baby have a bottle, binky, special toy, or a drink they always like to have with them in their car seat? If they’re anything like mine, then you’ll be driving, and then uh oh! They drop it on the floor and start going crazy. My solution – a bottle tether! There is no way that anything can be dropped on the floor when it’s attached to a tether, and it keeps you from wrecking while trying to grab it. Trust me on this one, it’s a must-have!
- Hair Bag – Sometimes I just don’t have the time to fix everybody’s hair before we need to get in the car and go, so I’ll just figure it out once we get to wherever we’re going. That’s when my handy hair bag comes in for the win! It’s just a small pouch that has everything I need to do both my girls’ and boys’ hair. I’m talking hairbrush, gel, and hair things. This has become a lifesaver for when we need to rush out of the house and I don’t need my kids looking like a hot mess all day long!
- Emergency Car Kit – You never know when a car emergency is going to happen. Maybe you get a flat tire while driving and you have to pull over on the side of the road. Or you go to get in your car after loading all of the kids and ALL. OF. THE. THINGS. from Costco and your car won’t start. That’s when having an emergency car kit comes in handy. You may never have a need for it, but it’s just not worth the risk to not have it in your car trunk!
- First Aid Kit – Kids are so prone to falling and scraping a hand or a knee, so that’s why I make sure I always have a first aid kit in my car. It may be the world’s tiniest scrape, but it’s a HUGE deal to them, so I always want to be prepared with a cute princess or superhero bandaid to help make them feel better!
- Size 5/6 Diaper – This is great for when you or a kid are out and about and you can’t physically stop the car to go to the bathroom. You just put a diaper in your kid’s underwear, let ‘er rip, then roll it up and throw it away. I know, it sounds CRAZY, but I’ve done this and it works!
- The Go Girl – The Go Girl is a silicone pee device that allows girls to pee standing up. This has come in super handy for both me and my girls when we’ve been on a road trip with no bathrooms in sight. We’ve just pulled over, used a bush with this lovely device, and it kept us from wetting ourselves or having to squat, because EWW. It’s also germ resistant and dishwasher safe, so it cleans up easily and nicely! Keep it in a baggie and replace it each time you take it out to wash ‘er up.
Pro Tip: Keep a few grocery sacks handy in the glovebox or console. They’re perfect for throwing things away that you don’t want to go into the normal car trash bag (like those stinky diapers) and make a good last-minute barf bag.
FUN THINGS TO DO IN THE CAR
If you’re like me and you spend a lot of time in the car, you may want to have some of these tips and tricks in your back pocket to keep your kids entertained when you’re on the move. Keep an entertainment bag or tote in the car with your kids’ favorite items and rotate them out weekly or as needed.
- Clipboards – You may have seen our amazing clipboard system that helps kids stay organized and get their chores and homework done with ease. Add homework to a clipboard and they can complete it on the go.
- Magnetic Car Games – These magnetic card games are always fun for the kids, and the magnets are nice because you don't have to worry about pieces falling down in the cracks of the seats or in the floor… In theory, anyway. 😉
- Books – Get your kids in the habit of packing a book with them for endless entertainment while running errands. It's the perfect time for them to work on their summer reading chart!
- Drawing Pad – No crayons or pencils required! This drawing pad keeps kids entertained for hours.
- Fun Car Games – Keep those brains entertained, too! Some favorites include 20 questions, license plate alphabet, count the object/animals, a memory game, I Spy, and so much more.
Pro Tip: Have your kids keep a tote by their shoes at the back door where they can grab on their way to the car. They can easily pack their things and you don't have to worry about grabbing anything for them.
Whew, there ya go! Those are all my car hacks and essential things to keep in your car! What are YOUR car essentials?? Please share them with me! We always need new ideas, right?
With 8 kids, traveling can be CHALLENGING. We love to travel as a family, though, so I've got LOADS of tricks up my sleeves! I've shared all my best tips, tricks, and hacks in various travel posts.
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And for those who don't know much about me, I'm a frugal living and lifestyle blogger that got out of serious debt by pinching pennies, and now continue to pinch pennies as we live the life of our dreams! I've put my best methods in an online, easy to use, FUN budgeting program called Budget Boot Camp.
Use the code FCFBLOG to get 10% off. If you don't save at least what you paid for the program, I'll refund every dime… So try it, you've got nothing to lose!
Check out all my best FREE budgeting tips here on the blog in the meantime, of course.
Hope you enjoyed all those tips. Now, go out and have some fun!!