HomeMom Hacks

3 Tips to keep a minivan clean and organized

3 Tips to keep a minivan clean and organized

If you’re a parent desperately looking for ways to keep your minivan clean and organized, then this blog post is for you! And although I’m writing my thoughts from the perspective of a minivan owner, the same principles of cleanliness and organization can successfully be applied to any vehicle.

Minivans are the ultimate magnet for children’s clutter, fast food leftovers, and an assortment of random rubbish. As a mom who spends a ton of time each week taxiing kids around in a minivan, I’m still shocked at how quickly the van transforms from a clean, organized vehicle to a trashy, cluttered mess. Sometimes I’m left to wonder why I even clean the van in the first place. Indeed, the transformation is almost instantaneous. One day it’s clean, and the next, it’s not! And if, for some miraculous reason, I’m able to keep my van clutter-free for multiple days in a row, all bets are off the moment I cave and take us to a drive-through!

Kids in car

Minivans: The origin of trail mix

Not long ago, I watched a hilarious comedy bit by Brad Upton that perfectly captures the dirty minivan conundrum I speak of.

“Have you ever had to take car seats out of the back of a vehicle, and then clean up the crack of the seat?  It’s disgusting! Full of broken cookies, raisins, M&Ms, pretzels. I think that’s how they invented trailmix!”

“I will guarantee you that’s how that product originated. It wasn’t a hiker that invented trail mix. It was a parent somewhere that climbed into the back seat of the minivan, scooped that up and said, ‘You know what, if you took that fuzz and that bandaid outta there . . . I would eat that.”  — Brad Upton, Comedian

Although Mr. Upton’s comedy sketch is just that—comedy, it resonates with every parent of young children.

Be kind to yourself

I think parents need to cut themselves a break more often. We’re too hard on ourselves. We try and try and try to keep our world as organized and stress-free as possible. However, the reality is, no matter how hard we try, there’s always going to be room for improvement, especially when we’re taking care of a family. So, instead of getting frustrated with that reality, I choose to accept it and do the best I can to make things just a little more manageable. And that’s good enough for me. Consequently, in the case of keeping my cluttered minivan clean and organized, I accept that it will always be a “work-in-progress,” but I can at least implement some simple changes to make that work a lot easier to cope with.

3 tips to keep a minivan clean and organized

  1. Have multiple garbage cans in the van

    The idea of having a small garbage can in the van isn’t novel. Most folks have one conveniently placed somewhere in the front seat area by the driver’s leg. However, considering that most van messes accumulate behind the driver in the passenger area, wouldn’t it make sense to have garbage cans placed there, too? Disneyland picked up on this principle long ago. The reason Disneyland is so clean and clutter-free is that they have an overabundance of trash cans throughout the park. They’re everywhere! Turn your minivan into a mini-Disneyland by having at least three garbage cans in your van—one for each row of seats.
    Garbage Can

  2. Have a laundry basket in the van

    Some of the most common items that clutter my van are clothing items such as coats, jackets, gloves (usually unpaired), hats, shoes (also, usually unpaired) and blankets. Other common items include water bottles, backpacks, and notebooks. An easy way to gather these items at the end of the day is to throw them into a laundry basket and haul them into the house, where you can then dump them on the floor and have your kids put them away!Laundry basket

  3. No fast food

    I’ll admit, this can be a challenge, even for a health nut like me. That’s because sometimes fast food seems like the only solution to keep kids fed on a road trip or when time is crunched. However, fast food is such a massive producer of minivan waste (and you know what I’m talking about). It’s astounding the amount of garbage just one happy meal produces! The cardboard box, the nugget container, the drink container, the straw, the fries (that magically miss the mouth and end up on the floor), the plastic wrapping for the toy, the fry box, etc. It’s endless! Instead, keep an assortment of healthy snacks in the van, and for drinks, give each child their own reusable water bottle.
    drive thru is a no go


Sometimes it’s the most superficial changes that bring forth the most significant results. Hopefully, these three simple tips will help you better manage the clutter and cleanliness of your minivan, sedan, or whatever vehicle you may have! Remember, the goal isn’t to make things. Rather, the goal is to make things more manageable and pleasant.