In 10 simple steps, your car can look like it's just left the lot.
1. Empty everything out of the vehicle and trunk, discard the obvious garbage and return coffee cups to the kitchen. If there's any trash that held milk products (latte cups, yogurt containers), dispose immediately before they start to reek.
2. Sort the remaining items into piles, such as maintenance supplies, kids' stuff, music and videos, manuals and maps.
3. Clean all interior surfaces. Vacuum the floors and seats, wipe down the dash and doors, clean windows and shake out the floor mats.
4. Keep a trash bin on the floor of the back seat, or hang a trash bag from the dashboard.
5. Stash kids' toys, small books and travel games in a behind-the-seat organizer (a hanging shoe bag works, too), within reach of backseat passengers. Periodically rotate items in and out to keep kids interested.
6. Stow tapes and CDs in visor organizers. Separate kids' tunes from adult music.
7. Store the following in the glove compartment: owner's manual, maps, vehicle registration information, auto club information, accident report form, notepad, pen, disposable camera, flashlight, list of emergency contact names and numbers, tire gauge, paper napkins and any other frequently needed or essential items.
8. Purchase or make an emergency kit for your vehicle and store it in the trunk or the rear of the car. Include booster cables, a tire gauge, flares, reflective tape, a help sign, a screwdriver, pliers, a first aid kit, work gloves, a blanket, an old towel or rags, a jug of water and motor oil.
9. Put together a survival kit, especially if you live in a cold-weather climate. Include candles, waterproof matches, energy bars or candy bars, large plastic garbage bags and rubber bands. Keep larger items, such as cat litter (for slippery roads), a collapsible shovel, an extra blanket and heavy socks, hats and mittens (enough for several passengers), in a duffel bag or tub in the truth or rear of the car.
10. Tackle the car again every season. Restock all your kits; check your maintenance schedule to see when servicing is needed.
See how one couple decluttered their car!