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7 Tips to Keep your Car Clean on a Road Trip

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7 Tips to Keep your Car Clean on a Road Trip- Keeping your vehicle clean when you're traveling doesn't need to be difficult with these easy tips. #LoveAmericanHome #ad #cbias

In July, I embarked on a 6,500 mile road trip with my husband. No, that is not a typo. We really did drive SIX THOUSAND FIVE HUNDRED MILES from our home in Ohio to the coast of Oregon, south into California and back to Ohio. And get this, we did it for fun. On our 23rd wedding anniversary.

It was an incredible trip. I met friends that I’ve talked to online for years, but never met in person.

We tent camped for the first time in 13 years and the first time alone as a couple, ever.

Small roadside attraction just outside Yellowstone National Park.

We saw incredible roadside attractions and historic and natural park sites like Mount Rushmore, the Badlands, Yellowstone and the Redwoods.

Walking among the Redwoods on the Stout Grove trail in California.

We spent hours walking on the beaches along the Oregon Coast and I found sand dollars! Something I’ve always dreamed of.  It was an amazing trip.

Walking along the Oregon Coast was stunning.

Our road trip also had moments that were unpleasant.

We drove a lot. Six thousand miles. Duh.

Driving a lot on our road trip.

We got pulled over. Um. Yeah. That.

We got pulled over on our road trip.

We got lost. Darn GPS.

The first night we pitched our tent at nearly midnight, we couldn’t get the tent door zipped and slept with it open, fearing that a wild animal would venture inside.

The first night we set up our tent, the door wouldn't zip shut.

We drove into the wee hours of the morning to miss getting stopped in road construction only to get stuck the next morning in, you guessed it, road construction.

I almost peed my pants in Yellowstone when we couldn’t find a bathroom that didn’t have extremely long lines.

We drove into a horrible storm, couldn’t find a hotel room and slept in the car in the parking lot of Walmart, rocking in the wind while the sky was filled with thunder and lightning.

We missed our children.

But all those minor disturbances add up to some great stories, right?

Road trips are not a foreign concept to my family. If we have the time and it’s an option, we’ll road trip nine times out of ten to our destination. In addition to having plenty of space for everyone and everything we’ve packed in the car, over the years I’ve learned how important to keep your vehicle clean and smelling fresh while traveling for a comfortable trip.

As the fast food bags began to pile up at my feet, I began to wish that I’d followed my “Keep the Car Clean” rules that I enforce when traveling as a family and that I’d bought fragrance for the car.

Keeping your vehicle clean on a road trip.

It really isn’t difficult to keep the car picked up when you travel. And since we often use rental cars during our road trips, it’s important when the trip is over the car doesn’t require a ton of clean-up and care before we drop it off. I mean who wants to spend hours cleaning out the car or incur additional cleaning fees? Not I!

Here are a couple really easy steps to keeping your vehicle clean on a road trip.

This short video walks you through the steps I take to keep our vehicle picked up on the road.

Tips to keep your car clean on a road trip. #LoveAmericanHome #ad

A video posted by Tonya Prater (@travelermom) on

  1. Don’t eat in the car.

Don't eat in the car.

Nearly 100% of our mess in the car stems from eating in the car. But honestly, on long road trips, is it practical to NOT eat in the car? For us, it is not. Read on.

  1. Keep a Trash Bag in your car.

Keep trash bags in your car to use to store trash so you can throw it out easily when you stop at a gas station.

Before we leave on a trip, I make sure that I’ve placed a few plastic grocery store bags or brown paper bags in the car. Make sure everything goes in the trash- from the fast food trash to the tiny gum wrapper.

  1. Each time you stop at a gas station to fill up, take a couple minutes to tidy up the car.

Quickly wipe the dash and interior hard surfaces of your car down at gas station stops using baby wipes.

Toss out the trash you’ve bagged up and wipe down the steering wheel, dash and seats (if they’re leather) with a wet wipe (baby wipes work well for this). Especially if you’re traveling through dusty climates.

  1. If you’re traveling with children, store their items in a bin or backpack.
  2. Before you get in the car, make sure you stomp off your feet.

Especially if you’ve spent time on the beach.

  1. Keep all your receipts in a designated space.

Store your receipts from your road trip in a small plastic accordian file so you don't lose them and so they don't clutter up your vehicle.

I keep all my receipts. In the past, I’ve tossed them in my purse or stashed them out of sight in the glove box, but those receipts add up over time. I keep an organizer in the glove box and one above my visor so I can store my receipts and tally up expenses at the end of the trip.

  1. Don’t forget your favorite car fragrance.

Yankee Candle Car Jar and Vent Clip for on-the-go fragrance.

It’s not enough that your car look clean. When you’re on a nearly two-week cross-country road trip, you want your car to smell clean too.

You’ll find a selection of odor neutralizing air fresheners or vent clips at Walmart in the Air Care or Automotive Care aisles for under $5. I popped into my Walmart SuperCenter and found a selection of new Yankee Candle® products that are perfect for those on the go.

The car care aisle at Walmart has a selection of Yankee Candle Vent Clip and Car Jar fragrances for people on-the-go.

The new Smart Scent™ Vent Clip is an odor-neutralizing unit that fastens securely to any vehicle’s dash vent. Fragrance is released as the air flows from the vent and is easily adjusted by using the slider at the back of the clip.

The Yankee Candle Vent Clip attaches easily to any car vent on the dash to release fragrance.

Think of the Car Jar® Ultimate as a mini Yankee Candle® for on-the-go. It also neutralizes unpleasant odors while it freshens the air in your car. The finest premium-quality ingredients infused with natural essential oils are used to create four “true-to-life” scents. Dreaming of an exotic island escape? Try Pink Sands™, a mix of bright citrus, sweet florals, and spicy vanilla. Like the scent of freshly laundered clothes with a hint of green notes, white flowers, and lemon? Try Clean Cotton®. Macintosh gives the fragrance of a just picked apple while  MidSummer’s Night® offers a more masculine blend of musk, patchouli, sage and mahogany cologne.

These new Yankee Candle® brand products are only available at Walmart so don’t forget to pop in and check them out.

The Yankee Candle Car Jar easily hangs from the dash to lightly fragrance your car.

Are you ready for your next road trip? What tips do you practice to keep your vehicle clean on the road? What is your favorite Yankee Candle® brand fragrance?

Donte Enciso

Friday 28th of August 2015

Sit down on the seat with your legs outside and knock your cold, block-like feet together. Then you just swivel in. It means your footwells won't be quite so grimy and icy.

Stephanie R

Tuesday 18th of August 2015

It looks like you had an amazing road trip, despite the few hiccups because what road trip is complete without a few hiccups right? We don't have any road trips planned but next time we do I will be sure to remember these tips because our car really gets trashed with three kids in tow!


Sunday 16th of August 2015

without all those hiccups it wouldn't be an adventrue! i love a clean car, we keep extra everything in my van so it stays that way


Saturday 15th of August 2015

Great tips! We did 10,000 miles one summer with kids, and we almost gave up trying to keep things tidy. But then we realized that at home we have a "cleaning day." We started implemented cleaning day on our trip - and it only took a half hour, so we did it every three days. Much easier than cleaning the house!


Saturday 15th of August 2015

Such great tips! I'm road tripping it to Boston next week and these tips will totally come in handy! Protection Status
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