The self-cleaning car has not yet been invented. And the self-decluttering car never will be. What state is your car in right now? And what does that say about you?
Cars don’t wash themselves
There’s a famous author whose name I won’t divulge, but if you’re fairly well-read you’re sure to have heard of her. I was astonished to read a short article she published back in 2016 revealing that she had decided to wash her car. She had owned it since 2010 and it had never occurred to her to clean it in all that time.
Yes, you read that right. She drove that car for six years without ever cleaning it once. And this was in the UK, where most cars need washing every week because they get so dirty from acid rain, bird droppings, dead insects, sap falling from trees, road splashes and general grime. Hopefully she’ll clean the interior next time too!
What the state of your car says about you
The state of a person’s car says a lot about their level of self-care.
The international success of Top Gear (350 million viewers in 50 countries in its heyday) and The Grand Tour (the most pirated show in TV history) show what a deeply personal relationship many people have with their car. It can be so much more than a means for getting from A to B.
For some people, a car is like an overcoat they wear to express their personality. For others, it’s purely a status symbol. ‘Look at me, I’m driving a _______’.
Then there are those who regard their car as a personal environment, like an extended handbag/manbag. Or a motorized suitcase on wheels. They fill it with all kinds of junk they’re keeping “just in case” or have never got around to clearing out, like this car seen in Russia in 2015:
Or this one I spotted in England in 2017:
I walked past that car every day for nearly a year on my early morning walks and the amount of garbage rose and fell but never got completely cleared out.
How to declutter your car
If you’ve accumulated a lot of clutter in your car, clearing it out can be a very satisfying project. And the good news is that it’s easier to do than decluttering your home because a car is a specific, finite area.
If you find it’s too much to do the whole car in one go, you can tackle it in five steps:
Step 1: Declutter the front seats area
Step 2: Declutter the back seats area
Step 3: Declutter the boot/trunk
Step 4: Clean and vacuum the interior
Step 5: Wash the exterior
You’ll be amazed at how different it feels and how much more you’ll enjoy driving it. And how different you will feel too. By investing some of your own time and energy into caring for it, what you have really done is invested some time and energy in caring for yourself.
What to keep in your car
Here’s a list of a few essentials it’s always a good idea to keep in your car:
10 essentials for emergencies
- A user manual for the car
- A spare tyre in good condition and correctly inflated
- A tyre jack and tools, if you know how to change a tyre
- Contact details of a reliable breakdown service
- A phone and charger
- A flashlight
- A first aid kit
- A reflector triangle or road flares
- Protective/warm clothing
- Jump leads (called jumper cables in the US)
5 very useful extras
- A cushion so you can have a quick nap if you get tired on a long drive
- Drinking water
- An ice scraper (in winter)
- Shopping bags
This list will vary acording to your own particular needs and circumstances. If you’re handy, you may also want to keep a basic toolkit and other gadgets in your car. And many of the roadside breakdown organizations recommend keeping some duct tape (useful for so many things).
On a long trip, it’s a good idea to have a rubbish bin or at least a bag you can put all your rubbish in.
And of course, have regular clear-outs and wash your car when needed.
Copyright © Karen Kingston 2020
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