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. 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 according 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 © Clear Space Living Ltd, 2020
Feng shui for cars
Is your clutter worth more than your car?
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My car is undergoing its MOT. Yesterday I received a letter saying it would be treated against the virus on arrival and before its return to me, and asking me to clear out both the inside and the boot. Perhaps there will be a lot more clean cars around this year.
Hi – well unfortunately I must agree with the above two ladies. I bought a new car two year years or so ago and kept it shiny and clean both inside and out. But one morning about a year ago I woke up and someone had kicked off both wing mirrors and scratched the side and back panelling. I couldn’t understand why as other cars parked along the same short stretch of road were left undamaged. These cars were not clean! I’ve often thought it was a targeted attack, but could not think of a reason why and now I’m beginning it think it was because it was clean and tidy! I now leave it just a bit dirty! Such a shame and sad reflection of the society we live in. 🙁
In the early 90s, in the UK, I was in the fortunate position of being able to buy a brand new Volkswagen Golf. I loved it, cleaned it regularly, outside and in, and kept only the minimum neatly inside.
A few months later, we moved to a large city. The car was parked on the street, as we lived in an apartment. Within a month, someone had jumped on the bonnet, dented it, and smashed the windscreen in. When the police arrived to take a statement, I was told my car was likely targeted as it stood out, being clean and obviously cared for. The advice I was given was NOT to wash the car, and to keep “rubbish” in it – basically, make it look scruffy. “Scruffy” car sustained no more damage over the 8 years I owned it.
Many years later, I threw caution to the winds and treated another car to a thorough valeting. Within a few days, in a different city, it had its window rain visors ripped off.
I agree with Karen, but I’m keeping my car scruffy.
In the late 60s people said in left-wing circles in Germany “A clean car is a sign of a dirty mind”. There was nothing more bourgeois than washing your car on Saturdays – preferably in a workout suit……🤣