Messy car trunk filled with bags

How To Organize Your Car Trunk And Get Rid Of That Junk

A messy trunk is easy to ignore, whether hidden and locked away, or open for the business of stashing loose items and even, dare we say, the occasional bag of drive-thru trash. Let us help with expert advice on how to organize your car trunk!

After all, you’re home. You’ve got the time. It’s time to stop feeling embarrassed to lift the lid in front of neighbors, to stop struggling to fit groceries, or even that giant restaurant supply bag of flour for your new sourdough hobby!

Well, you can turn to us for tips to get that junk out of your car trunk.

Cleaning Out Your Car Trunk

The first step will probably feel so liberating. Empty out your entire trunk, every little grocery bag, random shoe, and crumpled receipt. Oh, and don't forget your glove compartment (We'll explain that part later.)

Honestly, some of it might very well be trash. There's no reason to keep driving around waste, literally.

“Most people see their trunk as extra storage space for things you don't really need to have,” said automotive expert Lauren Fix, also known for her car tips website The Car Coach.

She's seen people who have golf clubs in the dead of winter and snowboard gear in the summer.

Once everything is out of the trunk, start evaluating and organizing the contents. Fix suggests you start grouping like items. Put them in boxes and appropriately label them.

“You want to make sure the only thing in your trunk is the spare tire and emergency kit,” she said.

Fix does make an exception for allowing other items — a yoga mat, golf clubs, or a hat are acceptable— but only if you'll use them three days of the week.

Otherwise, put those items in your garage or, if you have an apartment and little space, then a storage facility where you can access them when needed.

“Just put things in a bin in your garage or go to your storage facility Friday night and put it back Sunday night,” she said.

This way you're never leaving valuable items in your trunk because your vehicle can get broken into.

As a reminder, Fix says leaving a yoga mat in cold weather for too long could damage it.

“The cold temperature can damage rubber,” she said. “When you roll out your mat, what ends up happening is that it can crack the material.”

What if your trunk is where you throw all your reusable grocery bags? Fix suggests you leave reusable bags close to the door or garage where you can grab them before you jump into your car and go on a grocery run.

At the very least, you can wrap you bags in a tight and tidy ball to take up less space and keep things organized.

Alternatively, Fix developed the Bag Fix, a metal bar that attaches to headrests and allows you to hang a bag from the backside of the seat. The bag can hold over 20 pounds, keeps your items off the floor, and glass bottles from clinking. It also makes it easy for you to grab your grocery bags.

“I hate things rolling around in my trunk,” she added.

Remember your glove compartment? Empty that out as well. Fix keeps sealed snacks like cashews or protein bars in there, but she doesn't like to keep them in her glove compartment for long periods at a time.

“I wouldn't leave food easily accessible for a rodent,” she said.

Which is why Fix advises you never store food in your trunk for risk of spoiling or attracting vermin.

Another bonus for emptying out your trunk?

Unloading unwanted items from your trunk and the passenger compartment can also benefit your bottom line. A heavier car load does impact your gas mileage, said Doug Shupe, with the Automobile Club of Southern California.

“Reducing extra weight can save up to 2 percent fuel economy for every 100 pounds removed depending on the weight of the vehicle,” according to the Automobile Club.

Also, the Auto Club suggests removing the roof rack if you don't use it regularly.

What to Pack in Your Car Trunk

Organized car trunk with emergency kit yoga mat and spare shoes and hats

This may sound counterintuitive to the whole decluttering-your-trunk advice we just gave you, but a spare tire and an emergency roadside kit are considered essential.

“Most people don't have an emergency kit,” Shupe said. “Just like you should have an emergency kit at home, you need one in your car.”

These car kits are necessary if you ever have to leave your home in a rush, or are unable to get to your home to get the essential supplies, he said.

Pre-packaged kits can be purchased online or, as Shupe suggests, you create your own kit by purchasing these items below:

Emergency Road Kit (items depend on weather conditions you plan to drive in)

• Mobile phone. Just be sure yours has rescue apps and significant phone numbers including family and emergency services, and car charger

• Drinking water (Change it out every six months if you can.)

• Firstaid kit

• Non-perishable snacks for both human and pet passengers

• Bag of abrasive material (sand, salt, cat litter) or traction mats

• Snow shovel

• Blankets

• Extra warm clothing (gloves, hats, scarves)

• Flashlight with extra batteries

• Window washer solvent

• Ice scraper with brush

• Cloth or roll of paper towels

• Jumper cables

• Warning devices (flares or triangles)

• Basic toolkit (screwdrivers, pliers, adjustable wrench

• Motor oil appropriate for your particular vehicle

• Empty gas can (never carry full can of gasoline)

• Small fire extinguisher

Things to keep in glove compartment:

• Antibacterial gel or wipes

• Pen and pad

• Registration and insurance cars

• Napkins

• Maps

• Emergency vehicle escape tool

Now that you've tackled your car trunk, let's look at organizing your garage. Lucky for you, we break it down into three easy steps!

If you're planning to be away for a while, then consider storing your car in one of our facilities. Read on to learn why you need cedar balls when preparing to store your vehicle.

We also have an RV guide on how to save your ride between trips.