Tips and ideas to keep your car organised

by Katrina - The Organised Housewife

This post is sponsored by Nissan Pathfinder

I have been given a 7-seat Nissan Pathfinder to test drive for a month and share some of it’s great features with you.  Rather than an ordinary car review I thought I’d share a variety of fun posts over the next few weeks such as organising the car, how to tame the kids in the car, and the day in the life of a busy mum (this one will be fun!!), whilst showing you the cars features.


Tips & Ideas to keep your car organised

Like the house I keep the car organised, as I spend just under an hour round trip now taking the kids to school and most weekends we always venture out, so I like to make sure I have all my essentials in the car just in case I need it. The Nissan Pathfinder has some great little areas to help keep the car organised, but just in case your car doesn’t have these I’ve included a few products that will help you to create something similar.


The centre console

I use the centre console for items that I use regularly. I don’t carry an umbrella in my handbag, instead I keep it in the car, in the centre console so I can reach when it’s raining or looks like it will soon.  While sitting at traffic lights I like to file my nails and have mints in the car for those moments when the kids realise they forgot to brush their teeth before pulling into the school driveway.


In the console I keep:

  • nail file
  • hand moisturiser
  • notepad and pen
  • mints
  • hand sanitiser
  • chapstick
  • lipstick
  • loose change
  • umbrella
  • Phone charging cable

I store items in a plastic cutlery holder which I found at Coles.  Keeps the contents of the console tidy and easy to find.


Many times I venture out and realise my phone battery is low, the Pathfinder has a USB port tidily tucked away in the centre console to charge the phone so it’s handy to keep a phone charging cable in the car. I find cables can make areas untidy, so when not in use I store it away, this little case is very handy.


I always hide my loose change, I don’t like to put it out in view… trying to prevent a break in.


The centre console in the Nissan Pathfinder is a little clever, it has a hidden shelf.  You can open the lid of the console to either the top shelf, or you can lock the top shelf into the lid so you can access the deeper lower compartment. The top shelf stores the remote for the cars media system, and you could also keep those smaller items like lipsticks, cables etc.


The glove box

I carry a full first aid kit and keep this in the glove box (you’ll see further down, I keep extra supplies in the back of the car). We found the glove box is a great place to keep the headphones that belong to the Tri-zone entertainment system in our Pathfinder when not in use. This glove box is very large, I was pleasantly surprised it could fit so much in it.


The items you need to quickly reach

I have one child that gets car sick very easily. More so when he was younger I needed to have a sick bag in quick and easy reach to hand to him. The Nissan Pathfinder has a little compartment by the legs on both front seats, the perfect place for the sick bag and a hat which I have on hand for when I go for my walks around the lake.



I’m trying to drink more water and I’m attempting (when I remember) to take it everywhere with me, I find if I have it at arms length I will drink it.  I really like how big the drink holders in the car are, I’ve found it hard in the past to get this drink bottle (pictured above) to fit.

The Rubbish

I found this idea on pinterest long ago, using a cereal container to store your rubbish… genius.


Except having the container sitting on the floor it rolled around.  I placed a 3M command strip on the right side of the passenger area and onto the cereal container ($5 from Kmart) to keep it from flying around.  And it’s also at arms length for me to put the rubbish away.


Behind the car seats

If you have a car with ample leg room you can utilise the back of the car seat with an organiser. The Pathfinder has 7 adult size seats so there’s plenty of room for everyone to keep their gear close by. Great for toddlers to store baby wipes, toys, books, drink bottle, or DVD’s to watch on the Tri-Zone entertainment system in the Pathfinder.


A car kit

I like to pack a bag when we go to the park, or to sporting events on weekends, however sometimes we forget to pack something, which is where my car kit comes in handy as my ‘backup’. I keep it in the back of the car, in a basket rather than a plastic tub as I find it doesn’t move around the back as much.


In the car kit I keep:

  • baby wipes
  • hair brush
  • panadol
  • travel calm
  • cotton pads
  • throat lozenges
  • bandaids
  • antiseptic spray for cuts and scratches
  • cotton pads for cleaning cuts and scratches
  • insect repellant
  • insect bite relief cream
  • sunscreen
  • towel/little blanket (keep warm or to sit on)
  • plastic bag
  • spare set of clothes
  • picnic blanket


I keep all the creams and medications in a makeup bag (from kmart). The cotton pads and bandaids are stored in a soap container.


When the kids were younger (past the nappy bag stage) I liked having a spare set of clothes in the car in case of accidents, or if they got really dirty while out.  Now they are older I still like to keep a change of clothes in the car for those unexpected sleepover requests.  When we are out with friends I always get asked can they stay at their friends house.  It is preferable to have a full sleepover bag with toiletries, but if it’s unplanned at least they have a change of clothes and fresh underwear.


or if having a basket in the back doesn’t suit you, try a car cargo pack. This one is from Howard’s Storage World, but unfortunately, they don’t sell it any more.


The grocery shopping

With such large boots items can tend to roll around, like the groceries. I find the groceries stay still with a big shop, but it’s the little shops when I find apples rolling around the back, this collapsible boot organiser will help stop that.


Then when you’re not using it, fold and store away. Although, the Nissan Pathfinder has under floor storage behind the 3rd row of seats that is deep enough to store some groceries, a ball and other bits and bobs.



Quick cleaning tips

I give the car a vacuum with my little handheld, picking up all the dirty from the floor and seats.  I wipe over the seats and dashboard with my homemade antibacterial wipes, to pick up all the dust. Speaking of dust the vents tend to get dusty, I use an old foam paint brush which is gentle enough to get into the vents and clean them.


The smell

Don’t know about you, but after a long hot day at school I can certainly smell the kiddo’s.  I’m not a fan of car air freshener, instead, I put a tube of fabric softener under the front passenger seat, far enough in that you can’t see it (unlike the photo) to prevent kids from stepping on it.  It gives the car a nice smell.


Hope these tips help you to organise your car! If you’re looking for a new family SUV be sure to test drive the 7 seat Nissan Pathfinder or click here to find out more about Nissan’s extensive range of family SUVs.

What part of your car do you find hard to keep clean or organised?

This post was coordinated by The Remarkables Group and run in accordance with my disclosure policy.

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Helen February 18, 2016 - 7:26 AM

When I lived in NZ we always had an Emergency/survival box in the car boot. Just in a lidded container. It had a $20 gas cooker, 3 litres water, cups, tea/coffee, plain biscuits, instant noodles, soup, baked beans, mini saucepan, first aid, survival blanket, duct tape, pocketknife, poncho, playing cards, notebook and pen, string, flannel, torch and batteries, and more! Always great if on long trip and in need of a cuppa! Just pull over at Rest Area and boil up the billy! But also prepared if held up by accident, land slip, or other unexpected event.

Katrina - The Organised Housewife February 18, 2016 - 7:38 AM

an emergency box sounds like a fabulous idea, especially when you are travelling long distances 🙂

janine February 18, 2016 - 8:33 AM

I have 3 kids and have wondered If I should keep certain things in the car to make my life a little bit easier. Thank you for this checklist, I’m going to add them all to my car, might feel a little more organised.

Katrina - The Organised Housewife February 18, 2016 - 8:46 AM

I think the most important for us is the bite cream and bandaids, the kids often need this when we are at the park or sport training.

Lucy w February 18, 2016 - 8:35 AM

And this is why I love your blog so much, never thought of some of these ideas, especially like the change of clothes in the car, mine often ask to stay at grannies but I say no cause they don’t have clean clothes packed, I might adapt this idea along with a little toiletry bag.

Katrina - The Organised Housewife February 18, 2016 - 8:45 AM

yes…. it’s great for the kids to socialise and having a change of clothes allows them to spontaneously spend time with family and friends. Good idea with a little toiletry bag.

Jacki February 18, 2016 - 8:38 AM

Perfect timing, we are looking at a new car and need one with 7 seats and was looking at the pathfinder, is there plenty of room in the far back seats?

Katrina - The Organised Housewife February 18, 2016 - 8:43 AM

Yes there is lots of room in the back, the seats are flat and sunken in slightly, however with moving the seats in front forward (which still is enough legroom for the 2nd row of seats) allows plenty more legroom for a growing teen or adult. My son sits in the back, he’s 13 taller than me and he find it comfortable. Also you can put up one or both seats, depending on your needs 😉

Samantha February 18, 2016 - 8:39 AM

Great idea about the fabric softener! Is that one of those concentrates that you add to a bottle with water? I don’t like car air freshener’s as they smell too much after a long day in the sun. Do you find that this is a gentler/softer smell? Thanks in advance!

Katrina - The Organised Housewife February 18, 2016 - 8:42 AM

Yes this is the concentrate you add to water. After being in the car for awhile, and in the sun it does end up with strong smell, but not as strong as the freshners, which I too find far too much, they give me a headache. I take the softner out of the car when I feel it’s too strong and the smell lingers for a few days 🙂

Samantha February 19, 2016 - 10:05 AM

Thanks Kat. Have you ever had a problem with the sachet leaking?

Jen February 27, 2016 - 8:27 PM

I had one for years. Didn’t leak. You could put it in a take away container perhaps?

tango juliette February 19, 2016 - 12:28 AM

Yep, been doing the fabric softener thing for a while, but have moved on to a packet of incense sticks under the seat occasionally. I love the smell of incense but don’t like the smoke. The box doesn’t roll around either. Nag champa is good, or patchouli. Reject shop often has cheap versions.

Samantha February 19, 2016 - 10:07 AM

Thanks, might try this. A bit worried that the fabric softener would leak 🙁

Deb February 18, 2016 - 10:19 AM

Some really good ideas, I particularly like the idea for the rubbish bin. We usually end up with a plastic bag that gets kicked around the floor. One thing I always have in the car now is baby wipes, great for washing hands, coffee spills and cleaning the car 🙂

Katrina - The Organised Housewife February 18, 2016 - 11:34 AM

Yes, they are a must in the car, especially I find after filling up with fuel my hands always smell, good to use a baby wipe to freshen them up.

Pam August 14, 2017 - 12:15 PM

I hook a plastic bag on the door of glove box open the glove b X just hook it on the corner & close – it is the fr the floor and easy to reach – keep spare ones in the glove box the thicker the plastic the better

Angela February 18, 2016 - 11:53 AM

I love these ideas, I currently have a basket similar to your in the boot with very similar things.. I also have a bag of disposable nappy bags in the car, I use these as little garbage bags when needed – however I do like the idea of the cereal container.

Monique February 18, 2016 - 12:03 PM

Thank you Katrina for such a helpful post!! I loved it. I have 4 children aged 10, 9, 6 and 2 and my car is out of control. This causes me SO much stress. My aim this weekend will be to implement some of your amazing ideas. I don’t have a large centre console like the Pathfinder has so I will have to think of another way of storing those essential items. Thanks again for this post – you have inspired me to take some swift action in regaining control of my car!

Belinda February 20, 2016 - 7:16 AM

I have 6 kids so we needed am 8 seater and have a Kia (2010). I put an ikea trofast box underneath the cupholders in between the front sests. A centre console the would be ideal as it’s just wasted spsce.

Louise Thomsen February 18, 2016 - 12:43 PM

These tips are genius! Especially the fabric softener trick! I’ll be doing that for sure. Lou x

Cait February 18, 2016 - 1:56 PM

Love the air freshener idea – I often use a Bounce dryer sheet to freshen the smell in the car – even one that has already been used in my dryer still has enough scent to freshen the car for a week or two!

Juanita Pereira February 18, 2016 - 3:39 PM

Thank you so much Kat!! This could not come at a much better time – I have been neglecting the interior of my car for so long..your ideas are so simple yet inspiring 🙂 this will encourage not only me but also my 6yr old to maintain 🙂

Jen @lifewrangljng February 18, 2016 - 3:58 PM

I have always wondered how to successfully manage a rubbish bin in the car. My parents used to have one of those ‘Keep Australia Beautiiful’ ones that fit over one of the knobs on the dash that the cars of the day used to have. Of course modern cars have nothing of the sort to hang it off. I have resorted to simply making it a rule that if you put it in the car when you got in you must take it out when you get out. Has worked so far but I see a possible revision coming. ??

Kim Valentine February 18, 2016 - 5:20 PM

Hi Kat,
Re the fabric concentrate. Do you just leave the unopened packet of concentrate on the floor? Does the fragrance just “seep” from the pack ect? Sorry to be asking a simple question!

Dalia August 14, 2017 - 1:49 PM

Yes the fragrance comes through the plastic. I put it in my linen cupboard as well makes the towels smell amazing.

Helen February 18, 2016 - 8:58 PM

Perfect timing as we have just purchased this car! It’s brilliant. With 3 kids and a big dog, just the perfect car for us. My only problem is SO much space (I never thought I would say that!!). These are great tips to keep everything in order. Thanks

Jessica February 19, 2016 - 10:19 AM

I just worry about keeping wipes, medicines & sunscreens in the car all the time… Won’t they go bad?

Natalie February 19, 2016 - 10:48 PM

You can now by dehydrated wipes. You add water to them before use. Perfect for the car

Bel February 21, 2016 - 8:56 PM

I agree. Panadol and suncreams usually shouldn’t be kept in hot temperatures and where I live it gets very hot, more so in the car. Fantastic ideas though, I can certainly work with some of them!

Jen February 27, 2016 - 8:32 PM

Agree. Might keep better in a little cooler bag?

Emma February 19, 2016 - 12:27 PM

Omg I love how organised you are I am in need of some organisation we are getting our new car next week and I want o be organised and clean so fed going to use some of your ideas:) thanks heaps 🙂 p.s I hope you enjoy your catch up on Sunday!

Nyree February 19, 2016 - 12:55 PM

Iv’d just overhauled our car storage etc. One thing I’ve done is I get the kids to put all their belongings into the boot, nothing really goes into the car day to day with quick trips to school & activities. I find this works so well because when we get home I open the boot (people mover) and they take their bags/gear but I make sure everything is out. So we don’t have 3 pairs of shoes, 2 sun hats and a wet towel left in the car. Any food packaging rubbish they put in the bag in the car. I really like pam’s nappy bags (nz). They come packaged like baby wipes! And store really well in the drivers door. They are also scented which is a bonus.

Kat Parsons February 19, 2016 - 5:11 PM

Such fantastic ideas. Thanks so much for posting this as my car is in desperate need of organisation. My fiance and I go fossicking all the time and definitely need to have first aid items, sunscreen etc on hand all the time. I love how you manage to fit these items in the car in minimal space! Also I never knew you could get boot organisers! Amazing! xxx 🙂

Jacinta February 19, 2016 - 6:35 PM

I love my pathfinder and everything it has to offer! It certainly works for us! Very happy with it

Nadine February 19, 2016 - 7:49 PM

I know it’s a great idea to have access to some of the ‘essentials’ while out and about but I question the effect the extremely high temperatures reached in vehicle interiors would have on medications, antiseptics, wipes, lipstick, chapstick, sunscreen etc. Many medications say to store under 25 or 30 degrees.

P. February 20, 2016 - 1:59 AM

The thought of sunscreen, etc inside a hot car concerns me also. I left sunscreen in the boot for a week once, the consistency had definitely changed after that time, it wasn’t cheap sunscreen either, i threw it out.
We still take sunscreen, panadol, etc, out with us but rather than leaving it in the car all the time we have a backpack that i keep packed with sunscreen, insect repellent, towels, bbq mat & tongs, a small sharp knife, plates, cups, cutlery, napkins, picnic mat, and some notepads & pencils for the kids if they get bored. This bag stays inside the house unless we are heading out for the day.
Panadol, nurofen, and antihistamines are kept in a small container in my handbag and are on me at all times…between moderate allergies and the kid who gets migraines someone always need something LOL

Natalie February 19, 2016 - 10:43 PM

Would be great if everyone could add a old sheet/towel to their lists. With the local no’s of fauna rescue etc. Even a lead to help secure a dog/animal needing help getting home safely

Jen February 27, 2016 - 8:35 PM

Great idea 🙂

Julie February 20, 2016 - 2:07 AM

I love all these ideas, but I have found that some things don’t last being in the car during summer. eg Lip balm ended up a mess, sunscreen actually separated, baby wipes even though in original container dried up. I also had a few other first aid bits and pieces that didn’t last. I like to keep on top of my supplys for the car cause you never know when you will need something. I keep most of these things in the nappy bag which comes with us everywhere.
Our summer day reach up to 47.C so can only imagine how hot inside the car actually gets.

In the glovebox I also keep a multi-tool (has Screwdriver, Pliers etc), A couple straws, plastic fork spoon knife set or disposable ones.
In the car I also keep 2x old towels (use them on the windows cause kids sometimes complain about the sun, and also you never know when you need to mop something up (spew, wee etc)),3x small snack bowls (so when traveling you can buy that big pkt of chips or anything really and can put a few in each bowl for each child so they don’t fight over the pkt and you can take note on how much they eat)

Jen February 27, 2016 - 8:37 PM

Yes re the chips! 😀 I had brown paper bags in the car for that, or for an emergency lunch order !

Jennifer Asselin February 21, 2016 - 4:37 AM

I noticed a lot of you were concerned about over powering scents in the car. Have you ever tried charcoal (or similar) as an odor absorber? Several companies make it in various kinds packages. It has no synthetic smell to bother your senses, nor will your car smell like manufactured flowers covered in sweaty socks!

Jennifer Asselin February 21, 2016 - 4:37 AM

I noticed a lot of you were concerned about over powering scents in the car. Have you ever tried charcoal (or similar) as an odor absorber? Several companies make it in various kinds packages. It has no synthetic smell to bother your senses, nor will your car smell like manufactured flowers covered in sweaty socks!

Katrina - The Organised Housewife February 22, 2016 - 2:23 PM

thanks for sharing Jennifer, I have not thought of this, great idea!

Lisa February 21, 2016 - 8:47 AM

Hoping you might have a suggestion for me. My daughter cleaned my car interior including the dashboard window with interior cleaner. It is now cloudy and hard to see. I have tried eucalyptus and windex but does not remove it. Can you recommend something please? 🙂

Katrina - The Organised Housewife February 22, 2016 - 2:22 PM

Hi Lisa, try using half vinegar and half water this should help to remove it. The vinegar smell will only linger for a few minutes, then dissappear.

Patricia March 9, 2016 - 7:56 AM

The window cleaner was probably household window cleaner, which damages the tinting of modern cars. Onky removal and re- tinting will restore the appearance unfortunately. Always use glass cleaner designed for cars (I learned this lesson the hard way too)

Jenny May 5, 2016 - 9:58 PM

Wondering if keeping an esky/insulated cooler in the car for the medications and sunscreens etc, might keep them cool enough to keep?

Nola July 20, 2016 - 12:11 AM

Where did you get the mesh organizer?

Katrina - The Organised Housewife July 20, 2016 - 9:52 AM

Hi Nola, it’s nifty isn’t it, it’s available here:

Chelsea August 14, 2016 - 9:19 AM

Hi Kat,
Can I ask where you purchased the big expandable boot organiser (the blue one in the pic) and the back of chair one (big black one that spreads across the back seat in the boot). Thanks 🙂

Katrina - The Organised Housewife August 16, 2016 - 8:41 PM

Hi Chelsea, just press on the pink links in the sentence above the image and they will take you to them online 🙂

Sussana January 11, 2017 - 10:32 AM

How do you keep wipes from drying out in hot cars? Also what about drink bottles, they get so hot in cars. We should not drink it once water bottles gets hot right? Is it ok to use sunscreen or other cream / ointments which got really hot in car?

car servicing horley June 5, 2017 - 6:33 PM

Keeping your car clean is important as part of car maintenance.

Sharyn August 14, 2017 - 10:08 AM

I like to keep similar item in the car but I was worried about sun screen, insect bite cream etc losing it’s effectiveness and lipstick melting after being in a hot car through the summer – the boot and interior can reach really high temperatures. The solution I thought of was to keep those thing in a mini esky – designed for 6 cans of drink. I admit it is hard to store, I leave it on the floor on the back passenger side so that I can reach it from the drivers seat.

Katrina - The Organised Housewife August 15, 2017 - 11:17 AM

Great suggestion Sharyn to keep those items cool in the summer

Ally February 12, 2019 - 1:12 PM

**Fabric softener is subject to spontaneous combustion if left in a hot car**
Please don’t do this, it poses a real danger!!!!!

Katrina - The Organised Housewife February 12, 2019 - 2:08 PM

wowsers, thanks for the tip!

Mandy August 12, 2019 - 8:49 AM

Great tips except for the toxic fabric softener!
I just dab some essential oils onto a fabric key ring and the car smells Devine.

Katrina - The Organised Housewife August 13, 2019 - 2:34 PM

Essential oils are a great option Mandy 🙂


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