a rearview mirror of a car with feet sticking out of the window

How to Keep Your Car Clean During a Summer Road Trip

Road trips provide a cheaper option for a vacation with the benefit of seeing more during your travel. These are great for the warmer months and for having lots of quality time with your family or friends.

However, with these trips lasting between a few days to a few weeks, it can take a toll on the vehicle. Whether you are using your own vehicle or a rental, you don’t want to finish the road trip with your car looking and smelling like a disaster. After just one stop on the beach, your car can be left smelling like wet towels, stinky feet, sunscreen, and hot dogs. You don’t want to haul that smell all the way across your road trip too. Here are our best tips on how to keep your car clean, before, during, and after any road trip.  

Before the Trip

Traveling with your whole family in the car can already be a tight fit. And then add in everything you might need for a road trip? There’s barely any extra leg room.

Prepping and organizing your car ahead of time will help the road trip go as smoothly as possible. Knowing where all your materials are will help keep the trip stress free and enjoyable. Here are the essentials to being organized on a road trip:

  • Clear totes and bins
  • Labels (or at least Sharpies and tape)
  • Packing cubes
  • Empty laundry bag
  • Travel-sized products
  • Floor protector mats

Organizing your materials before you pack them in the car should be the first step in a successful road trip. Packing cubes are a great way to separate clothing items. Pro tip: bring an empty laundry bag to put all your family’s dirty laundry in so all your dirty laundry can be in one place when it’s time to wash.

Creating separate labeled bins for all your materials can help you easily find exactly what you are looking for in a pinch. Having these storage bins be clear and translucent is extremely helpful as well. Travel-sized products and containers can help you save space in your already stuffed car.  You can label them with a label maker or just a piece of tape and a Sharpie. Get carsick easily? With clearly labeled bins, you’ll be able to find anti-nausea medicine quickly.

Now that you’re all ready to load up the car, make sure to strategically place bins in the car. If your first stop on the trip is a beach, make sure your towels and swimsuits are in the front and easily accessible. Reorganizing the car every time you stop will take away valuable time. Create a system that works for you.

During the Trip

Now that the back of your car is all organized and ready to go, make sure the front of the car is too. Each person having a small bag in the front that can sit at their feet is one way to ensure you won’t be digging in the back every 30 minutes. Inside these bags there should be any entertainment (books, games, headphones), road trips snacks, tissues, lip balm, an extra sweatshirt, and any medicine you might need. Floor mats also prevent staining your car, and make it easy to remove any crumbs or dirt from the floor.

Practically living in your car for days on end can leave your car looking and smelling like a disaster. Make sure you have a small garbage bag for any food crumbs or trash. To get rid of any smells that accumulate, Fresh Wave’s Odor Eliminating Gel can act as a constant odor remover. Putting the gel under your car seat so it’s out of the way is the most convenient way to eliminate odor in your car. And instead of leaving a strong scent, it will ultimately just leave no odor, leaving a fresh-smelling car. Since all Fresh Wave products are plant-based with no harsh chemicals, it is completely safe to have around your family.  

Fresh Wave’s Odor Eliminating Packs can also be of use on the road trip. These can be used to strip the smell coming out of your shoes after a hiking stop or can be placed in any of your clear bins that have accumulated a strange odor.

After the Trip

After you have spent the last few days or weeks in a car, it usually feels pretty good to return home. After unpacking the car, you might notice loose crumbs and lingering odors. It’s best to use a hand-held vacuum to get rid of any crumbs and dirt in all the crevasses of your car. Use a soapy dish rag to wipe down leather seats and scrub any stains. Instead of placing an air freshener on your review mirror, use Fresh Wave’s spray or gel and leave in the car to eliminate odors, instead of masking them.

If you used your own vehicle, your car might even come back fresher than before the trip if you take advantage of Fresh Wave’s products. If you are renting a car, now you can return your rental car looking spotless and smelling fresh, avoiding any fees.  

Some of the Top-Rated Road Trips in the U.S 

Now that you know how to pack and keep your car clean for your next road trip, the only thing to do next is decide where to go! Here are some of the top-rated road trips in the U.S for your next vacation.

  1. Pacific Coast Highway- Also known as Route 101, this trip would run along the coast from California to Washington. Must-see pit stops include the Redwoods National Park, San Francisco, Lincoln Bay, Seattle, and Yosemite National Park.
  2. Blue Ridge Parkway- This route runs from Virginia to North Carolina. Driving through the Appalachian Mountains and the Great Smokey Mountains National Park will be an unforgettable experience.
  3. Overseas Highway- This Florida highway is a smaller tropical road trip meant for a few days. There are lots of beaches, lighthouses, and even one of the longest bridges in the world (~7 miles) on this 113-mile stretch from Key Largo to Key West.
Enjoy your next vacation and keep these cleaning and freshening tips in mind.