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Homefries University


High Straightenence by Tracy Benjamin

A weekly column celebrating the neat freak in all of us.

You guys! I finally cleaned out my car. This has been on my TO-DO list for AGES. I figured that I would wait until we were officially moved into our new place to clean out my car. Trips to Home Depot have a way of messing things up. You know what I mean?

Let’s check out the BEFORE.

No wonder I feel claustrophobic when I get in the car.

I’ve had this stuff in the door pocket for AGES. It’s always in my periphery when I drive. NO LIKE.

One of the reasons why I have such a messy car is that it gets FILLED with stuff EVERY DAY. I cleaned out Cooper’s cubby at preschool after one week and this is what I have in my car. We have at least two paper airplanes to bring home with us each day… It needs to be sorted through. There’s always a lunch box, a blanket, socks & dirty clothes that I have to bring home so the front seat gets really messy. I also have MY OWN stuff to deal with. Ugh.

The back of the car is almost always a disaster. I have these bins from our office move. They haven’t made it into my garage yet. You can also see that I like to wrap scarves & clothes around my seats. Sometimes I feel like my car is another closet. It overwhelms me, but I can’t help but do it.

This is the backseat where Cooper sits. Because we just went to Home Depot and took something big home, my yoga mat is shoved where his feet belong. There’s a random towel there too and just random crap hanging out in the seat pocket.

So I took those bins and did something with them! I used them to sort my stuff.

I made 4 different bins. Garbage/Recycling. TO SORT.


All the stuff to be sorted is SORTED.

I gathered stuff that needs to go inside. What the heck is a bell doing in my car??!

I also brought all the clothes inside to put away.

I gathered all the toiletry essentials I like to have in my car and put them in this case.

There’s a drawer under the passenger side seat. I put some Essentials in there.

Now it’s time to CLEAN!

This was actually my job when I was a kid. Every weekend my brothers & I had to clean my parent’s cars.

They had to clean outside while I had inside duty. Maybe this is why the inside of cars are so important to me?

Soap + Water. I took a rag and cleaned down all of the surfaces.

I soaked areas that had build-up gunk on them. I did some detailing with some toothpicks.

It’s amazing what you’ll find in there.

I took out all of the rugs and vacuumed the inside of the car. I made sure to get into all of the crevices.

I shook out the rugs and vacuumed them.

Then I took these Armor-All Protectant Wipes and wiped down the dashboard area & the insides of the door.

I actually keep these under the seat. Sometimes when my car gets dirty/dusty on the inside I’ll wipe the inside down if I need to kill time.

Let the AFTERS begin. Here’s the inside. I wiped it all down. It sparkles. You can’t really tell in this picture though.

The toiletry bag is now in my driver side door along with an umbrella. No more paper mess!

This is what the inside looks like in the front. AHHH!

I have a few pens & some hand sanitizer in the front. This area used to be filled with jewelery I took off while driving and lipgloss and gunk.

Cooper’s spot is clean & empty! WOOT.

And from the other side, I hung up this little bag to hold all of my cloth grocery bags.

Look at the trunk!!!! It’s EMPTY. WHOA.

It’s like a brand new car (not really! It’s over 12 years old!).

Cooper was happy to be picked up from school today in a clean car. I REALLY REALLY hope to keep this up.

The key is that I have to slow down and deal with things that come In and Out of our car ASAP.

No more letting things go. Letting things go, and trying to do TOO MUCH (always) gets in my way. Slow down to sanity!



Tracy Benjamin

Tracy Benjamin is obsessed with good food, great photography, and pretty things.


  • Adeline September 26, 2012 at 2:25 am

    Aaaah cleaning porn is soo satisfying to look at!! This makes me wish 1)I had a car and 2)my imaginary car were a mess so I could do the same. (What do you mean, I’m crazy?)

    Tracy – not sure if that falls into the High Straightenence category, but would you have some tips on how to make the most out of your iPad? I’ve decided to get one (now that the iPad 2 are cheaper hehe) and also want to start a blog, but there are so many apps around I don’t know where to start and how to use it for more than just checking emails!

  • Winter September 26, 2012 at 7:51 am

    That must have been so satisfying! It was satisfying just looking at all the before and after pics–great job! My trunk needs a little bit of organizing…I’m feeling up to it now! Thanks for the inspiration, Tracy!

  • Niki September 26, 2012 at 7:58 am

    Neauitful job Tracy! Now i have a strong urge to leave work and go clean my car – i know there’s a mason jar, crumpled post it note pads, store flyers and a smushed Kleenex box i need to get out of there!

  • Lou September 26, 2012 at 8:12 am

    Ahhh this post was so satisfying to read!

  • melissa September 26, 2012 at 8:28 am

    Very satisfying! I thought you were going to say now it’s Cooper’s job to clean it each week. lol.
    To maintain my car’s tidiness, I make myself declutter it every time I exit it. It’s hard to do! Plus, I added it to my housekeeping routine and got a mini vac to make it easy(er) to run outside and do both cars (once a week). But man, it takes self-discipline, which, as we know, can be highly overrated. :)

  • Kate Y September 26, 2012 at 2:13 pm

    Good Job on the Clean up. I should do the same to my car :) BTW– awesome car, I have the same one, but it’s a 97 CRV ;) 15+ YO!

  • Karin September 26, 2012 at 6:31 pm

    I miss my CRV!!!!!! I “traded up” to a Murano, which is a beautiful car, but I miss my 2003 CRV terribly. Especially that drawer under the passenger seat I have kept the Murano clean for 3 months, though. I am impressed with myself.

  • Alli September 26, 2012 at 8:52 pm

    Hooray, you did it! Looks fantastic. I LOVE having a clean car, especially love Armor Alling it and vacuuming!! Quite satisfying.


  • Casey September 26, 2012 at 9:31 pm

    Nice work. I tell anyone who rides in my car to treat it like Yellowstone or Yosemite. Take out everything you bring in, leave no trace.

  • Christina September 26, 2012 at 9:35 pm

    Tracy, this couldn’t have come at a better time! I need to clean out my car tomorrow, and now I have some guidance!

  • A Family's Life September 27, 2012 at 12:08 am

    So glad to see its not just my car that looks like your before pictures! Good job on the clean up!

  • Ethel September 27, 2012 at 8:14 am

    I feel like this post was made for me. I’ve been feeling so cloterphobic in my car lately and have been dying to clean it. Now you’ve just inspired me.

  • Leah September 27, 2012 at 12:48 pm

    Wooo We are Honda CR-V twins! Except… mine looks a lot like your before pictures! You have inspired me to get it looking like the afters! Especially since I need to sell it soon :( it was my first car, I’ll miss it!

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  • Rachie G September 28, 2012 at 6:20 pm

    That dang little tray in the middle gets so gunked up! Keep on rocking the CR-V, I have had people stop me to ask and buy it and it’s twelve years old as well!

  • ChrystinaNoel September 29, 2012 at 4:44 pm

    I kept thinking – she’s eventually going to run out of things to clean. Car – I didn’t even think of that. At this rate the opportunities are endless. I love it. Nice work!

    • Tracy September 29, 2012 at 9:12 pm

      Oh man. There’s PLENTY for me to organize. And when I’m done…I’m sure there are some people in my life who would love the help ;)

  • laura k October 1, 2012 at 4:15 pm

    I have been on a serious high straightenance binge the last few weeks. There is something about fall that makes me want to clean and organize all the things. I’m sore today from all the hands-and-knees scrubbing I did this weekend, and I rearranged all of the hundreds and hundreds of books in our spare room. Next up: the kitchen. And then maybe I can think about the car…

  • Victoria October 7, 2012 at 11:16 am

    OMG it’s KILLING me that it’s pouring rain right now and I can’t go right out and follow your example! But the problem is exactly the same – trying to cram too much to do into too little time. When will we ever learn…

  • Kate @ Eat, Recycle, Repeat October 7, 2012 at 10:54 pm

    I used to just let things build up and then go through these stressful major cleans (which I would avoid for way too long because I was dreading them). Now I try to tidy up at least 2 or 3 things every day and reduce clutter in my life as much as I can. The major organizational overhauls still require me to set aside a big chunk of time, but I always tell myself that I can improve something in 10 minutes rather than just let it stagnate! Your car is a beaut

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