5S-ing the Car… for ‘Fun’

I am really not sure how my car got so messy, so quickly! It seems like it was just yesterday that I removed all unnecessary items, and had the car washed and waxed at the nearby Wash Tub. But less than a month later, this is the nightmare I was facing:

But change is not easy to implement and sustain unless it addresses a specific problem(s). As far as my untidy car was concerned, my personal pain points were:

Delays in leaving the house & Unsafe Driving

  1. Why? because driver spends a fair amount of time looking for items in the car, before leaving the house or while driving
  2. Why? because items are either misplaced or not placed in the car
  3. Why? because there is no dedicated car space assigned to items
  4. Why? because too many items are in the car
  5. Why? because there is no organization system inside the car

Sort: I began sorting the items in the car and identified many that had no long term or recurring function inside the car: plastic bags, many sweaters, hiking boots, a pillow, and countless other things.

Set in order: At this point, I thought about my lifestyle and make a list of items needed to either stay in the car or be brought into the car regularly, such as:

  • Office (space for backpack, lunch bag)
  • Pick up and drop mail (mail slot)
  • Running shoes
  • Pilates mat and socks
  • Shopping bags
  • Sweater, umbrella, rain gear
  • Towel/seat cover
  • Emergency kit
  • Food/water for strays
  • Sun shield
  • Personal cleaning items and makeup
  • Paper towels
  • Car paperwork (insurance papers, registration, car guide)
  • Trash bags
  • Tire pressure gauge

Items that are frequently used or needed while driving are placed closer to the driver seat. Items not often used can be tucked in out of reach areas of the car. Here is a general sketch to help me organize my thoughts:


Shining the car inside, and setting in order were done simultaneously. Here are some of the changes:

  • Emergency box: Towel, blanket, water, dry food for feral dogs/cats, plastic lining, plastic bags, plastic utensils, ibuprofen, nail clippers, tweezers, dental floss, toothpaste, etc….
  • Insulated bag: lined to contain leaks, cup holder added
  • All shopping bags in 1 location
  • Basket for personal items, make up case
  • Box for small papers, business cards, coupons, and gift cards
  • Car seat catcher: doubles up as mail organizer
  • Glove compartment: emergency money, car manual,insurance cards, pens, keys, tire pressure gauge

Standardize and Sustain: I order to maintain the changes, I created a housekeeping and inspection log (below). The whole effort required an investment of less than $30, and promises to be much easier to keep up going forward!Inspection Log.png



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