How to Completely Clean & Organize Your Glove Box in 3 Steps

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I recently realized it’s been a while since I sat in my car to clean the glove box. I try to keep it tidy as a general rule. But it’s been a minute since I took every item out, wiped it down, tossed the trash and made sure it was truly organized.

So, I spent a little time on a slow Sunday afternoon doing just that. I encourage you to do the same! It’s a quick project that’ll make you smile every time you open that little door.

Read on for three simple steps to clean and organize your glove box (plus what you actually should and should NOT keep in it) and then get ‘er done.

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1: Take Everything Out & Wipe It Down

Remove every last shred of paper, those wadded napkins and dried-out pens, and that melted tube of lip balm.

To organize a glove box, first take everything out and wipe down the interior.
SOURCE: Organizenvy

Wipe down the interior, top to bottom. Use a vacuum first, if there’s an excess amount of crumbs or dirt. Then use an all-purpose or car interior cleaner to remove all dust.

Prefer unscented car cleaners? Try an option like Chemical Guys Nonsense Invisible Super Cleaner (colorless and odorless):

2. Declutter and Sort the Contents

Next, it’s time to go through every item you removed from the glove box. Toss all trash. Shred expired registration or insurance documents (they tend to accumulate) and keep only what’s current.

If you’re ever pulled over, you don’t want to hand an expired registration card to the police officer or spend five minutes looking for the current card.

Put all vehicle maintenance receipts and documentation in a pile; you’ll file this elsewhere. All paperwork regarding the purchase of your car, like title documents, financing, CarFax report, etc. also goes into a pile for filing.

Sort any remaining items in groups with other “like” items.

3. Organize the Glove Box (Critical and “Nice-to-Have” Items)

The goal of any organization project is to maximize efficiency and space.

You can accomplish this by grouping like items together in labeled containers that fit the space and are easily accessible.

Start with items that must be kept in the space. Then add secondary “nice-to-have” items as they fit.

SOURCE: Organizenvy

Organize and store these critical items in the glove box:

  • Owner’s manual
  • Emergency contact names and phone numbers
  • Contact information for AAA or roadside assistance and insurance representative (if applicable)
  • Pen/pencil and notepad

I like storing insurance, roadside assistance and emergency contacts together in one organizer. This document holder has pockets for all of these items and can easily accommodate a pen/pencil and small notepad as well.

(Plus, it comes in a variety of bright colors which make it easy to locate.)

Organize optional items in the glove box if they’ll fit:

Napkins, Kleenx and hand wipes. Some people (especially those with kids) consider these critical items. I keep mine in a labeled lidded bin so they stay neat and easy to find.

Backup pair of eyeglasses. I took an emergency preparedness class, and the instructor recommended keeping an old or backup pair of glasses in the glove box. This is useful if you wear contacts and end up stuck in your car overnight due to weather or unforeseen circumstances.

Garbage bags. These are especially helpful on road trips. I always keep a stash of grocery bags or travel trash bags in my car.

Flashlight. Another emergency preparedness item (because cars do break down and tires do go flat at night.) The instructor recommended storing the batteries backward so they don’t run out of juice.

Tire gauge. I always have one in my glove box for road trips. Sometimes changing elevations or temperatures require a top-off of air.

Emergency escape tool. This can be kept in the center console too if your car has one. These tools cut through jammed seat belts and break windows when doors get stuck.

Lint roller and hair ties. Both of these come in handy. I buy mini lint rollers in packages of 5 at a time so I can have them in every car and purse:

What Should Not Be Stored in the Glove Box

Registration and insurance cards. This was an eye-opener for me when I read it. According to CarFax, documents with our names, addresses, and other personal information should never be left in the car.

It’s too easy for thieves to steal our identity with this type of paperwork. Instead, keep copies in your wallet and on your phone.

Title and purchase papers. A lot of people think it’s ok to store car title paperwork and purchase/financing information in the glove box. Don’t.

This type of paperwork is hard to replace if lost or stolen and has personal information you might not want public.

Car maintenance records. They don’t need to be stored in the glove box either. They’ll really add up after years of car ownership and clutter the car with unnecessary papers.

Keep all of this paperwork in a car file or binder where you keep your home maintenance files. (A family command center is a good place for this.)

Valuables. Car thieves can break open a locked glove box and steal valuables like jewelry and wallets.

Garage door opener. These really belong in a purse or briefcase, especially if you park your car in the driveway or on the street. Thieves will break into a car and use the garage door opener to gain access to the garage (or worse, the house).

How to Keep the Glove Box Clean and Organized All the Time

Organizing a glove box is just like organizing a home. It’s an ongoing process. You can keep this space neat and tidy all the time with a few good habits:

  • Don’t overfill it. Store what you need most often that fits easily in labeled containers.
  • Keep it trash-free. It’s easy to throw ketchup packets and dirty napkins in and forget about them. Use trash bags instead.
  • Do a quick clean-out each week or two. Grab any receipts or paperwork you forgot to bring in the house. Refill the napkins and trash bags. Make sure the pen still has ink.

That’s all there is to it! Easy, peasy. Be sure to check out my articles below on garage, car and travel organization. Happy travels!


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