What does a real minimalist keep in their car?

Every time I give someone a ride in my car they always comment on how clean everything is. “is your car new?” they ask me. I laugh while looking at the light film of dust on my dash board. “No, not new and not that clean either!” It’s amazing how great a car can look when it’s kept free of junk.

My name is Bonnie and you’ve stumbled onto my blog. I’m a minimalist in progress and I’m going to tell you today what I keep in my car.

The Shift to a Minimalist Car

Way back when I was a student, my car was always a disaster. It’s served as mobile storage for my books, bags and sometimes extra clothes. Even for years after I was no longer a student, my car was a pretty big mess.

It wasn’t until I had my first child there was any noticeable change in how much junk I kept in my car.  I read a news article that talked about how infants could be injured by loose debris in a vehicle. I was shocked and immediately took everything out of my car that wasn’t nailed down.

This is the way that I’ve kept my car for the past four years.   Its become part of my routine to keep it clean. Anytime I bring something into my car for example, my gym bag, I only allow that bag to stay in my car until I get home at night. 

When I get home I pick up everything in my car and take it inside with me. The first thing I do when I step through the door is put everything in its place.  This is one minimalist habit that I’m happy to say that I’ve been able to do consistently. 

Blue background with brown car text says minimalist car chickabonbon.com

Benefits of a minimalist car

Since I keep my car tidy that is one less big chore that I need to make time for. I don’t have this giant mess that I’ll “clean up later.” Along with NOT having to spend a chunk of time every once in a while cleaning out my car, here are some other benefits to keeping a minimalist car.

Vacuuming is a breeze

Since my car is mostly empty it’s easy for me to stop at the car wash to vacuum. I vacuum out my car with no prior planning or clean up required.  

It’s convenient for me since I am always busy and if I have a spare moment I like to get these quick tasks done.

This is a must, since my daughter’s car seat always has some sort of food mess wedged in the corners of the fabric. If your child’s car seat needs more than a quick vacuum check out this post for some more tips on how to deep clean a car seat.

Always prepared for guests

By keeping my car this way so I’m never embarrassed if I have to give someone a ride.  It eliminates a lot of stress from my life since it’s not something I have to make time for.  

Your car looks clean even if you haven’t been cleaning it.  To a lot of your friends, a tidy space seems clean by default. 

Blue background with blue car text saying what does a minimalist keep in their car

Ready to transport stuff

When I go shopping for groceries I know that I have plenty of space without needing to clear out my car ahead of time. It’s one less step I need to take when I’m taking boxes of donations to Good Will. Since I can just load my car and I go I’m so much quicker at decluttering my house.

Related Post: Declutter your life: how to get and stay organized

What to keep in a minimalist car

By now you know that I don’t have a whole lot of stuff in my car. Now, let me tell you what I do keep in my car. 

Baby wipes

One thing I do keep in the car that I really enjoy having is a pack of baby wipes and I use these baby wipes for sticky fingers smudged faces and wipe the dust off my dashboard.

Safety hammer

In my glove box I typically have my car manual I have a safety hammer that my mother-in-law bought me. In case you get swept away in water and need to break the glass.

Tire pressure gauge

I’ve always kept a pressure gauge in my car in case I need to add air to my tires. Did you know that you can usually find what pressure your tires should be in you door jam?  I didn’t know this until recently. 

Phone charger cord

One thing that is not minimalist in my house is in the amount of phone chargers that we have. We have them everywhere and I always keep one in my car as well.  They tend to break frequently or my husband will take one with him and it will never been seen again. So yes, lots of charger cables.

Extra quarter 

I shop for groceries at Aldi so I make sure I always have a quarter for my shopping cart. 


Who likes being in wet clothes?  A big umbrella lives in my trunk, so I always have it with me when I’m out and about. This is great for when I need to load groceries in my trunk or spend time buckling and unbuckling my kid from her car seat.

Dealing with trash

I will occasionally have a receipt or some other small piece of trash in my car.  This usually gets stored in the little compartment in my car door. Trash gets emptied out about once a week when I fill my car with gas. There’s usually a trashcan right next to the gas pump so that makes it easy to clean up. 

My trunk is another thing that is mostly kept empty.  I keep an umbrella and my cloth grocery bags in my trunk. Anything else is only in there short term. 

Closing thoughts on keeping a minimalist car

Minimalist car tips

  • Bring your stuff inside EVERY TIME 
  • No loose items 
  • Empty trunk

I may have minimalist habits now but nobody is born knowing how to keep things clean. This is all learned behaviors. It takes practice to become a minimalist.  

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