The Unavoidable Mess

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  • Whether you are a stay-at-home parent or the CEO of a major corporation, job duties can keep you pretty busy. Add upkeep of your domicile, yard work, and vehicle maintenance and you are looking at a seriously cramped schedule.

Now, throw in a child or three (maybe even a pet) and you are faced with schedule overload. By the time you drive between the schools, skating rinks, ballet recitals, play dates, and – don-t forget the little league sporting events – you could feel like you might blow your top.

With all those “irons in the fire”, imagine a major spill inside your beloved ride. I am not talking about an overturned water bottle here; imagine a life altering spill in one of the cup holders, storage compartments, or door pockets of your precious automobile. This is the vehicle in which you spend countless hours driving back and forth to work, the vehicle that you strive to maintain and keep clean, and the vehicle that you may plan to resell some day.

Let’s face it; spilled food and drinks can present permanent damage to automobile carpet, seats, and the dash (yes, I have seen it happen), not to mention cup holders, storage compartments, and door pockets.

The most important thing that one can do (when a spill occurs) is to begin cleanup, immediately. If you have children or pets, it is a good idea to keep a mini clean up kit in the glove compartment, trunk, or cargo hold of your vehicle. Your mini clean up kit should include:

  • Wet wipes that are safe for the surfaces of your vehicle
  • Super absorbent towels
  • Sealable sandwich bags
  • Garbage bags
  • Rubber gloves

Whenever possible, pull off the roadway and park in a safe place after a spill has occurred. Use the clean up materials to remove as much of the spilled material as possible. Place the soiled towels and wipes in a sealed bag so that no other vehicle surfaces are contaminated.

Here are some tips to help you handle the most catastrophic of spills in the cup holders, storage compartments, and door panel pockets of your vehicle.

Gain access to a commercial grade vacuum cleaner or a wet/dry shop vac. Treat the area with some sort of oxy based cleaner and vacuum the excess spilled material up. Move the vacuum cleaner nozzle slowly and methodically across the affected area and allow the suction to pull as much of the spill out as possible. Use a strong deodorizer spray on food and dairy spills and retreat the area until the smell subsides. Use only cleaners and deodorizer products that have been certified safe for vehicle surfaces.

Of course, the most effective solution to avoiding food and drink spills in the interior of your vehicle is to ban the consumption of any food or beverages (bottled water may be the exception, but could still cause permanent water stains).

As someone who has personally adopted this philosophy (as well as a father and grandfather) I have also seen the thousands of ways that your friends and loved ones can avoid the most stringent of such regulations.

Assuming that you can successfully “lay down the law” and banish all food and beverage consumption from your vehicle; here are a few other offenders with which you may be faced:

  • Pens, pencils, and markers
  • Crayons (melted and otherwise)
  • Party supplies (yes – transporting food and drinks)
  • Glue and glitter
  • Lotions, creams, and ointments
  • Mouthwash
  • Nail polish and nail polish remover

You get the idea. These items are impossible to avoid because they are required for everyday living. Children will always need school and party supplies. Attempting to restrict personal health and hygiene items will cause its own kind of problems. Nevertheless, any of these items have the potential to permanently damage cup holders, storage compartments, and door panel pockets.

The most damaging of all spills are caused by sweet liquids and candy. Here are the worst of the worst:

Milkshakes and other dairy based products have no business in an automobile. Even a small milkshake, cup of plain milk, or bowl of cereal with milk (I have seen all three) can leave a terrible stain with a sticky residue and a horrible smell. Often, hours of back-breaking cleanup will leave you with a stain ring, a sticky mess that seems to return every time the temperature goes up, and a smell that will have you thinking trade-in.

Melted crayons in cup holders, storage compartments, and door panel pockets are a no win situation. Kids love to put their crayons in these places – and they fit so perfectly but (if they are melted) they will be nearly impossible to remove.

Visit for cup holder, storage compartment, and door panel pocket insert solutions that are stylish and durable. They are an upgrade to the interior of any vehicle.      

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