When our family took a month long trip down Route 66 earlier this year, we decided to rent a car instead of driving one of our vintage automobiles. The problem with renting a car, however, is that it has to be returned in clean and in great condition to avoid getting slapped with a damage charge. This means taking car of the inside as well as the exterior. Here’s how we managed to keep our rental car clean and in “like new” condition for our 6900 mile road trip.
Stored everything in the trunk
Since a road trip means carrying everything with you, we got in the habit of storing all our belongings in the trunk as a safety precaution. This kept the interior of the car clean and uncluttered which made it easy to spot spills quickly and take care of them before they left permanent stains.
Threw out trash frequently
Every time we pulled into a gas station or a roadside attraction, we took a few minutes to throw out the trash such as disposable beverage containers, wrappers, bags, unneeded receipts, that sort of thing. This also helped keep the clutter under control while preventing potential damage to the floors and seats by leaking food containers.
Avoid eating in the car
Whether we hit a drive-in or packed a picnic lunch, we always made a point of finding a picnic table where we could eat our meals instead of eating them in the car. This prevented crumbs and condiment spills on our car seats and the floor. The few times we did eat in the car, we limited our snacks and beverages to things that didn’t spill such as nuts, grapes, dried fruit, coffee with a lid, etc.
With all the hiking around and sightseeing we did on this trip, the floors of our rental car got dirty fast. Since pieces of gravel can wear away at the carpeting causing frays and holes, we got in the habit of vacuuming the car out once a week. Many of the gas stations we saw on our trip had coin op vacuum cleaners which made it super convenient to clean up and vacuum the carpeting and floor mats regularly.
The key to keeping a rental car clean while on a family road trip is to sweep through the interior regularly, and deal with spills and dirty floors before stains become set or the carpeting is ruined. Tidiness not only makes a road trip more enjoyable, it’s also the best way to prevent the possibility of a damage fee.
More by this contributor:
5 reasons why we rented a car on our road trip vacation
How to save on gas costs while on a family road trip
How DIY travel sites saved us $1600 in hotel costs