6 Ways to Keep Your Van Clean That Everyone Thinks Will Work…But Don’t
I have trouble keeping my van clean. Read the post from my van here and you’ll get a glimpse of the on-going battle I’m fighting. Let me be clear, the inside of the van. I’ve completely given up on the outside; there’s no hope there so let’s move on.
I grew up in a small family with one older brother. Somehow, I thought that having a clean van was just a given. I remember riding in other peoples’ vans and looking around thinking…ewww. Why are there crumbs everywhere? Don’t they vacuum this thing? What is that smell? Why do vans of small children all have the same smell?
Little did I know.
Guess what? It is really hard to keep a van clean. Here are some ideas that I’ve tried, and advice that has been given that do not work. They sound good in theory but let me save you the time.
- Take out of the van what you bring into the van. Simple, right? No, it is not simple. If kids can’t see it, then it doesn’t exist. The french fry that fell under little Billy’s feet, yeah that’s not coming out because little Billy can’t see it. Those crayons stuck in the seat crack, Suzie isn’t going to look for them because she already closed her crayon case and assumes all the crayons are in it. The candy wrapper next to Janie’s foot, that’s not going to come out because Janie didn’t put it there, therefore, she isn’t going to pick it up.
- Don’t Eat in the Van. Oh, this one is a gem. Anyone who has taken kids anywhere that takes longer than 15 minutes knows the reality of this one. I can hear my pre-kid self already, ‘well if you didn’t give the food in the first place they never would have learned its okay to eat in the van.’ Fool. Have you ever ridden in a van with whiny, crying kids? Do you know the fastest way to stop the cacophony of noises that emit from their unhappy, bored mouths? Food. I have driven with 3 kids for 18 hours, 4 kids for 14 hours, and the only way we survived was the constant stream of snacks to the back seat.
- Don’t Drink in the Van. This one half way works. In general it could work all the time except for #2. Remember all those lovely snacks that have kept your kids from driving you insane? They’re making your kids thirsty. Seriously, if you are only a few minutes from home or somewhere with a drinking fountain they can wait but if you are in it for the long haul drinks are happening. The best solution, stick to water.
- Check shoes before you get in. Okay, I’m laughing just thinking about this one. In a perfect world this would happen before you get in the van every time. But here’s the deal, most of us van drivers have kids, which means you are a taxi service. A taxi service that is desperately trying to get somewhere on time. A taxi service that is usually dragging at least one other kid, most likely more, that doesn’t need to go to said destination and does not want to get in the taxi. What that means is they are being s-l-o-w, which means you are now late. Being late means you get your kids in the van as fast as possible, scream for them to put seat belts on, and don’t give the state of their shoes another thought. The next thing you know you find something sticky in the carpet or notice a new funny smell. Yes, your child did get in the van with gum or dog poop on their shoe. Nice.
- Clean it out once a week. Want to know what else needs to get done once a week? Everything. The majority of it happens more than once a week, like two, three times. The other important note is sometimes once a week will not be enough. Any week where you have hours of driving and dropping off to do will end up with your van looking like a homeless camp. Socks, shoes, food, papers, more food everywhere.
- Have your kids clean it. This one is actually pretty good and worthwhile. You should have your kids clean it. The first time they do it, they will do a pretty good job. It’s the next time and every time after that that you will need to inspect and point out all the places they may have missed, like the sandwich sitting in plain sight next to their own seat belt. Oh, and they will fight over who has to do which jobs. Bonus.
Keeping a family van clean is an ongoing challenge. Here’s the thing, I do my best. You do your best. What more can we ask of ourselves?
For those people who get into your van, who were like I was as a teenager, and wonder why it’s such a mess and smells funny, its simple because we live…sometimes in our van and that makes it a bit messy and smelly.
Don’t give up. I’m not, although my standards have gone down quite a bit with each kid that I have. Do your best and hopefully the smell will dissipate.