When you have kids or grandkids riding in your car as you ferry them around to school and activities, or when you take a family road trip, messes and spills come with the territory.
Most car owners instinctively wince when they see any damage done to their vehicles. We spend a great deal of time washing, cleaning and buffing to keep our cars looking shiny on the outside and neat inside. But when there are kids in the mix, it becomes a tougher and more thankless task. Spills, food particles, toys, hair clips, socks, Lego pieces – there are myriad ways in which kids can make a mess inside the car. And when you’re all buckled in for a road trip across New Zealand, making stops at beaches along the way, mess is inescapable. But while the peril cannot be eliminated, there are ways to reduce the carnage in the car caused by the young ones. Carrying wet wipes, paper towels and bags for storing trash will go a long way towards helping to keep the car clean, and frequent cleaning of the interior is better than waiting until it looks and smells unbearable. In addition, invest in protective covers to keep the car clean from day one.
Protecting the Car’s Rear Seats
The kids are usually ensconced in the back, and with younger ones, that entails car seats strapped into the rear seats. Toddlers will frequently have a sippy cup, juice box, cereal or biscuits grasped firmly in their little hands, just waiting to be dropped onto the car’s floor or smashed into your seats. Summertime brings the added peril of ice cream, precariously balanced in a cone or on a stick, not to mention grains of sand and water from trips to the beach. Tweens and teens can add eyeliner smudges or nail paint spills, and during the school year, footie or basketball practice means kids with dirty shoes that mess up the floor of the car.
As anyone who has ever had to deal with such clean-ups will tell you, it can be tedious and involves a lot of scrubbing and lamenting, after which you will more than likely still be left with a nasty stain or three on your seats and floor carpets. To minimise the initial damage, rubber mats for the floor are a boon. They can be hosed down, washed and cleaned more easily than the original carpeting mats that most vehicles come with. To save the back seats of your car, primarily the lower seat squab, invest in a seat cover that can withstand sustained assaults from the kids. If you can find one in vinyl or any similar material that’s easy to wipe and forgiving of spills, that is the best option.
If your back seats have already sustained damage, head to the gas station and use one of their heavy-duty upholstery machines to clean the seats and carpeted areas of the car, and then lay down the covers.
Front seats can be a target
Even though the kids aren’t actually in the front seats, that does not mean you can assume the front of your car will remain pristine. The back of the driver’s seat and the passenger seat too are ideal targets for the little ones to hurl their leftover ice cream at, kick, or engage in some artistic drawing. Getting covers for the front seats, therefore, is essential – a full seat cover offers the best protection, to shield the headrests from grubby hands as the kids get in and out of the car. We also recommend kick mats. Another useful accessory is an apron with plenty of pockets that you can hang over the back of the front seat, making it easier to keep all the kids’ stuff in one easily accessible place. These devices can also double as a seat cover.
Your car’s exterior can be a magnet
Kids love to touch things and when getting in and out of the car, they are probably decorating the bodywork with handprints. Again, food, crayons or paint, sunscreen, sand, and many other sticky, waxy or colour-depositing substances can add unwanted finishes to your car’s exterior polish, and sometimes these react with the paintjob. Keep wet wipes handy to wipe away stains as soon as they occur and be on the lookout for minor scratches that school bags, sports kits or small toys may cause. We recommend you keep a good quality car polish on hand to clean and polish up any scratches.
Car insurance may not protect your car from your kids, but it will definitely give you some protection in the event of an accident. You can choose from third party only, third party fire & theft and comprehensive insurance.