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Car Trunk Organizer

Martha Stewart Living, January 2006

Lighten your carload by arranging supplies in a handled bin. Items kept in the car have a tendency to roll around and get lost beneath seats, so it helps to organize them in a heavy vinyl catchall (available at home stores). Stock it with paper towels, a first-aid kit, auto fire extinguisher, duct tape, flat-repair kit, bungee cords, and a bag filled with flares, jumper cables, and other necessities. Also consider packing a messenger bag with bottled water, granola bars, a blanket, and warm clothing, in case of a breakdown.

Comments (29)

  • Japhet2 2 Aug, 2013

    I use an old 48 qt. igloo cooler. I have a black on black Chevy Tahoe and keep a black bed sheet in it. With the rear tinted windows and the black sheet over the igloo , and anything else I'm carrying , it is almost impossible to see anything back there. Looks empty. Might prevent a break in. I live in a big city and car break ins are so frequent that the cops can't keep up with the reports must less stop them.

  • RobbyDesmond 14 Sep, 2012

    The idea of organizing your trunk and making a bag filled with all sort of things in case of a necessity is great. I was considering giving my car away through the donate car USA service and I will be sure to put such a necessity bag in it's trunk. It will be useful to whoever will use the car later on.

  • dddanse 13 Jun, 2012

    I use small plastic milk crates. One has emergency items, One small blanket, xtra athletic shoes, paper towels, first aid kit, etc. Another has flashlight, xtra window washer fluid, duct tape, other car emergency items as well as plastic bags. A third has Energy bars, fruit rollups, nuts, a couple juice boxes, and other small food items. I also keep insulated and regular bags for grocery shopping tucked in a corner.

  • Tszuji 13 Jun, 2012

    This is a fantastic idea for keeping things organised in the boot of your car. We have a jumbo clothes storage bag ( that would do the job well. Will definitely be letting our customers know your tip!

  • MaryLou93063 26 Sep, 2011

    I use a shoe bag that I bought at a rummage sale. All the compartments hold many items from tools to deodorant and soap. I wrap up and put the jumper cables around it to keep it closed. Makes a very neat package & takes up very little rm. Lots of other uses also.

  • doggymom1 24 Sep, 2011

    I use Ziploc -sealable bags (L-XXL) found them when kids swam 3 times a day. All items suggested are important, but don't forget batteries (cell phone) and emergency (Red cross sells 1 that has halogen spot, red flasher for alerting passerbys, hand crank to run itself. weather radio, super loud "squealer" (my name-not RC) very large grocery box w.hard fold down bottom stores them all well. Made my "box" for son and his wife-Christmas

  • kelliecrain 14 Aug, 2011

    I keep my supplies in an old fashioned (hard) suitcase because they are fairly close to weather-proof and you never know when or how far you may have to walk if you were to breakdown. Another benefit is that these can be found at thrift stores everywhere and come in all different sizes to suit all sizes of trunks. To save space you can drop granola bars or even flares down in the opening of the paper towel roll.

  • jenoula 20 Jun, 2011

    I keep my car trunk supplies in a STURDY carton box (with a top) in my trunk. A) It's free, and B) If I need to help/rescue an animal/bird that's been hit by a car, I can empty out the carton box, and place the injured animal/bird in the carton box to take to a veterinarian. I always keep an old, clean towel in the trunk, too.

  • SterlingPal 6 Dec, 2010

    I have a Hybrid, they have very small trunks...but I have packed an emergency kit of my own making, into a leather backpack...even Martha would be jealous of what I have in there! You don't need a ton of things, just do some planning on what you need and amounts of it, then go get it and get an adult backpack (around 25.00) then pack every nook and cranny TIGHTLY, and then shove it into a corner of your trunk, its worth the room it takes if you ever have an emergency!

  • salsagirl1953 6 Dec, 2010

    My Honda trunk is small so I large bin takes up too much space. Any ideas?

  • bwrightnow 6 Dec, 2010

    I use a laundry basket to hold my stuff

  • satori2002 4 Oct, 2010

    I put some velcro on the bottom to prevent slipping as the velcro catches to my wagon's carpet interior- this might not work as well with leather or vinyl unless the other part of the velcro material were glued to the interior in strategic places.

  • MrsDLC 22 Sep, 2010

    I love using these containers in my car and as mamapeck said all over my house. I've used one per child in my car to hold their gear for different activities like soccer, scouts etc. Another excellent source that includes personalization(for free) is Initials-inc.

  • mamapeck 22 Sep, 2010

    I have a purple canvas one in the back of my Denali with just my reusable bags in it. I get them at Target and The Container store. (Cheaper at Target) And they come in different colors at different times of the year. I've been using them for years. I have quite a few scattered thru out my home also.

  • JMP878 5 Jun, 2010

    To Reality Agent -- LOL at your comments! What was your source for the bags?

  • Litilchef 4 Jun, 2010

    For the past year, I have been storing two collapsible laundry hampers in the back of my van along with the other items Martha mentions here. When we go on trips, I get them out. One for lights one for darks. They help me keep hotel rooms tidy and suitcases organized, and they go straight to the laundry room when I get home. It has made unpacking so much easier!

  • seattlepatricia 4 Jun, 2010

    Love the idea of including disposable gloves. I'm also a fan of milk crates. The comments have become the best part of Martha's daily advice.

  • realtyagent 4 Jun, 2010

    LOL... only Martha Stewart would have a WHITE organizer in the back of her car! I have several of these, in black (don't see the dirt) and they are wonderful; perfect size for grocery bags so they don't fall over - I store the canvas bags in them that I used instead of "paper or plastic" too.... highly recommend them!!

  • Badaboom 4 Jun, 2010

    I am a nurse and always keep a small bag or box of disposable gloves in the car in case I come upon an accident and need to help out before the medics arrive. But I've found these gloves are also helpful for keeping hands tidy when checking oil, changing tires, etc. A milk crate works just great for me to coral the car accessories (cables, wipes, etc) and I have a small medical kit off to the side. I keep my re-use-able shopping bags in one big bag in the back as well. Hope this helps someone!

  • irishdi 4 Jun, 2010

    Great idea! I've been using a laundry basket in the trunk for years to corral grocery bags. But this new idea looks like it will take less space. Thanks for all the great ideas!

  • amberstar84 22 Sep, 2008

    Your two ideas are amazing, I am going to use both of them! Thanks

  • chefheathercox 25 Jul, 2008

    I use a collapsible crate in the back of the SUV. If you do not need it you can fold it flat and it takes almost no space. Plus, it also fits into the grocery cart. Just add items in the crate as you shop, and once they are scanned at the checkout place them back in the crate. No need for bags, plastic, paper or otherwise. VERY GREEN LIVING!

  • bjhinokcok 15 May, 2008

    Ice chests take up so much room stored in the garage or storage unit! So, I use my large ice chest for storage in my Grand Cherokee. Then, you always have an ice chest at the ready for those spontaneous moments! I also use plastic milk crates to hold groceries in place while on the road. TaDa!

  • silverdesk48 15 May, 2008

    Excellent tip !

  • Anna_Marie 13 May, 2008

    I came across a large, wooden tool box...the kind with a dowel rod handle. It was too big for my tool needs, but is great in the trunk of my car to organize plastic bags, extra oil, a blanket in a zip-lock bag, paper towels, jumper cables, newspapers on their way to be recycled, etc.

  • cloudblue 12 May, 2008

    I also keep a strong cardboard box with an old blanket because we live on a country area and have found injured wildlife. Its always handy to wrap the wildlife in and transport it to the vet. Sure enough, if we don't have one in the car we find something, so now I always make sure there's a box in the car.

  • clgarrow 4 Mar, 2008

    This is such a good idea! I've been doing it for years. Along with the usual car essentials, I also keep a few picnic supplies. If we're out driving and want to pick up some take-out for a picnic, we have what we need. Another similar tip would be to have a small bin with colored pencils and a drawing pad and/or coloring book. We take it with us when we go somewhere we might have to wait like restaurants, doctors office, etc.

  • nupe 8 Jan, 2008

    I have a trunk organizer made by case logic that is very handy. It has a cooler section too which is nice in the summer for transporting cold groceries.

  • Markey 6 Jan, 2008

    I love having a "bin" in the trunk of the car, though my DH is constantly taking it out. I drive a Camry so all I need is on that is 4" deep x 2'x3' Keeps smaller loads from rolling. Rather than so many loose we use a set of smaller bags which are much like a mini-sea bag with pockets all around the sides. Then you don't have to dig as much for the items you are looking for. You simply pull the one bag out and you have what you at the moment.