How to Protect, Clean, and Organize Your Car Trunk

Car trunks are susceptible to stains and dirt when loose items roll around. Here's how to protect your car trunk by cleaning and organizing it.
Written by Rochelle Miller-Hernandez
Reviewed by Carrie Adkins
A car without a working trunk will lose some of its value, especially if the trunk is unusable due to spills and stains.
Not having a trunk means having no place to put groceries, a
spare tire
, sports gear, suitcases, and other gear.
Whether driving around town or on a
road trip
across the country, mobile storage is vital. Thankfully, cleaning a trunk is very similar to other parts of your car, so when you
spill coffee
everywhere, you can still
maintain your car
and get your trunk in working order.
Here are some tips from insurance broker
to help you protect your trunk from spills and stains.
Compare auto insurance policies
No spam or unwanted phone calls · No long forms
Find insurance savings

Protecting your trunk

Line your trunk with a tarp

An effective way to protect your trunk from spills is lining it with a plastic tarp. You can buy one at any home improvement or retail discount store. There are even
trunk liners
available that can be trimmed to fit your car’s specifications.
Many are slip-proof and are usually made of durable plastic that can easily be wiped down if something spills. A tarp or liner will also protect from stains by acting as a barrier between the spill and the trunk’s carpet.

Apply a fabric and carpet protectant

For added protection against
, apply a
fabric and carpet protectant
to the inside of your trunk. You simply spray the protectant in a sweeping motion about six inches above the material you want covered. It must dry completely for it to work.
Drying times vary, but typically only takes a few hours. The protectant prevents spills from taking hold and becoming stains. It also makes them easier to clean. For maximum protection, it must be reapplied every year or so, based on manufacturer’s guidelines.

What to keep in your car trunk

Use a trunk organizer

There a several trunk organizers on the market that come in various shapes and sizes. A quality organizer will be waterproof and have a flat-bottom. Organizers are great for storing key
maintenance fluids
like extra engine oil, transmission fluid, and power steering fluid.
You don’t even have to use a container specifically designed for your trunk. A sturdy plastic laundry basket will work just as well. Plus, it has built-in handles.
If you transport your groceries in the basket, you can simply pick it up and carry it inside. If juice spills in it on the way home, it prevents the fluids from getting on the carpet.

Install a cargo net

Cargo nets are great for keeping your items in place and upright. The main reason things spill is because they get tossed around the trunk.
Sometimes you don’t even know an item has leaked until the fluid spoils and starts to stink. There are even deluxe cargo nets with separate compartments so you can keep your purchases separate from things you regularly keep in your trunk.
Key Takeaway: Adding a sturdy container to your trunk, like an organizer or a cargo net, can help keep it spill-free.

How to clean the trunk of a car

As soon as you notice a spill, including dry goods,
clean it up
right away. The chocolate chips in your trail mix will eventually melt if left too long, soaking into the carpet of your car’s trunk.
If a mess is already made, you can still clean your trunk by hand. Use a hand vacuum or a house vacuum with a long hose to suction up dry messes.
Use a dry cloth to blot up any wet spills, as you don't want to rub it deeper into the carpet or fabric. The longer the spill sits in your trunk, the greater the chance it will become a permanent stain.
Key Takeaway: If you applied protectant, make sure to reapply it to the area of the spill after you clean it up.
Keeping your car’s trunk free of spills and stains is easier than you think if you follow a few easy-to-do tips. A clean and organized trunk makes for a happier car and a happier you.


Can you shampoo a car trunk?

Yes, the carpet of a car trunk can be shampooed and detailed just as any car carpet or upholstery would.
Are you overpaying for car insurance?
Compare quotes and find out in 45 seconds.
Try Jerry

Easiest way to compare and buy car insurance

No long forms
No spam or unwanted phone calls
Quotes from top insurance companies
Find insurance savings