For suburban and some city dwellers, your car is almost like an extension of your home, so it’s no surprise that many people use their cars for extra storage.
And while it’s smart to stash some things in your car like jumper cables, an extra outfit, and a comfy pair of shoes—it isn’t the best place to keep everything. Here are five things you shouldn’t store in your car.
Plastic Water Bottles
It’s fair to say that most of us need to drink more water. So having a case of water available on the go sounds like a smart idea. Except that it’s not.
According to a 2014 study, when plastic is exposed to heat, it can break down, causing chemicals to leach into your water. Also, hot water doesn’t exactly taste good.
Instead of toting around a bunch of plastic bottles, bring an extra aluminum bottle (or two) with you instead. Opt for a bottle designed to keep liquids cold such as the Stanley Adventure To-Go Bottle. Reusable bottles are also less wasteful and end up saving you money in the long run.
Although it’s tempting, especially if you don’t have an abundance of storage at home, you should never store extra, non-emergency food in the car. “Even if the food is in cans or boxes, it can go bad if it is sitting in a car for a long time,” explains Leslie Kilgour, professional organizer and founder of Get It Straight. Sorry, those bulk food boxes from the big-box store should go in a pantry or another part of your house.
If you do store emergency food in the car, keep it in a hard storage container to deter pests and regularly replace the food with a fresh supply.
Heat and electronics are a bad combination. A car parked in direct sunlight can reach 120 degrees Fahrenheit in an hour, and Apple suggests storing iPhones and iPads in temperatures between -4 degrees and 113 degrees Fahrenheit. So, it’s a bad idea to store these items in your car when they aren’t in use. Regardless of the brand, you don’t want to diminish the life of your expensive devices. Electronics in plain view also make your car a target for theft.
Sometimes we use our car for a quick hair touch-up. So while you might be tempted to stash a small can of dry shampoo in your glove compartment, it’s a bad idea. High temperatures can cause aerosol cans to explode, which can be dangerous.
That Giant “Donation” Bag
Carly Adams, professional organizer and founder of Tidy Revival tells me all those things you’ve decluttered from your home and are planning to donate should not live in your car until you finally find time to drop it off.
“Something I see all the time is that after decluttering, folks store donations in their car with the intention of dropping them off. That said, they often drive around with them for weeks or months. Instead of using up your trunk space indefinitely, I suggest that folks only put donations in their car when they’re headed to the donation center,” she says.
She recommends finding more convenient drop-off locations and then scheduling in time to do it “Add drop off donations to your calendar, and pair it with an existing errand. You’ll be much more likely to get those items out of your home quickly.”
While it doesn’t sound like a major issue, your car isn’t the best place to store mail. “I know it’s tempting to pick up and look through your mail as you’re backing out of your driveway, but you must bring that mail inside! I have so many clients who lose bills and important documents and mail in their car (or forget it was ever there to begin with),” says Kilgour. “If you pick up your mail and leaf through it, make sure to bring it inside and have a drop box for your mail near the door you use to enter the majority of the time.”
Used Gym Clothing
You might be in a rush to get home after a sweaty cardio session at the gym, but it’s a bad idea to leave your gym bag in the car because you’re likely to forget about it. Add some heat, and before you know it, your entire car smells like your spin class socks. Furthermore, letting sweat stay on your clothing can cause stains to set in.