Fabulous 15 Minute Organizing Fix: Organize Your Glove Compartment

posted by Aby Garvey on September 26, 2013 31 Comments

Fabulous 15 Minute Organizing Fixes: a blog series from simplify 101

This week, we’re dusting off a blog post from a few years ago, originally titled “How to Organize Your Glove Compartment in 15 Minutes for Under $5.” We hope you love this Fabulous 15 Minute Organizing Fix! 

Does your glove compartment need an organizing intervention? If you’re like me, this is a place you don’t use all too often except perhaps when someone needs a napkin or when you have an extra ketchup package from the drive-thru…and you need a place to stash it for later. (Or possibly forever.)

The last time I opened my glove box (before yesterday) was last spring after a startling but otherwise uneventful little rear end “collision” while I was driving home from a client’s home. (More on that in a minute.) At that time, because I knew exactly where the important stuff like my insurance and registration papers were, I didn’t notice that my glove box actually looked like this:

Glove box

Does this look familiar? Not sure? Next time you’re in your vehicle…take a look inside your glove compartment. If it looks like mine did, here’s how you can organize it in fifteen minutes for under $5.

First, clear everything out of the glove compartment and load it into a portable storage container. Take your bucket of stuff inside to a flat surface (I used the kitchen table) and sort like with like. Toss out the things you don’t need (like old ketchup packets) and find a new home for items you need but not in your car.


Next, use storage solutions to organize the items you want to keep. I used a couple of items I picked up while school supply shopping—a plastic supply box and a small expanding file. The total cost for supplies was under $5. The supply box holds wet wipes, a few salt and ketchup packets, and napkins. I also put the tire gauge and a multi-tool in this box (which isn’t exactly like with like but I didn’t want these items to get lost at the bottom of the glove box.)

Organize your glove box in 15 minutes for less than $5.


Next, sort and organize any papers you keep in your car. I organized maps and vehicle repair receipts (which I have always kept in my car) and organized these into the small expanding file.

Expanding file

The final step in organizing your glove compartment is to put everything back into your glove compartment and possibly elsewhere in your car. Prioritize what goes where based on how important the items are and how often you use them. Here’s how I did it.

I decided that the items in the expandable file will be stored in a compartment on my door…so that the most used items could be in the best storage location in my car—the glove box.

Expanding file on door

I did not put my registration or insurance documents on the door—they went back in the glove box along with some other items that had been stored in a nice little storage area underneath the passenger’s seat. This drawer contained my Collision Kit from Buttoned Up. Now here’s the funny thing…remember that startling but otherwise uneventful collision I told you about earlier? Well, during the startled moments right after the collision, I didn’t even think about the Collision Kit stored underneath the passenger’s seat. Instead, I called my husband and said “I just got rear-ended. What do I do?” Not the best approach. Had this been a more serious accident where people or cars were more than startled, there are a few things I should have done. My Collision Kit would have walked me through the process. The kit includes (among other things) a clipboard and an accident checklist (which doesn’t say “call your husband and ask him what to do”).

Collision kit

I decided to take the kit apart and put the contents in my glove box along with my insurance and registration papers. This way, if I need the insurance and registration papers (like in an accident) I will remember that I have the checklist. (Bingo!)

I clipped the insurance and registration papers to the clipboard, and tucked them into the glove box behind the green supply box. The kit’s disposable camera and pen are also stored inside the glove box, which means all the most important stuff is organized and easily accessible in the glove box. (And it looks a lot better, too. Want to see?)

Glove box after

So that’s all there is to it! Happy organizing!

Writing this post made me really curious about what other people keep in their glove boxes…and if this is a space that you’ve organized recently. Or is your glove box like mine…a forgotten space? Thanks for sharing! 

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Aby Garvey is a creative organizing expert and simplify 101’s founder. She has created 14 online organizing classes, which she has been teaching since 2007, helping thousands of people around the world get organized. Aby loves to help people create positive change in their lives through her online classes and coaching program

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  • August 20, 2011 at 2:19 pm

    I don’t drive, but the glove box in my husband’s car is a mess. I’m always threatening to tidy it up, but the “system” he has works for him.
    The one thing that really stood out to me in this post was something you mentioned almost in passing- the disposable camera! Hubby was in a small accident a few years ago (with an uninsured driver- grr!) and could have really used that as evidence. It turned into a “he said, she said” kind of thing and, of course, hubby didn’t get a penny compensation, even though she was at fault. Getting one tomorrow!

    • August 20, 2011 at 2:36 pm

      My glove box currently has
      - My car manual.
      - A few driving instructions and maps, in a coupon-size poly string envelope. For getting around, I usually just use my iPhone or iPad, or specific driving instructions and maps I’ve printed out for the day. But there are a few I want handy all the time, like information on how to get to the emergency vet; when I’m stressed out, I don’t want one more thing to worry about. And I go there infrequently enough that I always need a quick memory refresher.
      - A copy of my Advance Health Care Directive.
      - My registration and insurance info. I just took your idea and moved them from the door pocket to the glove box – so now my glove box has all my important papers.

      • August 20, 2011 at 2:56 pm

        Auto manual, insurance and registration, knife and fork – real ones, and a napkin, and a pen.

        • August 20, 2011 at 3:11 pm

          @ Carin, thanks for your comment! Sorry to hear about your husbands accident. The camera in my glove box was part of the kit from Buttoned Up. It is a great idea and hopefully we’ll never need it. :)

          • August 20, 2011 at 3:12 pm

            @ Jeri,
            Thanks for your comment. Thanks for the comment on the car manual. I moved ours from the glove compartment to the pull out drawer on the passenger side so the other things would fit in the glove compartment. (I forgot to mention that in the post.)

            • August 20, 2011 at 3:13 pm

              Great idea on the knife and fork Maureen!

              • August 20, 2011 at 8:21 pm

                Love the idea of a pencil box and little file folder. My car could use this stat!!

                • August 21, 2011 at 12:40 am

                  I have a storage box that is built in above my glove box (so I guess I have 2 glove boxes) and I keep a deodorant for both kids (does away with the “OMG what did you roll in during PE!” reactions), a brush, ponytail holders and a couple of clips for my daughter in case she gets into the car for gymnastics w/o them.
                  The papers for the car are in the lower glove box along with my maintenance manual. Then the maps and the mini-print phone book are in the pocket of my door.
                  I’m definitely adding the disposable camera that has been sitting here on my counter next to my computer for a few weeks! The glove box will be a much better place for it! LOL!

                  • August 21, 2011 at 1:09 pm

                    Because I don’t like to search for things, I have specific places in my car for all the things I keep. Maps go in the pocket on the passenger side, hardly ever accessed. Napkins, which I always seem to need, go in the pocket on the driver’s side. In the console are cassette tapes (no CD player in this car), parking/entry passes and an extra pair of sunglasses.
                    Finally, in the glove box are a first aid kit, notepad, pen, car manual and coupons. I advise clients to keep coupons in the car so that they don’t feel frustrated by not having them handy.

                    • August 22, 2011 at 2:56 am

                      my glove box is relatively empty ~ we do a lot of long journeys so it’s used by my passenger / co-driver during these journeys.
                      the regular items are car manuals, notepad, pen, tissues, wet wipes and tyre pressure guage with a note on required pressures.
                      Tool kit, warning signs and first aid, shopper bags, de-icer and emergency oil refil are in the trunk. maps are in the passenger door pocket. vouchers, coins, parking vouchers and entertainment are in the central consol.
                      I like the idea of the collision check list… will look to add this. I may adapt it to add some details as in the UK we don’t carry insurance or vehicle registration documents in the car to help against theft. These are in my central command file back at the house.

                      • August 22, 2011 at 2:56 am

                        my glove box is relatively empty ~ we do a lot of long journeys so it’s used by my passenger / co-driver during these journeys.
                        the regular items are car manuals, notepad, pen, tissues, wet wipes and tyre pressure guage with a note on required pressures.
                        Tool kit, warning signs and first aid, shopper bags, de-icer and emergency oil refil are in the trunk. maps are in the passenger door pocket. vouchers, coins, parking vouchers and entertainment are in the central consol.
                        I like the idea of the collision check list… will look to add this. I may adapt it to add some details as in the UK we don’t carry insurance or vehicle registration documents in the car to help against theft. These are in my central command file back at the house.

                        • August 23, 2011 at 1:56 pm

                          I have the Honda Manual and service books in the plastic sleeve they came in. And the State farm agent gave us a hard covered binder that hold the insurance card, registration and a check list for what to do in an accident along with other helpful info for if you car breaks down an such. There is also a spot of a tire gage and a pencil. I also keep a flash light in there. The batteries are backwards… just like my dad taught me:) I keep the same first aide kit in there too, with a hotel mending kit and manicure scissors thrown in. I took photos with a disposable camera that was in the car a couple years… be careful the photos I took didn’t turn out. The heat ruined the film. I would just use my phone.

                          • August 23, 2011 at 3:48 pm

                            I will be organizing my glove box tonight. School starts tomorrow and I keep things in small glove box above the large on for the kids. My teenage boy sits in the front seat. I drive them to school in the morning. My twelve yr old boy sits in the back middle seat, we have a mini van. I keep wisp, for no time to brush teeth emergencies, lip blam, hand lotion, extra pens and pencils, small first aid kit, comb for youngest, he’s all about his hair, just little things to make life easier in the mornings if something is forgotten. Glove compartment is a mess right now. I love the plastic school supply box. Headed out to pick up last minute supples for them and that will be on the list for the glove box. I keep a small bin under the little table in between the two front seats that has cough drops, tylenol, ibuprofen, lotion, trash bags, nail files, and extra cash for lunches. Just a few dollars. I love your tips and will be using some of them tonight. I’ll keep you posted.

                            • August 24, 2011 at 6:55 am

                              Thanks everyone for your thoughts! Great ideas here.
                              Danielle, your car sounds really well stocked! Great ideas here for other things to keep in the car.
                              PattiMc, thanks for the tip on the disposable camera.
                              HannahK, I love the idea of adding a note pad…my daughter always wants something to write on while we’re in the car.
                              Marcie, coupons are a great idea, too!
                              Katherine M, the deodorant is brilliant!

                              • August 24, 2011 at 10:34 am

                                I think my glove box contains my owner’s manual and many Bed, Bath & Beyond coupons, since they never expire. I also have a parking hang tag in there. I’m almost positive that there are no gloves in it.
                                I don’t think I’ve organized it since I bought the car in 2007! Time to think about doing that. Thanks for the inspiration.

                                • August 24, 2011 at 12:00 pm

                                  I keep the car manual, extra napkins (which always come in handy) a small travel-size lint roller (also very handy at times), tire guage, insurance card, and a 409 wipe in a little packet. Great post!

                                  • November 5, 2011 at 10:40 pm

                                    Found this post on Pinterest! I love the idea of taking the buttoned up Collision kit apart and putting the check list with the insurance and registration. Brilliant!

                                    • January 11, 2012 at 5:44 am

                                      Interestingly I did a similar thing last year. But I used a small ring binder that fitted into the glove box and used clear pockets etc. within it to store things. I was recycling unused stationery so just adapted it to suit my needs. I also had an extra handbag organiser and so also utilised that for things like you have in the plastic box. I must say I love the idea of the expanding file in the door pocket idea, so I may have to do a revisit. Great stuff as always Aby :-)

                                      • January 11, 2012 at 1:47 pm

                                        In my tiny VW Golf, the glove compartment space is taken up by an airbag. However, I have storage spaces in the doors (that I think I use pretty well), and a partially lockable tub between the front seats. You’ve inspired me to work on that space.

                                        • January 20, 2012 at 11:24 am

                                          In addition to ketchup, I also store extra sweet and sour sauce for the occasions when the drive through people forget to include it with my chicken nugget order ;)

                                          • January 21, 2012 at 4:55 pm

                                            I made up a page w/ all my pertinent driving info already on it, so in the event of a collision, I just hand my info out to other drivers. It’s made the ugliness of a few accidents less of a headache.

                                            • May 17, 2012 at 2:41 pm

                                              Thanks for this! I organized my glove box last night with an accordion file. I can’t believe how much room I have in there!

                                              • September 26, 2013 at 7:48 pm

                                                Great ideas, but as a city dweller (in a city indexed in your expanding file!), I would not put a brightly colored file in the door. It’s far too visible, and that’s a lot of personal information. Not worth the potentially broken window IMO. I have several friends who tend to store a lot of papers, notebooks, books, etc. in their cars. They have all had multiple break-ins. The only items visible in my car are crayons, coloring books, and wipes. Thank goodness for big glove boxes. : )

                                                • September 26, 2013 at 11:45 pm

                                                  I don’t have anything in my glove box as the hinge is broken!

                                                  October 1, 2013 at 11:18 am

                                                  That definitely simplifies keeping it organized. ;)

                                                  • September 27, 2013 at 12:58 am

                                                    I don’t keep a lot in there (manual, registration, and napkins–insurance stays in my purse) but it’s very unorganized! Thanks for the ideas!

                                                    October 1, 2013 at 11:19 am

                                                    You’re welcome!

                                                    • September 28, 2013 at 5:47 am

                                                      Just wanted to let you know that I came across this post awhile ago and I organised mine and my husband’s glove boxes straight away. It works fantastically! Thanks for sharing.

                                                      October 1, 2013 at 11:18 am

                                                      Fabulous Catherine! So glad this is working well for you and your husband! Thanks for letting me know.


                                                      • October 24, 2013 at 7:33 am

                                                        I just want to point out that heat can greatly damage the emulsion on camera film, therefore a camera that has been stored in a hot glove compartment might not produce very good pictures. I would advise taking pictures with your cell phone’s camera instead.

                                                        Laurel in MN :)

                                                        • August 14, 2014 at 2:31 pm

                                                          Great discussion. Between my glove compartment and a small compartment in the center, we keep: a compass, a plastic fork, spoon, and knife, small flashlight, floss, glasses cleaner, hand lotion, hand sanitizer, highlighter, insect repellent, Swiss Army knife, knife that slips into a plastic case, magnifying glass, nail file, small notebook, pens, post-it-notes, rubber bands, scissors, scotch tape, tire pressure gauge, tiny toothbrush and toothpaste, toothpicks, flat pack of Wash ‘n Dries or individual ones, tiny paper cups, Advil or Aleve. First aid kit is underneath the drivers side from the back. Umbrellas and rain ponchos slip into a pocket on the back of drivers seat and don’t laugh but Travel Johns in the pocket behind the passenger seat. They are portable unisex emergency pee kits available online at places like drugstore.com. Just Google Travel Johns and you’ll find them. We keep those things

                                                          In the small compartment above the larger glove box, we keep the insurance and registration papers and manual.

                                                          I came across this site while looking for a better way to contain the above. They are now in two small plastic bins but the glove compartment is slanted slightly so things fall out of their box when you pull out one of the boxes. Anyone have any hints?