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Turn unused dry food storage into a trash can for your car

If you're tired of constantly cleaning the trash out of your car, try this DIY trash can.

Taylor Martin CNET Contributor
Taylor Martin has covered technology online for over six years. He has reviewed smartphones for Pocketnow and Android Authority and loves building stuff on his YouTube channel, MOD. He has a dangerous obsession with coffee and is afraid of free time.
Taylor Martin
2 min read
Taylor Martin/CNET

If you spend a lot of time in your car, trash will slowly begin to accumulate. Receipts, straw papers, cups, cans, bags and all sorts of other bits of trash will find their way under the seats, the abyss between the seats and the center console and every other crevice possible. That is, unless you're adamant about grabbing everything each time you get out of your car.

It's a seriously great habit to have, but it's also one that's not always easy to keep.

An easier way to keep your car tidy is to have a designated place to temporarily store your trash -- no different than inside your house -- until it's full or you have a better way to dispose of it.

You can buy in-car trash cans and some of them work just fine. The few I have bought all mounted to the back of the headrest of the passenger seat and there are two reasons this didn't sit well with me. One, it puts your trash in the face of your back seat passengers. Two, it's out of sight and I usually forgot about it, later remembered it was there, stuffed all the trash into it then forgot to empty it.


A dry food container paired with a plastic bag can become an easy trash can for your car.

Taylor Martin/CNET

Fortunately, there's something else that works perfectly for a trash can in your car: a dry food storage container (or a cereal container). Let's be honest, in what imaginary household does cereal actually last long enough to transfer to another container anyway? Dump the cereal that went stale because it wasn't where it should be (the box it came in), throw a trash bag in it and toss it in the passenger floorboard.

Even if you don't have a cereal container to spare, you can find them for around $7 at Walmart, Target or any other retailer that sells dry food storage.

Here's why cereal containers make the perfect in-car trash cans:

  • The opening on cereal containers are large enough for most trash to fit in quite easily. (Your Big Gulp may not fit. Sorry.)
  • The lid will keep trash from spilling out if it topples over.
  • The lid can secure a trash bag inside.
  • It won't steal too much leg room from your passenger -- even if it does, they can move it out of the way.
  • It will be the perfect size for repurposing plastic shopping bags instead of having to buy tiny trash bags. Store spare shopping bags in your center console, glove box or in the container itself, underneath the current trash bag.  

I didn't want the one in my truck sliding around, so I used a medium-sized bungee tie down to secure it to the passenger seat frame. This keeps it within my reach and out of the way of passengers' feet.