Best things you can do for the inside of your car

Every morning you get in your car to go to work and you spend however long it takes to get there juggling coffee, listening to the radio, and yelling at traffic. And every afternoon you get back in your car and do it all again to get home. You spend a lot of time in your car, and pretty soon what was an exciting symbol of freedom and success becomes a grubby reflection of your busy life, excess fast food wrappers and all. But it doesn't have to be that way. Here are a few things you can do that will bring the life, and novelty, back to the inside of your car.

Give it a clean

It seems almost too simple, but this is where it must start. Five minutes with the vacuum cleaner and a damp cloth can work wonders for the inside of your car...but only after you've thrown away that layer of discarded fast food wrappers, coffee cups, and soda bottles, which you conscientiously didn't throw out the window. But apart from making your car look and smell like a trash heap, that "DIY carpet protector" is bad for your self esteem every time you give someone a ride. So do yourself a favor and throw out the trash, suck up the dirt, and wipe up the dust. All that extra weight is probably playing havoc with your fuel economy anyway.

Air freshener

Now that your car is clean for the first time in months, why not make it smell like it? The original "new car smell' wore off probably before you even took ownership of the car, but that doesn't mean you have to settle for whatever odor moved in to replace it. There are many forms of air fresheners, from spray bottles, to gadgets that sit in front of your vent and emit a pleasant chemical interpretation of a "summer breeze" every time your A/C is on. But if you're not feeling fussy and just want to quickly block out generations of body odor and old fast food, then just go for the classic cardboard tree, and the overpowering scent of "pine"—guaranteed to add a fresh odor to your car, and every single person who sits in it.

Floor mats

You've gone to all the effort of vacuuming the carpet, but despite that, it still looks like the welcome mat at the DMV. So buy a set of removable floor mats. Not only do they cover up the worn out carpet, but they make future cleaning easier by allowing you to just pull out the mat and hose it off before replacing. Floor mats are made for most makes and models, and vary in price from not very much at all to quite a lot. But that's not the exciting part...they don't have to be boring black! Got a favorite color? Let all your passengers know by letting them put their feet on it. Obsessing over a movie franchise? Get your friends to put their feet on the logo and start a conversation about it. There's no end to the ways your friends' feet can keep the party going in your car!

Steering wheel cover

After a few years of constant gripping, twisting, and sliding through your fingers, your steering wheel is probably pretty well-polished. It also gets unpleasantly hot in the summer, and so cold in winter you avoid touching it with bare skin. But all that can be avoided by buying a snazzy steering wheel cover. Not only will it prevent burns and frostbite and dangerous driving, it will give your car interior another dose of new. You can even coordinate with your floor mats if you want. And for those who are feeling a little bit more adventurous, why not replace the whole steering wheel? You could have something racy and colorful, and make your car look like one of a kind—just make sure you follow the installation instructions properly, or your car will be one of a kind in the junkyard.

Seat covers

Sometimes it probably feels like you spend more time in your car than you do in bed, and that's gross, because at least on your bed you can change your sheets. But despite all the hours you and all the previous owners have spent sitting and sweating (and worse) on that upholstery, you can't just rip it off and throw it in the wash. But you can just buy a new seat cover. There are even ones that will plug into the lighter slot and heat up. There's nothing like a warm seat when the weather is twenty-below. And if you just picked up a takeout pizza then you can also use the heated seat to keep it warm on the way home! If you have a particularly stressful commute that needs more than a warm butt, you can get a seat cover that will give you a back massage. But getting home feeling relaxed is the only happy ending it comes with.

New shift knob

So now you have a clean and fragrant car with coordinated floor mats, seat covers, and steering wheel, but something is still missing...and that thing would be an interesting shifter knob. Most shifter knobs will simply unscrew, allowing you to express your individuality with a flower encased in resin, or a skull, a bejewelled snake head, or a knuckle duster. They can even light up, if that's your thing. Apart from the steering wheel and the radio, the shifter is the thing you touch the most. So you might as well be touching something that makes you smile.

Interior LED lights

If you're not the kind of person who always goes for the black option, then there is one more accessory for you car interior that will really be the icing on the cake, the cherry on the sundae, the feet on the floor mats, if you will. To really make your interior stand out, you need a bit of mood lighting. Get rid of the boring yellow overhead light and install some custom LEDs that enhance whatever look you're going for. This does need a little more installation expertise than most of the things on this list, and it runs the risk of making you look like a complete tool if you overdo it. But the benefits are huge if you get it right, and will really make your car feel special for a long time. Unless, of course, you're bad at wiring.

Upgrade your stereo

Heated seat cover aside, the one thing that consistently takes your mind off the drudgery of your commute is your stereo. But more likely than not, your stereo has seen better days, and your speakers certainly have if they weren't terrible to begin with. Replacing the stereo is straightforward in most vehicles, and relatively decent models with that handy auxiliary input for your smartphone can be had for as little as $20 if you're seriously strapped. Pair that with a set of carefully chosen speakers, and you'll feel like you're driving an entirely new car...at least from the inside. Now, about that bumper you duct taped back on...