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Summer Car Organization with Dollar Tree Supplies

This post shares summer car organization ideas for less than fifteen dollars in supplies that came mainly from the Dollar Tree.

Hello Summer! Goodbye coats and hats and tennis shoes and hello beach towels and swimsuits and lots of sand! I live a few miles from the beach, so it’s safe to say that we do spend a lot of time there during the summer months. It’s also safe to say that my car is a sandy mess for about 4 months out of the year. I can’t do much about the sand, but I CAN help with a little car organization for less than fifteen dollars in supplies that came mainly from the Dollar Tree. I’ve also joined a talented group of bloggers to share other DIY Dollar Store summer ideas!

summer car organization

We spend a lot of time during the summer in the car. Either I’m a shuttle bus to kids activities or we are going to and from the pool/beach. I try to keep my kids busy so they don’t turn into YouTube zombies :). Also, I’m a big believer in kids playing OUTSIDE during the summer.

The only real issue, which isn’t really an issue, is keeping my car from looking like a trashed out mess!

Car organization tips

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I came up with this idea while I was perusing the isles at the Dollar Tree. By the way, you can use this organization principal with OTHER plastic bins, not necessarily the ones I’ve bought.


  • Buy a tension rod to fit your car. This is the key element that makes this car organization trick work. In my opinion, keeping smaller items off of the floorboard is HUGE in keeping your car organized.
tension rod
  • Buy at least three soft PLASTIC (or fabric) carry totes WITH holes (you’ll see why later). I purchased these colorful plastic oval carry totes from the Dollar Tree. You can find similar items from Amazon HERE.
  • Buy at least three larger bins to store other summer supplies like towels, beach toys and life vests. I purchased flexible bins with handles from the Dollar Tree but you can also find something similar from Amazon HERE.

Below are the supplies I purchased from the Dollar Tree (FYI, I purchased the shower rod rings but they did not work out).

supplies for car organization

Once you have your supplies, now what?

The tension rod organization idea with the soft bins needs to be assembled BEFORE you install it in your car.

NOTE: Make sure when you buy the bins with holes that the tension rod is small enough to fit through the holes.

car organization with bins
tension rod through car organization

Once you have added all of the small bins on the tension rod, make sure they hang level and they don’t tip to one side.

Next, install the tension rod in the back end of your car.

My car has an inset that worked perfectly to install the tension rod.

installing tension rod in car for car organization

Tip: if your car doesn’t have a similar space to install the rod, make sure you secure it to the sides so it won’t slide down as you drive.

car organization

I actually have enough room to fit another bin. I might just add that later.

Now it’s time to personalize! This is totally optional, and maybe you feel this way too, but I feel like when I label storage bins, things seem to stay a little more organized. Is it just me?

bin for car organization

Summer car organization kit

car organization kit
car organization with Dollar Tree bins
summer car organization
summer car organization
car organization with bins and tension rod from Dollar tree
car organization

Car organization quick tips

  • Make sure when you purchase your “hanging bins” that they won’t make noise or shift around as you drive. Mine don’t make any noise and they don’t shift around much either.
  • It’s probably a good idea to check out the back of your car and see if there is a good place (or inset) to add the tension rod. If not, you might need to buy something (as simple as a 3M hook?) that hangs below it so it won’t slide as you drive. Who knows, the tension rod might hold it in place without anything below it.
  • Once you figure out the placement of your tension rod and how low the baskets will hang, you will then have a good idea what size lower bins to buy. This is only if you want them to sit right below the hanging baskets.
  • Don’t feel like you only have to hang baskets on the tension rod. It can also work to hang kids clothes or shoes on too! Just be mindful of what it will sound like if it slides around on the tension rod as you drive.

This can also be a great car organizational hack for keeping up with kids sports activities.

car organization tips with Dollar Tree supplies

What did this project cost?

Six bins from the Dollar Tree and one tension rod from Target = $12!

I’m super pleased to have an organized car for the summer for less than fifteen dollars!

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  1. Gina says:

    For a site called repurpose and upcycle, this post was very disappointing. I follow you to try to get tips on how not to be part of the throwaway culture and this post didn’t hit the mark. I hope moving forward you will lean towards reducing, reusing and recycling to give us some more eco- conscious ideas. We all need to do our part to reduce our carbon footprint.

  2. Jen says:

    This is such a great idea! Thanks for sharing at the Friday at the Fire Station link up! You will be the featured post this week. 🙂

  3. Great idea and ingenious system!

    I organized by bathroom drawer using all dollar tree baskets.

    Thanks for sharing.

  4. Sarah says:

    This is a great idea, I could definitely use these this summer. The kids and I spend so much time in the car. Thanks for the inspiration.

  5. K Hamlin says:

    Love this idea. Baby powder and dry paint brush ——sprinkle and brush sand away!