Cars get messy quickly when you have kids.

How Can I Convince My Husband to Clean Up the Car?

by Zora Hughes

The sticky console in the car and the smell of your toddler's bathroom accident in the backseat have been grossing you out for days, but your husband doesn't seem to notice. If subtle hints like "This car sure could use some cleaning" aren't working, it's time to be direct. You're doing your fair share of chores; the least he can do is keep the car clean. If your husband has been slow to get chores done in the past, a few tricks may get him to clean the car in no time.

Ask him without nagging. Even if you think your spouse should have taken the initiative to clean the car ages ago, approaching him with whining or attitude isn't going to motivate him to do so now. Nagging can be emasculating and make your husband resentful, notes relationship expert and author BJ Gallagher, in an article on Simply ask him casually, or use a "sweet talk" tone if you think it will motivate him. Mention why and when you need the car cleaned by to prevent any question of why it needs to be done by a certain time.

Strike a deal. Sometimes motivation is needed to get your husband to do something he's been putting off. For example, tell him that if he cleans the car, he can watch Monday night football without interruption from you or the kids, and you'll even make snacks for him. You could take a romantic approach, implying that you'd love to drive with him somewhere secluded for a rendezvous in the back seat, if only it were nice and clean.

Point out how gross the car is. Your husband might be the type that needs to see the issue. If he is always in the front seat driving, perhaps he hasn't noticed the sticky, cereal-covered cup holders in the back seat. Make sure he sees the "wash me" message that someone left on the back window, too.

Praise and acknowledge his efforts when your husband does clean the car. Men tend to respond positively to praise, which motivates them to work harder for more praise, notes marriage expert Gary Chapman, author of "The 5 Love Languages." Thank you's, hugs and kisses may motivate your husband to continue to keep the car clean so that you'll keep noticing and reward him with praise and affection.


  • Don't sweat the small stuff. If he missed a spot on the center console or there's a small piece of trash in the back seat after he's done, don't hold back your praise. Wipe off the console and throw out the trash yourself and acknowledge your husband's efforts, which he is sure to continue when you let him know how happy you are to have a clean car.

About the Author

Based in Los Angeles, Zora Hughes has been writing travel, parenting, cooking and relationship articles since 2010. Her work includes writing city profiles for Groupon. She also writes screenplays and won the S. Randolph Playwriting Award in 2004. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in television writing/producing and a Master of Arts Management in entertainment media management, both from Columbia College.

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