10 Items You Should Not Leave in a Hot Car

Although we’re still dealing with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, May is in full bloom. The sun is beginning to shine a little brighter, the flowers are beginning to show their colors, and the sweat’s beginning to pour a little faster. And, of course, with warmer temperatures comes a new way of thinking about the items you should and should not leave in your car.

We’ve all been there – you’re spending time in your car to run those everyday errands, commute to and from work, and random items are beginning to accumulate in your car. With temperatures on the rise comes a much warmer car to ride in. Even on days when the temperature feels moderate outside, the inside of your car can heat up even faster. In fact, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the temperature inside your car can rise by as much as 20 degrees in just 10 minutes. Depending on what items you leave inside, these warmer temperatures could negatively impact your belongings, your car, or even another passenger.

So, with the warmer months upon us, what items should you not leave in a hot car? If you’re finding yourself beginning to think about what the best practices are for car safety in warmer months, here is our list of the items you should be mindful of leaving behind on a warm spring or summer day.

What items should you not leave in a hot car?

List of items you should not leave in a hot car

1. Plastic Bottles. The most common item that can easily be left behind are plastic water bottles. Although leaving them behind in a warm car won’t cause them to melt, depending on what liquid is in them, it can lead to releasing harmful chemicals into the beverage itself. And, as we all know, warm water does not quench our thirst in the same way as fresh, cold water does.

2. Battery-Powered Electronics. Any item that is powered by lithium ion should not be left behind in your car. Like checking in for a flight, these items are not allowed in checked baggage, either. Reason being, high temperatures can cause irreversible damage to the electronics themselves, and in some cases, the warmer temperatures can cause them to combust. Before hopping out of your car, be sure to take these with you.

3. Sunscreen. Wait, sunscreen, too? Short answer is, yes. Although sunscreen is meant to help protect our skin during the warmer months of the year, this item is not meant to be left behind in a hot car. Reason being, if sunscreen sits in the car long enough, the ingredients in them can degrade, becoming naturally less effective for your skin. Depending on the outside temperature as well as how long it’s been in your car, sunscreen can also combust. Better not leave this behind!

4. Cosmetics. For our female drivers, we know that some of you may have an emergency touch up kit stored in your car. Although this is relatively harmless to leave behind in the cooler months of the year, leaving your cosmetics behind in the warmer months is a recipe for a mess you’ll need to clean up later. Not only can some makeup products melt, but warm temperatures mixed with some makeup products can result in a deactivation of the active ingredients that make them work. For our make-up wearers out there, be sure to grab these on your way out of your ride!

5. Medication. This may seem like an odd one, but medication should never be left behind in a hot car. Just like left-behind sunscreen can degrade, our medications can do the same thing. By leaving medication behind on a hot summer’s day in our cars, you can shorten their shelf life and even alter their chemical composition, making them naturally less effective. Thus, it’s best to keep your medications with you then left behind to roast in your vehicle.

6. Lighters. There have been several tests done to see if lighters can burst inside a car, and all findings have proven that in extremely hot temperatures, they can and they will. Although that is the exception and not the rule, by leaving lighters behind, you’re risking the chance of them potentially exploding in your car. Better to be safe than sorry!

7. Food. This one is a no-brainer, especially if the candy is made from chocolate. For the simplest reason that heat causes candy to melt, it’s best to avoid leaving this type of item behind. Plus, we all know if that melted candy can be a pain to clean from the fabric they melt into within your car’s interior. Better to be safe than sorry!

8. Sunglasses. Although sunglasses are meant to protect your eyes from UV rays, they are not meant to be left behind to fend off hot temperatures. Depending on the material, being left behind in a hot car can ruin your sunglasses paint or finish. Be sure before you leave your car to grab your shades!

9. Beach & Pool Gear. If you are heading to the pool or the beach, be sure to avoid leaving behind any damp swimsuits or towels. Reason being, leaving behind damp items in your vehicle can lead to yeast and bacteria. So, it’s best to unload the damp items as soon as you reach your destination to get them washed before using again!

10. Plants. Leaving behind plants in a warm car will shorten their lifespan immensely. If you are a gardener, transporting your plants to your home is a part of the process. However, it’s important to just be cautious of how much time your new plants are in the car as left behind plants can make them vulnerable to dehydration and stress. Thus, if you’re a plant lover, be sure to bring them inside as soon as you can.

The bottom line.

When it comes to these items, it’s important to be cognizant of leaving them behind in your car. Always remember that not every item will keep while inside a hot vehicle. And of course, never, ever leave children or animals alone in your car, even if it’s just for a few minutes. Understanding what items should be removed from your car during the warmer months of the year can help keep you, your passengers, and your car safe as well as protect some of the items you may have in your car from spoiling.

It’s no secret that warmer weather conditions can make us all feel uncomfortable from time to time. Thus, with May in full bloom, this is the perfect time to remind ourselves about what items are not deemed appropriate to keep in our cars when hotter temperatures begin to creep back into the forecast. During these warmer months, we hope you and your loved ones are remaining healthy, and playing it safe on the road!