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cable storage ideasDon’t you hate those ugly tangles of spare cables? Eventually, we all end up with drawers or boxes full of cable spaghetti. And good luck if you actually need to find something.

Not so long ago I moved into a new apartment. I had lived a semi-nomad lifestyle for over two years and moved in with possessions from multiple different places, including friends, family, and the various places I had lived at. This included several gadgets, accessories, and tons of cables. For lack of a better storage option, some went into a drawer, others stayed in a box, and several are catching dust under my desk. In other words, it’s a big mess.

This has been bothering me for a long time. However, I neither wanted to spend a lot of time, nor any money on this organizing project. Hence, once the time had come to finally tackle it, I decided to use only materials I had at home and solutions that would be quick and easy. The following are a few cable storage ideas I learned from that experience.

Ingredients

First I went through my apartment to gather up cables and the like. I had brought this box with stuff from Sweden. I never fully unpacked it.

cable storage ideas

I had previously made an attempt to sort some of my cables and other IT stuff into a drawer. It became this messy when I threw more stuff on top of it as I brought back a bunch of things I had stored at my parents’ house.

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cable storage tips

I piled up everything on my living room floor and from that created smaller piles of related cables and accessories.

cable storage tips

In addition I went through my apartment to find things that might help me with organizing the mess. What I ended up using for this project were a small cardboard box, the big cardboard box from the first picture, a small plastic container with a clear cover, toilet paper rolls, and all the small cable binders I could find. Fortunately, I collect these things and I ended up using almost all of them.

Folding Cables

I folded up all smaller cables in the same fashion, with both ends pointing into one direction. The idea was to store cables upright, with both ends pointing to the top. This way you can get a quick overview of what types of cables you have, without having to rummage through all of them. The second benefit is that they don’t get tangled up.

cable storage tips

Storing Cables Upright

Toilet paper rolls are perfect for holding cables together and storing them in an upright position. I also tried to group related cables because I’m anal like that. Unfortunately, I didn’t have enough rolls, so I will have to collect a few more to complete this project.

cable storage

Smaller stuff like adapters and very short cables went into a plastic container with a clear cover. This is another item collected in my household, it originally contained Tzatziki. It’s amazin what you can do with common household objects 10 Great Geek Hacks: Repurpose Everyday Objects & Get The Most Out Of Your Electronics 10 Great Geek Hacks: Repurpose Everyday Objects & Get The Most Out Of Your Electronics If you're looking for a way to get the most out of old everyday objects that have become obsolete, like cassette tapes and CD's, or want to put everyday objects like binder clips, bread clips... Read More that might otherwise go to the trash.

My Finished Storage Box

My finished storage box contains the smaller box, wich will eventually be filled with cables held by toilet paper rolls. I didn’t have any spare cakeboxes (see below), so I sqeezed some of the large coiled cables upright behind the small box. Also in the box are a power strip, adapters, power supplies, and small bags with other tech gear, mainly USB sticks, headphones, and mobile phone accessories.

The big cardboard box comes with a lid and now looks very pretty in my walk-in closet.

cable storage

Alternative Storage Methods

If you have empty CD / DVD cakeboxes, you can also roll up cables inside of them and stack the boxes. Especially thicker and longer cables won’t fit into cardboard rolls. Besides, it’s not exactly good for cables to be folded up as shown above; properly coiling them is much more gentle and will make your cables last longer. Unfortunately, I didn’t have any of these.

cable storage

Alternatively, you can coil your cables and store them in clear plastic (ZIP lock) bags.

If you are worried about damaging your cables, you can find a bunch of great videos teaching the over/under cable coiling technique on YouTube. Below is a good one:

You can also store cables and other small items in over-the-door shoe hangers. That’s the perfect solution if you happen to have some (closet) door space available.

cable storage tips

Alternatively, you can loosely hang cables from a board and make them look a bit more original by adding someone’s picture.

cable storage ideas

Conclusion

Sorting out the mess in your cable drawers and boxes isn’t that hard. A few basic and free items found in your (tech) household will suffice to straighten out and neatly organize all your cables and other accessories. It requires zero skills and only a little bit of time investment. The entire project cost me about 90 minutes (writing this article not included ;).

Now if you are wondering how to attack that mess of in-use cables under your desk, take a look here How To Conceal Your Computer Clutter: Same Cables, More Space How To Conceal Your Computer Clutter: Same Cables, More Space Despite decades of technological advancement the average home computer is still plagued by one obvious yet complex issue – cable clutter. Many home PCs are still plagued with more grasping tentacles than a low budget... Read More .

How do you store and organize your cables? If you have any cool cable storage ideas not covered above, I would love to hear about them!

Image credits: Colorful Electrical Wires via Shutterstock, Cable Cakeboxes, Cable Shoe Hangers, Bob Marley Cable Caddy

  1. Sue Easton
    March 25, 2013 at 5:00 pm

    I have a lot of cables and I also store mine in TP Rolls I love it.

  2. Joel Thomas
    March 25, 2013 at 2:30 pm

    You should see my house its full of this cable junk

  3. K Dasaratha Rao
    March 21, 2013 at 4:40 pm

    Both ends pointing in one direction,that is one step that will save a lot of time...thanks a ton for the tip.

  4. Abhijith Raj
    March 21, 2013 at 4:25 pm

    Great...thanks for the solution

  5. harley
    March 21, 2013 at 11:05 am

    I love the Bob Marley idea and I knew there was a reason for keeping all those empty cd thingies.

  6. Jeong-Hwi Ra
    March 21, 2013 at 6:36 am

    cool, just, cool

  7. Kirby
    March 21, 2013 at 1:51 am

    Here at work, we group the cables just like what you did above and placed each group in separate boxes and labeled them all. This also applies not only for cables but also for other stuff like LAN cards, mice, keyboards, printer parts etc.

    • Tina Sieber
      March 21, 2013 at 11:28 am

      Once you have a certain amount of stuff, just sorting it in different boxes makes sense. Fortunately, all my stuff fits into one medium-sized box. That just means I have to organize it better to find anything in that one box. :)

    • Kirby
      March 21, 2013 at 11:48 pm

      The box we use are those from newly delivered CPUs. It's pretty big so I didn't expect it to be filled up so easily but after several days, those power cables filled up the box already.

      Don't forget to label the boxes. It makes finding the right cables easier.

  8. Krzysztof Buzko
    March 20, 2013 at 9:34 pm

    Cool, no more tangled cables. Thank You ;)

  9. Daniel J. Karas
    March 20, 2013 at 8:00 pm

    Good ideas for cables, and I have plenty. What I have almost as many of -- and I'm always "gifted" them ... are power supplies. Those can be a real challenge!

    • Tina Sieber
      March 21, 2013 at 11:29 am

      How do you store your power supplies? And why do you collect them?

  10. dragonmouth
    March 20, 2013 at 7:12 pm

    Over the years my computer parts "junk box" has grown exponentially. I use empty paper boxes for storage; one box per category - video cards, sound cards, USB cables, diskette drives, CD/DVD drives, HDs, drive cables, phone cables, cat. 5, 5e, 6 cables, etc. To organize cables I use "twisty ties" and, of all things, string/twine. For labeling I use plain, white 2"x4" mailing labels cut to necessary size.

    • Tina Sieber
      March 21, 2013 at 11:31 am

      I guess if you have more stuff and can just sort it by category, rather than having everything in one single box, it actually becomes a little easier. But keeping cables separate is still a challenge. Thanks for sharing your system!

  11. lamuse
    March 20, 2013 at 7:03 pm

    I use Ziploc or generic zip/seal baggies which come in several sizes. You can easily label them for each device and keep all the cables, power cords, extra bits, manuals, installation software, receipts, etc. in the device's designated baggie. When you're using the device and all of its cables, cords and accessories, the bag is likely empty (or has only paper/manual/software) in it so will lay flat in the drawer under baggies with stuff in them. Should you move, upgrade and/or sell something, you can easily place everything back into it's designated baggie if you don't have the original box. Keeps the dust out too.

    I also label all my cables and power cords with a piece of duct tape folded over the cord or cable to create a "tag" and write on it what it is which helps manage cables when in use. Maybe not that attractive but beats tugging on cords and cables to try to figure out what goes where.

    • Jenni
      March 21, 2013 at 1:17 am

      In a household with lots of people, we color code cables and chargers - using colored electrical tape

    • Tina Sieber
      March 21, 2013 at 11:42 am

      That's a great idea, too. Thanks for sharing, Jenni.

    • Tina Sieber
      March 21, 2013 at 11:40 am

      Great advice, lamuse! I especially like the (duct) tape labeling idea.

      I don't have that much stuff, so I don't (yet) need to label different cables. All my power supplies have a manufacturer's name on them and that tells me exactly what device they belong to.

      Keeping everything in one bag is a great method. But somehow I'm not warming up to the idea myself; I don't like plastic bags.

      Right now I have a section in my book shelf where I keep all those manuals. They come in all sizes, which makes them a bit annoying. And I basically never use them. I keep them in case I want to give the device away at some point. I'm thinking it might be better to create a folder and sort them by alphabet.

  12. Catherine M
    March 20, 2013 at 6:55 pm

    Some very helpful suggestions. I have use toilet paper rolls for years to help organize but have always laid things on there side. The simple change of standing them up seems to make things so much more visible. Will try that.

  13. null
    March 20, 2013 at 5:39 pm

    Good read. I just want to know what box my stuff is in.

  14. John Wallach
    March 20, 2013 at 5:36 pm

    Love the Marley rack!

  15. Onaje Asheber
    March 20, 2013 at 3:16 pm

    All this time I have tossed the empty CD / DVD cakeboxes! Now that's over. Great!

    • Tina Sieber
      March 21, 2013 at 11:42 am

      Glad you found something useful in the article. :)

  16. Guy McDowell
    March 20, 2013 at 2:39 pm

    Very thorough. Was it intended irony that you would use the word 'anal' when talking about toilet paper rolls?

    Labelling the cables is a great thing to do as well. You can get fancy label printers that print on heat-shrink tubing for about $100. Or you can use first-aid tape and a fine point Sharpie. I've also seen people use bread tags, but the dangling nature of them would bother me.

    I'll be using the idea of having both ends together, so I know exactly what that cable is for.

    You can get rolls of twist-tie material in the garden section of your hardware store. With that, you can cut off custom-length twist ties for bundles of wire of any size.

    • Tina Sieber
      March 20, 2013 at 5:19 pm

      We have different type bread clips in Europe, but I'm not sure you would be happier with them. There is a follow-up article to be published next week where I use one. :)

      Thanks for the tips!

  17. Nevzat A
    March 20, 2013 at 12:52 pm

    Great alternatives. I loved the one with Bob Marley's hair :))) Thanks Tina.

    • jimmy
      March 21, 2013 at 3:09 pm

      That's pretty much how I do it in my cupboard - except I got an old plastic cable reel and screwed that to the wall - it doesn't bend the cables tightly like hanging them over a nail, and it sticks out much further too, so I can get them all on one hangar.

  18. Scott M
    March 20, 2013 at 10:33 am

    Nicely done.I like the toilet rolls and zip lock bags.Good ideas.

  19. Arron Walker
    March 20, 2013 at 9:04 am

    Great article - there's collages of "Life hacks" like this all over the internet, especially imgur. This http://imgur.com/r/lifehacks/eEBFK0P one especially is my favourite

    • Tina Sieber
      March 20, 2013 at 10:26 am

      Thanks for that one Arron! There are some pretty awesome tips in there. Love the tennis ball one!

  20. techguyknows
    March 20, 2013 at 6:34 am

    Interesting ways to store cables.. Although I do not have many at home.

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