Don’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.
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.
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.
I piled up everything on my living room floor and from that created smaller piles of related cables and accessories.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
Alternatively, you can loosely hang cables from a board and make them look a bit more original by adding someone’s picture.
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 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!