Storing extension cords

I stumbled upon a suggestion in Stephanie Winston’s Best Organizing Tips that was so easy and inexpensive that I may have a crush on it. From page 141:

Are your extension cords all tangled up in a pile? Mary Ellen suggests winding each cord loosely and slipping it into a cardboard tube from paper towels or toilet tissue.

Love it!

59 Comments for “Storing extension cords”

  1. posted by Sairey Gamp on

    This is a great idea. If you’re really nuts, you can write on the cardboard tube the length of the cord.

  2. posted by SuperChuck on

    I use Velcro wrap for all cable storage. It’s double-sided (hooks on one side, loops on the other) and sold in rolls; just cut off whatever length you need.

    I also have a plastic chest of drawers I use to classify cables and connectors. A/V cables go in one drawer, telephone and network cables in another, USB cables in another, etc.

  3. posted by mary on

    love it! When I run out of browns I usually compost the paper towel holders. Now I can reuse them w/out buying some other plastic organizer holder!

  4. posted by adora on

    This is what I have been doing. Thought I invented it…

    I use it behind my entertainment center. Not only does it prevent dust gathering, you can also label them directly on the roll. It is very clear which is for VCR, and which is for DVD.

  5. posted by ladygoat on

    For the really large orange extension cords that I usually use for power tools, the big plastic cord holders with a handle have been really useful. I just store them in the holder, carry it out and unwind as much as needed, and wind back. The cords should really just come with them.

  6. posted by Ryan on

    I’m on the same liens as SuperChuck. Velcro wrap ftw! This isn’t a bad idea either. Doesn’t look as nice, though.

    Just don’t use zip ties or us IT workers will hate you with an undying passion.

    p.s. Fix ze favìcon!

  7. posted by Milad on

    You can also use elastic bands (good quality so they dont’ break over time):
    1) Wrap the cord in the “out of factory box” fashion.
    2) use three elastic bands in equal distances to keep the wrapped cord stable.
    3) use a fourth band to attach the cord to the bar.
    4) Viola!

  8. posted by Janet in Toronto on

    Toilet paper tubes are also great for storing plastic bags. Just stuff ‘em in the tube. I have one in my car’s glove compartment for those times i forget to pack my cloth shopping bags. Or to pick up after the dog when we take him out in the car. I also keep a tube of bags in the front hall closet with the leashes for the same purpose.

  9. posted by wren on

    Excellent! I don’t have a lot of extension cords but I do have a lot of network cables and cords for assorted hardware. This would be a great way to store those too – and a TP roll would work well for the smaller ones.

  10. Profile photo of Erin Doland

    posted by Erin Doland on

    @Ryan – ze favicon has returned!

  11. posted by Merlyn on

    I remember my mother doing this from when I was very little. The idea has probably been around for a long time. To make the rolls more attractive, she would wrap scraps of wallpaper or wrapping paper on them. I’ve always used her idea and we have computer peripheral cables and USB cables stashed this way. I have noticed that toilet paper rolls are not as sturdily made as they used to be. (I just compared new ones to my mother’s old ones ;-) ) But I have discovered that the rolls on which plastic wrap is stored are extremely sturdy and I have switched to using them. You can cut them down to a nice length and they really hold up well.

  12. posted by Jeanne B. on

    *SMACK* sound of my hand hitting my forehead when I realized the simplistic beauty of this technique. Wow. Brill.

  13. posted by Ryan on

    @Erin — Soc le bleu! Yay!

    Did you just add it, or have I been cached up too?

  14. posted by Hello. My name is … » Archive » links for 2007-11-09 on

    [...] Storing extension cords [...]

  15. posted by Cyrano on

    This is AWESOME!

    Something I also do is store cords in ziploc bags. You can label the bags, and throw them in bins with each other, never having to worry about them tangling. Really long cords or bulky ones I put in plastic grocery bags.

    But seriously, this is one of my favorite tips I’ve seen here =)

  16. posted by bakelite doorbell on

    Would it not be more uncluttered to get rid of cords that you aren’t using?

  17. posted by Quatrefoil on

    This is great. It occurs to me that if you bundle the cord so one end of it is at either end of the tube you can use it without having to unbundle it if you don’t need the length.

    I’m going home to do this now!

  18. posted by Derek Powazek – links for 2007-11-09 on

    [...] Unclutterer: Storing extension cords Say it with me now: Why didn’t I think of that? (tags: clever unclutterer home) [...]

  19. posted by Der wilde Garten | links for 2007-11-09 on

    [...] Storing extension cords Ich mach das ja mit Kabelbindern, aber da ist eine noch preiswertere Lösung. (tags: Inspiration lifehacks unclutter organization) [...]

  20. posted by dawn on

    Brilliant!

  21. posted by Skunkmeister on

    Saw this great idea a couple of years ago. The lady of the house had even wrapped each tube with wrapping paper to snazz it up.

  22. posted by J on

    Why do IT workers hate zip ties? I think they’re great.

  23. posted by D. Cootey on

    I use Velcro ties. As a reader commented above, they come in rolls and are very tidy and convenient. Interesting use of a discarded TP tube, though. ;)

    ~Douglas
    The Splintered Mind – Overcoming Neurological Disabilities With Lots Of Humor And Attitude

  24. posted by Procrastination - sung to the tune of Anticipation « Cass. on

    [...] is just genius and now I’m trying to remember if we’ve got any TP that is on the verge of being [...]

  25. posted by Ryan on

    @J

    Zip ties + dust + tight spaces = a lot of frustration.

    If you don’t move your stuff around a lot, or replace wires often, then zip ties are a good idea. But everyone in my department haaates zip ties because of how often we have to move things. We had a psycho lead (who’s no longer employed) who zip tied everything in sight.

    Recently, we had some new machines to setup at all the branches. It was a big pain going through all those zip ties. Even with good wire cutters, they’re very annoying to remove.

  26. posted by Jasi on

    Awesome post!

  27. posted by Lifehack Digest for November 10th - lifehack.org on

    [...] Storing extension cordsSimple little hack to keep extension cords wrapped and organized when not in use — stick them into a paper towel tube. Piece of cake.home tips hack organization [...]

  28. posted by leslie on

    My MIL has used tp rolls to tame cords for years. Like the cord of her iron, curling iron, etc. Wrap the roll with self-stick contact paper to beef up the strength, and look a bit better.

  29. posted by Techzi » Blog Archive » Organize Cable with Paper Towel Tubes [Cord Management] on

    [...] seems better suited to thicker cable, and from the looks of it, strings of holiday lights, too. Storing extension cords [...]

  30. posted by Organize Cable with Paper Towel Tubes [Cord Management] · TechBlogger on

    [...] seems better suited to thicker cable, and from the looks of it, strings of holiday lights, too. Storing extension cords [...]

  31. posted by » Organize Cable with Paper Towel Tubes [Cord Management] - My Gadget Online on

    [...] seems better suited to thicker cable, and from the looks of it, strings of holiday lights, too. Storing extension cords [...]

  32. posted by » Organize Cable with Paper Towel Tubes [Cord Management] on

    [...] seems better suited to thicker cable, and from the looks of it, strings of holiday lights, too. Storing extension cords [...]

  33. posted by danielle on

    Great! Can you please do a post on how to wrap up 50ft or 100 extension cords without getting the wires all twisted? I’m looking all over for this!!!!!!!!!

  34. posted by Handy Tip Plus Recycle bonus points! | cliteracy.com on

    [...] your old paper towel tubes to store your electrical codes!  DoH! I wish I thought of that! wow!  click here for the pix & detail, In: Uncategorized | [...]

  35. posted by Post-it: Reciclagem « on

    [...] Como eu não pensei nisso antes? Tubos de papel higiênico e papel toalha ajudando na organização daquelas extensões intermináveis. via: Unclutterer. [...]

  36. posted by Guardando cabos e fios | Dia-Dicas on

    [...] que encontrei no blog Unclutterer. Os cabos, de extensões, de vídeo, de antena, podem ser guardados em um simples rolo usado de papel higiênico. É só enrolar o cabo da maneira que vem de fábrica e passar por dentro do [...]

  37. posted by Jack on

    Figure eight wrap. Use thumb and pinky for small cord. Hand and elbow for thicker cord. Silkworms keep silk from tangling by figure eight wrap. Loops can’t fall into themselves when crossed over. Just try it and you will see.

  38. posted by Jerry in OC MD on

    Great idea. Since it is the season for horribly tangled Christmas lights (esp. Icicle lights) I’d love to see what methods people are using for storing them.

    Love the blog. Keep up the good work.

  39. posted by Kerry on

    One thing to keep in mind when wrapping up Network, USB or AV cables: sharp bends in the cables cause problems with the signal. Coax, Cat5 etc are very easily damaged by bending too radically. It will slow things down or cause interference. So be careful! And I, as an IT guy, prefer velcro as well. It’s much easier to reuse on the spot!

  40. posted by scotia on

    To catch all the various cords and misc items related to computers/cell phones/transformers/etc. put them in a clear plastic-sectioned shoe bag and hang inside a closet door…easy to see what you have when needed…

  41. posted by nichole on

    Genius!

  42. posted by prohaskas revidentri on

    THIS IS HOW FIRES START!

    An extension cord needs to be able to radiate heat away. Toilet paper tubes and lamp cord are bad enough but when you run a 100′ 12/3 extension cord on a cable spool and “only take off what you need” you are asking for trouble. I have seen extension cords permanently melted onto spools.

    If you absolutely HAVE to bunch up an extension cord get reusable cable ties so air flow isn’t impeded. (Do not use “bread ties”- they have wire in them and will heat up and cut through the insulation.)

  43. posted by Eric on

    This is a great idea, and reminds me of how I got my personal cable clutter under control. As a computer consultant and technophile, I have a lot of spare power, network, coax, etc. cables around the house. These were all crammed into two boxes, which was not a good system :-) What DID work is getting a variety of Ziplok-type bags and gently wrapping the cables, and then putting them in the bags. I have some bags labeled (i.e. Power supply for Jaz drive) otherwise most are obvious. Now, I have a simple, snagless solution!

  44. posted by sherry on

    my mother has done that for over 40yr and it works great you always new where the beater cord was. Just open the drawer and look for the tube. and when they got shabby there was always another one around. it works great for organizing belts in a drawer also.

  45. posted by extension cords on

    it’s a good idea ,we often pack it with plastic bag or special chipboard.

  46. posted by Apteryx on

    Are a lot of you keeping cords and cables you don’t use? I solved most of my cord storage problem by throwing away the ones I didn’t need.

  47. posted by The Far Edge » Blog Archive » Top 10 Cheap but Great Cardboard Creations [Lifehacker Top 10] on

    [...] loops, then take the paper towel and toilet paper tubes that eat up space in the recycling bin and use them as cord holders. No more surrealist spaghetti tangles when you need a longer power [...]

  48. posted by Top 10 Cheap but Great Cardboard Creations [Lifehacker Top 10] « Coolbeans on

    [...] loops, then take the paper towel and toilet paper tubes that eat up space in the recycling bin and use them as cord holders. No more surrealist spaghetti tangles when you need a longer power [...]

  49. posted by Top 10 Cheap But Great Cardboard Creations | Lifehacker Australia on

    [...] loops, then take the paper towel and toilet paper tubes that eat up space in the recycling bin and use them as cord holders. No more surrealist spaghetti tangles when you need a longer power [...]

  50. posted by Top 10 Cheap but Great Cardboard Creations [Lifehacker Top 10] - 2198th Edition | Technology Revealed on

    [...] loops, then take the paper towel and toilet paper tubes that eat up space in the recycling bin and use them as cord holders. No more surrealist spaghetti tangles when you need a longer power [...]

  51. posted by McColley.net » Blog Archive » Top 10 Cheap but Great Cardboard Creations [Lifehacker Top 10] on

    [...] loops, then take the paper towel and toilet paper tubes that eat up space in the recycling bin and use them as cord holders. No more surrealist spaghetti tangles when you need a longer power [...]

  52. posted by Lookie Lookie - My Laptop got a Gift | Recycled Frockery on

    [...] loops, then take the paper towel and toilet paper tubes that eat up space in the recycling bin and use them as cord holders. No more surrealist spaghetti tangles when you need a longer power [...]

  53. posted by Tame Those Power Cords | Random Overload on

    [...] version shown on Unclutter struck us as a fine idea, but it was missing a little something-something. Call us extreme [...]

  54. posted by cord set on

    This is a beautiful design! How can I get one!?

  55. posted by power cord on

    how much is it ?

  56. posted by ac power cord on

    haha ,good,very good! it’s a good ggods.

  57. posted by 5 Things I Love for Friday #92 | denyingphoenix on

    [...] This hack for storing extension cords – I’ve got extension cords taking over my garage, breeding and multiplying by the day. Why I couldn’t think of something this simple is beyond me. This is a priority this weekend, since it kills two birds with one proverbial stone (the other being that Jonas can no longer eat the empty toilet paper roll tubes). [via] [...]

  58. posted by power cord on

    it’s good info!

  59. posted by West Midlands Wedding Photography on

    Great idea if you live in North America. Out sockets are so much larger here in England.

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