And why are all cords either grey or black with no identifying marks?
July 14, 2012 3:10 PM   Subscribe

We have approximately four million chargers and gadget-to-computer cables in the house. I want a neat, efficient, easily-accessed method of storage for them. Ideas?

We have multiple phone chargers, Nintendo chargers, laptop chargers, i-stuff chargers, camera chargers, mp3 player chargers, and cords galore. I'm usually pretty good with solutions to these sorts of problems, but the best I can come up with is storing them in individual labelled ziplock bags. (That method would last about a week before I had a box full of empty ziplock bags and the same cable mess I've got now, piled on top of the empty bags.)

Any clever ideas for storage? I don't want to spend a fortune... something I could knock up at home would be great.
posted by malibustacey9999 to Home & Garden (28 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
Find a library that is getting rid of its card catalog. Each charger or kind of cable gets its own, labeled drawer.
posted by jedicus at 3:16 PM on July 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

I use a variation of this with mailing tubes cut into shorter lengths instead of toilet paper rolls.
posted by jamaro at 3:24 PM on July 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

It's not the prettiest mode of storage, but using toilet paper rolls is tidy and cheap.
posted by peppermind at 3:25 PM on July 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

You could use what woodworkers use to store all their nuts and bolts and things.
posted by desjardins at 3:28 PM on July 14, 2012

we use back-of-the-door shoe organizers to store all kinds of little things like this (camping gear, kitchen gadgets.) lifehacker suggests it works well for cables too!
posted by juliapangolin at 3:29 PM on July 14, 2012 [2 favorites]

Go buy some plain tin cans (or reuse well-washed soup cans - just make sure to open these cans with the type of can opener that doesn't leave a raw edge).

Open a cabinet and mount the cans inside the door of the cabinet. Use a nail & hammer to pierce a hole near the lip of the can, buy some cup holder hooks (get ones with a hook, they'll hang the cans better than a straight nail), hang cans from hooks. Store cords/chargers in the cans - you can even use a label each can with a sharpie so you know what is where.

Need more cans? Eat some soup
Need a bigger or smaller can for a particular piece of equipment? Eat something that fits in the size of can.
posted by jaimystery at 3:33 PM on July 14, 2012

Velcro strips to bundle them and pegboard to hang them on.
posted by hypersloth at 3:47 PM on July 14, 2012

It's not the prettiest mode of storage, but using toilet paper rolls is tidy and cheap.

Holy crap that is the best things ever! Is there a similar idea for the big cables and cords?
posted by DarlingBri at 4:15 PM on July 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

I use those clear plastic shoeboxes ($3 at any storage or office store). Chargers get a piece of tape with the name of their device written on it, and the boxes have categories like Phone, Game, Computer, Camera etc. written on them.

Attach a little velcro cable strip to each charger's cord so cables stay bundled neatly, and a short stack of 3-6 shoeboxes will organize a household's worth of chargers.
posted by Aquaman at 4:16 PM on July 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

Binder clips.
posted by valkyryn at 4:39 PM on July 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

Dollar stores have clear boxes of various sizes small than shoe boxes.
posted by paphun123 at 4:58 PM on July 14, 2012

Try to keep the chargers with the product it goes with in the original box. This is not practical with the phones and some of the other stuff. With some stuff it is. Do you still have the box that camera came in? Keep your extra cords or charger in the box it came in or store it in a lidded box where you keep your camera.

Where do you keep your Nintendo or Gameboy? Is it your kid's? Keep the charger in original box if you still have it on a shelf. If not, label a box and keep it where your put your Gameboy when you're not playing it.

I keep all of my iPod USB chargers on my desk. I lace them through the back of the desk and they fit into the keyboard drawer, hidden. You could place them on top of a desk as well. Get yourself a port hub if you don't have one already and keep all of your iPod USB cords plugged in. I have this one. As far as your other iPod chargers go, keep them in original box or label box just for iPod stuff.
posted by Fairchild at 4:59 PM on July 14, 2012

A box for cables, another box for chargers. Toss them in. If you're really ambitious, use file folder labels to label the cable or charger. I do that, sometimes.
posted by caclwmr4 at 5:12 PM on July 14, 2012

Tangentially related, but I can no longer tell my chargers/cables/whateverthehelltheyares apart anymore and have resorted to labeling each piece with painter's tape. I fold a small piece over the cable and write down what it belongs to. I have also become desperate enough to use plastic boxes (Chinese takeout = clear lids) for storage.
posted by MonkeyToes at 5:25 PM on July 14, 2012

I'd suggest a tackle box of some sort. Bigger stuff in the bottom and smaller stuff up top. You can also use it to store other little things that go with all the gadgetry. That said you might want to try something like a charging station where everything stays plugged in all the time [as a switched outlet so you don't have a huge phantom power drain] and then you can put stuff to-be-charged on a little shelf near it or something. That said, this is what I do, but I have a possibly crazy amount of cables/crap.
posted by jessamyn at 5:53 PM on July 14, 2012

here I offer a video of how I store all my cords.
posted by usermac at 5:59 PM on July 14, 2012

As for marking the power bricks, when I get them I immediately take an indelible marker and write the date MM/YY and the device name it goes. Easy.
posted by usermac at 6:02 PM on July 14, 2012

Twist tie around a looped wire, then individually Ziplok'd and labeled with Sharpie. Put like with like in labelled Rubbermaid tubs. Cheap, effective, no tangle and low space overhead.
posted by seanmpuckett at 6:08 PM on July 14, 2012 [1 favorite]

Not to be a debbie downer, but as someone who constantly struggles with organization, I want to point out that no matter how great your system is, it is only going to work if you keep up with it. The hardest thing I've learned is that once you organize everything, it doesn't magically stay organized. But of course if you have a good system it's easier to keep up with. I don't have any specific solutions but Lifehacker does cover this a lot.
posted by radioamy at 6:47 PM on July 14, 2012

Sock drawer divider, perhaps with each compartment and cord given identical labels.
posted by carmicha at 7:15 PM on July 14, 2012

You can buy little round tags with a metal clip. You can clip a tag to the cord, and write the name of the device on the tag. Then do the other stuff suggested above.
posted by yclipse at 7:22 PM on July 14, 2012

Velcro ties and a big box to dump the wrapped items in works for me.
posted by jmd97 at 7:59 PM on July 14, 2012

I often have my clients do what juliapangolin suggests, but instead of opaque back-of-the-door shoe organizers, use transparent ones like this. These come with little mini-pockets on the front for inserting labels (so you can tell your whozamajiggee charger from your whachamacallit charger, your X gadget from your Y doodad, but you could just as easily label with a label maker or even inserting an index card with the item's name. That makes it even easier to return (or get family members to return) items to the proper place.

You can also flatten the cardboard/paper boxes and manuals for small items and store them in the pocket, behind the item. Hanging organizers work great for inside the basement or garage door or the back of any bedroom/office door, keep clutter to a minimum (because they're arrayed vertically) and reinforce the concept of having a specific home for a category of items.
posted by The Wrong Kind of Cheese at 10:24 PM on July 14, 2012

Label the cord and each cord gets its own 1 gallon ziplock bag.
posted by shothotbot at 6:19 AM on July 15, 2012

I can't favorite the "back of the door transparant shoe organizer" idea enough. Label each pocket.
posted by gjc at 7:16 AM on July 15, 2012

Label them; I use an actual label maker, but masking tape will do. Given the quantity of chargers, color-coding might be help identify them quickly. Velcro strips are great for keeping them in order, or use twist-ties. I try to store stuff where it gets used; just because they're all cords doesn't mean they should live together.

phone chargers, Nintendo chargers, laptop chargers, i-stuff chargers, camera chargers, mp3 player chargers, and cords galore.
I have a phone charger in my bedroom, one by the back door, one in the car. They stay plugged in. I should get a couple power strips with a switch, so I can shut them off when not in use (they draw power and are pretty wasteful). No land line, so the phone has to be charged and handy.
laptop charger - 1 in the living room. It gets kicked under the couch when not in use. It's on a power strip that gets shut off at least some of the time.
i-stuff, Pick a good place to charge the iPad, and store the charger there.
mp3 player chargers. You likely have an audio system somewhere; mp3 charger might live there.
Pick a place where the camera and any accessories should live, and keep the charger there. (do not loan the camera & charger to a friend who will return them separately, as you will never reunite them.)

For power cords of any length, I 'fold' in half, then tie in a figure 8 knot. This knot doesn't crimp, is easy to untie, and with numerous cords in a drawer, still doesn't tangle.
posted by theora55 at 7:26 PM on July 15, 2012

also, get rid of retired/unused technology fast. Sell the old laptop, give away the old phone on freecycle, etc. Limit the # of cables you need to keep, and get the technology to somebody who can actually use it. Dealing with the tech crap that people accumulate is a royal pain in my job.
posted by theora55 at 7:58 AM on July 16, 2012

Going with the toilet roll solution in the short-term, because it's cheap, easy and efficient, and exactly what I'm after right now. I've already upsized the box they're in, as I come across them and 'file' the cords I find I need a bigger box. Luckily we have something called 'the project box', full of toilet rolls and boxes of different sizes and shapes. (Being the mother of a craft nut is finally coming in handy.)

Will go with Jessamyn's solution when I become a grown-up and have a definitive amount of cords to deal with.

PS: A couple of our non i-stuff MP3 players fit inside the toilet rolls with their earplugs wrapped in the figure-8 style. Brilliant.

No wonder I love you people.
posted by malibustacey9999 at 6:36 AM on July 19, 2012

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