Welcome to the Take Charge of Your Home series from Direct Energy! Hiring a professional to perform household maintenance may offer convenience and peace of mind. You can do many of these jobs yourself with no experience or special tools. In the process, you’ll save money, learn about how your home works and gain a sense of accomplishment. A DIY task done well!

When wireless Internet connections became the new standard, we got to wind up those ethernet cables for good. It makes our desks a little less cluttered. And as wireless phone charging bases become more common, some of us are ditching our mobile phone cables, as well. But a fully wireless future is still a long way off, leaving most of us to deal with snarls of cords and cables behind our TVs, under our desks and in our office drawers.

Messy tangles of cords don’t do any favors for your home décor, and they collect dust bunnies like nobody’s business. They also lead to wasted time when you need to unplug something and can’t figure out which cord is which. Cords that are left in unsafe locations could create tripping hazards or become damaged, which could lead to an electrical fire. Even though cord organization is the kind of job that’s easy to put off, you have a lot to gain by taking an hour to get things under control.

Safety Never Looked So Good

When you get your cords and cables organized, the benefit you’re likely to appreciate most is how sleek and clean your home looks. But the most important benefit is actually the prevention of household accidents. Here are some of the most critical safety considerations when deciding how to organize cables for storage and use:

  • Never run cords across walkways without suitable protection. Someone could trip and be injured. Running a cord under a rug may reduce the tripping risk, but it increases the risk of friction damage that can expose wires and start a fire. If you must extend a cord across a walkway, use a durable rubber ramp with hidden channels that are designed to protect cords.
  • Don’t run cords through doorways with doors. Even if the door is usually open and the cables are secured close to the baseboard, it’s too easy to pinch or puncture the cord while moving the door.
  • Extension cords are for temporary use only. If you’re using an extension cord as a permanent power source, the safer solution is to hire an electrician to install a new outlet.
  • Store cords carefully when not in use. Coiling them too tightly can cause unseen damage to the wires inside the sheath. Bundle them loosely and store them in a container that will protect them from being crushed.
  • Inspect your cables and throw away damaged ones. Temporary solutions like electrical tape may not significantly reduce the risk of fire or shock.

Take Stock and Label Existing Cords

In your multimedia room, computer room and other areas that have a lot of cords to organize, it’s best to begin by making a list of the cords you need to manage. It may seem excessive, but if you want to make it easier to shop for organizational tools, you at least need to know how many cords you’re managing.

Label each cord by its purpose as you make your list and note its thickness. What works for a thick power cable won’t necessarily work for a thin phone charging cable. You should also indicate if it’s a cable you frequently unplug and re-plug, like a charging cable you take to school or work.

Go Shopping for New Organizers

There are plenty of cheap DIY approaches to cord management, which we’ll get to below. But before you go that route, it’s worth taking a few minutes to browse the large selection of cable organizers available at retail. If you’re willing to spend a little, there’s a good chance you’ll find something that meets your exact needs.

Here are some of the categories of products you’ll find:

  • Sleeves - When you have several cables all running in the same direction, such as from the back of your entertainment center, sleeves are perfect for streamlining things. Most sleeves have a slot or zipper down the side to make it easy to add and remove cables.
  • Adhesive clips - There are countless self-adhesive clips designed to hold one or several cables. Many are made from rubber or silicone. You can put these on just about any non-porous surface.
  • Boxes - Plastic boxes are good for tucking away bulky connections or adapters, especially if you’re concerned about them getting bumped and becoming unplugged.
  • Power strips - Some power strips and surge protectors have built-in boxes to help maintain connections and give your workspace a sleeker look.
  • Raceways - When you have to run a cable along a wall or baseboard, a long, thin cover called a raceway is perfect for concealing and protecting it. Some raceways are self-adhesive, while others are designed to be screwed into place.
  • Floor covers - If you must run a cable across a floor, choose a durable rubber floor cover that looks like a little speed bump. These are best for preventing accidental falls while protecting your cables.
  • Fasteners - There’s no need for anything fancy when it comes to storing coiled cables, but there are several inexpensive and durable cable fasteners made of nylon, silicone, rubber and even leather.

Be Crafty with DIY Organizers

Want to save a few bucks? Make a DIY cable organizer! These tried-and-true solutions aren’t all sleek, but they’re all smart:
  • Zip ties - These are easy to install, remove and hide, and they’re just a few cents each. Buy them in bulk and use as many as you need to corral and conceal cables behind your furniture.
  • Paper towel tubes - For cable storage, it doesn’t get much thriftier than using paper towel and toilet paper tubes to bundle up loosely coiled cords. Label each one with a marker and throw them in a drawer for later.
  • Bread clip labels - Save those little plastic C-shaped clips from your bread bags and clip them around the cables plugged into your crowded power strips.  Write the names of your electronics on each one so there’s no need to trace each cable back to its source.
  • Alligator clips - These office essentials are available in a variety of sizes and make cheap, go-anywhere cable clips. Clip one to the edge of your desk and route your loose charger plugs through the silver clip handles to keep them right where you want them.
  • Pipe insulation - Pre-slit foam tubes make insulating your pipes easy and corralling your cables even easier. Use them just like cable sleeves and cut them to any length you like.
Choosing how to organize electronic cords and cables depends on your budget and style. Whether you go for a clean look or a clever DIY approach, the important thing is that you keep your cords and your home safe.