Aug 30, 2023

10 Cable Management Tips for Around the Home

It's time to tidy up that tangled mess of cables once and for all.

Are cables driving you around the twist? Not only are they unsightly, difficult to hide, and easy to tangle; they can be dangerous tripping or fire hazards too. Here are some tips for tidying, hiding, and better organizing cables around the home.

If you have more devices than power outlets you’ll be familiar with how essential power strips are. You can also use power strips (like the Superdanny 10ft Power Strip) to reduce cable clutter, since they allow you to combine multiple power cable runs into one. The most important thing to be aware of is that you don’t exceed the total maximum load of the power strip, measured in wattage.

If you prefer a power strip, Superdanny's offering is simple and built with large sized adapters in mind.

You’ll find the power draw of your devices listed in the manuals or on tech sheets. For example, a modern OLED TV might consume around 100w at peak, while a PlayStation 5 has a 350w power supply unit inside it (this is a maximum theoretical power draw). Add up the total power consumption from the devices that you will be using simultaneously and ensure it falls below the load rating of your power strip.

You should probably avoid plugging devices with relatively high power consumption (like a powerful gaming PC with an 850w or higher power supply) into an already crowded strip. The good news is that a lot of devices (like USB chargers, printers, routers, and even monitors) have relatively low power consumption.

Avoiding a “spaghetti nightmare” mess of cables is one way of making cords and wires more pleasing to the eye. It’s a bit like cable managing a PC: you can’t avoid using cables, but you can make them look a lot neater. Fortunately, there are a lot of tools at your disposal here that can help you bind cables together so that they aren’t hanging free behind your desk or TV.

Reusable cable ties are arguably the best choice here, like the VELCRO Brand Cable Ties Value Pack. Use them to bind cables together or to fasten cables to structures like desk legs. Since they’re reusable they’re arguably more environmentally and pocket friendly, plus if you need to add a cable or reorganize an existing run they come off easily.

Easy on, easy off!

Standard zip ties are another option, but they’re better suited to cable runs you know you aren’t going to change for a long time. They aren’t reusable, so it’s not possible to undo them to squeeze another cable in. On the upside, you might already have some lying around the house since they have plenty of uses outside of tidying cables.

Most devices come with cable ties already in the form of small, twistable wire. If you’re the sort of person who saves these for reuse (or maybe your cats are obsessed with them, like ours) then you can reuse them to organize your cable runs.

Another option (which can be combined with cable ties) is to hide your cables completely using a cable sleeve (also known as a cable wrap). These sleeves are either split down the middle to make it easy to slide your cables in, or they’re spiralized so that your cables are wrapped. Sleeves like the CSZD 10ft 1/4 inch Spiral Wrap are cheap enough to buy in bulk and can be cut down to size. For a more rigid and harder-wearing solution, consider Split Wire Loom Tubing instead.

Easy to use, simply bundle your cables, wrap to the desired length, and cut off the excess.

Wraps and tubes don’t necessarily hide your cables, but by holding them together into a single run they can make them look tidier and are easier to hide.

Is your phone or wearable charger always falling down the back of the nightstand? Are you always losing your laptop charger behind the desk? Cable clips might be the solution. You can buy a pack of 16 Adhesive Cable Clips for less than $10 and use them to keep your cables in place until you need them. They’re also useful for running a cable along specific surfaces and even have uses outside of the house, like in your car.

These stick-on cable routers are great for individual cords, especially at the start and finish of cable routes.

Clothes pins can also be useful for this as long as you have something to clip your cables to.

Cable organizers like the INCHOR Cord Organizer take the cable clip concept a bit further in that they provide a permanent home for all of your cables. These are ideal for desks and anywhere else you may have a lot of cables that you may need to plug in frequently. Cut down on cable clutter and make sure you always have access to USB-C and Lightning cables, 3.5mm jacks, your MagSafe or laptop charger, and anything else that you don’t want falling down the back of the desk.

Cable racks are another great solution that can help you organize and route your cables in a way that may be completely invisible. These small trays fit under desks and behind entertainment units and allow you to direct cable and hide bulky power bricks so that they’re out of sight.

With a simple G-clamp system, this is a quick and easy way to get those cabled off the floor.

The $20 IKEA Signum is one of the best-known cable racks, attaching to the underside of a desk using screws. IKEA builds these sorts of solutions into much of its furniture now, but you can attach the Signum to most desks with the right tools. Other solutions exist like Under Desk Cable Management Trays that clamp onto the desk and don’t require drilling a hole.

If you know that you want a cable to stay where it’s put for the foreseeable future and you want the tidiest possible solution (outside of routing it through the wall), cable staples (which are also known as cable clips) are probably the way to go. These come in multiple sizes in packs of hundreds and can simply be tapped into a wall, floor, skirting board, picture rail, or anywhere else that’s suitable with a pin hammer.

You’ll find these online or in your local hardware store, with some brands offering multi-packs of 400 staples in 4mm, 6mm, 8mm, and 10mm sizes. Be careful when you’re dealing with electrical cable, and make sure the power is off while you work since slipping could result in a deadly shock.

There’s nothing wrong with using tape to keep cables in place as long as the finished result lines up with your expectations. The goal here is to not see the tape, which can work fine for the back of furniture like bookcases, closed entertainment units, desks, and so on.

Anything that stops cables moving around, tangling, and getting in the way is an improvement. You’ll probably have the most success with flexible tape (like electrical tape) which won’t necessarily come off straight away if a cable gets pulled or snagged. Tape is also useful for binding cables together for routing on a cable rack or hiding in a cable wrap or tube.

You’ve probably amassed a collection of cables that you don’t use daily but are keeping just in case you ever need them again. We’d recommend reviewing your collection now and again so that you can throw out duplicates or those belonging to devices you’ve long gotten rid of. But for the rest of them, organization is key.

Shoe organizers like the Amazon Basics 24 Pocket Shoe Organizer are surprisingly good for keeping cables organized. They’re designed to fit over the back of doors (in cupboards or wardrobes) and are the perfect shape to store coiled-up cables. You can keep similar cables in the same pockets, which makes it easy to see when you have too many of any one type.

You can keep your cables organized using the same velcro straps and twists mentioned above. Old toilet paper rolls are also good for this since you can cut a slit in one end to expose the connectors and coil the wire inside the tube. This keeps the cable in place and prevents tangling.

There are other things you can try to remove cables from your life, like depending more on wireless technologies. Upgrading your wireless router to take advantage of faster Wi-Fi speeds might allow you to kiss goodbye to your Ethernet connections. Alternatively, running a network over your home’s existing cables using powerline Ethernet could work too.

For laptop owners who use a multiple monitor setup, taking advantage of USB-PD to both power your laptop and drive your monitor means you can leave your laptop charger in your bag.

Tim Brookes is a freelance writer based in Melbourne, Australia. When he's not writing he's being distracted by cats, riding bikes, or cooking something delicious.