5 Cable Management Secrets

Clean up your home office cable clutter with these 5 simple solutions

Wires and cables are the ugly afterthought of many home offices. By the time you've wired up your network, plugged in your lamps, phones, and computer equipment, and hooked up all your drives, phones and devices, the floor of your office looks like a rat's nest. Cables and wires crisscross the floor, clutter your desk and form an unsightly trap for dust bunnies.

It doesn't have to be that way. Here are five tips for reining in cable madness and putting your home office on the path toward a cleaner look.

  • 01 of 05

    The Wire Wrap

    Man under desk with computer wires
    Peter Cade/The Image Bank/Getty Images

    There's no getting around it. Loose wires just look bad. The good news is you can spiff up your office quick just by bundling cords and cables together. A simple twist tie, found in abundance in any electronics packaging, will make quick work of the mess. You can bind wires together or tighten up unsightly slack by tying off loops of cable. For larger jobs, products like Velcro cable ties or Q Knot adjustable rubber cable ties can pull together bundles of even the thickest power cords. Plastic zip ties are also cheap and effective, but can't be adjusted if you want to change up your cable layouts.

  • 02 of 05

    Labels for Cables

    Labeled cables
    " Switch" ( CC BY 2.0) by DeclanTM

    Good chance you've accumulated a sea of power cords, USB cables, and Ethernet wires. Keeping those connections straight can be a heady task, which is why we make a point to label each end of the cables and wires in my home office. Products like the ​Mini Write-on Flag Tie Markers fix to the cable and present a writable surface. Or go cheap and wrap a bit of masking tape around the cord, leaving a folded over tab of tape to write the name of the cord on using a ballpoint pen or Sharpie. Now, when you need to connect an external USB hard drive to a second PC or find the power cord for a scanner, it's a simple matter of reading information on the cable end, rather than having to trace the cable back to its source.

  • 03 of 05

    Cords Off the Floor

    Man with cable wires under desk, portrait (cross processed)
    Marcus Lyon / Getty Images

    Some people's idea of organization is to push the wad of cords against the baseboards with my feet. But it doesn't have to be that way. Consider a product like the Cable Corral, which screws to the underside of a desk and provides an out-of-sight, off-the-floor landing spot for all the cords that otherwise waterfall off the back of my desk. Not only will the solution banish an under-the-desk eyesore, it will make it much easier to vacuum the space.

  • 04 of 05

    Binder Clip Magic

    Small binder clips anchor USB cables
    Small binder clips anchor the USB cables going into this charge station, while a larger binder clip manages a length of cable inside the station. Michael Desmond

    The humble binder clip used to pinch together those old tax returns can do amazing things for disorganized cables and cords. Clip some binders to the back edge of your desk, feed your USB, Ethernet, and other cables through the metal hoops in the clamps, and the cables will be anchored neatly in a row. You can even trap thick electrical cords, by removing the clamp and positioning the cord into the hoop, before slipping the clamp back onto the metal clip. Now when you unplug a device, the wire won't slough to the ground and be lost. You can even use jumbo sized binder clips to bind together multiple cables and rein in unsightly clutter.

    Continue to 5 of 5 below.
  • 05 of 05

    A Real Basket Cord Case

    Basket for organizing cables
    The handhold openings on either end of the basket offer a discreet spot to place a pair of binder clips, which anchor the USB cables and prevent them from slipping out of reach. Michael Desmond

    Getting fed up with the haphazard scatter of my portable devices and their unsightly cords crisscrossing your desk? One cheapskate solution -- plug an AC-to-USB adapter into the wall and run a few mini-USB cables into a stylish red basket with inline handles. Then fix several small binder clips (surprise!) in the handle space to anchor the USB cords when not in use. Now, when you need to charge my smartphone, MP3 player or Kindle, just plug and place it into the basket, where it refuels safely out of sight.