25 April 2007

Label electrical cords to simplify plug-ins

Heather has solved the too-many-cords-for-too-few-outlets problem:

We live in an older home with less than conveniently placed electrical outlets in our son’s room. There are not enough outlets for all the electrical appliances and the outlets we do have are low to the floor and behind furniture. We need to swap out items as needed. With a baby monitor, CD player, lamp, humidifier, etc. to plug in, it is hard to tell which white plug belongs to which appliance. I wrote the name of each appliance on the plug with a Sharpie so when I am on my knees switching out the plugs at the socket, I don’t need to trace the cord back to figure out which to be unplugged in order to plug the next one into the socket.

A variation in case an item is borrowed or has a black cord is to make a tag on the cord at the point it meets the plug. (Think airport luggage tag) Write the name on the tag. Freezer tape works great.
[As does colorful electrical tape. -- Ed.]

Are surge protectors -- strips with multiple outlets -- not an option for you, Heather? A surge protector has the advantage of mobility -- you can plug it in and then bring the actual unit up higher so that you don't have to crawl behind furniture to plug things in.

Other suggestions? Tweaks?

Related: Parent Hacks Google search: Sharpie (lots more Sharpie hacks!)


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Label electrical cords to simplify plug-ins:

Your comments

Feed Follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

I write on a mini yellow sticky note, wrap it around the cord and secure the ends with clear tape for good measure.

A piece of paper just an inch wide also does the trick, again strengthened by being covered in clear Scotch tape.

Good idea. A related hack - I've started marking the million chargers we have with masking tape and the item name so I can quickly find my bbery charger or the mp3 charger from the jumble of chargers in the junk drawer.

We use our handy dandy label maker - we print the name of the item and then shoot some extra tape out before cutting it so there's lots to double it around the cord. We primarily do this behind our computer desk. With four computers, a server and two techies living here, it gets a little crazy back there!

It is amazing how much cords need to plug into one surge protector. Color coding and tags/labels are helpful --but it is still a wire/cord jungle mess in our house. We've tried to use twist ties to wind some of them (making them shorter), use tubing to contain them as much as possible, put away those devices that aren't being used currently, etc. What we really need now is a better solution. An iMac is a bit of a cord saver --but is there another solution? I'm hoping that there are some organization techniques we could benefit from.

I saw a reference to this clamp-on surge protector by Belkin. It seemed like it might be useful with the right size desk, shelf, or table.


For black cords I use a Silver Sharpie.

Please be careful using surge protectors to make up for inadequate outlets. Overloading an outlet can cause a fire.

Heather's way of only having what fits plugged in at one time is safest.

That is indeed a good idea. I also get confused with all the electrical cords twisting and all mixed up. We don't want to unplug some of them.

We also go with the labelmaker option. We have the brother p-touch that uses laminated tape (better, more long-lasting adhesion) -- and if you just add in about six spaces before you type letters you don't need to use tape to adhere it to the cord (the label would go on the y axis around the cord on the axis). Stick to 1/4" tape for this.

The labelmaker is a godsend, not just for this. We label the toy bins, the sandbox toys, storage boxes, etc. AND, even helped us with the "sharing issue" -- my son didn't want to share toys @ the park, and turned out was b/c thought others would take them home. I made a big ritual of creating the labels (he pushed print and cut) and adhering them and a big deal of "look, it has your name clearly on it so EVERYONE will know it's yours -- so you'll get it back." Then, when he started to get distressed at the park, I pointed out his name label and reiterated the whole thing and seemed to calm him.

We use the rigid, plastic tabs that secure the bags on loaves of bread. Write what's what with a Sharpie on one side, slip it on the appropriate cord and you're done!

That is a good idea.
It sure is hard to identify which goes with which if we have a close connection of electrical cords. Trace each cord would be a waste of time.

We close comments after a month to guard against spam. Want to talk about this hack? Join us on Twitter and Facebook!


Free updates

  • Subscribers are my VIPs. My weekly newsletter includes a personal update, the latest from Parent Hacks, interesting links and news.

    Subscribers also get priority event invitations and occasional surprises via snail mail.

Asha's Book

  • At Amazon: Minimalist Parenting: Enjoy Modern Family Life More by Doing Less

    Find out why doing less is the key to resourceful, thriving kids, and a calmer, happier YOU.

    Minimalist Parenting is an encouraging roadmap for decluttering your schedule, your home, and your vision for family life. Reviewers call it "a much welcome alternative to the usual parenting advice."

    Learn More at Amazon

    Also available at Barnes & Noble or your favorite local bookstore.

New Book Coming Soon!

  • Coming soon: Parent Hacks Book

Start Amazon shopping here