How to Keep Your Cords Wrapped So They Never Tangle

iStock / iStock

Modern life is full of cords—from phone chargers to earbuds to USB connections for your camera, Kindle, and more. And boy, do tangled cords make things annoying. No one wants to spend five minutes trying to undo a mess of headphones before they can listen to music.

While you can buy cord-organizing solutions to keep your earbuds and lightning cables neatly stored, doing so means one more tiny object to keep track of. Plus, you can keep your cords organized for free, if you master a few simple wrapping tricks.

Dieter Bohn of The Verge uses a simple, easy-to-remember technique that only takes a minute to master. While it can be a little more difficult with thick cords and earbuds with large microphone pieces (like these), for the most part, it’s foolproof. You just need to hold on to the larger part of the cord (like the earbuds) and wrap your cord around your first three fingers, scout’s honor-style. When you’re nearing the end of the cord—about eight inches from the end—pinch the middle of your newly created circle of cord, and wrap that remaining piece around the center, perpendicular to the rest, so that it holds the circle together and forms a figure eight. Tuck the last bit through the hole in the bottom of that figure eight, and give it a tug to secure it.

If you really want to make it easy to free your wrapped cords, you should use the “over-under” technique, so that your cords don’t get twisted. The technique is particularly useful with video and audio cords. Essentially, you make one loop in one direction, then the next one loops in the reverse direction. It’s easier to see in demonstration:

If you have trouble remembering the equipment-free technique, you can also keep a twist tie (like the ones that keep your bag of bread sealed) around the end of your cord, and simply twist it around the looped cord to keep it together. You can also buy a specially designed rubber twist tie for cords, which tends to be a more long-lasting, attractive option than the one that comes from the grocery store. Or, you could cover the bread loaf twist tie in masking tape or Japanese Washi tape to make it softer and more colorful.