How to coil your own charging cords

This neat trick turns just about any straight cable into a clutter-reducing coiled one.

Rick Broida Senior Editor
Rick Broida is the author of numerous books and thousands of reviews, features and blog posts. He writes CNET's popular Cheapskate blog and co-hosts Protocol 1: A Travelers Podcast (about the TV show Travelers). He lives in Michigan, where he previously owned two escape rooms (chronicled in the ebook "I Was a Middle-Aged Zombie").
Rick Broida
2 min read

This "after" shot shows two previously straight cables. Photo by Rick Broida/CNET

Until inductive charging or some other wireless-power technology takes off, we're stuck with charging cords. And nobody likes that unsightly piece of plastic spaghetti spilling all over their dashboard, nightstand or kitchen counter.

Solution: a coiled cord, which takes up less space, gets less tangled and looks a whole lot better. And it turns out it's fairly easy to convert your straight cables into coiled ones. Here's what you need:

  • A full-length pencil
  • Masking tape or small binder clips
  • A hair dryer

Before we get started, let me note that I tested this with two cables: one Lightning, one Micro USB. The latter was much thicker and actually held its final shape much better than the Lightning cable, though of course your mileage may vary.

Also, because you're applying heat (albeit indirect), there's also the risk of damaging your cable or shortening its lifespan. For what it's worth, the two cables I used came through the procedure just fine, though obviously I can't say whether they'll last as long.

Watch this: How to coil your charging cords

Step 1: Using tape or a binder clip, secure one end of your cable to one end of the pencil, leaving maybe an inch of cord from the tape/clip spot. (I started experimenting with the binder clips because masking tape left sticky residue on both ends of my cable. Blue painter's tape might be a better option, but I didn't have any on hand.)

Photo by Rick Broida/CNET

Step 2: Tightly wrap the cord around the pencil, working your way all the way to the other end. Once you've got about an inch remaining, apply another piece of tape or your other clip.

Photo by Rick Broida/CNET

Step 3: Turn on your hair dryer and point it at the coiled cable for about two minutes. (I tried 90 seconds on the Lightning cable, and the resulting coil was definitely "looser" than I was hoping.) Keep it 3-4 inches away, and make sure to heat the cable all over, not just on one side.

Photo by Rick Broida/CNET

Step 4: You're done! Let the cable cool completely -- at least 5-10 minutes. Then remove the tape/clips, slide out the pencil, and presto: one nicely coiled cable.

By the way, I have to give credit where it's due: I discovered this hack on a blog called Make It & Love It.