How to declutter your cables

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If you’ve got a drawer or box in your house that’s full of cables for gadgets you don’t use anymore, you’re definitely not the only one. Just under a third of Brits admit to having a stash of unnecessary flex and connectors they don’t know what to do with. And as technology advances and gadgets are replaced, once common ports and outlets are failing, so this is an issue that isn’t likely to go away anytime soon.

But streamlining your cable collection isn’t always easy. What if you accidentally throw something away only to find you need it a few weeks or months later? If this strikes a chord, it’s time to take stock. Use our guide to determine which cables to save and which ones you can probably dispose of safely.

Remember that anything that has an outlet can be recycled. Some councils accept adapters and cables in curbside recycling and even if yours doesn’t, local recycling centers will often take them with small devices. Recycle Your Electrical Appliances can help you find a local recycling point for cables and wires.

Power cables and adapters

Old mobile chargers regularly outlive the phones they arrive with and cannot always be used when you switch to a new handset. Even if the connector of an old cable will fit your new phone, you should avoid mixing and matching as the cable can provide the wrong tension. When a gadget reaches the end of its useful life, you are much better off throwing it out, along with its charger, as part of an electrical recycling program.

There are exceptions. If you have multiple iPhones or iPads released since 2012, hang on to your Lightning cables. Prior to 2012, iPods and early iPhones used cables with a larger connector (called a 30-pin dock connector), for which no new products are made. So unless you are still using them, they can be recycled.

These days, non-Apple smartphones and tablets often come with a USB-C cable, which has an 8.5 x 2.5mm rice grain-shaped connector, or one of these connectors each time. end. Keep these, as they are also becoming common on laptops, both for charging and for connecting devices like keyboards and mice. There is a movement across Europe (supported by European Commission legislation) to establish USB-C as the default charging cable for smartphones, tablets, cameras, headphones, speakers, portable speakers and handheld game consoles, and this is likely to affect devices on sale in the UK as well.

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Lightning (left) and USB-C (right) cables are still used by major smartphone manufacturers. USB-C may soon be the common charging solution in Europe.

Computer cables

Many gadgets such as printers, e-readers, and hard drives connect to a computer using a USB version.

To avoid piling up more cables when it’s time to upgrade your keyboard, mouse, or speakers, consider wireless Bluetooth devices. When buying a printer, look for one that connects to your wireless network to further reduce cable clutter. However, don’t get rid of all your Ethernet network cables: if you have a problem with your Wi-Fi.

declutter your cables

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Old USB-B cables (left) can still be useful when connecting to printers, and Ethernet cables (right) are useful for accessing and repairing wireless routers.

Media cables

TVs, DVD players, set-top boxes, streaming sticks, and newer computers will all have standard HDMI sockets – usually a full-sized standard HDMI socket, with the same socket on each end, so you can easily mix it up. and match devices. Hold on to as much as you can – and especially any marked high speed, as these can be used with higher definition “4K” (or better) TVs.

A host of older cables, including VGA, Scart, S-Video, and composite video, can all be recycled unless they’re still plugged in and used, as they’re less common on newer products.

The old-fashioned 3.5mm audio cables are useful for connecting to some older car stereos, but with most newer phones lacking headphone jacks, they’re not worth hanging on “just in case. “. The knotted plug-in headphones also don’t sit in the back of a drawer, as future phones will almost certainly come with Bluetooth or other wireless technologies.

declutter your cables

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Keep the High Speed ​​HDMI cables (left) so you can add various streaming options to multi-input TVs, but you’re probably safely recycling any VGA cables (right) that you don’t actively use.

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