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How to Clean Up Behind-the-TV Cables

The space behind a family’s TV and entertainment centre can get pretty messy. If you’re like us, your TV is supported by game consoles, cable boxes, Blu-ray players, sound systems, and more, all connected by a veritable rat’s nest of cables. Worse, if you’ve added new devices and gotten rid of others over the years, there may be cables back there not even connected to anything. So what to do?

Simple answer: clean up your behind-the-TV cables. Aside from making things more organised, you’ll find cables you don’t need, free up space in your outlets, and make your life easier the next time you add a device to your entertainment centre.

So, roll up your sleeves, because cleaning up behind-the-TV cables can be a messy job. Fortunately, we’re here with a step-by-step guide. One note, though: this is probably a two-person job. Two very patient people.

Step One: Gather Materials

You will need: a label maker, cable organizers, and a surge protector.

Label Maker: This is for labelling cables. You can substitute with masking tape, a sharpie, and good penmanship.

Cable Organizers: These will be for bunching cables together and making things neater. You can use simple solutions like Velcro cable organizers, which are pretty inexpensive. At the higher end are cable wraps, which are like big sleeves for turning a whole bunch of cables into one neat string of cable. Of course, you can take a DIY approach to cable management too. Pinterest has some ideas, like using zip ties and cardboard tubes.

A Surge Protector: Not all power bars are surge protectors. You want a surge protector, which protects your expensive electronics against power surges. Ideally, you want one with lots of ports and a switch so you can turn everything off. You may even want a smart surge protectorthat turns outlets off when devices are in standby mode.

Step Two: Start with Power Cables

Plug in your new surge protector and start transferring power cables over. As you do, figure out what cable powers what device. As we noted above, if you’ve removed devices over the years, you may have cables taking up outlets that aren’t actually powering anything. Your goal is to remove these extra cables.

Step Three: Label Power Cables

Once you know what cable powers what device, label your cables. This will help you keep better track of things in the future.

Step Four: Review TV Cables

After your surge protector, most cables will be connected to your TV, so figure out what these are connected to. Again, if you’ve removed devices from your entertainment centre over the years, you’ll probably find cables that aren’t actually doing anything. Depending on your desired level of organization, you can label the cables that remain.

Step Five: Review Remaining Devices

Go device by device and track where cables are going. Remove any cable not connecting one device to another.

Step Six: Create Cable Bunches

You’ll have cable bunches going to similar places. For example, if you have a shelf with an Xbox, Blu-ray player, and router right next to each other, they’ll all have power cables going roughly to and from the same place, so these can be bunched together. Similarly, the Xbox and Blu-ray player will have AV cables going from these devices to your TV; maybe your router also has an Ethernet cable that connects to your TV. These AV cables and Ethernet cable can be bunched together. Once you’ve organised your bunches, hold them together with your cable organizer of choice.

Step Seven: Deal with the Extra Cables

Take a look at all the extra cables you pulled from your now clean and organized entertainment centre. Figure out which you should keep (as backups, maybe), and put them in one place. As for the others you don’t need, be sure to look up the rules about recycling or disposing of electronics in your community.

Finally, take a picture of your newly organized space and be sure to brag to someone. After all, you’ve done a lot of tedious work and deserve to feel good about that.