What to do with old charging cables – 5 ways to recycle and repurpose cables cluttering your drawers

Don't know what to do with your accumulated charging cables? Here are some expert-approved ways to reuse them

A Place For Everything Set of 3 Animal Cable Ties Dogs
(Image credit: Getty Images/David Malan)

We all have that one drawer, storage box or shelf filled with old charging cables for phones, laptops and other devices we likely don’t use or even own anymore. But why do we hold onto them then? More often than not, it’s because we simply don’t know what to do with unused charging cables – how to repurpose them or properly dispose of them.

But getting rid of no longer used or nonworking charging cables should be on the top of your decluttering checklist as they take up precious space and they could still serve a purpose if freed from the confines of your drawer.

According to research conducted by the home improvement store, Homebase, Brits across the UK hold onto 90,000 miles worth of unused charging cables – which is enough to wrap 3.6 times around the circumference of our planet. That’s jarring, to say the least. So here are some ways you can lower that number today.

Charging cables attached to a desk with a laptop

(Image credit: Future PLC)

What to do with old charging cables 

Before you start getting rid of your cables or making them into new things, it’s a good idea to see if any of them can be used with your currently used electronic devices.

‘My top tip is to gather all cables together - collect them from everywhere in the home - and then try and match them with existing equipment,’ says Liz Aitken, APDO's operations director and founder of Carefully Sorted.

And for those that don’t have a match, this is what you can do instead.

Liz Aitken, APDO's Operations Director and Founder of Carefully Sorted
Liz Aitken

Liz set up Carefully Sorted in 2016nd has worked with a huge range of clients around the UK - both face-to-face and virtually. It is a London-based service which is dedicated to helping you organise and declutter your home, your office and paperwork, your possessions and your collections.

1. Recycling

Charging electronic devices

(Image credit: Getty Images/Sally Anscombe)

Charging cables are one of those household items that you might not know you can recycle. Or how to recycle them.

‘A designated waste or recycle centre will ensure both the plastic surround and the wires are handled appropriately,’ says Laura Haddy, APDO member and founder of Clear The Chaos Ltd.

Finding a recycling centre that accepts charging cables and other electronics is a great form of sustainable decluttering. ‘You can dispose of unwanted cables at electrical stores who will take them if you’re purchasing new equipment,’ says Simon Glanville, managing director at A Place for Everything. ‘If you’re not looking to buy new equipment from an electrical store then search on Recycleyourelectricals.org.uk for the nearest drop-off or recycling centre.’

And one of the best that’s widely available is Currys.

‘My quick tip is to use services such as those offered by Currys, who recycle electronics even if you didn't buy them in one of their stores,’ Liz says. ‘I did a huge cable tidy for a client - parents and two teenage children - who were overwhelmed with cables. The family matched up what they could with equipment they were still using, matched cables with electronics they then sold and then they recycled the rest.’

2. Plant hangers

A hanging plant with a lighting wire

(Image credit: Future PLC/Colin Poole)

Making some of your wires into plant hangers is the perfect upcycling project for beginners. Charging cables are largely made out of PVC coating (a form of plastic) and metal wires on the inside. So when not in contact with electricity, they are just materials and are safe to repurpose into something other than a charging medium. 

‘For a retro vibe, they can be twisted into loops and hung from hooks or nails,’ says Jenny Wilkins, APDO member and founder of Rejig Organising.

3. Garden ties

If you’re looking for an upcycling idea for the garden, then utilising old charging cables is something worth trying as Jenny suggests they can be ‘used as ties for those more robust plants.’

4. Coasters

Do you like an arts and crafts project? Then you can turn your charging cables into funky coasters.

‘They could be coiled up and used for coasters, used outdoors or given as a unique present,’ Jenny suggests.

Laura adds, ‘Maybe there is a local organisation that would benefit if that's not your thing.’

A Place For Everything Set of 3 Animal Cable Ties Dogs

(Image credit: A Place For Everything)

5. Hanging pictures

Similarly to plant hangers, you can also hang framed pictures from your old cables as they can be ‘used as a string to hang pictures, ornaments or fairy lights, particularly good for outside,’ Jenny notes.

But really, the possibilities are endless -if you get a little creative.

Sara Hesikova
News Writer

Sara Hesikova has been Ideal Home’s News Writer since July 2023, bringing the Ideal Home’s readership breaking news stories from the world of home and interiors. Graduating from London College of Fashion with a bachelor’s degree in fashion journalism in 2016, she got her start in niche fashion and lifestyle magazines like Glass and Alvar as a writer and editor before making the leap into interiors. She feels the two are intrinsically connected - if someone puts an effort into what they wear, they most likely also care about what they surround themselves with.