Tame Manual Mania

Over the past few years, I’ve been trying to reduce the number of appliances we use in the kitchen, especially if they only serve a single purpose. I’ve only been partially successful at this. I must confess that I added two new kitchen “tools” to our inventory recently.

A soda stream and a new food processor.

I justified the purchase of the soda stream because I couldn’t justify the number of one-liter bottles we were discarding each month. By making soda water ourselves, we’ve reduced our recycling waste significantly.

A few years ago, when the food processor we received as a wedding gift finally gave out (that gives you a hint about how long I’ve been married), I thought we could do without one. And we did for a few years. But again, recently, I decided that investing in a new food processor would make meal prep a whole lot easier.

Why am I telling you these stories?

It got me thinking about a common experience I run into with my residential organizing clients. I’ve discovered over the years that the vast majority of them don’t have a system for storing manuals and warranty information for their appliances or electronics. We often find manuals scattered throughout their homes. So, when I notice this, I encourage them to identify a place where user manuals and warranty information sent along with new household appliances and electronics can be stored.

How I tame manual mania!

Nothing fancy is required. Simply identifying a spot to store this information, which is relatively easy to access, is all you need to do. Typical solutions include a box, a drawer, a filing cabinet, or a three-ring binder (which along with some sheet protectors is my personal favorite).

It does appear that manufacturers are relying more on providing links to online user guides. As a result printed manuals are not as big and comprehensive as they have been in the past. But keeping the information in one spot that also points you to those online guides when you need them, will potentially save you from launching a search party and turning the house upside down when you need them.

Besides, it’s helpful to have this information handy if you ever decide to sell or give your appliance or electronics away. You can quickly and easily gather up the warranty info and pass it along.

I’m curious! How you keep track of the manuals associated with appliances and electronics in your home? Please share your ideas in the comments section below.

Ta-Da Tip of the Month

Here are four simple steps to taming the user manual madness:

  1. Identify one space in your home where you’ll keep all appliance or electronics related user manuals and warranty information. Make sure it’s easy to get to when you need to reference one of your guides.
  2. Find a big shoe box, an empty drawer, or set up a large three-ring notebook as I have. For those of you who know me well, you know how much I love sheet protectors. There are so many great uses for them. In this case, I use them to hold the various user guides so it’s easy to flip through the notebook to find what I’m looking for.
  3. If you’re really motivated, you can organize your manuals either by room or in alphabetical order.
  4. The key to keeping all of this well-ordered is to pick a date, such as the first day of Spring, to review and remove manuals for appliances or electronics you no longer have.


10 comments to Tame Manual Mania

  • Chris Primavera

    Gary’s very good at this. I’m always amazed when I can actually get my hands on a manual, say at Thanksgiving when the oven decides to break down….Ta-Da appliance tip #5. Do not self clean your oven the night before a holiday! However I learned that if you can find the manual it’s easily fixed.

    Thanks Diana

  • Lesley Whittemore

    I’m a notebook, sheet and pocket protector adherent for manuals and info. I keep a kitchen/laundry notebook in my kitchen, and other notebooks for household, outdoor and electronics. I’m probably an info junkie and hold onto more info than I need, but ‘you never know!’ It really helps being able to put your hands on that info quickly, especially when your smoke detectors go off in the middle of the night for no apparent reason! Thanks for all your fantastic organizing expertise, love it!

  • Beth

    I love this idea Diana. I think I am going to try the 3 ring binder. I currently have mine spread between a file cabinet, kitchen drawer, and a bookshelf. I have not been good at getting rid of them when the appliance has been replaced…so this will be my March project!!! Thanks!

  • When I get a new appliance or equipment, I download the manual from the manufacturer’s website and put it into a google drive folder. And I make sure to share that folder with whoever else may use that device.

    It came in really handy when we transitioned some office space to another renter. It was really easy to share the manual for the fancy thermostat, door locks, etc.

    And then we don’t have to worry about keeping the paper manuals.

    • What a great point you make Allissa. Like I said it seems that fewer and fewer appliances are arriving with detailed printed user guides. Downloading them so they can be shared in the future makes so much sense! Thanks for sharing that!

  • Lynn D'Adamo

    Thank you, Diana. I use the binder method with the page protectors you mentioned. I really like your idea of designating a time to review my manual binder as I recently went looking for a manual and saw several manuals for appliances I haven’t had for many years. A good reminder to update what we have.

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