Learn which owners manuals you can keep and which ones you can toss, as well as how to store the manuals you need to hang onto.
When I was organizing homes professionally, I almost always came across piles of crumpled up owners manuals in drawers, cabinets, and random places around the house. 50% of them were for things they didn’t even own anymore, and the other half were so damaged they couldn’t be used even if they were needed.
So in case you’re feeling nervous while reading this because your own owners manuals are a hot mess, here’s my best tips on what to keep, what to trash, and how to store the keepers. Make this your weekend project and you’ll so much more Organized-ish. I just did it too, so we’re basically doing this together!
Owners Manuals You Should Keep
Let’s start with the keepers. While you might think you’ll never look at these manuals again, it’s still a good idea to hang onto them in case of damage, warranty access, or troubleshooting.
- Large Kitchen Appliances (dishwasher, stove, oven, refrigerator, garbage disposal)
- Tankless Water Heaters
- Other Electronics Worth More Than $1000
- Lawn and Pool Equipment
- Furniture That May Need To Be Disassembled When Moving
That’s it. Short list, huh? If you have any other owners manuals stashed around, you can go ahead and send them to the recycling bin. But before you trash them, make sure there isn’t a warranty form inside. Get that warranty in place first so you’re covered.
See that handful going in my own trash can? I’m embarrassed to admit that there are appliance and garage door manuals for a house we don’t even live in anymore in that stack. I needed this purge sesh just as much as you do.
How To Neatly Store Owners Manuals
You might think stashing them in a section of your filing cabinet is a good idea, but I want to give you a better option. A filing cabinet does work to keep them all together, but it’s not really the best way. Instead, try this.
Get a 1.5 or 2 inch 3-Ring binder and add some sheet protectors inside. Each owners manual gets it’s own sleeve, and you can organize the binder by type using binder divider sheets.
Make one section for appliances, one for electronics, and one for miscellaneous. It’s also a good practice to keep the warranty info in the binder, too, so it’s all together.
Label the binder “Manuals And Warranties” and store it somewhere you can easily access it like a home office, guest bedroom, or bookshelf.
Set A Reminder To Maintain The Binder
Just filling up a nice, neat binder isn’t enough when it comes to keeping your owner’s manuals in check. You’ll likely keep adding to the binder as you acquire more things, and you may sell or get rid of appliances or electronics over the next year.
Set a reminder in your phone’s calendar to look through the binder in 9-12 months and take out anything you no longer need. Even better if you can set that reminder to recur once a year so you never forget again.
I use my phone’s calendar for reminders like this all the time. I have them set up to help me keep my filing cabinet, phone photos, and email inbox decluttered, too!