How to Properly Coil and Store an Extension Cord

By: Dan Mulcahy


With proper care and maintenance the best equipment and tools, from air compressors to socket wrenches, provide years of hard service use at peak performance.  In this regard, top quality, heavy duty extension cords are no different from your other expensive tools and should be treated as such.

Inexpensive or "cheap" extension cords tend to be stiffer, an undesirable quality that increases as they age.  The very best extension cords, like Milspec Direct's Pro Glo and Sub Zero lines, are extremely flexible and remain so over their lifetime.  This means years of easy deployment and use.  And at the end of the day they can be easily coiled for proper storage.

Is there a proper or correct way for storing extension cords?  There certainly is a range of opinions on the subject, with some advocating the “carpenter’s wrap” while others maintain that “chaining” is the only way to go.  One thing the pros do agree on with storing extension cords is to coil it with the commonly used hand over elbow method, and you will have a badly kinked cord the next time it is used.

It's actually very simple to take extension cords with heavy duty design and make tangle free coils.  Most agree that the best way for coiling and storing extension cords is with a straight coil (over - over - over) in a clockwise direction.  But once you have it coiled, how do you properly store it?

For light duty cords and shorter lengths, a simple cord wrap or an extension cord with reel can often the answer.  Wraps offer portability while extension cord reels are typically stationary as they are often secured to the wall or ceiling.

Safety tip: when using a high amperage tool or any tool for an extended period of time, be sure to completely uncoil the cord from the reel.  This reduces the likelihood that the cord will overheat.

Everyone seems to have a preferred way to store long heavy duty cords.  Here are some of the different – and creative – methods that folks use:

  • Hang from a hose butler, attached to wall.

  • Hang from bicycle hook, screwed into the wall.

  • Secure the coil with Velcro straps and store in a milk crate.

  • Secure the coil with coat hanger wire. Leave a few inches of extra wire extended from the coil. Form a loop at the end of the wire and hang the coil on a nail or small hook.

  • Wrap around a chrome rim from a '68 Chevy, bolted to the wall.

Whether you use an extension cord reel or a chrome rim, just remember to start by properly coiling and storing extension cords.  The next time it's needed, it will be kink-free and ready to go.